JOURNEY TO THE STARS
by David A. Summerwine
Inspired by "The Dark Crystal"
translated from German by KiraJenLove
Around Adjiru danced a crowd of young Gelflings his own age, and a number of small children who followed them. Vorin, a big, brown-haired boy, played his firca and danced around him. In his arms, more balancing than carrying, he had a pile of books, scrolls and papers, which he was trying not to drop, while the boys laughed and joked at him. A short distance away, Vorin's sister, Jamina, followed the group, but she was not in a laughing mood. Until recently, Adjiru had always been, in her eyes, a one-of-a-kind personality, because more than other Gelflings, who were altogether artists, his thoughts moved around mathematics, formulas and all kinds of science. Jamina could almost see the dark cloud of strange thoughts, constantly over his head, always going wherever he went or stood; his eyes not observing his environment, but fixed on things afar off.
Suddenly the group stopped as all his papers fell to the ground. For a brief moment, Vorin seemed to regret this and the laughter of the children grew silent. However, just as they were about to rain a fresh set of jokes on Adjiru, Jamina stepped between them, and shooed the children away like birds in the field, and admonished them to be dears and go home. They obeyed and ran away laughing loudly. Vorin and his friends stood still another moment, speechless, observing the strange one, how he picked up his things, and how Jamina helped him. Then Vorin sighed, and began playing his flute again and finally left with his friends.
In the meantime, Adjiru continued on his way, Jamina close behind him, picking up his small treasures that kept falling to the ground, until they reached the door of his house.
"What do you want?" he finally said. He was annoyed, and his eyes fixed on Jamina. "What do you want?" His voice became somewhat harsher.
He has a beautiful voice, Jamina thought, as she cleaned the dust off one of his books which had fallen to the floor. She returned it to him and the mountain of scrolls in his arms seemed to collapse. In his eyes remained the question that he had asked Jamina.
"Perhaps you want it so," said Jamina sadly, as she turned away and left. But after a few steps, she stopped and looked back. Adjiru still stood there in the doorway, looking helpless and confused.
Jamina was not sure of her own feelings. Possibly she would agree with the other Gelflings, who believed that Adjiru, friend of Aughra, was not really like the other Gelflings. Only Kira could love and understand this strange boy, who lost his parents early and spent much time studying the sciences. The Elders, however, were of the opinion that he should be more interested in living things and not to strive after useless things that one could not affect. But for one reason Jamina knew this estimation was not completely correct. There was far more hidden in this boy than the others liked to assume.
Once, she saw him, sitting on the edge of a small lake. The sun shone on his blond hair, which a gentle wind played with, like a gleam of liquid gold. Surrounded by his books, he held a small sheet of paper in his hands, on which he had written some strange formulas, and stared into the clouds, his thoughts far away. His face radiated a peace, as if he would have written a love poem down.
He didn't notice Jamina, who was hidden behind the high grass of the bank, and had been watching him a long time. Whether she wanted to or not, she would never forget this moment. Am I in love? she asked herself each day, or do I only have compassion?
Tormented by these questions, she went home. Her mother Sila was preparing dinner and Jamina went to give her a hand, but she was of no help to her mother. She just kept staring into space. Sila took a knife, cut a piece of fruit with it and sat down at a small table. "Did your brother annoy you?" she asked. Jamina wanted to object first, but she was silent. "one might say he had a reason," Sila continued. Jamina seemed alarmed and regarded her mother with their large, green eyes.
"That's past." Sila said "At last you recognize that he doesn't fit you. Some sanity has returned to your thinking."
"Sanity?" gulped Jamina. "Which Gelfling would you get involved with, when it comes to love?"
Sila laughed and took her daughter into her arms. "I was afraid of that," she told Jamina affectionately. "Dennon. As far as Adjiru is concerned, I have a bad feeling about him."
"Did Vorin tell you about Adjiru?"
"I don't need that," said Sila. "I've noticed for a few days now how you change whenever he's near. But just since today it seems your brother has noticed it too."
"Vorin has no right to humiliate Adjiru."
"Did he do that?"
"I'll speak to him," she answered. "But child, please...love with your whole heart whomever you want...but Adjiru?"
"Like you said, mother, 'whomever I want'." She went out into the garden and her heart beat heavily in her chest.
Having dinner with her parents Sila and Diren, her little sister Yory, and her brother Vorin, who sat next to her and always teased her, was not amusing. Sila endeavored to hide her worries, while Vorin always tried to somehow bring up the topic of Adjiru without mentioning it directly.
The two older siblings were noisy enough and slid around on their chairs. Right now the meal seemed unimportant and lasted far too long. Finally, they wanted to go to the celebration that was taking place in the big meadow behind the school, under the Bori trees. The Greater Sun was going down on the horizon and it was getting darker. They both had the feeling that they were going to miss something if they didn't get going. But Jamina had even more of a reason to leave the house with her brother - so she could have a moment alone with him.
Finally the parents dismissed their restless offspring and went outside. On the way, Jamina caught up to her brother.
"You're too temperamental," she told him. "You don't even recognize when you hurt someone else."
"You're talking about Adjiru," he said with a grin. "Are you in love with him?"
"None of your business," Jamina said angrily. "you hurt him."
Vorin sighed, but he was not ready to express his regret. Somehow, it did not ease his mind to know that someone else besides him should care about his sister. He had always been responsible for her for so long. That Adjiru should be that now was more bad luck. Anyway, that's just the way things usually turned out.
"Mirian," said Jamina, "you also hurt Mirian."
"What are you talking about?" Vorin laughed. "I didn't do anything like that at all."
"Even so...you should do something." she defiantly placed her fists on her hips.
Vorin gulped, and tried to change the subject.
"She is very beautiful," Jamina continued.
"She has no fire," he countered.
"Oh, no!" Jamina answered. "I know that. But when you appear, she gets insecure. And you...you don't help her any."
"I don't want to miss this celebration," he grumbled crossly, wanting to end the conversation.
By the next day, the two of them were harrassing each other over Adjiru and Mirian. On the way to school, they were having a hot debate over Vorin's apparent indifference and Jamina's impugned infatuation. Their walk would be good and friendly if he would just drop this. At the schoolyard, Vorin became quite angry with Jamina.
"I'm so sick of hearing about Mirian," he shook his head. "Last night, Phila and Kero were performing some great music, and everyone was dancing - except you."
"I was just waiting for someone to invite me," Jamina flustered, and snapped. "But you only had eyes for the black-haired, fiery-eyed Nari. Everyone's sweetheart."
"She wouldn't leave me alone."
"So?" asked Jamina. "How come nothing happened?"
Vorin didn't want to discuss it with his sister, but with Nari he felt completely overwhelmed. She was very dominant and unyielding.
"I have doubts", he said finally, "and those in your situation should have them too."
At that moment Mirian came by the gate. When she saw Jamina and her brother, she stopped and seemed undecided whether she should continue, or remain at the entrance. Vorin could hear her frightened groan.
"I am not cruel," said he to Jamina. "I will help someone." So he approached Mirian, who did not move from her spot. "Can we talk?" he asked. "Today after school?"
Mirian, unable to speak, nodded silently and regarded him with radiant blue eyes. She shot a quick glance at Jamina, then she went into the schoolhouse. "You could still learn something from me," Vorin told his sister, "now it's your turn...don't ruin it." Then he went in behind Mirian, turned around again, then shrunk back, saying, "Forget what I said!" he said, "Ruin it!"
