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A Scholar's Purpose: A Story of Elska (ch. 2) by Acton BellL'ars-K'a'lil D'quin restlessly rolled the data baubs through his fingers, jumping slightly when his brother poked his head into the office. "Have you finished the Amberden report?" L'ars-K'a'lil M'ket asked. His Superior to Inferior inflection was tinged with exasperation.
D'quin was quite familiar with both the inflection and the exasperation; both being frequently directed his way by his younger brother. Choosing one of the baubs he stood and held it out to his brother. "The Amberden results," he said in a voice devoid of inflection.
M'ket frowned and snatched the baub from D'quin's hand. "You should have brought it to me immediately, D'quin. It's vital to give the Terrans satisfaction. They bring House L'ars a great deal of business."
D'quin looked at M'ket. People often mentioned the resemblance between them; but though D'quin could see they both shared the same dusty brown shade of hair, green-blue eyes set in a broad face, and strong jaws, he was sure his face had never worn such an expression of angry, frustrated impatience.
"I am aware of the Terrans' importance," he said. His voice was quiet.
"Are you really, K'a'lil D'quin?" M'ket's inflection was pure Deserved Sarcasm directed at Incompetent Underling. "Then if you are so aware of the Terrans' importance, why did you not grace the Family and the Terrans with your presence at last eve's meal?"
D'quin felt the heat rise in his face. "I was indisposed," he said, though as Head of House he owed no explanation to his younger brother. "My apologies were sent."
"'Indisposed.' ‘Indisposed,'" mocked M'ket. "You were probably lost in some dusty account of the First Exodus. You stand as Head of House L'ars-K'a'lil D'quin. It is your Duty to appear at events of this kind. If you can not perform your Duties, you will serve the House best by stepping down." Left unspoken, but heard just the same, were the words, "And name me Head of House."
"Enough," said D'quin, using House Formal command. "The Amberden information is in your hand L'ars-K'a'lil M'ket. Do with it what is right."
M'ket replied with exaggerated deference, "As you will, Head of House."
Once K'a'lil M'ket was gone, D'quin sank back into his chair and released a heavy sigh. It was true that M'ket seemed better equipped and more eager to perform the Duties of Head of House L'ars than D'quin, but D'quin filled the role to the best of his ability despite his handicap.
House L'ars was the House of Empaths. That particular talent allowed them to flourish in both the business and political arenas. L'ars, with House El-Zora, had been the first to make contact with the Terrans and the Avonians. Both Houses had gained in prestige and influence, and though El-Zora had allowed both to slip away, L'ars had not. Main House L'ars had continued to strengthen its ties to the off-worlders, with each of its dependent Houses serving in some way. The House of L'ars-K'a'lil D'quin served as interfacers between off-world corporations and their Byshen counterparts.
Unfortunately D'quin was not an empath, but a post-cognitive.