Chapter 15

"Safian's Light!" Marcus laį'Pantuli exclaimed, his voice full of scorn. "Safian's Light—'tis a mockery of the meaning of 'light'! The light of Safian has all but gone out in that-in that—I will say it, and do not misunderstand me—that godforsaken city." Then Marcus had to dip his head dramatically to keep from running his head into a branch.

"Careful, dear," Ilene said wryly. "But I think you're the only one among us who has actually visited Safian's Light."

Kathleen half twisted around in her saddle to meet first the gaze of Corissa, who looked at her with surprise in her silver-blue eyes, then back at Marcus. "Have you been to Safian's Light, Marcus?" Corissa asked, her silvery-blue eyes narrowing a little. "I hadn't realized that you'd traveled to Eyala at all."

Nor had I, Kathleen thought. But Marcus was already nodding, "With Barak . . . over the winter."

"So that's where you to go off to?" Kathleen asked. For a few years now Barak and Marcus had gone off together in the winter of Aissura, disappearing for weeks at a time with barely more than a 'good-bye' the day before.

An interesting look passed over Marcus' features, but he shrugged a little. "I can only pray that Barak won't have my hide," he said ruefully. "I wasn't supposed to mention that I've been to Safian's Light or even Eyala. Barak likes to keep a low profile when he goes off . . . adventuring." Then Marcus's blue eyes took on a serious look. "That man . . . is perhaps the coolest person I've ever met."

"That's a very un-Marcus-like statement," Kathleen observed. "I don't think you've called people 'cool' before."

"I second that observation," Alexander said, interest coloring his warm voice. "I hate to break the train of thought—but how long will it be until we reach your cave, Kathleen?"

"It's not really my cave," Kathleen said, apologizing a little. "Corissa found the moon jumper first and David was there too."

*I don't think anyone minds whose cave it is,* Star Ruby spoke into Kathleen's mind dryly. The unicorn rolled his eyes up to look at her, arching his neck a bit.

Tempted to say something sarcastic, Kathleen simply ignored Star Ruby and answered Alexander: "We ought to be there in a few minutes." She then saw that Marcus's head was lowered, and his eyebrow furrowed. "Still pondering, Marcus?"
His eyes moved, but his head did not. "Pondering a breach in my attentions," he said, reluctantly and slowly. "I suppose I haven't really told you all what I think of you," he admitted. "Ilene and I were talking after the Betrothal—we simply don't see you enough and we're impoverishing ourselves with prolonged absence. I can respect each and every one of you . . . and you make me a better person than I would be without you."

"Nalolil," Alexander said reflexively. "I've known those who I have liked—especially at the university—but who I couldn't really respect, or who did not encourage me to walk more faithfully with Nalowin."

"You know who I want to see again?" Corissa said, her eyes fixed elsewhere. "Risfasi a'Mandilin—I want her to come back to Icefall. The Council . . . without Risfasi here, the Mandilins won't take any chances."

"She is coming back," Kathleen revealed, smiling at the thought of her energetic friend. "At least for a little while—she wants to see us married. And plus, she is going to be one of my attendants."

"I didn't know Risfasi very well," Marcus said with a slight smile. "But when I saw her, she was generally defending some poor animal or some poor child from abuse by Dromirian boys older than her. And she'd thrash the lot of them. How many fights did Risfasi get in?"

"It wasn't like that at all," Ilene said, surprising them all by blushing a little and speaking very passionately. "Risfasi didn't go about picking fights with anyone—she would defend those of us who couldn't—or didn't—defend themselves."

"Kept me from getting beat up once or twice," Alexander reported ruefully. "You didn't know her, Marcus—fearless and brave and just as crazy about honor as Magdalena is. She'd do anything for a friend."

"I think anyone who really knew Risfasi would either love her or hate her," Corissa said. "Because either she was on your side, defending you and Nalowin for all she was worth or she was letting you know just how evil you were. Remember when she found those boys hurting that filly she adopted. She beat them with a stick and then read them a lecture on how despicable hurting animals, especially ones who couldn't fight back, was."

"And they deserved it, too," Kathleen said, shaking her head. "I was so glad when Risfasi showed up—then I felt so ashamed that I hadn't done what she had done. But I'll never let something like that happen again without doing something about it."