It was raining hard when Adjiru arrived at the Observatory of Aughra's mountain. He was full of enthusiasm, and he was sure he would have interesting discoveries that Aughra would absolutely want to impart to him. But when he tried to explain his thoughts, she appeared to be not so enthusiastic.
"Ha, Gelfling," she growled, "What do you know? Something? Nothing? Ha!"
Adjiru was unsure why Aughra was so angry this time.
"Where do you think this moooooon is going, hm?" She came somewhat nearer. "Where will it be?" She shook her great head, turned away, moved her arms and pointed at the whirling, gyrating globes. "The mooooon will be seized by the Great Sun, then it will let go. The middle one will snatch it, then slingshot it, swirl it around. Then it will pass the small one, and then where will it go?...Hm? Where? Where will it be in 1,000 years?" She looked at Adjiru, who wrote some numbers and symbols on his scroll. Then he shyly showed it to Aughra.
"Gelfling, go home! Go play your flute, beat your drums and tambourine. Play, dance, celebrate! Go home! Gelflings know nothing but to frisk and dance around! Hmph!"
Adjiru's tears mixed with the rain, which fell constantly from the sky. He could feel their salty taste in his mouth, and his heart was bitter. More than that, he felt lonesome and alone. He had gladly thrown his bookbag with the many notices in in into a ravine. He wished he had never gotten interested in looking at the stars - at the suns, the moons, the comets. With all the knowledge that Jen had learned from the UrRu and taught him. Maybe it would be better if he were like other Gelflings, and forget about looking at the stars and suns and focus more on dancing, singing and laughing, just like Aughra said.
The setting sun was behind the clouds as he reached the village. As his thoughts were in a blur and the rainwater was running into his eyes, he bumped into Vorin, who likewise appeared to be in a hurry and didn't see Adjiru. They collided heavily, and they both tumbled. Afterward, Vorin got up and checked for injuries, and was angry at Adjiru. But instead of chiding him for his clumsiness, he broke forth with something that burned the soul.
"Leave my sister alone!" he hissed, and grabbed Adjiru by the collar.
Adjiru, who normally would have kept walking, broke Vorin's grip and threw him to the ground. Jamina's brother was somewhat in a daze, having underestimated Adjiru's strength. In an instant, he sat on him, grabbed him under his arms and pushed his hands into the mud. With some effort, he freed himself and then both of them floundered like a wriggling ball into the street. They went through puddles and deep holes, and Vorin kept pressing forward with effort, saying how Adjiru should stay away from Jamina. Adjiru said not a word, he just panted and tried not to make eye contact with Vorin, as long as Vorin existed.
Finally, Vorin lay under him and was not in a position to wrestle out of his grip. His wrists hurt and Adjiru wasn't about to let him go. Vorin tried to take a deep breath to renew his energy to fight against his adversary, but he did not succeed. Soon he had no more energy, and while he was looking at Adjiru, he recognized pain in his face. His eyes were closed and he clenched his teeth so hard that his jaw muscles were visibly prominent. He sobbed and shook, as his body was racked with pain. Vorin regarded him for a moment longer, until he could get his arm loose and right himself. Adjiru turned his back on Vorin and stood there for a while, irresolute, as the rain poured down on him. He shrugged his shoulders abnormally, then wanted to run away.
"Wait!" Vorin called after him, stooping to pick up the bag that Adjiru had dropped, "This belongs to you!"
Adjiru hestitated, before he turned to face Vorin. His eyes rested on the bag, and he was unsure if he should just walk away from Jamina's brother. He looked helplessly at Vorin.
"I..." Vorin tried again, "I..." but he couldn't continue.
Adjiru looked at him and then took the bag in his hand. "We've gotten somewhat dirty," he said. "The rain won't be able to wash it off."
Adjiru said not a word, and as Vorin was looking, he thought he saw an expression of regret creep into his eyes.
The wind blew and lightning and thunder began to roll. "You have a long way to go to get home," said Vorin finally. "My house is right here. Looks like we're in for bad weather."
"Why should I come with you?" Adjiru asked.
"I know that you have good reason not to," he tried to smile, "but my sister would be eternally grateful to me, if you come in from the storm rather than freeze."
The two of them sat silently at the table in Vorin's parents' house. Adjiru and Vorin were wrapped in warm towels and drank hot tea that Sila had prepared. Jamina stood aside in the kitchen and regarded Adjiru and her brother.
"You two should be ashamed of yourselves, to be in such a condition," Sila told both of them. "Just like little children. Besides, it is not becoming to Gelflings to fight like Dobrus. Jamina, have you washed their clothes?"
"Yes," said Jamina, who directed her gaze to Adjiru, "I have hung them up to dry. They can wear them tomorrow."
Sila twitched slightly. Should she allow Adjiru to stay the night? Nevertheless, like all the others, she wanted to keep her distance from this strange one, but she also knew the feelings of her daughter. She didn't want to do anything to encourage Jamina. But she had this mental picture of Adjiru standing wet and dripping at her door, and how she had compassion for him., and now here he was, shivering at her table and drinking a hot cup of tea. After all, he seemed like a handsome boy, whom someone might take him in and take care of him. But why did it have to be Jamina?
Then Diren came into the kitchen and asked, "Has your mind cooled off yet?" Then he examined his son. "I am concerned about you. How could you lose control like that?"
"But father..!" he tried to defend himself. "We have made up!"
Adjiru said nothing. His thoughts were on Aughra. One part of his thoughts were on that, the other part was on employing his eyes to not reveal anything to Jamina, who was watching him. And whether he wanted to or not, it pleased him to be here, even if the situation was embarrassing.
"I'd like to know who won," said Diren suddenly.
"Father," said Jamina, coming between them, wanting to spare Adjiru further humiliation. Vorin nodded his head, and then she knew that her brother finally understood this strange one. She smiled and sat down at the table next to Adjiru, who had just had a short shower. She noticed how his hands were shaking, and how insecure he was as his shoulders sagged.
"He can sleep with Vorin," said Jamina's father, "but tonight I don't want to hear the least bit of fighting."
"I'll make breakfast," said Jamina happily. She thought this would be a good enough reason for Adjiru not to fight with her brother anymore. Vorin looked at her sharply, and then he could read that he would have no more problems from Adjiru.
On this sunny morning, Jamina led Adjiru home. It was cool and after last night's rain the air smelled of greenery and fresh grass. The sky was washed clear and was a deep blue.
Now Adjiru was taciturn, as Jamina explained to him her family's circumstances. If she had believed he was not listening to her, she would have been right. He only heard her voice but was not listening to a word she said. After his disappointment with Aughra, Jamina's light voice was the lovliest thing in the little village on a warm Spring day.
Adjiru stood still and just looked at Jamina. She grew silent and returned his look. There was an expectation in her eyes, but he couldn't stand there anymore and look at her. This moment seemed to last an eternity, until Jamina grasped his hand. Adjiru went through a new shower, but Jamina appeared to be sure of herself, as she drew nearer to him before he could withdraw his hand. She took his other hand, and they were now so close, that he could feel the warmth of her breath that painted her lips.
He smiled, but at first made no sound. So they both stood together the whole time in silence, until his heart seized. "If your brother sees us like this, he'll be angry," he said.
"But we would be second," Jamina smiled. "besides, he and I are equal in what he thinks about us."
