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The Dark Pilgrim Series


      Sma was the first to speak, her voice rough and filled with a cold loathing dripping like acid. "By what forbidden arts do you have such a symbol on your hand, human?"
      "I think you know the answer to that," Ailanthus answered, aware they were just barely holding themselves back from jumping at him.  He could actually see their muscles twitching, tendons taunt and waiting, willing to spring into action and kill.
Thala relaxed slightly, though it was hard to tell, her piercing blue eyes intensely fastened on Ailanthus' hand.  She knew well from where such a symbol came and its appearance on a human's hand was tantamount to a human having a third eye in the middle of his forehead.  It was simply inconceivable.
      Sma remained in a state of near hyper-tension, her exclusive military training telling her, yelling at her in pounding certainty that the humans planned to kill her and she needed act first. That a human had such a symbol imprinted on him could only mean one thing:  the Legion of Druzsni was nearing its end.  Why it had to happen on her watch she didn't understand, but it would be a glorious end nonetheless, of that she was certain for she would make it a glorious end.  
      "Very few Druzsni have ever had that symbol and no humans that I have ever heard of have it, much less know of it, so you must have conspired with that Ta Mo'ch and the Dwad-Mehstiv to produce it.  That is what I think."
      "It is Ta Mero’a, Sma," Thala said with reverence.  "It cannot be copied or forged.  It can only be."
      "I know well what it is, Thala," Sma snapped at the shorter Druzsni.  It was obvious that the two had not grown closer together during their confinement.  "But why would a human have one?  And why, by the nine moons of Dnath'Car is it this human?"
      "He could only have received it from the K'lash Pai.  It is her symbol," Thala continued, unabated by Sma's hostile attitude.  "It can only mean one thing."
      "What it means," Sma said as she stepped forward in an aggressive stance and found herself with two blasters aimed at her chest, to which she rose both hands and cocked her head at the over-abundance of firepower.  "What it means is that you believe me to be truly stupid to fall for such an easy trick.  But it is not going to work, human."
      Ailanthus shook his head at her disbelief, though he could easily see why she would not trust him.  If the situation were reversed, he wouldn't trust her either.  In fact, he was rather impressed with the self-restraint the warrior was displaying at the moment.  In the past few weeks, his own temper had grown exponentially and situations that would have never ruffled him before now made his blood boil.  He found himself snapping more at people, at friends, and he didn't like the implications.  So that Sma was able to stand there and not attack him despite the aimed blasters impressed him tremendously.
      But that didn't change the fact that he was growing very, very tired of dealing with stubborn people.  He lowered his hand and pursed his lips, then took a deep breath.  "I don't have time for this, Sma.  You've got two options here and a short time to decide.  You can either believe what you see with your own eyes or you can think that it's all a trick and remain in this room until such time as we can find a suitable place to deposit you.  It's your choice.  But let me add this: the Legion of Druzsni is hurting and will be needing your leadership and guidance.  Being locked up in here, aboard this ship, will not help them at all."
      "I told you that you should have just left them in there," Thaliana said off-handedly as she stood a distance back, relaxed looking yet primed for combat, waiting for someone to make a move.  It had become such an instinct in her to protect Ailanthus that she no longer even thought about it.  It was just a part of her being, like breathing and seeing.  Her feelings toward the human had not changed with the revelation of her true reason for befriending him.  It had just made it that much more difficult to have those feelings for him and not express them openly.  Druzsni didn’t do that.
      Sma looked passed Ailanthus to Thaliana for a brief moment, as if acknowledging the buzz of a lort fly, then allowed her eyes to settle on the human causing her so much trouble.  How did she ever get herself into such a predicament.  "What has happened to the K'lash Pai? And why are we still here?  Why didn't you allow us to join our own species?  Are we hostages, prisons?" she hammered out in bursts of resentment.
      "Will you recognize that I spoke with the K'lash Pai and that she gave me this?" Ailanthus asked skeptically.  This was going about as well as he had expected.
      "I recognize nothing that you’ve to shown me, especially when you still bed that Ta Mo'ch and deal with Dwad-Mehstiv.  We have a saying in Druzsni for people like you, but it is un-translatable into your feeble language."
      Stubborn.
      Proud.
      Ailanthus figured that Druzsni must be injected with it when they were first born.  There was no way that it could be learned so well.  It must be added in concentrated doses.

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