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already looked at her with suspicion. Let her husband tell him if she could ever bring the two together,
if the Garkohn had not destroyed all hope of an alliance.
They were not taking slaves, the Garkohn, although Jules would see it that way. He had said himself
what they were doing, although he did not know it. He had complained that Natahk treated the
Missionaries as though they were just another branch of the Garkohn. Well, by now, according to Kohn
custom, the Missionaries were exactly that. The abducted Missionaries were in the southern part of the
valley at the Garkohn farming town. And like Alanna, they had found out for themselves how human the
Kohn people were. She spoke to Jules.
"For the sake of the people we have left here, Jules, talk to the Tehkohn Hao."
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"Form an alliance with him?"
"Yes, if he'll co-operate." He would try. Surely he would try.
"And if he won't?"
"Then we have no chance. You know it. We can't fight either tribe alone. We can't even run with both
tribes considering us fair game. Not that we'd know where to run anyway to avoid running into people
worse than the Tehkohn or the Garkohn."
Jules sat staring downward at his clenched hands, and Alanna imagined what he must be feeling. The
Missionaries looked to him for leadership. They had ever since he had brought them together as a
colony. He had always been much aware of his responsibility to them. Now the best he could do for
them was choose which of the many dangers he would expose them to. And he had to choose quickly.
His prime prisoner might escape even that night.
"Jules, I'm pushing, I know. I have to push. Will you see the Tehkohn Hao?"
He sighed. "Tell me about him, Lanna. Make me understand why you trust him so much."
If only she could, she thought wearily. But no, the half truths had to go on. "I trust his ability to handle
his people," she said. "If he decides we're worth helping, we'll get help."
"One Tehkohn," said Jules. "What would it take to make some other Tehkohn challenge him and get rid
of him?"
"The same thing it would take to make you overrule the Bible words of Jesus Christ."
"Alanna!" said Neila, shocked.
"The Hao are not overruled except by other Hao. And the only other Tehkohn Hao is old and not active
in governing the people any longer. Diut's word will stand."
"His kind are considered gods?"
"No. The Kohn don't pray to him. They don't expect him to perform miracles exactly. But they obey
him as though they thought he was a god. Even the Garkohn are glad to obey him when they can. It's
more& more comfortable than disobeying. He's like a symbol that God or fate or something is on your
side if you have him."
"A walking good luck charm."
"Maybe. Whatever he is, his power is in the natural reaction of the Kohn people to blue to that special
kind of blue. No Kohn other than the Hao can attain it and all Kohn seem to be in awe of it."
"But if the Garkohn are in awe of him& "
"But he's not their Hao. In things that don't matter much, they'll obey him, honoring his blue. Remember
when they were knocking some of their prisoners around just after the raid? He told them to stop and
they stopped."
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"I saw that. I wondered about it. And they wouldn't let my men paint him."
"It would be sacrilege to mar the blue."
Jules looked at her strangely. "Yes, that's what they said."
"They mean to have that blue for themselves. They intend to keep him damage his legs so that he can't
escape. They might not force the meklah on him, but they would call him Garkohn Hao. A captive Hao
doesn't lead unless he renounces his former people and shows that he has joined his captors. But whether
that happens or not, his presence gives his captors unity and strength that they'll turn and use in this
case, against the Tehkohn. Diut won't let that happen. And he's a man in need of allies now, Jules. Even
if he breaks free, you can be of use to him, and him to you." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]