Adjiru widened his grin, then they walked hand-in-hand down the street.
For Adjiru, this was a new feeling, unusual, but he enjoyed her quietness and nearness. At this moment it was clear to him, that his former life was over. At this thought, his heart leapt. He couldn't say how he felt about it, or if he was frightened.
Over the next month, the two were often seen together. In the Valley of the Gelflings, they soon became the talk of the town. The strange one, who was taking careful steps into a new world, and Jamina, the daughter of outstanding chieftains, set out on a long-overdue adventure, or else let in stupidity.
Vorin was silent, whenever anyone asked him his opinion about Jamina and Adjiru. Sila, Jamina's mother, was full of cares about her daughter and was afraid she would be unhappy. She did not meet him with animosity, but kept her distance, lest she should hurt him and make Jamina sad.
However, Diren was quite the opposite. He often invited him to his house for a chat."He is quite clever," Diren said to his wife. "I have a feeling that he will bring something good to this." After a short pause, "I believe he is important for our people."
"I'm afraid," Sila replied. "I see problems coming."
"Is it really so bad? There are always problems..."
"I don't mean 'usual' problems." Sila hung her head. "Adjiru is a dreamer and is full of visions."
"Yes, I know that," he said, "and you are afraid your daughter will be unhappy."
Sila nodded. "Jamina's dreams should be about family, about children and a mate with whom to raise a family. Adjiru only looks to the sky and distant places. He seeks after great things. For him to take care of a family would only break him."
Diren agreed with everything Sila said. She recognized the situation well, but Diren knew how important this kind of Gelfling could be. Visionaries were important for the future, and he wished that someone in his family thought like this. Certainly Jamina wouldn't take this lightly. But he believed his daughter was somewhat sleepy, and she still needed to mature. He took Sila in his arms.
"You must always take so much onto yourself," he said. "Has this reduced your love for me?"
Sila widened her hug and squeezed him tighter. "No. I think we have grown on each other. But I'm just afraid for Jamina."
"Our daughter is strong," Diren said. "It won't be easy for her, but I believe everything will be all right."
"You are like these flowers," said Jamina. "I love you for yourself. For me, you have no other purpose than to be just what you are."
Adjiru looked at the sky. A star twinkled as the Greater Sun sank below the horizon. In the thicket by the bank of the lake, little animals rustled and withdrew into the brush. It was a warm early summer day, and on the lake one could begin to see the shining of lights and lanterns.
"For me, the stars are the Flowers of the Heavens", answered Adjiru, and thought about his own words. "Nothing resembles it. And I am sure that up there, there is Summer and Winter, too. A constant coming and going. I want to know how everything takes place. And why."
Jamina smiled. "I can understand that," she said. "But isn't it enough for you that they exist? That they please us? And that you can continue on, without knowing why."
He could have said that this alone was enough for him, but that would hurt Jamina, and, out of everything that he wanted to aim for, that he didn't want to do. In the meantime, it was becoming clear that Jamina meant a lot to him.
"I am happy that you are," he said. "That's enough for me." He laid his arm around her and kissed her long and intimately.
During the Summer it was apparent to everyone that the two would be getting married, which should not have been unexpected. And before the summer was over, the two were husband and wife. It was a happy celebration and although Sila still had her doubts, she wished them the best, and seemed happy and content.
Early the next year, it was so far the same with Vorin and Mirian, but things weren't going as well with them as between Adjiru and Jamina, although there still lay some difficulty and reservations in the way for his sister and the strange one. In the past month Mirian had put down some of her initial shyness, and Vorin believed that sometimes he could not argue with her. But he simply didn't have the courage or power to more clearly contradict her if he had a different opinion, so he would always give in to her. He no longer recognized himself. He was sure that he still loved her and didn't want to hurt her. His opinion was so contradictory to his love. At last, there was an argument between them, however things rather accelerated and appeared to be in order. A talk with his sister had preceded it and finally released him.
"You're right," Vorin said, as he visited Jamina and Adjiru at their house. "Mirian is too temperamental. The more she lives with me, the more demanding she gets. And I...look at me, I can't even contradict her without hurting her." At that moment, he seemed quiet and weak.
"I told you that she was temperamental," Jamina grinned, as she was preparing a little dinner. "But if you love her, you won't let these little arguments bother you."
"How's it going with you guys?" he asked and Jamina shook her head.
"So far, we haven't had any arguments," she said. "Adjiru and I are different from you and Mirian. Maybe you should ask our parents."
Vorin was not pleased at this suggestion. He didn't want to deal with that.
"Maybe Mirian only wants you to find your place." Jamina considered how she could help him. "Adapt, or give yourself up," she said finally. Vorin laughed and shook his head. "You should teach Philosophy," he said angrily, and left.
If you know, thought Jamina, that love is controversial, then Philosophy is an easy subject.
In the following days, Vorin and Mirian stood by each other's side, to comfort and encourage each other. Up to now, Jamina had believed her brother would have it a little easier than her in finding a mate, because he had always been self-confident and proud. A leader, even. It's possible he might have had it easier with Nuri. Mirian seemed a little immature. Right after the fierce, unavoidable arguments that always reigned between the two, things would always get better.
"That's not for me," Adjiru said as he and Jamina were walking home. He hugged Jamina and stroked her svelte, round belly. "When do you want to tell your mother?" he asked and kissed her on the cheek.
"She already knows," she answered. "She knew before I did!"
During Jamina's pregnancy Adjiru bought a field from the Podlings that was beneath Aughra's Observatory. Once, he wanted to grow some Goma grapes there, but despite all his effort, they wouldn't grow. The field was ideal for Adjiru's plans, because it was even close by, and it lay straight from East to West, like a street.
Adjiru paid the Podlings for this field more than it was worth, and Diren thought that with all his abilities he was not a very good calculator. But the Podlings, who became wealthy through Adjiru, helped him with his enterprise, so long as he accomplished it. For Adjiru, at last it became a good business.
Aughra had a little scrap metal that she had left in a cave. Material that was once used to build a bigger and better Observatory, but now would no longer be actualized. She allowed Adjiru to use the metal. He assumed that Aughra still wanted to use it for something good. A reconciliation gift, perhaps, he thought. But he didn't know Aughra that well. More than in himself, she had faith in his abilities, and she absolutely wanted to see how it would turn out with him. As Adjiru began his plans to build his spaceship, he and his project became quite a sensation. Many young Gelflings were standing as guests at the building site, and not a few of them sought to officially take part in the enterprise, especially a young one named Keval. An athletic, black-haired youth, who was more at home on the sports field, than as a dreamer, wanted to help with Adjiru's crazy plans.
Keval formed a crew to work of those who were standing at the building site. He made contracts and agreements concerning the frame of an earnest undertaking. Some of the young Gelflings worked on the spaceship when they had the chance, and others who had been standing there brought into being in a relatively short time, a little colony with fields and workshops.
In the meantime, Jamina gave birth to a daughter and named her Vinya. Two years later, their son Aru was born, and another two years later, their second daughter Jari was born. She had hoped that with the births of their children, Adjiru would spend more time at home, but it was just temporary. Soon he would return to his workroom where he would brood over technical drafts and mathematical formulas. He would often spend day and night at the construction site to see how the spaceship would take shape.
As he was returning late one night, there was a light still burning in the house. Jamina was waiting up for him in the living room, where a fire was burning in the fireplace. She looked tired and exhausted, and her grief was clearly noticeable.
