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Ntaro Challenge: A House L'u-cif-er Story (ch. 1) by Acton Bell
The Ntaro language did not have the inflections and tones of Byshen's A'nth, but there was no mistaking the command.
The speaker's appearance was what was considered the native Ntaro – willowy, tall and slender, fine sharp features, and dark, glossy skin. This one wore its feather-like mane short, meaning it was a High Councilor of one of Ntaro's twenty-two administrative districts, probably the one that bordered the L'u-cif-er compound, as it was not the Councilor Genji had been introduced to earlier.
It admires, hates, and fears us. Genji heard Viir's sending as he bowed to the Ntaro. It will bear watching.
Roghet's voice bobbled as he performed the introduction. "L'u-cif-er Kara Genji be pleased to know the august Tseeaarr Kia-Kia, High Councilor of Sluren District." He hesitated as he looked toward Viir then said nothing. Genji did not need to be a telepath to know what the nervous new Overseer was worrying about. Consorts had no standing in Ntaro society. It would be a major breech of etiquette for Roghet to introduce the Ntaro chain-bound to Kia-Kia. As Viir seemed to fill the role of Genji's consort, he could not be introduced either.
Do you think it would make him feel better to know that no one on Byshen is exactly sure of how to introduce us either?
Genji could feel the mental smirk and trace of annoyance behind Viir's sending. Probably not, but feel free to discuss it with him at some other time, he sent back, even as he rose from his bow. "High Councilor," he said.
The Councilor's name told Genji a great deal. Ntaro names were more a series of clicks, cries, and calls than phonetic sounds. When the planet had dropped its isolationist policies two decades before and actively begun to invite off-world investors, most public officials chose to create secondary names that were easier for off-worlders to use. Those Ntaro who didn't tended to be part of the small, but still powerful, isolationist faction.
Isolationists also tended to be old Families with old money. Their panimalays were close-knit and slow to embrace change. They were well-educated, but close-minded, if such a contradiction of terms could co-exist, and held on to their beliefs beyond what outsiders saw as all reason. They were in many ways like the Seven Houses that ruled Byshen's affairs, which made Genji and Viir the ideal people to work with the Ntaro.
The second son of House L'u-cif-er had been fighting ingrained prejudice and stubborn resistance to change since the day he was born. Not only was he a Negative Psi, whose only Talent was to block the Psi abilities of others, born to the most powerful Psi House of Byshen, he had also formed an Elska bond with another man. Elska was an intense psychic, emotional, physical and mental bond, considered a gift of God by many Byshens. It was a rare occurrence and never in all of Byshen's long recorded history had it occurred between two men. To cap the matter, Viir was the most dangerous of Psis – a Wild Psi possessing not one, but three Psi Talents.