Chapter Nine

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Nemeth slowed to a walk and Farinka urged Moondust alongside him – the trail at this point was quite wide.

"Nearly home," said Nemeth. His breathing was deep but still not fast; but the tone of his voice was weary.

"Tired?" Farinka asked. Nemeth grinned up at her.

"A bit." He flexed his shoulder muscles under the weight of the deer, and stretched one arm and then the other. "I admit I'll be glad to put this down. And have a wash." His hide headband was dark with sweat, and his dark hair curled damply round his neck and ears. Farinka noticed that the hip-tie band of his leggings was also soaked.

"You'll get chilled if you don't get dry soon," she said, glancing up at the sun.

"Not me," he answered, his eyes laughing. "I don't have quite the Control that Sherath does, but given a sufficient supply of food I'm quite capable of stopping myself chilling."

"How?"

"You mean you can't?" He glanced up at her, his eyes quizzical. She shook her head. "It's just a question of shifting your body system up a gear. Uses quite a bit of energy, granted. And I can't always do it very well. You should be able to – here, anyway, even if you couldn't on your own world."

"Why should I?"

Nemeth halted, and sighed. "Because, Domina, you are enabled. You should be able to Assume Power with the same ease that any Elder could. It is quite possible that you may not be able to – as there is no-one to train you in the use of Power. You are the only enabled one on this world."

"Couldn't you teach me? If you can use Power?"

Nemeth walked on. "I could teach you a little – but it would be very little. I could teach you only what every Child knows – a little about Granted Power, a little about the uses of Power; things that I know can be done because I have seen them done – although not recently. No, Domina," he paused. "You would be better learning from Sherath. He seems to be able to Assume Power – sometimes – and he shouldn't be able to. But again, he's had no training in its use; his Assumption and use of Power is as instinctive as Moondust's unwillingness to let me near him in your absence. We're an untrained lot. My hope is that you will be able – eventually – to train us."

"Me? But I don't know anything!"

You'd be surprised, said Nemeth. I feel some of what you could be when I Hear you. The harmonies of the music of your mind are very revealing. You use Awareness as easily and as strongly as I can. You have the ability to use Command; you almost did on Moondust this morning. There was a hint of Command in your tone. While you were running with me you were using Control on yourself – albeit only lightly, but more Control than I can summon. More in Sherath's league. Not bad for an untrained seventeen-year-old from another world! His Voice was full of laughter. We are at the boundary, Domina. Lead us in.

Farinka lifted her leg over Moondust's neck and slipped easily to the ground. Nemeth had stopped by the unicorn, and laid a hand on the silver-white shoulder.

Farinka stepped forwards, cautiously. The track carried on straight ahead, and there was a strong compulsion to follow it. Farinka stopped, and grinned. The compulsion was too strong to be natural – it simply reeked of Power. She listened to ... what was it Nemeth had said? ... the harmonies of the music of the mind which had placed that ... Detour ... where it was. It was a sensation not entirely dissimilar to looking at a photograph of someone you've never seen – enough information to be able to recognise them when you did see them, but not the same as looking at the person.

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