The Way of the Word

13. October 2010

The Gatherers – Chapter 24

“I’m glad you’re back,” Opona said when Ghenni entered the hut.

“So am I,” Ghenni replied. “What’s to eat?”

“Leftovers. I’m sorry, dear, but I didn’t have the time… Lejani’s sick.”

“I know, she caught some bug or other.”

“She’s gotten worse.”

“You’re kidding.” Ghenni went over to where Lejani lay on her bedroll. She hunched down beside her sister. Lejani didn’t look good at all. Her face glistened with sweat. Ghenni put her palm on Lejani’s forehead.

“Ouch, you’re hot enough to boil water on,” she said.

“Thanks a lot, sis,” Lejani said. She coughed and sniffled. Ghenni straightened and frowned.

“What’s she got, and is it catching?” she asked her mother, dropping her voice to a whisper.

“I have no idea,” Opona said. “If she gets worse, I’ll have to have Elomei look at her.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Ghenni said.

“Right. And now, get some sleep yourself.” Opona hesitated for a moment. “On the other side of the room. There’s no sense in you taking sick as well.”

Ghenni nodded. She gathered her bedroll and went to the other side of the room to unroll it. She lay down and curled up to sleep, but sleep didn’t come for quite a while.

Just as she was dozing off, a high, thin voice began to whisper in her ear.

“Hey, Ghenni, guess what happened.”

“Whu… Habbassin?” She squinted. Habbassin was the blue bug again, sitting on her shoulder and sqeaking into her ear. “What’re you doing here? Shouldn’t you be back in your lamp?”

“Who do you think I am, Jeannie? No, I’ve just had an encounter with one of our resident wizards.”

“What?” Ghenni almost forgot to whisper. “How did they find you? How’d you get away? You did get away, didn’t you? What happened?”

“Actually, I’m glad you asked,” Habbassin said, rubbing the first pair of his six limbs together. “Therein lies quite a story…”

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