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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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“Luckily they’re skittish,” Kaden said. “Their horns could be deadly.”

“What are they?” I asked.

“We call them miazadel—creatures with spears. I’ve only seen their herds here and a little farther south, but there are animals throughout the savanna that you won’t see anywhere else.”

“Deadly ones?”

“Some. They say they come from faraway worlds and the Ancients brought them here as pets. After the devastation, they were loosed, and some flourished. “At least that’s what one of Venda’s songs say.”

“That’s where you get your history? I thought you said she was mad.”

“Maybe not in all things.”

I couldn’t imagine anyone having one of those exotic creatures as a pet. Perhaps the Ancients really were just a step below the gods.

I thought about the gods a lot as we traveled. It was as if the landscape demanded it. Somehow they were larger in this never-ending vastness, greater than the gods confined to the Holy Text and the rigid world of Civica. Here they seemed greater in their reach. Unknowable, even for the Royal Scholar and his army of word pickers. Faraway worlds? I felt as if I was already in one, and yet there were more? What other worlds had they created—or abandoned like this one?

I put two fingers to the air for my own sacrilege, a habit instilled in me, though I did it with none of the sincerity that surely the gods required. I smiled for the first time in days, thinking of Pauline. I hoped she wasn’t worrying about me. She had the baby to think of now, but of course I knew she did worry. She was probably going to the Sacrista every day to offer prayers for me. I hoped the gods were listening.

We camped amid this once grand but now forgotten city, and while Kaden and Finch went to find some small game for dinner, Griz, Eben, and Malich unsaddled and tended the horses. I said I would gather firewood, though precious little wood looked to be available here. Down by the brook, there was a copse of tall bushes. Maybe I’d find some dry branches there. I brushed my hair as I walked. I had vowed I wouldn’t let them turn me back into the animal I’d been when I had arrived at the vagabond camp, filthy, with matted hair and devouring food with my fingers … little more than animals.

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