Adjiru was, like every Gelfling, no coarse chump, but at this moment he was hot and cold at the same time, because he had an idea of what her grief was about. For a long time he had followed his own plans, and thought that Jamina would understand. In part, he had even persuaded her to treasure it, to have a companion, to be in a position to realize his dreams. Up to now, he thought, he had done really well. He was the founder of a new colony and had many friends and admirers. In just two years he had accomplished what it took others a whole lifetime to do. But for all that, he had to adjust his view of reality. He felt right away that Jamina now wanted to demand of him a right, whereof he hoped she would not insist. And this, he felt, would demand all of his strength.
For a long time Adjiru and Jamina sat in silence on the sofa by the fireplace. The fire thew a soft, flickering light into the room, that warmed the Gelflings' faces. Adjiru saw the look in Jamina's eyes, that up to now he had not seen, as she stared into the flames.
Adjiru was at a loss and placed a hand on her shoulder. Jamina did not respond. She sat still as a stone. Adjiru hung his head. He was afraid. Afraid of hesitating too long, too long without consideration, and so Jamina was hurt and lost.
A long time passed. Then Adjiru sighed, "I know that I'm not what you wanted," he said without looking at her. At first, it was more like he was talking to himself. His voice was soft. Jamina still found it beautiful and delightful.
"My dreams haunt me, and before one problem could be solved, a new one appeared, and it would press into my thoughts. I could never have peace. And I know that I have caused you pain, through my inattention. My stubbornness..."
Jamina closed her eyes and a tear ran down her cheek. Adjiru looked at his wife and was silent. She was so beautiful, and after the birth of their children, matured into a housewife. She grew from a girl into a woman of quiet beauty and full of pride. Why hadn't I noticed it before? he thought to himself. Why am I so blind? "You're right," he continued. "I've been searching for happiness in all the wrong places. I...I just don't know how to change it." However, at the same time, he was conscious of the fact that what he was promising now he would not be able to keep. Jamina bent over and pressed her head against his chest. He could feel the warmth of her body as he wiped the tears from her face with his palm. He straightened her up, then took her in his arms and began to kiss her. But this lasted only for a moment, until she answered his kiss. Then her feelings broke through, and, whether she believed his words or not, she began to react strongly to his kiss. Her breathing got heavier and became more like a growl. She forgot everything that went before, was ready to trust all his promises and let her passion run free.
Actually, things went well for a long time, but eventually things were back to the way they were before. Jamina said nothing more about enduring the circumstances with all her patience. She took care of the children and the house and sought out other families who were involved with building the spaceship. Jamina had finally learned to just let Adjiru follow his dreams without causing an argument. She was silent as other women sought help from Diren. It was understood that the young Gelflings were giving their all toward building the spaceship and it took all their energy to bring this vision to realization, when they should have been taking care of their wives and children. The village was growing and thriving. The necessities of life that consumed all of the Gelflings' attention and energy, could not be wasted on dreams.
Sila rocked Aru on her knees. He was now 3 years old and bore a great resemblance to his father. She noticed this and hoped this would be the only flaw in her grandson; after all, he was much too beautiful and that was really not a drawback. Jamina had Jari in her arms and was breastfeeding her. The little one was content and sucked so hard, that Jamina's face was distorted back and forth. Vinya played in the garden and giggled without a care.
"The baby seems to be a lot like his father," Sila noticed, as Jamina sighed at the breastfeeding pain.
"Yes, the children get that from him," said Jamina. "They are something special. However, they can be very demanding."
Sila remembered the past words of her daughter. "Then I just hope that you aren't going to make more grief for yourself."
"Please, mother." Jamina was not in the condition to continue the conversation with her mother.
"Don't misunderstand," said Sila, "I love Adjiru, because he has given you such beautiful children and me such beautiful grandchildren. I assume they will also become something special. But right now I am angry with him, and I wish I had the power to straighten out his confused head."
"But then he would no longer be the man I chose."
"But that might not be clear to him," her mother continued, "but too much is expected of him, and that's what needs to change."
"What would that be?" Jamina wrinkled her forehead and turned her ears attentively toward her mother.
"He is part of a family of chieftains," Sila explained. "The village is growing. Already they are building houses on the slopes of the mountains, and will continue to expand. New obligations are coming to your father and more will be required of his children."
Jamina was all ears.
"Sooner or later Adjiru will have to come to terms with some obvious things." Sila became serious. "I'm afraid he's going to have to make a choice soon."
"That will break him."
"You neglect your family," Darin told Adjiru, and so loudly that workers nearby could hear him and for a moment stopped their work. "And you don't take care of your responsibilities."
Diren had been entrusted by Kira four years before with greater responsibility, more than Jamina's mother had ever seen before. He now administrated a large part of the surrounding mountains and hills. The population grew and prospered, so naturally did his responsibility, one that Adjiru would have to share. Diran was quite worried about Adjiru, who was totally consumed by his visions, at the expense of his obligations.
Soon, a young Gelfling ran up to him, dressed in the uniform of service to Queen Kira. He waited for Adjiru to wave to him, but Diran still wanted his full attention. He actually had several things to angrily accuse Adjiru of, but now he refrained from it. It would serve no purpose.
"To prevail is not a bad thing," said Diran, "if one knows why he is doing it, and if one doesn't forget that one is a servant. You are part of my family, and you will one day receive your inheritance. But that's not the only reason why I'm worried about you." He paused for a while and regarded Adjiru earnestly, "Don't make my daughter unhappy." He continued. "If I ever see her crying because of you, I will not be able to forgive you." With that, he turned and left Adjiru alone.
Adjiru watched his father-in-law for a long time, until the young Gelfling approached him, kneeled and handed him a scroll. Adjiru took it from him, opened the seal and began to read. He held his breath - it was an invitation from Kira to come to the castle, and that he should come alone. She wanted to speak with him.
Adjiru had never before been in the castle. The gloss and the light blended together that came from the Crystal. Queen Kira sent for a glass of Goma wine for him and herself. As she was pouring the glasses, she explained to him how very much she loved living in the Valley of the Gelflings, until she returned to live in the castle. She rarely had visitors, but she was frequently in the village more often than the villagers believed.
Adjiru hestitated to tell her that her visits had not escaped the inhabitants of the valley, but he didn't want to spoil her fun.
When he finally moved out, Kira was most surprised and amused.
"I should be proud of my children." Kira emptied her glass and set it down on the table. "You are obviously very smart."
Adjiru also finished his glass and set it down.
"I would like to give you an administrative district," said Kira. "It's border is west of your father-in-law's land, runs along the river and ends at Aughra's mountain. It includes the field that you bought from the Podlings."
Adjiru, who hadn't counted on this honor, was both proud and uncertain at the same time. He suspected, nevertheless, that the obligations this appreciation would bring, would hinder the building of the spaceship.
"Already once our people were almost exterminated," Adjiru considered. "If we have to flee again, we may not be ready. Then there are several possibilities we will have to consider."
"You mean like fighting?"
"Yes, like fighting," answered Adjiru.
Kira was not in agreement with all of that. She never wanted to leave Thra. And all these thoughts about the future, that Adjiru cared about, caused her pain to think about. Nevertheless, she had to admit that his considerations were witness to a distant vision. One day, she would have to admit he was right, she thought. One day, but not now.
