While Desa is planning her trip to the largest city in the basin, a young man comes in off the desert asking to learn to read. Alan must not let anyone suspect that he was from another planet, but to obey that order, he had to break all the others.
In the first volume of The Second Expedition, Desa finds only part of the added responsibility she has taken on and Alan is only beginning to understand how little his training has prepared him for an alien planet, and for adulthood.
Far across the valley a morning came. The purple-banded ember that was Kortrax pulled himself together above the eastern peaks and with his rays, painted mottled patterns on the clouds below. Thru the nearer peaks the dawnwind whistled, blowing scattered rags of cloud into the emerald-jungled mountains that tumbled down into the mighty valley miles below.
Deep round brown eyes gazed forlornly over one of the finest views in central Wescarp. An elfin face peeked out from between thick ruddy-brown curls that spread across her shoulders. Little of her smooth and dusky skin showed as she huddled close in her wrap against the cold, concealing her trim figure from the dawn chill. She looked the part of a country girl, but in truth was one of the most familiar with cities of all the local people.
“I really should have known,” she sighed aloud to herself. She had known Enva long enough, knew what he was like and what he thought of her. He was such a piece that women often thru themselves at him, pretty much as she had done. Once in a while he would consent to give one a wham-bam and say ‘thanks, it’s been nice’ and shut the door against the cheeks of her ass as he shows her out. He had done it to her before, she knew he would do it again this time before she even went home with him, so why was she so upset now?
Wasn’t she angriest at herself for being like this? Why did she pursue the most beautiful guy in the room? Actually she couldn’t really be that harsh with herself, she had pursued Svarloe more than a few times, but even he was content to live by himself at his camp but entertain her as a visitor any sleep of the week she cared to come up.
Wasn’t she really angry at herself for settling for casual sex when what she wanted was a long-term partner? But then she could also argue, if you can’t get someone to share a home with, why not settle for the best sex you can get? So with that she had followed Enva home.
But once that was over and she was hustled on her way, she was in no mood to go back to Knume’s and take the chance of getting caught between him and Valla again. Knume’s home wasn’t as much fun as it used to be before Desa’s sister-child Valla’s relationship with him started to unravel. Desa also hadn’t been in the mood to sit by the pond and have every yaaged-out late-Nightday wastie come bother her either.
So, in foolhardy disregard of her thin night-wrap and jersey, the trail, and the yaag, she thought it might be nice to watch the sunrise from up here. Just as the horizon glowed pregnant, she finally reached the top of east Nvednmere. The easy climb made difficult by the wan light of Cynd and the crashing buzz of that yaag.
Maybe coming up here was something about self esteem, ‘I AM alive, I can accomplish something. Maybe not breakfast with Enva, but I can climb this mountain in the dark with nothing more than a hand torch. I can see more than the streets of Yoonbarla while they Dawnsleep’.