Secret weapons

Deston looked out over the road. Kya remained down in the brush, waiting for his signal. She knew Roland had to be nearby still, but whether he and Shields would be able to see Deston was another matter. They could not afford to mess this up.

The caravan began to pass them. Deston shifted his position, his leg pressing against her shoulder. She did her best not to move.

“Deston! You can’t!” Vidvan whispered, at the very least. Kya glanced back at him, quizzical as to why he would protest now. “This will cause a backlash to heights you cannot comprehend. We have to find another way!”

Deston looked at the old man, then looked down at Kya. She realized that Deston was leaving it up to her.

Hauke. Not that it mattered, not if Roland and Shields acted.

“We can’t afford to miss this opportunity,” she said to Vidvan.

He nodded several times. “I know, I know. It has to be done during the movement, but not like this. Not a grab and run, even if you could accomplish it easily with that surprise.”

Kya closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. Opening them again, she looked up at Deston.

He trusted her judgment. The corner of her lip twitched upward. “I might have something to help with that.”

Showing effort

Kya and Temperance were not quiet people. To remain silent in this place of worship was uncomfortable, but Temperance knew how much more uncomfortable she would feel if she broke that silence. Kya’s usually impassive expression now included the occasional twitch of her lip. Temperance feared that she might actually speak. Kya’s religious practices included a lot more sound than Salimah’s did.

However, Kya remained respectful. Even when the air chilled from Salimah’s musicless dance. The shaking of her layered dress, made specifically for the winter, for the north, for her worship, shone like water droplets under the sun.

It froze Temperance’s emotions, little by little, into a state of calm she barely ever attained. Even Kya’s near smile finally faded into her regular expression, though with eyes that saw more in this ritual than Temperance could understand.

Beads of sweat appeared on Salimah’s cheeks, from the limited amount of her that ever could be seen from under her dressage. Her exertion outweighed her prayer. For the moment.

Then Temperance realized why she felt uncomfortable. It was not staying silent here, it was the fact this place was silent despite Salimah’s dance. No sound of breath, no sound of footfall. Her exertion was the prayer, the fact it showed rather than not was more impressive than if the appearance was of ease.

Kya placed a hand on Temperance’s elbow. She looked over at her friend. Kya made a motion that Temperance didn’t understand. She would have to ask. After.

Salimah continued to pray.

To bind a spell

Kya squinted, hair flying around in the wind. She would have to cut it, she kept thinking, but she never got around to it. She could see below the dust at the bottom of the canyon blowing into a solid mess. It wasn’t a new phenomenon, here, but today it was distracting her from something that was very important to her.

She watched the turbine spin, faster and faster, until it reached its max speed. Everything was working as she had intended for it to. Now, to see if this power could energize the one thing that she had never had the amount of power to begin. The magic involved had always asked for too high a price. Kya would supersede that now with mechanical power, powered by the wind, beyond what anything her hometown had ever seen.

The handheld device turned on, the gears within working the magic that had been described to her in all of the letters she had read, from several people, most particularly from the boy she was trying to contact now. But she had often gotten it this far, without further results. She did her best not to absently fiddle with the wires. That wouldn’t help. She just had to wait for the energy to come.

Finally, the screen cleared. She saw a room, just barely, and a couple figures moving around in it. Eventually one came closer, as the picture sharpened up ever so slightly.


He peered into his side and smiled. “Kya!”

For the first time, she could see her brother’s face.

Circumventing the mentor

Vidvan spread the papers out in front of them. Hauke and Kya gave each other sidelong glances. The old man was a great teacher, even because of his eccentricities, but it was unknown when they would arise. They didn’t know if it had to do with old age or if he had always been like this. Vidvan had been old as long as either of them had known him.

“Your accounts have some holes in them,” he scolded the both.

“Holes?” Hauke asked.

“You didn’t give us all that many guidelines,” Kya reminded him.

Hauke picked up his papers and tried to gleam Vidvan’s questions through his scrawled handwriting. It required more translation than anything. It was hard to imagine that he got more out of Vidvan’s handwriting than Kya did.

“How could I when I had nothing to start with?” Vidvan asked. “But we’ll fix that now.”

Kya tended to keep her face passive, but she still shot Hauke a look that almost pled for assistance. Hauke considered helping her and how doing so might save him from any of Vidvan’s rants. “Yes. Why don’t we go over it all together? Kya might help me recall something I missed, as well as your comments.”

Vidvan looked pleased at the suggestion. “Yes, yes, excellent.” He pulled out even more papers, beginning his notation. “Shall we begin with yours, Hauke?”

You owe me, Hauke shot over at Kya. “Very well, Vidvan.”

Hauke couldn’t tell if Kya agreed with him or not.

The pride of success

Both Hauke’s and Kya’s hair had been completely mussed up. They stared down at the vent between them and then at each other.

“Did we make this work?” Hauke asked, both nervous and enthralled.

Kya blinked slowly. “Well, we don’t look like idiots for nothing now.”

He laughed, standing up and staring at the ancient site. “We’ll get it to work! I knew it! They said- forget what they said! Finally!”

While he enthusiastically rejoiced in their success, Kya pushed her hair out of her eyes. The rest of it still went everywhere, but she didn’t care much about that. “Finally,” she agreed.

Deep down, the rumble of the old engine commenced.