Hailu, X’lea – Buccaneer Casino
Yavin ate the rest of his granola bar as he watched the dance practice, mesmerized by the two young ladies. “Which one is which?” he asked the woman who had been chatting to him.
“Celna’s hair is slightly fairer, her eyes slightly bluer. Her skin is slightly paler too. They’ve been wearing their hair the same way for most of their lives though – almost thriving on the confusion they cause. Celna is also slightly more shy, but is often the instigator of the trouble the two get into!”
“Judging from the time, they’re just about to finish,” the woman informed. “I’ve already told them I want to see them afterwards.”
But instead of coming their direction, Celna and Seri retreated through another door and were gone. The woman followed them to begin with. Then, she came back, the disappointment in her face.
“Sorry,” she said. “They are like that – full of mischief!”
“It’s okay. Maybe they’ll turn up at the club later,” Yavin replied.
“I will try again to encourage them. I know Yurit has been working on them too… one of Celna’s brothers.”
“Okay. Would you like my code?” he asked.
“Sure. I’m Davilla Hauk.”
“Please keep her safe.”
“I’ll do everything I can,” Yavin promised.
“Now, I do have to ask you to leave,” Davilla insisted as a nude woman came in a side door and made her way to the stage.
Yavin left quickly, hoping Zilan would have some advice.
Irola – Parliament Commons
Peri Harmon caught up with the other peers in the Commons. “Can I have a copy of your research?” she asked Dawn.
“Of course. I’m glad to see you taking it seriously – despite you seeing that A’mara earlier.”
“I’m not seeing him!” Peri protested.
“Good. I kind of like seeing you here,” Dawn replied, taking Peri’s offered flyppcard and plugging it into her machine.
Sasky nodded in agreement.
“You really think that I’d be recalled for being friends with Julleon? Even though he’s part of one of the old families of Hailu?”
“He’s A’mara. I didn’t think they were welcomed in X’lea. It’s probably why he came to Irola in the first place.”
“A few meetings with him probably won’t hurt,” Sasky said. “But be careful who sees you with him – and that you don’t do anything to give them a wrong impression. A photo of you with him would probably spell the end of your position.”
“You can’t really be friends with him,” Dawn replied. “It doesn’t matter who his family are in X’lea. He’s not there, he’s here. He’s A’mara and your job is to represent the constituents of X’lea – who don’t accept A’mara.” She handed Peri the flyppcard.
“Thanks,” Peri said. She turned to leave.
“Ignore our advice at your peril,” Sasky warned.
Peri left, feeling the blush on her face again. She had a few hours to kill before she would see Julleon again. She headed to the park that was closest to the Complex. Finding an empty bench in the middle of a small copse of small trees, she curled up with the flyppad and started reading Dawn’s report. She found herself imagining Julleon in the middle of everything she read.
Hailu, X’lea – Buccaneer Casino
Celna Dellan hadn’t minded streaking through the quiet casino back to her zip-lift. She didn’t know what Davilla wanted or who the man who she’d been sitting with was, but she loved giving the woman the slip as much now as she did ten years ago.
The man was probably a reporter who just wanted a glimpse of flesh to report about how exploited she and Seri were. She laughed.
“The man was good looking, at least,” Seri said, joining her twin cousin. “That beats most – and certainly beats Tilo!”
“Anything beats that creep!” Celna added.
“Which reminds me that Yurit is still pressuring us to go to training today. I don’t think he’s going to let up this time. Not when Tilo is threatening you.”
“Does he forget that Tilo sometimes trains too?” Celna asked.
“Maybe he will leave you alone when he sees how strong you become,” Seri supposed.
Celna shrugged. “I don’t suppose it matters whether he’s there or not. I can handle him. When Yurit sees that, maybe he’ll leave me alone. But that’s this afternoon. We still have half a morning to kill.”
“You were going to see Savai,” Seri reminded her.
“I don’t really want to.”
“I think she’d like to know that your nightmares are getting worse.”