Kira sat on her throne, and whether he wanted to or not, Adjiru felt reverence at the sight, and automatically bowed his head. It was intimidating to see her this way, and that was probably her intention.
"Look at me, child," said Kira, and Adjiru obeyed. Her voice rang, ordering: "I trust you to fulfill your obligations. As you took Jamina to be your wife, it was clear to you that you should receive nothing more than her. I cannot bear that my people will be ruled by things that make them forget what is really important. Things that make them turn away from life. There has never before been a Gelfling like you. Someone like you goes down a different path, and then others follow."
"My Queen -" Adjiru interrupted, and Kira lifted her hand for silence. Again, Adjiru obeyed.
"But I feel that time will change you," said Kira, "and that you will play an important role. But regardless, that time is not yet, and I would like you now to make a decision."
"A decision?" he asked. "For what?"
"Follow your dreams, or take care of your family. I entrust this to you."
"I should give up the spaceship?" Adjiru asked with fear, and he felt his eyes beginning to fill with tears. He kneeled and bowed low before Kira. "You might as well ask me to stop eating, stop drinking, stop breathing," he raised his head and hot tears ran down his cheeks.
Kira stood up, and descended the steps from her throne, then took Adjiru's face in her hands. In her look he saw deep affection, compassion and love.
"How should I decide?" he asked, and Kira could feel how his love vibrating out from within, "Is there a decision at all?"
The Queen smiled and said nothing.
"Is there one?" he repeated, his voice stronger
Of all my children, you are my favorite," said Kira. "You remind me of Jen, who was taken from me too early. He too was turned to the knowledge and once learned the realizations of the UrRu. But he also had to make a decision, and turned to life, and his obligations. He did this out of love, which is stronger than all knowledge. I see him in your eyes, in your gestures and in your voice. And your question shows me that you already know what to do."
Adjiru stood and bowed, then he left the castle, disturbed and in despair. In his chest his heart could not be calmed, and it hurt with every beat. He almost thought he would die, which just added to it. He felt shattered, and it seemed the world has lost all its color.
"He is proud and stubborn," said Yulen, one of Kira's oldest sons, who had overheard their conversation and knew how very interested his mother was in this young one, but who had only harvested misunderstanding.
"You're mistaken," said Kira. "He thinks he's all alone. And he's angry."
In the spirit she looked many years back, "I understand him all too well."
As Adjiru entered the house, Jamina could recognize the agony in his soul immediately. Vorin had told Jamina that Adjiru had gone to the castle, but she would rather have heard it from Adjiru himself. She was angry that he couldn't even find the time to tell her. She had at first received news of his disappearance with annoyance, so she did without - as she had always done without.
He stood in a daze in the doorway, and wouldn't take one step over the threshold. Jamina took him in her arms and stroked his hair. Overwhelmed with her sympathy, he fell to his knees and could no longer hold back his grief. They didn't know for how long both of them huddled on the floor. With his head in her lap, Adjiru grieved until he had no more tears. Then he looked at his wife, and the light of the evening sun lit up her face. Darin stood wondering and helpless. Jamina was exhausted and tired. She didn't know what had happened at the castle, and could make no rhyme or reason for Adjiru's frame of mind. But in the course of the next day, Adjiru spent time taking his children to school, and taking care of the business affairs of the villagers in his workroom. In the evening, he satisfied the demands of his sons and daughters, and spoke with Jamina, asking her to help him meet his obligations. At first, Jamina was afraid that this new condition wouldn't last, but time passed and Adjiru kept his promises.
Finally, one of the first things she suggested to him, was that he hand over the spaceship to Keval. Adjiru hesitated to do that, but Jamina would not back down, and eventually they came to a common agreement. He was not completely content with an agreement with Jamina, but he was willing to accept it for the time being.
Keval was appointed a manager, who only needed Adjiru's presence or decisions on really important things. After a few years, Adjiru actually seemed to become indifferent to the spaceship, but Jamina knew that this was a mistake. Meanwhile, the workers on Adjiru's building site were called "The Travellers" because they would leave their homes for a few weeks, only to return to their families for a few days.
Not everyone lived in the settlement that had been developed in the Field of the Podlings. Among the "Travellers" was a group of young Gelflings who would come to enjoy the festivities of the village or to refresh themselves in the lake. Every time they went past or were nearby, Adjiru became quiet. His ears hearkened to the conversations of the young Gelflings and listened for any news. Whenever that happened, Jamina knew that there was pain in his heart. But he never let Jamina feel it, and devoted himself to his family, whenever he could.
When the day came for Jari to leave home, Jamina was sad. She still was able to enjoy the company of Aru and Vinya, so that she wouldn't fall deeper into worry. And all the more, because Adjiru thought they should leave the house and move down below Aughra's Mountain. The settlement had continued to expand and it seemed only reasonable to put a new house there, because the spaceship lay in the middle of his land.
Jamina did not like this idea at all, bt Adjiru seemed to have completely banished the building project completely form his mind, and therefore agreed to it.
In addition, it came that she could no longer get pregnant, and should her earlier passion reawaken, there would be no more dramatic effects.
The house that they zoned was a little tower with a garden where the wild wine grew. It seemed a bit neglected and Jamina immediately recognized a delightful task that she could perform.
Soon Adjiru could throw a look or two toward the spaceship, which had manifested a beautiful shape. Naturally, one cannot expect that a thing which had been devised and built by Gelflings, would correspond to the usual conceptions of functional form. It looked like a slim, golden fish, whose skin was covered by a relief-like structure. It shone in the sun like a jewel. Keval was overjoyed to see Adjiru again, and led him readily through the rooms and passages of the ship.
A young woman joined them. Her name was Orysa, and she had been with Keval for some time. Her hair was fire-red and her eyes were shining green, so that it bewildered Adjiru to look at her. She seemed to be accustomed to the effect it had on others, and she smiled.
"We would like to show you a remarkable thing," Keval said, and he went up into a small hallway, which had a broad window, which contained a transparent crystal. In the center of the room rose a slim column, on which was a small box which was open on one side, so that one could put a hand inside.
"I call this the 'Little World'," said Orysa. "Everything that is, is also in here. Just a lot smaller...one must examine it, star for star, world for world."
Adjiru's interest was piqued. He stretched out his hand and placed it in the box. But though he tried, he couldn't feel anything. Only a light tickle on his skin. She saw his disappointment. "You have to practice," she said. "I can do it pretty well, but I can't orient myself. But our 3 suns, I can recognize those. Like the faces of friends in a big crowd."
When he returned to Jamina, he explained all the new things that he had seen. And, not wanting to be impolite, she promised to accompany him next time.
"Then tomorrow morning," he said, "I don't have much to do, and then everything will be settled tomorrow." Jamina agreed, but in her face she saw concern.
"Don't be afraid," he comforted her, "You are my love, and I do not want to fall back into old habits." Naturally Jamina was not calmed under any circumstances, but she accompanied Adjiru the next morning, and did not know that this day would change her life forever.
While Adjiru sauntered through the ship, astonished, Jamina couldn't do a thing but smile well-behaved, and try with all her might to remember his words, in case he should ask her something. Later, they met Keval and Orysa, who were doing some work on the bridge.
"What is that?" asked Jamina. Her look had fallen on Orysa's "Little World". It was not just the artful execution that caught Jamina's attention, but she could not say what it was.
