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Dragons Among Us

Dragons Among Us

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Published by Te Ariki
Searching, Finding, Homecoming.
Searching, Finding, Homecoming.

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Published by: Te Ariki on Feb 21, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/16/2009

 
Dragons Among Us.
ByR. Albert Marsh.
Connell felt uneasy.He could feel eyes on him, studying, evaluating, curious, but at this point,definitely not hostile. He surreptitiously let his eyes roam slowly around thetown square. He saw people of all different races going about their business,everyone paying attention to their own immediate needs. Hawkers toutedtheir wares, voices bawling to out-shout the next-door neighbour, insults,some good-natured, some not, traded between stallholders in the souk.There! He caught a young woman looking at him, the sideways shift of her eyes betraying her just as she turned away. She was about medium height,with straight dark hair, olive skin, and golden oval eyes that had slit pupils,very much like his own. She looked to be around twelve to fifteen standard, but on various worlds, it didn’t pay to fix that in stone, as the averageAtrixian adult always looked no more than an eleven-year-old human child.But, Connell could still feel another set of eyes on him, now, more than theone. So he boldly let his gaze wander around, and immediately picked up thegaze of three more, no, five more people, male and female, looking directlyat him. He could feel no malice in those stares, only curiosity mainly.He heard a giggle, and the young woman was now standing next to him onhis left. Looking down, he was captivated by her beauty, and as he openedhis mouth to speak, a voice said,
“Corrine, come away from him. He, and we, have no time for games this day. Come now, child.”
The child gave a winsome smile, reluctantly turned away and walked off.The voice came from a woman of indefinite years, seemingly middle-aged,yet her eyes held the wisdom of many years. Then Connell gasped, for herealized that he had heard no physical voice, but only in the silence of hismind.
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 Normally, most mind voices had to blocked, because sentient lifeformsdidn’t realize the amount of thought-noise they generated. But this seemedto him to be intentional. There were undercurrents there, not immediatelydiscernable.So he turned to face the woman, who was standing on the far side of thesquare, and directed his attention her way. Blocking out all extraneous sightsand sounds, he imagined a chord of thought linking the two of themtogether. His tutor on the Psychworld of Spirit taught him this: “Draw thesubject to you. Even though you stand apart from the subject, with distance between you, fix the face or memory of that person firmly in your mind.‘See’ them so clearly that it was as if they stood in front of you in person.Even though you are separated by vast distance, from halfway around a planet, or across the universe, you can converse or trade information easily.”It took Connell a while to master the art of telepathic speech. When you‘speak’ to another telepathically, you may not talk in words, as such. Most of the time, you ‘speak’ in pictures, with emotion being the motivator. And thetendency when you are first starting out is to ‘shout’. As his tutor, Miceon,constantly had to remind him, ‘For the gods’ sake, boy, I’m not deaf! Stopshouting at me! Calm your thoughts. Concentrate!”Twenty-seven years it took him to master that particular art. By the time hewas ready to leave Spirit to take up his quest, he could converse with anyonewilling to speak with him, telepathically. However, it was considered rude to barge into conversations with others, and so a blocking technique had to betaught, to discourage such breaches of protocol.Thoughts are private, and ‘mind reading’ was at best a thing to be tolerated,and at worst, a form of ‘mind-rape’. So shielding and blocking were taught,so that unwanted attention could easily be negated. So, even if you could notinitiate a exchange, you could still sense the undercurrents of emotion.Then softly, gently, he ‘spoke’.
“It is fine by me if this child wishes to be here
”, he thought.
“But I respect  your authority. May we meet another time, and share in proper hospitality.”
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The woman, and the rest of the party, jolted in shock at this exchange. It wasclear that they did not expect to find another telepath here in this part of theworld. Within seconds, all were gone, having melted into the crowds thatswarmed and flowed around them. He could sense shock, chagrin, and antrace of angry derision. Suddenly, Connell felt lost, as though something wastaken from him, and the feeling of loss he felt most keenly, and try as hemight, he found no internal reason for it. Being an exiled orphan, Connellhad no knowledge of home or hearth; he did not even know from what worldhe was.All the Brothers and Sisters in the monastery would tell him was that anitinerant trader who’d found him, as a babe, alone, in an escape pod in deepspace, had handed him in. The trader had named him ‘Connell’, after ‘a partner I once had, one of the best, gods bless him, but sadly, now dead!’Since then, until he was old enough to travel, he’d taken his leave fromAscension, the Monastery world, and sought after his past. Now, twohundred years later, his search had landed him here, on the desert world of Shumer.Later that night, as the stars known locally as The Maiden’s Bracelet, slippedtoward the far horizon, Connell lay on his bed, too wound up to sleep. Those people in the village square. Who were they? Where did they come from?Why show themselves to him now, of all times? Did they work for hisenemies, or did they have another purpose in mind?Such questions as these had kept him awake till almost dawn, and he felttired, his eyes were gritty, and he needed a bath to wash away the smell of his sweaty body. So he threw off the covers and did just that.Twenty minutes later, nursing a hot cup of Chark, a local delicacy madefrom the ground beans of the Kofa tree, he inhaled the earthy aroma, andsipped at the hot steamy liquid.The kofa immediately took effect, and Connell could feel his tired musclesunknot and relax. As his mind became alert, he decided come what may, hewould find these enigmatic people, and solve the mystery of who, what,where and the why of them.
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