He paused before adding, "Always has it been said of me and to me that I am a useless one, fit only to do women's tasks. No word weaver shall ever chant my battle deeds in the great hall of Zahur. I who am Zahur's true son can not carry my sword in any lord's train. But now you offer me one of the great to-be-remembered quests. If I go, so may I prove that I am a man, even if I go limpingly.

What had happened to raise Gordon from the status of captive in Zahur's hold to familiar companionship with the most dreaded race on this planet? The ramp's head faced blank wall with a sharp-angled turn to the right of a narrower passage. One of the Foanna made a slight sign to the guards, who turned with drilled precision to march off along the passage. Now the other Foanna held out their wands.

Karara's answer was ambiguous, and she sped along hardly touching the handholds. "But hurry!" They finished their climb and were in another corridor where patches of sunlight came through a pierced wall to dazzle their eyes. This was similar to the way which had run beside the courtyard in Zahur's castle. Ross looked out of the first opening down into a courtyard.

But where Zahur's had held the busy life of a castle, this was silent. Silent, but not deserted. There were men below, armed, helmed. He recognized the uniform of the Wrecker warriors, saw one or two who wore the gray of the Foanna servants.

"Well, according to the accounts I've heard, it's been about three or four planet years here since some off-world devices have been infiltrating the native civilization " "You mean such things as those attractors set up on the reef at Zahur's castle?" Ross remembered Loketh's story. "Those, and other things.