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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 25: Slade 158
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 24: Beam 47
Lauren had telepathically contacted Slade several times since their departure, so he knew what was happening, what had happened, to this point. He could not contact her. Their lesson in psionics had been interrupted by Derek’s emergency call. She had shown him how to read minds, but he hadn’t yet tried it; but that was a first step, she said, to learning telepathy. He thought she had shown Joe something telepathic, but wasn’t sure what given all the confusion. She was talking to him now, providing what he figured was really the full update as far as today was going to provide.
All right, he responded. Track them, but don’t follow them. I don’t want anyone getting close, both because I don’t want to lose anyone else and because I don’t want to spook them. Call me if something happens, or in any case before sunset, so I know everything is all right and we can update each other on current situations.
Lauren answered affirmatively and dropped the link. Slade hoped he didn’t think of anything else, because he did not know how to call her back, but for the moment he was going to have to report to the Caliph. He had sent word concerning the matter, but it was a very brief word.
He entered the courtroom.
“Sir Robert,” the Caliph greeted him from the dais.
“Your Potency,” he replied. “I have news and some analysis.”
“We are eager to hear it.”
Slade composed himself and realized that there were no chairs; no one was expected to sit in this room other than the Caliph himself.
“We received word perhaps an hour or so ago from our friend Derek Brown, twice-honored hero of the Caliphate. He had become aware of persons approaching the castle of the Amir of the Southern River Bend, persons who were versers like ourselves, and becoming Morach flew out to investigate. He believed the versers were hostile, probably a scouting party attempting to determine the weaknesses of your ally’s fortifications, but one of their party shot him while he was flying. He reported only that there were half a dozen, one not human--”
“Not human, you say?”
“Yes, Potency. In our travels we have encountered intelligent creatures who, like people and like the djinn, are intelligent and able to communicate, but who are mortal, more like people than like the djinn.”
“I suppose it makes sense that there would be such creatures. After all, there are the efriit, who are like the djinn but different.”
“An excellent example, Potency. In any case, the party forced him out of here and onward in his travels to another place, with Amira Vashti his wife traveling with him. It created an uproar at the castle, but my people were able to calm them and assure them.”
“Yes, Potency. I sent Doctor Kondor, Lieutenant Smith, and Lauren Hastings by a magical gate to see what could be done. They reported the situation to me in some detail. It appears that the party is retreating, and I have said not to follow them because they might be dangerous, but to track them to their destination. At present they appear headed northeast toward the Amirate of the Eastern Mountains. We hope to determine whether they are connected to the Amir or an independent group who came from that direction.”
“Yes, I see. So, do I need to send forces to reinforce my ally?”
“Doctor Kondor and I think not at this time. We gave consideration to the possibility that this was an attack, but if so it has for the moment been thwarted. We also considered whether such an attack against the southern Amirate would have been a feint to draw your forces away from this city, so that the eastern Amir could attack while your defenses were reduced, and for that reason my wife and I stayed here. However, we think at this point that they were a reconnaissance team, attempting to determine what they would need to do to take the southern territory, and that for the moment they will fall back and regroup.”
The Caliph nodded. “So, we must be the more vigilant, but you do not expect an immediate attack.”
“Part of me thinks that we should be ready for such an attack, but I think more that we want to avoid weakening our position here right now. Even if he doesn’t attack, he might be watching to see whether we will send forces to defend the south, so that next time he can attack the south and expect to draw you away from here so he can hit here as well.”
“He cannot have so many soldiers.”
“I don’t think we know that with certainty. He does have some versers--people like us--and as you are aware, people like us can have some extraordinary powers.”
Again the Caliph nodded. “Your counsel is wise, Sir Robert. I will take it under advisement.”
Slade withdrew from the courtroom and returned to his room to contemplate the situation further.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #327: Verser Crises. 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: