The Place Between [Darkover series]
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by Diana L. Paxson
Category: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Description: Renunciate Lian n'ha Galia had agreed to guide a party of alien scientist led by the head of Institute of Xeno-Archaeology to a place in the mountains sacred to the Trailmen. But she was justly apprehensive as to what they would find there.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1994 Snows of Darkover
eBookwise Release Date: December 2007
20 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [37 KB]
Reading time: 20-28 min.
Lian n'ha Galia bent over the power-pile of the crawler which had been the sole transport of the Terran Institute of Xeno-Archaeology's expedition to search for a legendary Trailman Shrine.
"Now do you believe me? There's a distort in the rods, and no spares nearer than Thendara!" Tony Righteous, the expedition's transport engineer, stood back and wiped his hands on his coverall. "It will be completely dead by dark." He squinted at the horizon. The light of the red sun was always dim, but the twilight had certainly increased since they started looking at the crawler. "It's this rotten climate; colder than Satan's hind end!" The duralloy boomed hollowly as he kicked it.
Lian watched him tromp through the dirty snow to the hillock where the others were making camp. There was a friendly orange flicker as someone started a fire. Beyond it, the rays of the setting sun painted the surrounding mountains in garish shades of purple and rose. As trail-boss for the expedition; she wished they had brought chervines or ponies--something she could understand. The longer the journey went on, the less she knew what she was doing here.
Her eyes narrowed as she glimpsed the grizzled head of the Volsung Scholar Wandirr Gar'hi, leader of the expedition, Director of the Institute of Xeno-Archaeology, and the employer to whom she had sworn her oath. How could she tell him that the expedition for which he had prepared for so long was over?
Ill news grows no fresher with keeping--a favorite proverb of her armsmistress surfaced. Her lips twisted in something that was not quite a smile, and she moved lightly across the broken ground to the fire.
"One would have thought that a Terran engineer could at least tell us what is wrong with his machine...."
Lian recognized the cultured, lazy tones before she saw the man--Vasco-Mikhail Donato, the expedition's Armsman. She moved faster.
"The personnel for this expedition were chosen with care. Donato, all expert in their own fields," rumbled Wandirr Gar'hi. "No one here has any reason for sabotage."
Tony had the knowledge, but too much pride. Sara Jordin, the botanist, did not possess the expertise. Scholar Wandirr had planned the expedition, hoping for proof of a lost technology behind the legends of Power Places among the Trailmen. Lian's eyes flicked from the Director to Deuu, their guide. Technically his race were humanoid, though their small size, furry bodies, and primitive culture made them seem more alien to Terrans than Wandirr, or even the botanist's assistant, Tee. For untold generations the Trailmen had been confined to a few densely forested valleys between the Hellers and the Wall Around the World. Deuu would not have known how to disable a machine if he had tried.
And what about me? she thought then. Would I try to stop this expedition if I knew what it would find?