Adjiru introduced Orysa to her, who noticed immediately how fascinated Adjiru's wife was with the little box. She began making remarks about it but Jamina wasn't listening to her.
"Experience teaches more than words," said Orysa finally, who took Jamina's right hand and inserted it into the box. Hardly had it happened, when Jamina felt as if she had taken a blow to the stomach, or had been knocked down.
Frightened, Adjiru tried to pull her away from the box, but with the other hand Jamina hugged the column and could not be pried loose. She cramped up, cried out and in the next moment was completely relaxed. She straightened up, and her eyes were wide open, as if seeing amazing things.
Adjiru wanted to gently pull her hand away from the box, but Orysa held him back.
"No!" she said, "That could stop a whole day. She has to break the contact herself."
"Why didn't you say that before?" asked Adjiru.
"Because it never happened in such a dramatic fashion before," Keval explained. "Well, now we know," joked Adjiru, but it was only to hide his fear.
Jamina's condition lasted a whole week. Soon some healers came to carefully separate Jamina from her chains. They tried to get a reaction with bitter herbs and plants, but she just stood there, breathing so quietly that they thought she wasn't breathing at all. Her heartbeat was so slow that even the best healer couldn't detect it.
When Diren and Sila came, Adjiru lost his courage. He could not reply to Diren's remonstrations, and could only stammer. Sila put her arm around her daughter and whispered in her ear, but nothing happened. As she and her husband started to go, Sila cried, and Adjiru began to realize that he was responsible for disturbing the peace of this family.
Finally Aru, Vinya and Jari came. Adjiru could not look at them, and he stood behind Jamina so long that his legs began to give out. His children sat on the floor, said not a word, and waited. Finally, Adjiru got tired. Just as he was beginning to lose his energy, Jamina opened her eyes and took her hand out of the box. She moaned and her arm fell. They both fell to the floor. Adjiru kissed her, held her to him and whispered her name over and over.
The children made a circle around their parents, as Jamina appeared to be in a fog, looking as if nothing special had happened. "What's going on?" she asked. "Why do you all look so concerned?" She looked at Adjiru and brushed some hair out of his face. "You look so unkempt. You look like you haven't washed all day. That's something I'll have to take care of..." she whispered, and fell asleep.
Adjiru brought his wife back home, put her to bed and lovingly cared for her all the next day. The children were happy to hear that their mother would be getting better, but their father clearly noticed that it would be a long time before there was a reconciliation. Adjiru worried about this only a little, since he was so busy making things as pleasant as possible for Jamina. He began to notice a change in her attitude. She became very taciturn, often took Adjiru in her arms, smiled at him, and touched him softly on his cheek or his hair. When she left her bed, she would often go to the window or into the garden on the roof of the tower. This happened most nights or early in the morning, as twilight broke.
So she stood, unmoving, looking at the stars between the bushes and trees. It was still dark when Adjiru came to her. He wrapped an arm around her, and she lay her head on his chest. "You're right," she said. "They are like the flowers of the meadow." In her eyes was a dreamy, far-away expression. "I have seen the innumerable. You breathe, sometimes slowly and quietly, sometimes fast and excited. I have felt their warmth and their energy. They are born and they die. Some are quiet and still, others with a scream and a din. The universe is both terrible and wonderful at the same time. It is so enormous, so never-ending." Jamina turned and hugged Adjiru so hard, that she squeezed his breath out. "Hold me tight. I don't want to be alone. I don't want to get lost in this way."
In the time that followed, the both of them spent a lot of time working together with Keval. Since he was becoming bored with government affairs, he transferred his larger powers over to someone else, and dedicated himself to working with Jamina on the spaceship. She wasn't very interested in the technical details, but she wanted to one day visit strange worlds and see distant stars with her own eyes. But there was still a problem. The spaceship's drive was not working efficiently enough to leave Thra. Keval was of the mind that everything had been done correctly. At least they stood in accordance with Jen's recordings and writings that came from the castle.
"It is my belief," Keval said aloud, "that the Skekses experimented with the power of light, but then had to give up their research. It seems to me that they may have lost some of their writings. Either they didn't succeed and intentionally destroyed their books, or they just lost interest."
"Do you think something got lost?" asked Adjiru.
"Yes," said Keval. "We've done everything right, and we've tested the drive, and it runs perfect, but it's missing the power."
"We need the orginial recordings, or something appropriate to fill in the gaps," said Orysa. "But in the castle and in the school, I've found nothing that we don't already know."
A thought came to Adjiru, that he dare not speak out loud. But he brought it up to Jamina later when they were alone.
"Look in the Valley of the UrRu?" she repeated, aversed to this unjustified demand.
"Where should it be?"
"I know where," siad Adjiru. "Aughra has some old maps. I can take a look at them."
"How far away is it?"
"About a day's walk from here. In the Tower Mountain. But it's a long way from here and I can't remember the way exactly. Just approximate."
Jamina looked happy. "That would be a beautiful, long trip."
The two of them planned that the trip might take a month, in case they couldn't find the Valley right away, but Adjiru couldn't do that without further neglecting his offices. He still had to meet his obligations, but then he had a thought that he had been tossing around. And he was - so he thought - in a good position to talk to Diren about it.
"Father, I would like Vorin to rule in my stead," explained Adjiru. "He is your son. Your influence would go a long way with him."
"Do you really think that will fly with me?" Diren tried to find understanding in Adjiru's eyes, but he was unmoved.
"I know what this is about," answered Adjiru. "It's about your daughter. You want her to be happy. You told me that once. And I believe she is. We are."
Diren could not turn his gaze from Adjiru. He knew he was telling the truth and he was afraid he would have to give in.
"Jamina was happy with me," Adjiru said, "because I turned away from my plans and became the father I always should have been. I became what you wished, and I have done things well. Accordingly, Jamina has gotten over her hurdles and mastered them. And now we are finally getting to know each other."
"Are you happy?"
"Even more than that," answered Adjiru earnestly.
Diren didn't want to give himself a black eye. He had won Adjiru's love, and he knew Adjiru's abilities and regarded his enjoyment of the Gelflings both inside and outside of the Valley.
"There is no 'half-rule'," said Diren. "People will not bring things to Vorin's attention they way they do to you now."
"Please let me rule as I want," said Adjiru, "even if it means dividing my power. I don't want to disappoint you, father."
Diren turned away. "The Valley of the Mystics is not meant to be found," he murmured.
"I know where it lies," answered Adjiru.
"I think it's wrong to enter it," said Diren. "You shouldn't do it."
"I only need some answers," Adjiru replied.
"Diren came up with an idea. "It goes around your own kingdom," he said suddenly. "Yes, you will go around the border your own kingdom. You will sit on a Throne and prevail in your own world." He looked at his son-in-law in spirit.
"Didn't you say that to prevail was not a bad thing, if one knows what he is doing?" he reminded Diren of his own words. "Didn't you say that we shouldn't fight the future? Jamina thought that you said about me that I was 'something special'. Also, Jamina is something new and 'one of a kind'." He gently held Diren's shoulders and hung his head in humiliation, "Father, please! We've changed. Let us be what we will always be."
Adjiru and Jamina woke up early in the morning, in all secrecy. The time was well-chosen, because the weaker sun had not yet lit the sky. Only Keval, Orysa and a few trusted members of the Travellers separated themselves from them, gave them additional supplies and equipment to keep with them as necessities. Finally, Adjiru and his wife were two more adventurers in their little caravan.
Actually, these preparations proved to be necessary, because the search for the Valley of the Mystics would last longer than they expected.
Jamina and Adjiru climbed to the top of a high hill, without finding the Valley from there. So three weeks passed, and they gradually lost their courage. When they were in camp and some of them decided to turn back, they said hardly a word. Adjiru started a fire and sat before it mutely. Jamina sat near him and leaned on him.
"Do you think we should give up?" she asked.
Adjiru nodded silently.
Jamina was happy to be out in nature, but it made no difference out here now. "We still have one more day," she said. "And we'll find the valley. Our supplies are plentiful, so we can stay a while longer."
Adjiru shook his head. "I can't stay away too long," he answered, "The others will start to worry. I'm afraid..." he softly laughed, "great honor. I don't want it. It restricts me."
"Nevertheless, we are already over that," Jamina comforted him. "People love you and will forgive you much."
"We'll look for 3 more days," he said, "then we'll turn back."
The next day, they left early and it was decided that they should keep searching where Adjiru's memory had first led them. They searched the whole day, until it was later in the afternoon. Jamina was exhausted. Tired, she set one foot after the other and tripped often. They squeezed themselves straight through a narrow opening into which only a little sunlight seeped. Over them was only a narrow, light blue strip by which to see the bright sky. It was dark and dangerous. Adjiru decided to turn back to the camp, when he heard Jamina make a misstep and, with a suffocated cry, fell into a rock column, disappearing.
Frightened, Adjiru ran to the place where Jamina had disappeared and called her name into the darkness inside. For a terrible moment, a long silence prevailed. Adjiru's heart pounded strongly and he felt it in his neck.
"Im alright," came the answer finally, softly and from far below.Adjiru's breathing became easier. "You can come down. Be careful - it's sloping."
"Why don't you come up here again?" Adjiru wanted to know.
"Because I found something."
More falling than climbing, Adjiru reached the bottom of the column. Against the shimmering light, which shone at the end of the narrow ravine, he could see his mate, who ran toward him.
"How could this happen?" he asked worriedly.
While she was with him, she took him by the hand and pulled on it. "Up there it was so hot and sticky," she explained. "I felt a draft of air which flowed out of these columns. I fell down here, and well, you know the rest."
Adjiru could feel her excitement and as the gap widened, into view came a small valley cauldron bordered by steep cliffs, like high walls.
Jamina stood up on her tiptoes and gave the marveling Adjiru a quick kiss on the cheek. "The Valley of the UrRu," she announced.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"What else could it be?"
"I thought it would be bigger."
Jamina raised her eyebrows salaciously. 'With you men, everything has to be bigger."
They stood on the edge of the cliff and looked out at the valley, which contained a small, flat crater. The two Gelflings could see a spiral ramp, which was snuggled into the cliff, and ran down to the valley floor. There were some caves along the ramp, which were decorated with artful reliefs. Old color, long faded, covered the walls and showed samples and complicated pictures.
The exit of the valley was blocked by broken columns. A rockslide had blocked the valley. Whether by intention or by coincidence, Adjiru couldn't say. But the valley had not been visible therefore from the outside. One could easily overlook it, and at the foot of the rubble could find a way in.
In a roomy cave, the two Gelflings lay themselves down for the night, but found no peace. Adjiru found some scrolls that were in good shape, almost supple. Some kind of wax covered them and gave its own gloss to them.
"Can you read that?" asked Jamina.
Adjiru nodded and pointed to some words and symbols. "I have found something interesting here," he pointed to a pile of scrolls. "Most of their writings dealt with medicine and the healing arts, but this here is something different. This looks like some kind of historical report." He wrinkled his forehead and ran his finger over the words. "In the container...no, in the house..." Adjiru shook his head. "Ship...yes, that must be 'ship'..." he was happy with his successful results. "detached by...by...of which us...lost? No!" Adjiru grumbled as Jamina tried to reassure him, and wrapped a blanket around both of them. "That keeps us imprisoned? No, that's not right either...that...that burns...us? Yes, that must be it. 'That burns us'."
"What 'must be it'?" murmured Jamina, who heard Adjiru thinking out loud.
"They were in a ship. The power burned them." said Adjiru.
"Are you sure?" asked Jamina.
"Well, yes, halfway sure."
"Listen to this also." She turned to him and looked at him with half-closed eyes, "Come here. I'm cold. You don't have to burn me; but a little passion would be good for me."
They spent two more days in the Valley of the UrRu before they left once again on the way back home. In their pack were many books and scrolls.
Back at home, work was waiting for Adjiru. The vegetables were clearly ready and the year was coming to an end; time to gather the harvest. In the meantime, Adjiru gave Keval the scrolls to review, and Jamina learned to read the writing of the UrRu and delved into the study of herbs and the healing arts. She found many useful realizatons, and thought that good doctors would be needed if they were to leap into the depths of an ocean of worlds. She found a new occupational field that fit her character, and she went into that. Often she was seen using the "Little World". Careful, but always experienced, she explored the universe and could control the equipment now perfectly.
In the coming Spring, Keval got the remaining records from the Valley of the UrRu and brought the most amazing realizations to light. "Did you know that the UrSkeks once came here from another world?" explained Keval, "In a kind of spaceship."
Adjiru looked surprised. "Why should gods need a spaceship?"
Keval scratched his head. "If they were gods," which showed that he clearly had no more to report, "I would rather designate them as 'travellers'. And they fled from their old world."
"They fled?" asked Adjiru. "Did you translate that right?"
Keval waited with an answer, "I think so," he said. "Orysa also read it." Then he quickly changed the subject. "I've also found something about the light power.
Not much, to be sure, but there's a clue."
Adjiru was pleased about it and wanted to experience even more. Jamina, however, was fixed on Keval for a little while, hoping he would further pursue the preceding train of thought, but he did not express himself over it any longer. Therefore, Jamina went to Orysa to discuss it further. At first, she didn't want to talk, but Jamina did not relent and finally experienced something disconcerting.
Adjiru sat in his workroom, looking over Keval's notes. As Jamina entered, he waved for her to come over right away.
"Here's something important," he said impatiently, "We need blue light. A special blue. That alone has enough power." Jamina nodded casually. He explained further, but he noticed that her thoughts were completely somewhere else.
"What do you have?" he asked.
"Keval has told me something about the origin of the UrSkeks."
"I have asked Orysa what she has found out. And I must say that I am somewhat disturbed." Adjiru listened attentively and Jamina continued. "The UrSkeks fled their world after a war broke out there. They visited other worlds; nevertheless, oftentimes it led to unrest and enmity. They also told of hunters who followed them, until they could escape."
Adjiru had to admit that the messages likewise made him fearful, but "After everything that Orysa found out, everything else out there seems peaceful."
Adjiru sighed. "Should we give up everything that we've begun?"
Jamina knew better than to answer that.
"I am very sure that everything we are doing is very important," Adjiru said confidently, "possibly even more so now than before."
Jamina looked at Adjiru with her big, brown eyes. Darin stood deep in doubt.
"As we discovered in the Valley," explained Adjiru, "You also know that it will be dangerous. You nevertheless got involved in it."
Jamina partially agreed with her mate. "I know the dangers of Thra," she said, "But the dangers out there..." she quickly glanced up, "Those I don't know."
Keval and a group of young Gelflings stormed joyfully and excitedly in Adjiru's workroom. They were all quite unwashed, dusty and completely breathless. Adjiru regarded Keval for a long time, hoping to read the news in his look.
"It's a success!" he said. "The blue light carried the test trunk away." Adjiru stood up and hugged Keval tightly. Then he clapped the others on the shoulders. "It accelerated even more," continued Keval, so that you couldn't even see it anymore. Aughra said she could see it in her telescope for a while, then it was gone."
Then it's time to equip the spaceship with it," said Adjiru.
"We are prepared to do it right away," announced Keval proudly, "But Aughra wants you to speak with her first."
Adjiru chuckled. He hadn't seen Aughra for years, much less speak with her. Somehow, he was afraid of a meeting with her, because he had a bad memory of the last time he saw her. But somehow, he believed that a meeting with her was important.
As he had thought, Aughra did not apologize under any circumstances to Adjiru. Probably she hadn't forgotten their last meeting. But it was not like her to hold a grudge. She needed her head for other, bigger things.
"A beautiful thing you have built," she growled. From a rock ledge both Aughra and Adjiru looked at the spaceship, which glinted in the sunlight. "But you're only half-done."
Adjiru, surprised, raised his eyebrows, opened his lips as if to say something in return, but then thought better of it.
"What do you know of the forces that move our world?" she regarded Adjiru sharply. "This Gelfing knows nothing." She put her hands on her hips. "Blue light, Ha!...So you want to ride through the stars, little one? Hmm? It will throw you off and destroy you, if you don't pay attention. "What are you, hmm? What?" she stretched out her hand and pinched Adjiru strongly on the arm. "Flesh and blood. Small and fragile you are."
"What are you talking about?" asked Adjiru, rubbing his arm. "I really don't understand."
"How did you get this far?"
Aughra had a strange way of praising someone, but Adjiru smiled.
"It's nothing to laugh about," she grumbled. "Land over there," she said, pointing to the valley below, "and ride on the blue light. Then in the next moment, it is all over with you. Aughra knows. You will be destroyed."
Adjiru considered something, then slowly, an idea came to him.
"I can help you, if you want, she said. "HELP...the thinking you have to do for yourself."
"I can do that," he answered.
"Listen, then, hmm?" she discharged her breath contemptuously. "What do you know, hmm?" You would go to your death, if I didn't have such a good heart."
She led him throught the observatory, opened an old chest and took out some scrolls, books and papers, and spread them on the floor. "These will help you sit well in the saddle," she said.
The study of the writings revealed many useful ideas. There was a lot to consider and to change. Some new devices had to be planned and built, to make travelling at high speeds possible without killing oneself. Adjiru and Keval, over the next few years, were always testing and improving the new machines.
Jamina dedicated herself all the time to the "Little World" and its handling. She was so experienced, in fact, that she could easily explore each star, each world. She had given a name to each star and had provided an atlas to Orysa, so she could assess their situation regarding Thra's large sun. Adjiru couldn't shake the feeling as Jamina tried at the same time to feel where the dangers might be, that one could avoid. But, in addition, the "Little World" did not seem to be in the situation, a circumstance that Jamina was not happy about. In all this time, the Gelfling people had divided ever more clearly into two groups. The technologically talented Travellers had the designation that was once considered a joke, but now had become an accepted name that they carried with pride. The other Gelflings regarded the spaceship as a work of art and admired its beautiful form and its higher purpose, but few went so far as to want to use it. However, those who did, turned out to be particularly skillful in handling the "Little World".
Thus the day came on which the spaceship was finally made ready. It was more of a large celebration, because it was an accomplishment of science. But that continued to be not an amazement, because the Gelfling travellers still stayed. The Podlings provided meals and drinks, so the Gelflings could have a dazzling, colorful celebration, accompanied by music and dance.
Darin took Adjiru aside for a moment. In his face was written deep worry.
"But father," Adjiru wondered, "Why such worry on such a beautiful day?"
Diren's grip on Adjiru's shoulder got tighter. "Never before has a Gelfling done such a thing," he said earnestly.
"Or such a dumb thing," said Adjiru jauntily.
Diren remained serious. "And my daughter is involved in it," he sighed. "I have grown to love you. I am as afraid for you as I am for Jamina."
Adjiru's heart was warmed, and laid his hands on his father-in-law's shoulders. "Wish us luck."
Diren nodded, then let Adjiru go. Before they could enter the spaceship, however, they would have to ask Queen Kira, who had likewise appeared for just this cause. Since his visit to the castle, he had not sought her again, and she had not invited him back, but she had obviously always kept a watchful eye on him, and she wanted him to know that now. She kissed him on his forehead and wished him well.
On board the spaceship were Keval, Orysa, Adjiru and Jamina, who had put one hand in the "Little World", and put the other one on the control panel. She sat in a big chair next to the captain's chair, in which Adjiru sat. Twenty other Gelflings in the stern of the ship were waiting for takeoff, ready for their big flight.
Adjiru himself didn't have much to do. The main responsibility of finding flight routes and steering the ship belonged to Jamina. For technical and medical problems there were Keval, Orysa and the rest of the crew. Adjiru only had to say when and where he wanted to go, and it occurred to him that he had given no thought as to where he wanted to go.
"Where should we go?" she asked, sharing his thoughts.
"Wherever you want," he said. "We should just take a short jaunt first, then come back."
"Does that mean you've lost your nerve?" she remarked, smiling. "But don't worry. I already have a destination in mind."
The starting of the spaceship was far less spectacular than the Gelflings and Podlings had expected. They believed there would be quite a dazzling din, with sparks shooting into the sky, so they were a little disappointed. There was only a flash of light, and in a second the spaceship was steering toward the horizon, making an elegant arc above, strove through the blue sky, then disappeared.
On board the ship, it was quite an adventure. It rumbled and rumbled until Adjiru thought the vehicle would break apart, but it didn't last long, and Jamina brought the machine under control. Afterwards, the flight was very quiet and still. It was like the Gelflings were diving underwater, gliding like a fish through the sea. They also felt somewhat lighter than on Thra. This was because some of the equipment didn't work perfectly yet; Keval wanted to take care of that, but Adjiru thought he should just leave it the way it was. Jamina was also pleased by this light feeling. She dreamily looked out at the stars and nebulas, which passed by as multicolored streaks on the window.
"Where are we going?" Adjiru asked finally.
"To a golden world," Jamina answered in a trance.
Eventually they came to a world, which only circled around one sun. Other spaceships, not flown by Gelflings, came and began to fly by their side. Gently but firmly they forced Adjiru's ship to go down to one of its worlds. The spaceship dove hurling into the atmosphere, and for a moment Jamina thought she would lose control, but her fine control and skill helped bring the ship to a constant course.
There were enormous, golden towers, stretching into the radiant blue sky. Moreover, it was a city, even with what seemed to be a castle rising up before them, sparkling and resplendent. Flying machines circled the tower's heights, crowning the clouds. A sea of multicolored flags and streamers flanked the place where the Gelflings were forced to land. A giant escort, twice as big as Adjiru, was powerfully built, had 5 fingers on each hand, round ears, and a flat face. At first glance, he slightly resembled a Gelfling.
"They have metal on their bodies," said Orysa. "They look like Garthim."
At these words, Jamina grabbed ahold of Adjiru and began to shake. I knew, she said to herself, that there was no peace between the stars...
To be continued...