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Section 1

It was the middle of the night when I felt a paw upon my shoulder. bumping me from a deep sleep.

"What is it?" I said. in their speak.

"Come with me."

Back In Karen before terror broke, I'd have been waiting for him, eyes half shut. One peek 'neath the canvas at my properties. and I‘d have been up and at him. knife to his wizendy throat.

But it ain't like that here in Capulca. not at all. You‘d think the commotion would make us all crazy paranoid. but we're close. real close. he sit around the fire drinking, to the buzz of the worst pati-pikk pluck you ever heard.

"Hurry!"

I saw his wrinkle-belly and its pins shine under the swaying lamp it was an old spirit man alright. We were given to following any advice the old men had, so I followed in behind him. he went into the net dark at speed. I followed his footholes, the sluicing plunges of his bare legs.

"Where we going?" I yelled above the howl.

"Come, I need your help.”

"Why me?" I cried.


Section 2

We carved through a swathe of frost drops to the cliffside, where some refugees done scratched a face out of the rock. The spirit man motioned me to duck down and observe.

On the rassy flat, a pair of blundering Thuntomites were going a out their business. I still hadn't accustomed to he size of those critters. Saw a woman crushed once, when three or four bugs set upon her, spirit guides said she felled a fruit tree. But if you were duly mindful of their trees, the bugs behaved gentle enough.

"What of it?" I whispered.

"Just wait," he said.

So I waited, the hailstones beating down on my overcoat. I prayed to go back to sleep.

"There!" He said, after we'd taken a beating by the four winds, "Hatep's ones."

A pack of Rajas shimmered up from the dark spiral, sniffin' out the Thuntomites by their poop. A flick of their tails and they were in and about the bugs, who flipped on their backs trying to resist, their little legs inquirin' about.

After the Mantas had their fill, I looked to my spirit guide.

"Is that it?"

"Watch them. Understand them. Respect them," he said. I guess that’s what he meant for me to see - this strange new kingdom of critters. But why did it have to be in the middle of night!?


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