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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 113: Brown 177
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As Derek sailed out the window, arms around the waist of Calipha Rathi, he realized several points he had not previously considered.
The first was he had never done this before. He had frequently brought himself safely to the ground as Ferris, but he had never carried more than a few pounds of extra weight, let alone another person. That meant they were descending much more quickly than usual.
Akin to that, even at a mere hundred pounds, give or take, Rathi outweighed Ferris; he had more than doubled, possibly tripled, his mass.
Further, she was more than twice his height, which made her awkward to carry and threw off his balance significantly. He was having to focus on keeping them stable, and the more so because her arms and legs were flailing and, he realized, she was screaming.
Further, no matter how he maneuvered, he could not keep his wings in the air and get his feet to the ground. She was going to hit the ground first. It was not going to be easy.
“Rathi!” he shouted, but she kept screaming; he didn’t have time for this. He shifted to telepathy. Rathi, he sent, you’re going to have to get your feet below you, with your knees not quite straight. When your feet touch the ground, you’re going to have to run, stumble, and roll forward, to absorb the shock of landing. Don’t worry about rolling on me--I think I can take it. Treat it like a fall from a combat throw.
That was the end of the time. Mercifully, she stopped screaming, and moved into a more contained position resembling a crouch. As they hit the ground, she pushed into a forward roll, tucking to absorb the impact just as she’d been taught in their self defense training.
Derek could see, though, that he was not going to be so fortunate. As she started to go forward, he released her, flapped his wings once, and transformed into Morach, still flying. It took a moment, and he wound up scampering across the ground before lifting himself again, but then landed. He heard gunfire above, and knew that they had escaped just in time.
“Are you all right?” he asked, as he transformed back into Ferris.
“I think so,” she answered, moving into a seated position as he in turn transformed into Derek. “Yes, I think so.”
“Well, I’d ask whether you can walk,” he said, “but I think we need to run.”
“Run? What about the others?”
“There’s no way I can get them out of there; besides, the mission is to rescue you, so my job at this point is to get you back to the palace safely. As to the others, well, they’ve gotten themselves out of tighter spots than that. The concern was really that you not get killed in the process, or held hostage or something.”
He held out a hand and helped her to her feet.
“Give me a moment,” she said. “I’ve never jumped out of a third floor window before.”
He smiled. “I’m not sure whether I have, either, although I have fallen farther. Ready?”
Feeling the direction to his gear--the bicycle, backpack, and other things he left in his room--Derek turned and headed toward the palace. “If you know a better way to get there, let me know; I’m just following my direction sense at this point.”
“No, you’re fine.”
They didn’t talk the rest of the way, but soon were at the palace gate. They were ushered inside, and rushed to the anxiously waiting Caliph.
On the way, the Calipha said, “You know, you could marry me, and become Caliph when my father dies.”
He nodded. “There are a lot of reasons why that’s not a good idea, but the biggest one is that I’m very much in love with Vashti, and she’s in love with me, and she knows what she’s getting into by marrying me. I guess that’s three good reasons, but then, there are a lot more.”
“Well,” the Calipha said, “she’s a very lucky girl.”
“I don’t see it that way. I think I’m a very lucky guy, because she knows what she has to give up to marry me, and she considers me worth marrying anyway.”
Derek stopped at the door, and sent her ahead to see her father while he waited to be called. He would have to report what he knew, but maybe he could say simply that Bob would be here soon to give a complete report. That worked better for him; he didn’t really know some of the important bits, like what happened after he leapt out the window.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #313: Verser Solutions. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: