­­­­­­­­­­­Luminus nodded, waiting for Keitana to disappear from sight, then he meet the young woman's eyes, "I want you to drink both of these, and then walk with me. Alright?"

Kaja's took the two bags and then looked at Luminus, "You're still afraid of me, I can SMELL it."

Luminus actually chuckled there, "Like the wild things of my world, eh? And yes, I'm afraid, but I'm not letting it control me. So far I haven't seen you hurt anyone, try to kill anyone. And I make myself remember you are the one who brings in hurt children and cries over them." The only human in the Spirius sighs softly, and then with a slightly shaking hand starts stroking her muzzle. "You are a beautiful and fearful being Kaja. And I'm just a normal man. Not a natural born hero like Emeroth. Or a hardened veteran like Dravis was."

Kaja started to say something but Luminus shook his head, "I'm a perfectly ordinary person, and I'll be afraid of things I don't understand or that I can't comprehend. But, I try not to let that fear rule me. And the more I talk to you here the more my fear goes away. And I'll be honest; I don't want to be as afraid of you as you are of me."

This time Kaja couldn't keep quiet, "I'm not afraid of you. I've never been afraid of any of you!" She looks so earnest, so honest.

"Then what ARE you afraid of Kaja, why do you keep hiding what you are?"

Kaja sighs then, "People often destroy what they fear, and I am alone. I don't like killing, and hate it when it's all for something stupid. And sometimes I'm reminded painfully of how young I really am. Everyone else grows up and beyond me."

Luminus reaches down and takes one of her hands in his, "Walk with me, Lady Kaja of the Rin. Walk with Luminus of the Humans." He says it so formally yet with a smile, watching her stand once more. In her normal biped form she's shorter than him, like this he has to tilt his head up to see her eyes.

She moves so gracefully, it drives home to him how alien she is, yet at the same time, she seems so like him. There is a "Now" to her that reminds him of his lost home world, her body movements reminds him almost of a cheetah or lioness. She opens one of the bags of whole blood and starts drinking it, as if she were drinking wine. In fact if he lets himself relax he can picture her drinking a thickened wine and not blood at all.

She sighs softly, "I used to walk like this with Amrender, in my own form, without any fear or care in the world. After the first few weeks all the Kchronaens accepted me as a person. Amrender had tamed me down from the feral thing I was, gave me a family to call my own."

Luminus recognizes the pain in her voice; he's shared it so often with Emeroth, the pain of being away from everything that was familiar. He touches the female's shoulder, causing her to look at him, even as she carefully folds the bag to be recycled later, "It's OK, Luminus, it was long ago. Before The Praithian empire. I sometimes miss the Praithians, even if they drove me crazy with questions. Amrender left enough credits with them so that I never had to worry about money to take care of myself, and I spent most of that time going to school. I never really picked anything to specialize in, except ancient history. I loved learning about K'rana and M'Kay'l. My biological parents."

Luminus arches an eyebrow, "Biological, I thought Mysee'a was your mother?"

Kaja shakes her head, "No, Mysee'a gave birth to me, yes, but I have little to nothing of her in me. Mysee'a told me I was her dearest friend's daughter, and that friend's gift to the world. Mysee'a never explained why to me. But it keeps me going when I want to give up and hide. Especially when I have to deal with Kovus."

"Kovus makes you want to hide too?" Luminus said it softly. So many in the camp were deathly terrified of that man.

"More than that. He...He...He CALLS to me. He makes me WANT to come to him. He knows things about me, about my heritage, and about Amrender he CAN NOT!" The woman is shaking now, trembling in front of him as she never has when talking about their adversary.

"Calls?" Luminus arched an eyebrow. He hasn't known that. If Emeroth did, he never mentioned it.

"He knows things about my kind, things that you don't. He wants me, I can feel it, and has almost since the first time I met him. He asked me to help him then, as a small child. And later to join with him and help him rule the world."

Now THAT made Luminus look at the female in front of him in a whole new light, "You mean you tried to rescue HIM?"

Kaja actually shrunk down, her wings drooping her head going down, "I couldn't make myself do it, he scared me so, so much viciousness, so much violence, so much...lust." Luminus could tell she expected to be yelled at, to be berated for failure. Who had treated her...Then he remembered the sergeants here who would yell at people like that.

"I'm not mad Kaja. But I am puzzled. Why did he terrify you so?"

The Rin kept her head down, "I'm not really that old, I guess. I didn't know how to handle that much hate; it scares me and still does."

"You're not that old, yet you're older than both I and Emeroth."

Kaja reached out a hand, "If you will let me I can show you how old I would be if I was one of your people. That might help you."

Luminus nodded curious about what she would do, taking her hand in his he watched what few beings had ever seen. At first Kaja's form seemed to shimmer, then to slowly warp, he watched her body pull together, shift and change, then a human girl stood in front of him.

He touched her face, she couldn't be much older than thirteen or fourteen, to his mind she should still be in school, still learning to read, write and figure. "So young, so brave. Among my people a child as young as you would still be in school. You look only thirteen, so young, so innocent."