“Let’s go shopping instead,” Celna replied.
“You’re avoiding things.”
“Yeah? So what?! They’re my dreams, not yours. I’m going shopping!” Celna cried as she hurried out the door.
She reached the zip-lift and managed to get in and shut the door before Seri could join her.
Quickly, Celna ran out the back door, then ran down to the river path. She continued running along the trails through the woods. On impulse, she took a slightly more meandering route, an attempt to frustrate her cousin, if Seri decided to follow her.
She stopped cold when she heard the clanging of steel. Celna caught her breath, then crept closer. The glimpse nearly stole her breath again. A group of five people, two women and three men were taking turns dueling with shazes. The clangs and sparks excited her as she wished again that she’d been able to learn this skill herself – at least enough to defend herself better.
She had a moment of recognition when she realized that one of the men was the one who had seen her with Tilo last night – then earlier with Davilla. Who was he? What was he doing here? Was he single?
She felt Seri approaching about the same time the man she was watching looked towards her.
“We are being watched,” he said approaching her at the same time as Seri reached her.
Celna ran again, Seri keeping up with her with ease.
“You are such a tease!” Seri’s voice cried.
“We needed more exercise anyway,” Celna replied, running faster. Coming out at the docks, she stopped and waited for her cousin. “Who were those people?” she asked.
“The ones in the woods? I don’t know.”
“The man who came towards me was with Davilla earlier. He watched us last night too. He’s not a simple reporter, that’s for sure.”
“I don’t know, Celna.”
“They were really good at shaze, the whole lot of them. You don’t suppose they’re A’mara?”
“They don’t wear cloaks,” Seri replied.
“No, but you couldn’t in X’lea, now, could you?”
“True, that. You could go back there and ask. If they are A’mara, then they are good people.”
“But if they’re not...”
“More to talk to Savai about then! I’ll beat you there!” Seri said running off at a jog again.
Celna knew it was a trick, but it was one that would always work with her. She ran after Seri again.
It wasn’t the fact that Celna was spying on them that had worried Yavin. He had felt her instantly, and had allowed her to watch unhindered. Perhaps it would make her more willing to train, he had realized.
But that was before he felt Tilo approaching as well. The other cousin had just barely entered the picture, but the man was still stalking Celna.
Drawing attention to her was a ploy to make her either come out, or run again. Shazes had been returned to their scabbards as well and cloaking themselves in the leya had resumed.
Yavin looked at Zilan, who nodded at him.
Tilo passed and Yavin silently stalked the stalker who was too engrossed in his quarry to notice anyone following him, especially one cloaked.
Yavin was impressed with how fit the two women were. They had already practiced, and now were running like a couple of deer frolicking across a meadow. What would they be like if they trained?
Yavin knew he wanted to know the answer to that question. But like deer, they might be skittish, especially Celna, who was used to being stalked. He would have to be smarter if he was to get a chance to meet them and coax them to practice.
Start over with chapter 1
Buy this story at: [Books2Read]( - coming soon to both digital and paper formats.
Other published stories related to this story... (all available in both digital and print formats.)
- Birth of the Neví - Saraca/Ja'tel's tragedy.
- Name of the Neví - Nico/Chaila's parents' romance.
- Mind of the Neví - story of Melia & Yuri, his brother Loti as well as how Espera got involved with the Balan and why Julleon went to Irola. Also why Marosio went to Atrua.
- Game of the Neví - the Neví and Balan like to get involved with casinos...
- Pawn of the Neví - the story of Saara and Viper
- Rebound of Power - Iyva and Zilan's story as well as the stories of Zaynen and Ralun.
- Friendship on Fire - the story of Marosio, Marc'la and Ek-ul.
- Courage to Trust - the story of Princess Shana and her rescue - and the romance of her rescuer.
- Elect to Change - the story of the Gaskarii elections and more about Ralun.
- Acting the Part - Derick Aiden's romance plus moreon Iyva and Zilan...
- Spice of Strength - Elíaz & D'zani's romance
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