I picked at my food, moving the chunks of Agi meat around the plate.
Tomorrow I'd leave to the sish lands and to Serin's territory beyond. I'd ask Chiora for a map later, to plan out the route.
"Did you hear about the Serin's lab?" Namara said.
"Yeah, about a year ago it reopened" Chiora said. "It was just rumours then but I guess they're true"
"They're sworn not to do outer-planet research, but it's not a big problem for them, because they've found that we're adapting"
"Adapting?" Chiora's surprise was obvious. "Adapting how?"
"A few of the newborns were found stronger than those about a dozen years ago. I've noticed this to."
"How do you know all this?"
That got my attention to and I looked up. Was this exchanged information passed on through drug trade? I quickly dropped the thought. Namara proved she wasn't in illegal drug business. I listened, trying to not act too keenly.
"The soldiers who managed to release one or two prisoners from Serin's hold got the news and they're passing it on to all the healers. I received a note about it this morning."
"This is important, why didn't you say sooner!" Chiora said.
"There's more though, they were using the prisoners for experimentation, one said they'd cut him open without anything to stop the pain and kept asking him if it didn't hurt"
I stopped listening and started eating my now cold food. They went on about it while I ate and I ended up finishing before them.
"Uh, Chiora" I butted in. "Can I borrow a map?"
"Sure what kind of map?"
"One of the whole planet, but more detailed, with Serin's hold and where the encampments are."
"Oh an army map" she nodded and got up.
Namara continued eating until Chiora came back with a large map rolled up. She passed it to me and I unrolled it.
It probably covered the entire surface of the table. It showed the whole planet, two lines going across to indicate where the sish land ended and the furo lands began.
Chiora pulled out a pen and looked around the map for a moment. Then she drew a dot on the edge of the sish lands. Above it she wrote 'Rivena'.
North-east of Rivena was the Serin main encampment, and a little north and out west of that was the second Kasuk army camp.
It looked like a strait trip north would bring me right between the two camps and into their capital city then up the mountain to Serin's Hold. It looked about a four day trip. Looking at the map made me a little nervous. If I didn't stray off to the west a little, I'd pass dangerously close to Serin's camp.
When Namara had gotten up and gone into the kitchen Chiora came over.
"We should leave before Namara wakes up" She whispered.
"She doesn't know?"
"No, we'll keep it a secret until you come back"
I nodded and rolled up the map again. I handed Chiora my plate and went off to my room.
The house was completely quiet. I wasn't used to it like this, silent, dark. It looked completely different. Chiora went up to the cupboard and handed me a few bottles. Four water, one a mix of herbs. After close inspection I noted that the mix would come in handy for dehydration and sun stroke. I slipped it into the bag around my shoulder and went back into my room quietly. I opened the chest by my bed and pulled out a red scarf. I tied it around my neck and went back to the main room.
Outside, Chiora untied Gres and Reisu. I jumped up on Reisu's back and he started to trot. I looked back at the house while Chiora mounted hers. The sky was slowly turning a light greyish colour and there were a few lights coming on from neighbouring houses.
"Let's go" Chiora whispered and lead off directly out of town. I followed, going slow so that our Ekirises wouldn't make much noise.
We left the down and sped up. We raced for a while before the town behind us shrunk into the distant horizon and we were completely in the sish land.
"It's all yours now" Chiora said as she turned her Ekiris around to face back to town.
"Where are you gonna stay?" I asked.
"Still haven't worked that out, but I'm sure I can find one of my old friends a few towns over" She replied. "Don't get caught"
"I won't" I said
"Don't want to be experimented on" She grinned and started off towards town.
The sun was just breaking off the horizon now, rising gently to my left. Snapping the reins quickly, Reisu started off and built up speed quickly. Faster and faster until he was almost at full speed. The heba stalks sticking out from the pale green sand went by in flashes.
I pulled the scarf up over my mouth and pulled up my hood. Reisu kicked up a lot of sand as we went.
Gonna start calling sish sand and furo snow now because it'll get annoying to pronounce. I'll go back and fix the others in editing, once I reach chapter 10 or 15. I'll keep 'sish lands' and 'furo lands' the same. I'll be editing this a bunch of times.
Vote! Would you rather see this published as a book or a graphic novel? Books are faster and easier, but graphic novels would better show you about this planet and how different it is to Earth. Comment for which one you'd like to see, and if it becomes a graphic novel I'll give you the link to see the pages on my dA (DeviantArt)