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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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Besides a weapon, a horse would be essential for escape, and I was fairly certain that the fastest horse belonged to Kaden, so that was the one I would take. Therein lay another problem. They left the horses unsaddled and unbridled. I could ride bareback if I had to, but I could go much faster with a saddle, and speed would be essential.

I spotted Kaden in the distance, standing by his horse and brushing it, seemingly attentive to his task, though I wondered how often he had looked my way.

I was still pondering something he’d told me last night. I had spent most of yesterday trying to understand the ancient Vendan language, and I had asked him if he had ever heard of the Song of Venda. He knew of it but explained that there were many songs sung in various versions. They were all said to be the words of the kingdom’s namesake.

He told me Venda had been the first ruler’s wife. She had gone mad and sat on the city wall day after day, singing songs to the people. A few she wrote down, but most were memorized by those who listened. She was revered because of her kindnesses and wisdom, and even after she went mad, they’d come to hear her wailings, until finally one day she fell from the wall and died. It was believed by many that her husband was the one who pushed her, unable to listen to her nonsense any longer.

Her mad babble lived on, in spite of the ruler’s efforts to ban it. He burned all the songs he could find that had been written down, but the others took on a life of their own when they were sung by the people as they went about their day. I asked Kaden if he might be able to read a passage of Vendan for me, and he said he couldn’t read. He claimed none of them did and that reading was rare in Venda.

This puzzled me. I was certain that back in Terravin I had seen him read several times. Berdi had no menus at the tavern so we recited the fare, but there were notices pinned outside, and I was sure I had seen him stop to look at them. Of course, that didn’t mean he understood what he saw, but at the festival games, I thought he had read the events board along with the rest of us, pointing out the log wrestling. Why would he lie about being able to read?

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