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Paper Gold Publishing

The Gold Standard in books.



The Price of Navora’s Power

A person looking out over the channel would think very little of a woman out in the boat with her fishing gear, and that was exactly the inconsequential picture Ravarian wanted to portray. People knew that she loved to fish and the Cradle Channel was one of her favorite spots. The rocky bluffs framed the rich blue of the strait and the remarkable planet which seemed to float above. It was a place she could breathe deep and feel as carefree as the hawks that soared from the nests in the cliffs.

The small woman sailed in a zigzag pattern, sometimes stopping for a while before moving on to try the next spot. Drifting in the current of the wide strait, she was careful to show complete nonchalance. Her hair, touched with silver, caught the rays of sunlight as she cast her line. She shaded her eyes and gazed up at beautiful Shacir, the gas giant of which her Myrn was a moon. The huge red-and-tan banded planet was a breathtaking sight in the summer sky. She loved her world. A smile kissed the lines around her eyes as she returned her attention to the waves lapping the sides of her boat.

The real reason she was out fishing in the Cradle was much more serious than any observer might guess. Ravarian was one of three very special elemental hosts that had been blessed by the Goddess Navora. For years, Ravarian and her two companions had waged a clandestine war to keep Myrn’s society healthy and balanced by using the power of Navora’s Sunstones. Less than a handful of people suspected that they were doing something but couldn’t prove it, however, the time that Ravarian and her companions discussed as a possibility years ago was now upon them.

Her associates had suddenly died in the last few weeks. The first, tragically, in a house fire three weeks ago. They said that he had a chronic medical condition and was over medicated, which led him to set the fire that killed him. But Ravarian knew that he was in prime health when he died; they had just spoken a week prior to his death. The other was the youngest of the group. A mother of three, she had been an up-and-coming engineer. Her body was found at the bottom of a rock escarpment with her rappelling line frayed and broken. Ravarian knew that her companion loathed rock climbing due to a frightening childhood incident. Both deaths were anything but accidents.

And now there were watchers that seemed to lurk in the shadows as she went about her normal routine. The secret of the Sunstones must be kept! Each of the three had alternate plans to hide the Goddess’s tokens and break their links to her power should their roles become close to being discovered. Only the gatekeeper would know. He’d get word to the rest by sending a sacred rhamat. Rhamats were woven from the blue grass that grew at the shrine and braided into a spiral resembling a navorite; the items were honored. No one knew that they were also a way the gatekeeper communicated with the three hosts.

Ravarian mused on her real task, of which the fishing was just a cover. “They don’t know that they can’t use the Goddess’s gift,” she murmured to herself then continued the thought silently. Only the chosen can access Navora’s strengths, but that wouldn’t stop them from hurting my loved ones if they believed that would help them obtain the information they are seeking. She cast her line again. From a distance, her face appeared serene but the look in her eyes would have belied that impression to the close observer. Subtle creases at the outer corners were tight and the lids a bit lowered as her gaze hardened. The secret must be kept. On the off chance that the greedy ones would figure out the source of my skills, they would try to use the power themselves. When that wouldn’t work, they might destroy the Goddess’s artifacts and I won’t allow that to happen. Either way, things have progressed to a point that Myrn will have to do without any help from the Goddess. At least for a while. As her boat drifted, she studied the water. It was time to hide her stone for its own protection. She was expendable, but the Goddess’s gift was not. Even without the physical link, she knew that the residual effect from being chosen for so many years would allow her to resist breaking under torture. When her line was again in the waters of the channel, her thoughts returned to what she had to do. They were coming for her. It was simply a matter of hours.

Ravarian wiped the sweat off her forehead and peered out over the strait. Her grey eyes were clear and resolute. The clear day was warm and so beautiful that her heart filled with bittersweet joy. Grateful for this last gift from the Goddess, Ravarian pulled in her line and the small fish on it. Once it was stored in her cooler, she moved her boat again. No one watching her would be able to see when she palmed the fossil and let it slip beneath the waves as she pulled in her catch. Hours went by as she continued casting her line.

Her task accomplished, Ravarian decided to stop performing for her watchers. Returning to shore with her cooler full of her catch, she was met by the young man she had rented the boat from. He grinned at her and the size of her haul. They bantered about her luck. She loaded her steam car to return home and smiled her good-bye. As the steam filled the chamber and she began to move, Ravarian gave a final salute. The lad laughed and waved her away. When her vehicle crested the rise on its way back to the city, his face took on a serious expression and he returned to the hut. On his desk was the dash-key and, without wasting a minute, he tapped out his report and hit “send.”

She was ready when the uninvited visitors came. Her mind was at peace. As she opened her door to them, she had the random thought that the police reports and newspapers would report her death as a victim of a brutal home invasion burglary. Ravarian was shoved into her living room as one of the men tore her pictures and books from the walls. The other set a bag down that clunked with ominous metallic sounds and approached her with the gait of a predator. She knew that the next few hours would be unpleasant for her and frustrating for her guests. No one would hear her screams. They wouldn’t learn what they wanted to know, only enough of a story so they wouldn’t go after her loved ones. This particular chapter of the Sunstone would close for now, but she was confident that for the little fossils, there would be another day just as she knew she wouldn’t live to see the next sunrise.