"That's it," Alexander said suddenly. "That is what it was about Risfasi—she never sat on the fence, she always did. You never had to guess where you stood with her. She wasn't perfect, so sometimes she hurt your feelings, but she was generally right and she always apologized and made it up to you if she did something wrong. She took honor very seriously—Magdalena and Risfasi together were a holy terror! Life was an adventure, and the point of that adventure, as they told you, was to win honor and glory and immortality. And by the stars, you knew they were going to do it."

"Wait a moment—so you're telling me there is someone else in the world as cool as Magdalena Draken?" Marcus asked dryly. "I didn't know it was possible."

"Risfasi is different, though," Corissa said, her voice now very quiet. "She was more vocal about it and a little crazier. But only the wise associate "crazy" with "cool". Her family didn't."

"We had some great conversations," Kathleen said wistfully. "About all the things we would do if we lived back in the days of the Keesas—about what heaven was going to be like—about a thousand impossible adventures. It was lovely."

"All of us giddy, talking about the impossible," Alexander said in the same sort of wistful tone. Then he looked up and caught the skepticism in Ilene's eyes. "Oh, I know you think we're a little nuts—we probably are—but at least we were all crazy together."

"I wish I could have heard some of those conversations," Corissa said, smiling a little. As Corissa spoke, Kathleen watched Marcus. She was trying to measure his expression. Marcus, who was older than she yet younger than Corissa and David, seemed to be a little shocked by what he was learning about his long-time allies. He probably didn't realize how alike we all are—or really, how alike our dream is. She fell back to Marcus' side. "Is it a pleasant or disturbing surprise?" she asked.

Marcus looked at her, this time not surprised by her question. "Women are a lot more perceptive than men," he said with a sigh. "I cannot get away with anything with you."

Kathleen smiled, "And you can't get away with ducking the question either."

At this, Marcus laughed. "I was not attempting to, I give my word! The surprise is a most pleasant one—I had not expected to find so many with a dream I had half-buried. At least, it had been buried until Barak took me on one of his adventures."

Kathleen had been about to question him further on what sort of 'adventures' he had been on, but she had seen a curve of gray rock ahead of her. "In the spirit of David, 'lo and behold'. The cave is right there."

Almost as if the forest wanted the cave to remain hidden, the overgrowth and moss had camouflaged the entrance quite well. The group dismounted as one, wandering toward the caves. Because they all had unicorns, there was no need to tether them, and after they removed saddles and bits, they let the Sibling Unicorns roam about on their own. But Chalcedony and Jade stayed nearby—perhaps they wanted to explore the cave as well. When Kathleen stepped inside, she very carefully held away the branches of a drooping lesghill tree. They had to walk inside the cave for several yards and turn on one of the light fixtures Kathleen had set up before they even found the ship, nestled into the back right hand corner of the cave. She heard the intakes of breath as Alexander and the others saw the moon jumper for the first time. Although the small ship was badly rusted, the lines and shape remained the same. It spoke a great many words about the former ages in which the law of Nalowin had been rule over all. Kathleen quickly moved past the moon jumper to the very back of the cave. She had to stand for several minutes and carefully search for the hidden door. Finally, she spotted it again, and took out her new laser.

"It's colder in here than it is outside," Ilene noted as she circled the moon jumper.

"We might have an early fall," Kathleen added as she inserted the battery into the laser.

"What is it? The end of Debessnifol? Maybe a very early winter again like last year. That's not your blow-torch," Alexander commented from behind her. The rest were still looking at the ship, their back facing them.

Kathleen gave a smile, recalling the conversation from over a month ago. "No, but this should work better. She set the laser to one of the middle levels, stepped forward and pointed the laser at where she thought the locking mechanism should be. Maybe I won't have to fry the whole thing, she thought silently. If I can get the lock off, the lot of us should be able to force it open. The flicked on the laser and a bright white stream of light shot out, within seconds melting the steel, and passing through.

"Do you hear that?" Alexander asked, pitching his voice over the hum of the laser.

"Hear what?" Kathleen asked. "You know, you haven't answered my question about—" Suddenly, the laser was ripped from her hand. It lurched forward and slammed into the door. Kathleen, thankful for the deadman's switch on the laser, was about to ask what was going on. Alexander suddenly grabbed her by her arms and pulled her away from the door. With a shriek of twisting, ripping metal, the entire door blew inward, torn off its hinges. Dirt, leaves, vines, and Kathleen's tool kit slid or flew toward the doorway. A loud, wordless exclamation flew out of Marcus' throat as he grabbed Corissa's arm and flung her up against the moon jumper. Ilene was safe on the other side.

As the suction and air began to lesson, Alexander spoke in Kathleen's ear. They were fortuitously hidden in a niche in the cave where the pull wasn't as great and there was enough indention in the rock for each to get a handhold. "What was that?"

Kathleen shook her head. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say the cave had been vacuum sealed." She ventured a step outward and around the corner, noticing that Marcus and Corissa had eased their death grips on the moon jumper. Looking shaken, Ilene walked around the edge of the jumper cautiously. Alexander still held her arm cautiously, but he soon let go, sensing that the danger had passed.

To Kathleen's great surprise, Corissa pulled a long, thin glow-torch out of one of her pockets. It was one of Kathleen's constructions, and it shone a bright white hue for several feet in all directions. Noticing Kathleen's look, Corissa smiled at her. "Always be prepared?"

Kathleen gave her sister a pleased smile and pulled a matching glow-torch out of her own pocket. "I believe I taught you that one." Kathleen manipulated the controls on the torch for a minute, changing the setting so it would release a concentrated stream of light from one end. She stepped into the darkness of the new cave, her heart still beating rapidly from the previous event. To Kathleen, Alexander and Corissa seemed inordinately calm—seemed cool as a winter's breeze. Well, at least Marcus and Ilene look a little perturbed.

"Is it possible this chamber was vacuum-sealed?" Alexander asked, a strong note of doubt in his voice.

"Possible, yes," Kathleen said as she rotated her torch-light around the small, dim cavern. "Likely? No."

"I don't see why anyone would do that," Alexander admitted, flashing his sharp eyes around the cave. "This place is pretty small—what could be in here . . . ." his voice trailed off into silence. Kathleen saw his eyes narrow at something several feet behind where Ilene was standing, to the left of the little entranceway. "What is that?" he asked finally, pointing past Ilene.

Marcus walked quickly to Ilene's side and they both knelt down beside the pile of what seemed to be debris. Corissa handed the torch to Marcus and he held it close to the ground, illuminating a wooden chest. Alexander and Kathleen quickly dropped down next to them as Corissa bent over them all.

The chest was larger than Kathleen had first thought. It was made of hardwood, stained even darker than its natural color. As Kathleen peered closely at it, she noticed the strips of metal worked on the sides and top of the chest's curved lid in a pattern she could not recall. It took the deduction of seconds for Kathleen to recognize the metal as good-quality silver. And in the silver were intricate designs of a pattern Kathleen could not recognize. They alternated between two types. One almost appeared to be random dashes and strokes of the artisan's whimsy, or irregular geometric shapes with meaning to only the person who had fashioned the trunk. The other had small shapes or symbols—and Kathleen could easily see that some of the symbols were repeated, sometimes even a series of symbols were repeated.

"Is it possible that a person wanted to preserve this chest?" Ilene asked slowly. "Perhaps that is why they vacuum-sealed the chamber."

"It is a work of art," Kathleen admitted.

Corissa slowly shook her head. "It is more than that. I see two distinct languages on the lid of this chest."

"Look," Alexander commanded. He shoved the trunk gently to the side. "There is a third language," he said. "The other two I barely recognize them, but I know them to be English and Hebrew of the Human languages. I could not tell you what they said. But this—this I know. It is the language of our people; is it Ancient Kalorian."

"And it looks archaic for Ancient Kalorian," Marcus said excitedly. "Look at that letter formation—it's like calligraphy or something made by an artesian!"

Kathleen felt her breath rush out and she felt faintly light-headed with excitement. She knew that Alexander, Corissa, and Marcus had studied Ancient Kalorian for a long time. They could speak in it with a certain amount of ease, but not the ease in which they spoke the other four languages they knew. "What does it say?"

Alexander spoke, "Aillen ara tiauill hura Elolossae-enae, anan huradei, anan huraedei, ara anan huraedae deaieleiel. Aelo ara eloir Olaen huraedei ellolaia, ara Liráliendail huraedei na liralien lai suralil esceralla. Aloir ara inlaeen Olaen ellín huraedei nenya leulealla, éllin huraedei nenya auderell, ellín huraedei nenya riuill. Luá hura Olan orolin-adan, alorossaedolan-adan, ara andan-adan. Ail huraedei naladuilladan-enae coradadim Nalowin-enae aillen: Aillen Elolossae-enae! His voice trailed off at the end, the awe transfiguring his voice to a tone that Kathleen had never heard before.

