Hannes’ voice crackled through the speaker of the wireless unit. “What’s the status, Brother?”
Yosha knew his grin was frightening the wireless operator, but he couldn’t help himself. “Brother, you won’t believe this! It’s amazing! Miss Límíng is learning our language all on her own. Something about her soul powers makes her able to connect with us and understand us.
“Do you remember a couple of days ago when she healed me, and she could understand me when I spoke? She discovered this morning that she could do that with others, by holding their hands and using her power. And she was able to understand Esthis without touching her at all. I watched her do it with a couple of other nurses, though she still needs to be touching them to understand them.”
“Excellent,” Hannes congratulated. “Is she using any of our words yet?”
“Um, a few. Not many yet, though I think it’s not because she doesn’t know them. I think her language is so different from ours that she has a hard time pronouncing our words. You should hear what she calls Luvaris! But I think she’s recognizing words when other people speak them.”
“Good. Now we need to have her learn reading and writing, and we’ll be set. How did the move go?”
Yosha leaned a shoulder against the wall. “Smoothly. I don’t know where they got those nurses from, but they’d give most of your personal guard a hard sparring match. They got her in with no problems, though she’s still tender and bruised. Now that I’ve had a chance to really look at her, I’m amazed she survived that fall. She’s … tiny.”
Hannes snorted, the sound making the speakers pop. “Agreed. I can tell you she doesn’t weigh more than a toddler. But she was wearing enough clothing to outfit a family a seven, so that probably got her through in one piece. How are the machines? I heard Esthis went down there.”
Yosha launched into a brief but detailed account of Esthis’ devices and adjustments, and then, at Hannes’ prompting, the reaction of their guest.
“She’s really interested in the observations we made while she was unconscious. I get the feeling that her people don’t do much experimenting, for some reason. They have all this advanced soul-stuff, but they don’t try to push their boundaries. She acted like our doing experiments while she was out of it was the most revolutionary thing she’d heard of.” Yosha shrugged.
“Something to consider,” Hannes replied. “Another thing to keep in mind is that Annat is hearing more rumors from the people about our guest. Some of the ones she healed got word out about it, and people are starting to say she’s a goddess. With all the scares from Luvaris and the Riven, Annat thinks we might be facing a religious panic. I’ve sent some extra soldiers down to you, but make sure everyone’s on the lookout for mobs.”
Yosha nodded soberly. “I’ll do that. Last thing Miss Límíng needs while she’s healing is hysterical folks throwing themselves at her. They might break her.” He chuckled at his joke.
“Among other things,” Hannes agreed; Yosha could imagine the wry expression on his face. “Keep up the good work, brother. You and Esthis and Barna do whatever you need to in order to get that ward running and the recordings made. I know we need to let Miss Límíng rest, but try to get as much information out of her as you can. We need to figure out how to replicate what she does before Luvaris comes up with another attack.”
“Of course, my king.” Yosha kept his tone even, but he felt his heart swell. How many years had it been since he’d been treated with respect? How long had he waited for the chance to prove that he was just as good as anyone else? His whole life, it seemed. Now he was doing an important task and earning praises.
It was almost worth the last year.
“If I’m not available when next you wire in, leave your report and I’ll get it as soon as I can. We’re expecting some neighbors to drop by at some point, but we’re not sure how long it will take them to get through the passes. Annat thinks their van will arrive this afternoon, but we’ll see.”
“Talk with you soon, brother.”
“Of course, brother.”
Hannes set down the wireless headset and stretched for a moment. He turned to the operator. “Keep an ear out, Peleg, and pray we don’t have any crises for the rest of the day.”
“Yes, my king,” the man replied, saluting.
Hannes turned and strode back to the table, which was buried under maps and reports. He frowned. “Heber,” he called. His personal secretary hurried over. “Can’t we get this a bit more organized? Half a sneeze will send these papers to the Beyond.”
“Of course, my king. We only thought you would want them readily available.”
Hannes grunted. “I do want them on hand. Just not underfoot. Set up some shelves or crates or something so we can find them but don’t have to worry about knocking them over.”
“At once, my king.”
Annat chuckled as she glided up to the table. “All these marvelous advances in gathering information, and now you don’t want the fruits thereof.”
Hannes let a corner of his mouth lift as he snorted. “I like having the information. I also like having it in order so it’s usable. Who can find anything in this mess?”
A shadow flickered across Annat’s face. “What is it?” Hannes asked quietly.
Annat sighed, a rare display from her. “It it, I hope, nothing of vital importance. But who among us can say what will become important and what will fade away? Allow me to inform you, my king, of what news we have from the outer regions of the kingdom.”