What kind of man would send a little girl to do this kind of work….Then he stopped, he knew what kind of man, a man desperate to save his little girl. How crushing it had to be for this Amrender. And if he saw what was happening to this child. Luminus knew his own heart felt so sorry for her, and the last bit of his fear evaporated in the light of his new understanding.

Kaja looked up then, "But I'm not just 13, I'm so much older. I speak so many tongues, learned so much."

Luminus touched her cheek again, "It doesn't matter, and you are a 13 year old child who just happens to have much longer years than my kind do."

Kaja blushed, and then kissed his cheek, "You mean you're not angry that I've been doing what I'm doing? Most who know how 'young' I am want me to stop helping, stop doing what Father told me to do."

"I'm not happy you have to do this, and if I could find a way to do it, I'd send you far away. But I am proud now to know you are brave enough to help us, despite being so young." He held the young woman, feeling her shake even now. "Emeroth will need us soon. Kovus is moving again. And that evil sword of his is causing more problems."

"Why hasn't Emeroth gone for Achandith's sword?"


Kaja looked at him her face a mask of confusion, "I left books about it. The sword K'rana and M'Kay'l forged for Achandith with the help of the Five old Races. I KNOW I left the books for him to find."

"We found no such books, Kaja. I have no clue what you're talking about."

Kaja looks up at Luminus, her face showing her distress, "NO. I made SURE those books would be findable, I'm NOT supposed to tell Emeroth about such things, just make sure he can find the references, preserve the history and medical knowledge I can."

Suddenly pieces fell into place for the human, "You made sure we found the books, the stories, the songs, didn't you?"

Kaja nodded. Not meeting Luminus' eyes now.

"Why didn't you tell us about this, why the games, why didn't you help us."

Kaja turned away and said softly, "I was told not to tell Emeroth these things, it means less if I tell him, he has to find it for himself. I can only tell if there is no other way. The only thing I have permission to teach him directly is how to live. My Mission wasn't to raise him, my mission was to prevent as much loss of knowledge as I could."

Luminus looked at her, and arched an eyebrow. She hadn't been sent to fight at all, she said it, his opinion of Amrender improved. He should have known better, Kaja was always willing to help, to willing to help.

Kaja sighs then, "I have to make another copy of that book and put it somewhere where Emeroth can find it. But where and how to get him to go LOOK without telling too much."

"It's too late for that Kaja; you have to tell him about this yourself." Luminus could see the near panic in the girl's eyes. How much of the information they had found about Emeroth and his people was of her planting?

"I Can't, I promised Amrender I wouldn't."

Luminus put his hand on her chin making her look at him, "You have to. There is no other way."

Suddenly Kaja eyes go wide, "I can tell YOU. Then I haven't broken my promise to Amrender. I can tell YOU."

Luminus nodded the child was right yet at the same time so very wrong. How loyal she was to someone who must be centuries dead. Luminus found himself a place to sit, not liking this but accepting it for now, Kaja curled up on the ground in front of him.

It is with a very hesitant voice that Kaja starts to tell him the most amazing story he's ever heard.

"It all starts before the founding of the Kchronaen empire. Though not that long before. My biological mother K'Rana was on a mission hunting down Kya, and before you ask, yes Kya lived through the first shadow war. I watched the recordings of her interview with the Kchronaens, she was not that much older than I was when Amrender died, yet she has crossed over half the galaxy to tell them of a ship she found and the disturbing dreams it caused her.

"I wish you could have seen Kchronos, it was a beautiful place. And doubly blessed for having learned from so many races. All the beauty of the worldling concentrated there. I'm told my mother was quite overwhelmed. Most Shar'rin are not used such large cities as were found on Kchronos. A 'large' holding is maybe four or five hundred individuals in one hundred squares. On Kchronos they had that many people living in maybe a tenth of a square.

"I'm told she was very very brave. Though many said she was foolish because, like me, she thinks more with her heart than her head. She was a fully trained Shar'rin priestess. She was capable of amazing things, including an ability to push back the shadow.

"She and Achandath's team pushed the shadow out of the ship, though with trouble and Achandath's being injured. The Shadow hurt him, and I'm told it was only the intervention of the Syssians that saved him. After that it was quiet for maybe twenty years. K'Rana visiting Kchronos often and Achandath returning the visits to Shar'shan.

"Then something happened and a small section of the worldling went mad. A war broke out, and it was vicious, people went insane, and then Kya struck down my people, a horrible disease, killing thousands of Rin, but especially those with the gifts that marked them for Priesthood. The telepaths. It wiped them out, except for a dying handful, including K'Rana.

"Kchronos didn't yet know about the disease or the civil unrest it caused, and they called on their allies, the Rin, to aid them in dealing with the madness. The Rin didn't, couldn't answer, except for the few remaining Telepaths. And they dying by inches each time they used their abilities. K'Rana convinced the dying Rin to stand with Kchronos. And one of the survivors gave her life to get everyone to Kchronos as fast as she could while avoiding the conflicts.