"What does that mean?" Kathleen asked, hemming in her frustration. She knew a smattering of words in Ancient Kalorian and knew that ellolaia meant life and liralein meant light, but that was the extent of her knowledge.

Corissa began to translate, slowly, but steadily. "The inscription reads, 'Glory and praise be to the Triune One, who was, and is, and will be forevermore. In and within Him is life, and His light is the light of all creation. Beside and without Him there is no love, there is no joy, there is no peace. May He be our vision, our sustenance, and our hope. It is to our honor to give Nalowin glory: Glory to the Triune One!"

Kathleen's fingers trembled as she probed the chest for the latches she knew were somewhere on the wood. "I guess we know when this thing was made," she said in a voice barely under her control.

"Indeed," Alexander breathed, his voice a little strained. There was an edge of tension in the cave that hadn't been present before. Everyone was holding their breath.

It was Marcus who moved first, he reached out with trembling fingers and carefully undid the latches. He then flipped open the lid—and Kathleen saw that his hands were trembling a little. "I think we struck gold, here," he said very quietly.

"Amen," Alexander said softly. They watched silently as Marcus carefully let the lid rest on the wall of the cave. They all straightened in their kneeling, and peered eagerly into the chest, wondering what the ancient thing would hold. With steady fingers, it was Ilene who slowly reached into the chest with both hands and pulled out the first item her fingers touched.

Kathleen looked at it carefully. It was a book, and an old book, too, by the look of it. It was large, about a foot and a half in length, and another foot in breath with six inches in depth. The entire book was inlaid with silver—it curled and twisted in vines of aimless wandering.

Ilene took out the book and rested on her lap, opening it to the first page. The majority of it was written in Ancient Kalorian, but the very first word in the book, which was 'hénellell' even Kathleen knew to be an Ancient Kalorian word which meant 'beginning'. We're talking Celestial Alliance time here, Kathleen realized. Kathleen was studying the language Celestian, the language of the Celestial Alliance—and many Ancient Kalorian words meant the same thing in Celestian. The Celestial Alliance had been a coalition of space-faring races, led by Kalori, unified for the purpose of mutual trade, defense, and exploratory purposes. Or, at least, that's all anyone really knew about the Celestial Alliance because it had dissolved over two thousand years ago, even before the Fall of the Keesas and the Initial Invasion. The E-K Underground was sponsoring language courses on the Circle, although it was illegal to speak Celestian.

"Aelo na hénellell, Nalowin escerená nasen celensura aran kamara," Marcus said with astonishment. He looked up and met both Kathleen's and Alexander's eyes. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," he repeated. Kathleen felt a chill go down her spine as he spoke again. "You do realize this is a holy book of some kind, maybe from another world!"

"How do you know it isn't ours, it isn't the Lamanill?" Corissa asked, swallowing a little. She knelt down next to them and reached out, then stopping—as if she were afraid to touch the book.

"That doesn't sound quite like native Ancient Kalorian, but I could be wrong," Marcus said. "Remember how the ancients speak—the compound prepositions 'for clarity'?" He then looked down at the book doubtfully. "Maybe I'm wrong, maybe this is the Lamanill."

Alexander gently touched the slightly browning page. "Never in a thousand years would I guess this is what was out in this cave," he said, awed. "Amazing—the Dromirians burned all the ones on Kalori, Eyala, and Lorian; I never expected to see one."

"Does it matter?" Ilene murmured. "Do we care which world it is from?"

"Is that the only thing in there?" Kathleen asked, peering back into the chest. Her heart was beating all too rapidly; she didn't know what they were going to do with this miraculous finding—they certainly couldn't keep the Word to themselves.

Marcus pulled out a second book, nearly the size of the first, but done in a much simpler fashion. It was bound with red letter and had curious, thin pages. When he opened the book, they saw that it was a little bit less elaborate than the first book. The title of this book read: "Hénellellur."

"Okay," Kathleen remarked in confusion. "Here we have 'beginnings'?"

