By Dolores J. Nurss

Volume 1I: Tests of Fire and Blood

Chapter 19




Deirdre’s encounter with the soldiers in the ox-cart happened in a dream separate from the one about her in the last chapter, but it took no great insight to see where it fit with the others, my clothes still damp, smoke and ash in the air, and me wandering in a daze of exhaustion and guilt at some dark deed done behind me.

It did, however, leave me with a puzzle to solve: how to explain why an army that has tanks also uses ox-carts.  Fortunately, history has many examples of the uneven spread of military technology.  And it spreads still more unevenly in Novatierre, due to the inherent haphazardness of the tech successfully brought over by the first colonists, a random scattering of dark ages and renaissances all over the planet, coupled with a far smaller and more scattered population without much in the way of connective infrastructure between.

Karol pops in and out of my dreams, sort of an Everyman of the Charadocian Army.  Coarse and yet oddly charming, by turns brutal and kindly, genially bigoted and ignorant, often funny yet ultimately a servant of oppression who does not forget his duty to his master, he amounts to a Shadow-figure wanting to be loved–but you have to stay on your guard, and come to your senses in time to set the boundaries.

The rendezvous with my sibs in arms happened at the same hill described in my husband’s dream from years earlier, now internalized into my own dreamworld.  The closer I came to waking up the more uncoordinated my dream-body became, which in the dream I attributed to the last of the whiskey in my stomach hitting my bloodstream.  All details happened as dreamed, including the revelation of the pickpocketed weapons and Fatima laughing so hard she drops me into the water, which finally did wake me up.  But I felt woozy on into waking-life, and only came out of it with breakfast.

The arrival back in Petro’s cave happened in a different, brief nap-dream, while nursing a sinus headache.

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