Harvest of Travel - Chapter 8 - A'mara Books




(Tharnday, cont.)

Irola – Parliament Commons

“I’m worried about being seen with you,” Peri Harmon said as she met up with Julleon Dellan in the Parliament Commons. “I’m already being reminded that hanging out with you could cost me my position.”

“You could always meet me at the Complex.”

“Even that will seem strange,” Peri replied.

“If you’re doing a report on the A’mara, you need to be with A’mara. I could find someone else to work with you – maybe someone female?” Julleon offered.

Peri felt embarrassed. “It’s just that you’re A’mara, not that you’re a man,” she replied with a shy smile. “What about the regular library?”

“Where anyone could follow you and watch us?” Julleon asked.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” Peri replied.

“The Complex is secure and our library is our best resource as we have access to tons of places the public library does not. Come, I want you to see it. You need to know why we need the special permissions we’ve enjoyed for so long,” Julleon encouraged.

Peri kept up with him as they walked to the Complex.

“You can meet me here in the foyer each time we meet,” Julleon said as they walked through the foyer. Peri found herself distracted by the tall trees and flowering vines that covered many of the walls of the room. There were even fountains that seemed to freshen the air.

She hit her toe into the first step and a hand grabbed her elbow preventing injury. “Thanks,” she said, blushing.

“It happens a lot. I should learn to take people up the ramp instead – at least the first time.”

“It’s an amazing room. I should just stand here a few minutes to take it in.”

Julleon stopped, his hand still on her arm. “Just look, then,” he encouraged. “Our buildings – both here and all over the planet – are meant to help us connect with nature, to strengthen our connection with the leya.”

Peri looked around the room, astonished by what she saw.

“It seems lavish from the outside, but this is meant to be our home as well as our workplace as long as we are stationed on Irola,” Julleon explained. “If you’re going to report about us, it’s good if you learn all about us – not just our good deeds or our failings.”

Peri nodded. “So, we start with a tour?” she asked.

“That works,” Julleon said, smiling.

They first looked into a large room with obstacles and a foam pit.

“This is our sparring room. We train shaze in here – as well as other martial arts. We never know when we will need all our skills to protect someone.”

“Do you enjoy practicing in here?”

“Yes. I get a buzz from it. Mostly, though, it just keeps me in shape, keeps me strong.”

Peri’s mind started straying about wishing to see his strength displayed. She tried to close away the thoughts as quickly as they came. She felt her cheeks reddening again.

Julleon led her to a different room, down a hall. This one was filled with children. “Our education system is designed to work individually with each child. Most children can learn independently if we let them. Help them when they need it, then let them go. If they’re not ready for a subject, we don’t push it. Our brains are unique.”

“That’s very different from what I had in Hailu,” Peri replied, feeling a little jealous.

A short distance from the education rooms, Julleon led her into a room that was obviously the library.

“We have an extensive collection of important works, even influential works of fiction. There are translated works of mythology from the Other World, brought in over the ages.”

“The Other World?” Peri echoed, amazed again.

He grinned. “But that’s not why we’re here,” he reminded her. He chose an HPS station and sat, indicating she should sit next to him.

Peri felt slightly nervous sitting so close to him. The screen seemed to move by itself.

“So, let’s look into the situation in Gaskarii – one of the incidents you mentioned,” he suggested. The screen pulled up a detailed report on the incident.

Peri giggled.

Julleon laughed. “I shouldn’t be showing off, I know,” he said. “But it’s fun.”

Peri relaxed, feeling energized by his warmth and closeness.

“Take a look here. This is the complete report written by two of the people who were involved in the situation. We had been alerted to the fact that something was wrong in Loxos. It had been an anonymous tip, but turned out to be a trap from the Balan, meant to kill people and disrupt the elections. It succeeded to begin with, but eventually, we got control of the situation and we ended up with a fair election,” Julleon said.

“But people died because you guys didn’t catch everything.”

“Someone had a plan to kill… that wasn’t us. We were victims too. Those who were at fault either died or are now apprehended.”

“There’s an addendum,” Peri noticed, pointing.

“Yes. We found one of our missing members last year. He had been working in Gaskarii to try to help us out. He was able to keep the situation from being worse than it was. Our files are never permanently closed. If we learn something new, it can be added, but never removed.”

Peri nodded.

“Here’s another situation two years ago, just before the problem in Loxos… Princess Shana of Balan was protected by us, even when her enemies learned her location due to a traitor. We were able to move quickly, keep her safe and return her home again when the situation improved,” Julleon said.

“Another traitor?” Peri asked.

“Sadly. We are working on how to avoid losing people to our adversaries,” Julleon replied. “Our lifestyle is great for helping people, but we also sometimes attract bad people who wish to use us for bad things. As it was, several of our members were already well on the trail of our traitor, one of whom found his wife while he was on that mission.” He smiled, looking at Peri.

His smile lit up his face, she noticed.

“The only one who died in that incident was the traitor. We still felt it was a failure because we wanted to know why he betrayed us. We wanted to know what went wrong so that maybe we could fix it.”

Peri nodded. She felt the pain he had for a moment. Impulsively, she grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “It must have hurt very much,” she soothed.

He nodded. “We are trained to cope with our pain quickly, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

“I am supposed to be taking notes,” Peri said, suddenly realizing she had been distracted. She took her hand from his and began writing on her flyppad.

Tilo Martinis had spent the best part of the day leading a man on a wild goose chase. Why the man followed him was strange to begin with, but the fact that he didn’t tire of the fruitless pursuit was very strange indeed. It was the level of dedication that was normally found in the A’mara, but they weren’t welcome in X’lea.

Although initially he had been following Celna, once he realized he was being followed, he only loosely followed the cousins and spent more energy teasing the man behind him.

He wasn’t aware of any other Balan in the area. Surely, the Curator would have told them of any changes. With losses and imprisonments of key members in the past couple of years, they needed to keep better track of who was around.

Unless…. He would have to ask his mother and step-father later. There was a notorious group roaming the planet. Maybe bringing attention to Zilan and his gang would gain him a promotion – maybe even help in somehow securing Celna to him.

When Tilo realized it was nearing time for practice, he led the man back to the Leya Club where there were several other people milling around outside. He made note of them, but pretended to ignore them as he went inside, hoping that Celna and Seri would obey Yurit and come for training.

Watching Celna was better than not seeing her. He could at least think about her and imagine her in his arms, whether willing or not.



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Map of X'lea


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