"The records I read say the war was bloody, many died, entire peoples nearly wiped out. Madness and death were everywhere. Then a woman came with three crystals and gave them to Achandath and K'Rana. The Crystals had the ability to focus power, like the Rin and the Kchronaens wielded. K'Rana was not just a priestess she was a weapon's smith. And she took the crystals and using her gifts, turned them into a sword.

"She called that blade N'kaja'a Jaka'a, it means Song of eternal life. And it was a powerful weapon against the shadow. With it Achandath could deal with the most horrible of shadow-born monsters, K'Rana could save many who otherwise might have been lost. It turned the tide of the war and they were able to push the shadow back to it's home.

"And before you ask, no I don't know where that home is. I was told to avoid it. It is a horrible place. But the Kchroaneans brought the war there, to the shadow's very doorstep. And three went in to deal with it. Achandath, K'Rana, and M'Kayel. Two were held in reserve in case they failed, Asliner and Mysee'a.

"There is no record of what they did, but Achandath never returned, they didn't even have a body to bury, or so I'm told. It must have been a horrible death, K'Rana was crying when she brought back the blade. M'Kay'el died on the way back to Kchronos, and K'Rana she died on the way home to Shar'shan, and the blade was buried with her, at her request, until the 'rightful caretakers' could come to get it.

"The survivors of the war swore they would never again allow the shadow to rise like it had, taking over whole worlds directly. And thus the Kchronaen empire was founded, despite the protests of the Shar'rin. The Rin deliberately chose not to join, which upset the Kchronaens. Though they did not forbid anyone who wished to fulfill K'Rana's dying wish. She asked all those who fought in the war to do one thing for her, put flowers on her grave.

"Amrender took me there once. The Kchronaens would send two of their best every year with fresh flowers for her. And there is a field around the grave, a field of thousands of flowers, many of species that normally doesn't bloom there. Mysee'a told me they were planted there by the Syssians. And that every time a new world developed space flight a new flower would appear each year til all their flowers surrounded the grave.

"The last time I went there, I actually met a Syssian. I had wandered off, and didn't realize who or what she was til she brought me back to Amrender. She told me something I didn't realize was important til much later, 'if you need it, you will find it. You are the only one who can.'

"It's the sword, I know it is. And we need it now. I have to go to one of the most dangerous worlds know. I have to go back to my people's home world, I have to go to Shar'shan. The one world even the Thunderers avoided as to dangerous."

Luminus nodded to himself, the story was so simply told, the facts laid there so plain. So many thousands of years, yet she talked to people who knew these things. Met one who had actually fought with them. And more important, she was told by a SYSSIAN of all people that she could find the sword. It was increadable, unbelievable. And yet it made his heart sick, he knew what she was saying.

"Kaja, this is to dangerous. I know about Shar'shan, Emeroth and I talked about it. That world is a killer since the Shar'rin left it. They left all their creations behind, and you and I both know that a lot of those war beasts are not at all particular about what they eat. You could get killed. Think what it would do to Chren, to all of us."

"No, I have to go. The Syssian said I can find it. I have to go. We are loosing this war. Emeroth needs that weapon, and he needs time to learn to use it. It has to be ME. I'm the only Rin you have who might be able to control the creatures there. I am a FOREST RIN, it is what they do."

"DAMN IT KAJA, You are NOT going alone. If I could I'd send a whole legion with you, but I don't have that. So instead I'm sending RAE. And you are to LISTEN to him if he tells you to rest, and you are NOT leaving until Keitana clears you. Is that understood!" Luminus wanted to spit bricks. This was no mission for a child, no mission for Kaja, yet she was right. If a Syssian said she could find it, then they had to send her.

Luminus took her hands and looked her in the eyes, "I need you to do a very big favor for me. Quin'los and a few of the others will need to know what you are. Will you show your true self to them when I ask you to?"

Kaja's eyes went wide and she surged to her feet taking a few frightened steps back. "What if they turn on me?"

Luminus' face went grim, "If they try to hurt you, I will deal with them myself. Please Kaja, trust me, I will not allow anyone to hurt you because of what you are. You are good for Chren. You are good for the Spirious, and when we have time I want to talk to you about the history and legends of my homeworld."

He could see the temptation in her face when he said that. And Luminus suddenly smiled, "I know a little about the medicine as well. I'll put myself at your disposal when we both have leave at the same time."

It was with an almost heartbreakingly childish innocent that Kaja said, "Promise? You will not let them hurt me and you will tell me all about your world and answer my questions as best you can?"

"Yes Kaja, I promise, and I'm looking forward to it." And that was nothing but the truth, if she survived this mission he would gladly spend a few days telling her everything he could remember about his world. Especially about the events in the provinces. She might enjoy the stories of miracles preformed there. "Now we have a meeting to attend."

"I know, and we are late. Emeroth will be unhappy with us."

Luminus shook his head, "I doubt that, not when we tell him about this weapon."

The young woman nodded and took his hand, walking with him in her newly learned human form. For a few minutes Luminus could almost forget he was on an alien world and imagine he was home.