"Oh, look at this," Marcus said excitedly, and then read aloud from the text: "Aelo ara inden na hénellell, Elolossae linda escerhuill suralilur soleinur, nasen times, nasen celensurur, na kamara, ara súralilaran állanna huraedei aelo ara inden ulaeyan. There is nyasolien állana hura aras Elolossae, neither is there ethilsólein állana will come valaras Olaen—lanyin soleinur alin hurahuill nyasin."

This time, speaking quickly and easily, Alexander translated, "'In and within the beginning, Elolossae was creating all things, the times, the heavens, and the earth, and all that is in them. There is nothing that is before Elolossae, neither is there anything that will come after him—these things are being naught.' By the stars, Marcus—you were right! No one can find 'Elolossae' outside Kalori!"

"This is the Lamanill," Corissa said excitedly, her voice rising in a rare demonstration of strong feeling. "Not even Barak has a copy of the Lamanill in his libraries. By heaven, what else is in there?"

To retrieve the next book, Ilene had to rise to her knees and lift it out of the trunk with a surprised gasp—it was much, much lighter than it appeared. This book was even bigger than the other two and it was in even better repair than the other two. The outside looked as if someone had painted on it with—Kathleen would have said it was an oil painting, but the colors were richer and lighter at the same time. The painting showed a grand sea of impossible blue—the blue of a mountain lake rather than an ocean. In the distance on the far right, the artist had depicted a castle or palace of some sort, and a small city spilling about the farthest edge of the sea. The picture was of the place at dusk, so Kathleen could see that the city was made of materials of the brightest white. On the back of the book, the scene continued—in the back, there was another city and palace, of a different design and apparently made of gleaming, hard-edged silver. In the foreground, however, was a city of golden hues, sometimes the metallic gold Kathleen was familiar with, but other times the City seemed to burn an almost fiery red, and other times it seems to glow with a softer, yellow light.

"As Nalowin lives, that is lovely," Alexander said, astonished. "I have never seen anything like it!"

"It's beautiful," Kathleen said in awe. "This must have been new when they sealed this trunk and the cavern—otherwise it would have perished."

"It that painted on there?" Ilene asked, running her fingers along the surface of the book. Then she gave a gasp, "Feel this," she ordered.

When Kathleen reached out to touch it, she immediately knew why Ilene was shocked. There was no sort of lamination on the book—it would spoil very quickly. And Kathleen could feel the texture of whatever kind of paint the artist had used.

"Open it," Corissa commanded, her voice almost breathless.

Obediently, Ilene opened the book to its middle—and what they saw shocked them. In addition to writing in what was obviously Ancient Kalorian, there were brightly colored pictures and designs in the background of every word. Sometimes there was only a brush of color, but other times there was something that was clearly a pictogram of some sort. And at times, the symbols repeated themselves.

"I've never seen anything like it," Alexander repeated. "What on earth is this?"

"It can't be just simple illustration," Corissa said, staring hard at the book. "Is it on every page?"

Ilene flipped through a few pages, but the mysterious symbols remained present. She then flipped back to the very beginning, to the title page: "Lainur Vaelur Dįlanur," she read aloud.

"Of the . . . Ages," Corissa read, puzzlement crossing her features. "I'm sorry, Alexander, Marcus—do either of you know what 'dįlanur' means?"

Marcus shook his head wordlessly, but Alexander nodded. "It's 'sundry'. Of the Sundry Ages. Maybe this is a type of history or mythology."

"The two are not mutually exclusive," Corissa murmured softly. Ignoring their conversation, Kathleen reached out and turned the page. Across the top of that page read: Lainur Unelyur. Although Kathleen did not know many of the words, she let her eyes pass over them, examining not the words, but the strange symbols behind it. After a moment or two of staring at them, an odd sensation fluttered in her stomach. She felt . . . she felt as if she were reading something grand, something mysterious and somehow above her. And quite literally, above her—and the pictures had a way of totally absorbing her attention—as if she were experiencing the tale and not just reading it. In fact, Kathleen felt as if she could just lose herself in the pictures of the book . . . .

"This book is odd," Ilene decided, her serenely beautiful features settling into a frown, but the comment was enough to jerk Kathleen into full alertness.

"You're right," Kathleen said, staring at the book in apprehension. "Could you feel that?"

"Yes," Ilene said cautiously, "as if it could . . ."

"Draw you in," Kathleen said hurriedly. "Or weave some sort of spell around you!"

