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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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Regan had dared Bryn to swallow one once, saying that the cadets in training had to do so. Bryn wasn’t one to be outdone, so he gulped the plump, squirming maggot down. Within a few seconds, he retched. But I knew they could sustain a person as well as roasted duck.

I took a deep shuddering breath. Zsu viktara. I squeezed my eyes shut, imagining myself riding back home strong enough to find and help Walther, strong enough to marry a prince I loathed, strong enough to forget Rafe. Strong enough. I opened my eyes and scooped a handful of wiggling grubs into my hand.

“I’m strong enough to eat these and imagine they’re duck,” I whispered. I tossed my head back, plopping them into my mouth and swallowing.

Duck. Slimy duck.

I took another handful.

Wiggling duck.

I washed them all down with a swig from my canteen. Juicy roasted duck. I’d make myself come to love grubs if I had to. I swallowed again, making sure they stayed down.

Che-ah!

I jumped. Another shadow flitted across the canopy. What was skulking up there? I set about gathering dry sticks and moss, then fanned the spark from the flint into a flame. The strange shrieks cut through the air, and I thought that whatever animal made them had to be near.

I added more wood to the fire and pulled the Song of Venda to my lap to keep my mind busy. I used the book Dihara had given me to help me translate the text. The formation of letters in the two books differed. The ones in Dihara’s primer had a boxy appearance, while the ones in the Song of Venda had scrolls and curves, and one letter looped into the next, making it hard to know where each letter stopped and another began. I stared, thinking it was hopeless, and then the letters seemed to move of their own accord right before my eyes, rearranging themselves into a pattern I could recognize. I blinked. It seemed obvious now.

The similarities appeared and the unknown letters revealed themselves. The curves, the missing accents, the key. It made sense. I translated in earnest. Word by word, sentence by sentence, I raced back and forth between the primer and the old Vendan text.

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