"What are you talking about?" Alexander asked, his voice probably harsher than he had intended it to be. He had stood up for a moment to talk with Corissa, but now he was back down on his knees. "Spells?" he grumbled, "they're talking about stars and . . . ." His voice trailed off unexpectedly, but in a moment or two, he shook himself. "Never mind, what is this?"

Acting on a hunch, Kathleen stood up quickly enough to make her wince. "Corissa, come take a look at this." Then Kathleen moved out of the way, letting her sister take her place. Corissa knelt down in her place and put her hands on the book. Speaking softly, she read aloud:

"In and within the midst of eternity there is Nalowin, or as the Ellerin more directly call him, Elolossae. In timelessness there dwells no other thing with Elolossae, for He alone is the master and creator of time, and in the beginning of all things, time also found its beginning. It is elsewhere recorded that in the beginning, Nalowin created the heavens and the earth. It is also expressly told in that same book of beginning of the creation of many creatures terrestrial and things heavenly. It is not, however noted in that book at which time the angels found their beginning, nor when the Ellerin were fashioned, nor when the stars began their song.

It is known that the stars began to sing in that time before any sin or any evil had entered any world, or even into the heart of any creature, of the heaven that is above all heavens, of the celestial, or of the worlds of Men and Laiyanur. The stars dwelt in the deep seas of the dark, and their light filled the void and lent it beauty and light as a candle does within the dark of a light-less room. To the stars were given some semblance of glory, like the glory of the Lord Nalowin, yet not the glory of Nalowin, and because they had this semblance of likeness, they shone not only with great power, but with great beauty and grace. And sometime after the stars began to shine in the deep, they also began to sing, and their song filled all of the ocean . . . ."

The while Corissa spoke, her voice changed a little, as if she were speaking without being aware of it. Again, Kathleen felt the tug on her thoughts and upon her imaginations—she could almost see the stars and their unfallen grace! Yet, the silence that descended when Corissa stopped speaking was enough to break the mild enchantment that had fallen upon Kathleen—and, she realized when she looked at her companions that they had been entranced too. Alexander looked at her, then reached over and took her hand, breathing out unsteadily.

Corissa was still staring at the book, her mouth moving soundlessly. "Corissa!" Alexander said sharply after a moment of watching her, still as silence itself.

She looked up, her eyes of silver and blue looking momentarily lost—as what happens when one is waked from an especially entrancing reverie. Then, all at once, she came alive. "I was almost there," she said, her voice breaking for the wonder of it all. "We must show this to Magdalena and David. We have to get all of this to Barak's for safe-keeping."

"I agree," Marcus said, his features were bright with passion. "If that book isn't magic, than the person who made up the word didn't know the real thing! We must get this to Barak. And we need a language expert . . . a philologist to take a look at this book. Does any of us know what 'ellerin' or 'laiyanur" means?"

"Not I," Alexander said, shaking his head.

"And Magdalena didn't know about 'ellerin' when I last spoke with her," Corissa revealed. She appeared to be staring off in the distance. "There are philologists at Levenian University," she said finally. "We can talk to Risfasi and see if she knows anyone trustworthy."

"What a gift this is!" Alexander said, looking at their treasure in amazement. "Aillen Elolossae-enae," he whispered again.

"Nalolil," Ilene said, reluctantly giving up her hold on the book and placing it back into the chest. "Why don't Marcus and I ride to Barak Velum's home and tell him about it."

"Yes," Marcus said hurriedly. "No need for all of us to go—the three of you can stay here and see what else is inside."

"It seems good to me," Corissa said, instantly peering back into the chest.

With a twinkle in his eyes, Alexander bowed and saluted Marcus and Ilene, "Soar to the stars, my friends—may He lighten your steps."

Marcus grinned at Alexander and grabbed Ilene's hand, helping her to her feet and practically shoving her out of the small room.

"Such enthusiasm!" Kathleen heard her say as they left. "Had I only known you had it!"

Kathleen and Alexander looked at each other and smiled—the smiles quickly turned into a pair of silly grins as they again beheld what they had found. They clustered again around the trunk, looking over Corissa's shoulders as she examined its content.

But only seconds later, Marcus and Ilene rushed back in, out of breath. "We are in trouble," Marcus gasped out. "I saw a Dromirian assault stealth shuttle overhead. We have to get out of here, now!"