ANANA SHOOK HER head. “Uncle, I was once like you. That is, utterly unworthy of life. But there was something in me that gave me misgivings. Let us call it a residue of compassion, of empathy. Deep under the coldness and cruelty and arrogance was a spark. And that spark fanned into a great fire, fanned by a leblabbiy called Kickaha. He’s not a Lord, but he is a man. That’s more than you ever were or will be. And these brutish miserable creatures who’ve captured you, and don’t know they hold the Lord of their crazy world captive … they’re more human than you could conceive. That is, they’re retarded Lords …”
Urthona stared and said, “What in The Spinner’s name are you talking about?”
Anana felt like hitting him. But she said, “You wouldn’t ever understand. Maybe I shouldn’t say ever. After all, I came to understand. But that was because I was forced to be among the leblabbiy for a long time.”
“And this leblabbiy, Kickaha, this descendant of an artificial product, corrupted your mind. It’s too bad the Council is no longer in effect. You’d be condemned and killed within ten minutes.”
Anana ran her gaze up and down him several times, her expression contemptuous. “Don’t forget, uncle, that you, too, may be the descendant of an artificial product. Of creatures created in a laboratory. Don’t forget what Shambarimen speculated with much evidence to back his statement. That we, too, the Lords, the Lords, may have been made in the laboratories of beings who are as high above us as we are above the leblabbiy. Or I should say as high above them as we are supposed to be.
“After all, we made the leblabbiy in our image. Which means that they are neither above nor below us. They are us. But they don’t know that, and they have to live in worlds which we created. Made, rather. We are not creators, any more than writers of fiction or painters are creators. They make worlds, but they are never able to make more than what they know. They can write or paint worlds based on elements of the known, put together in a different order in a way to make them seem to be creators.
“We, the so-called Lords, did no more than poets, writers, and painters and sculptors. We were not, and are not, gods. Though we’ve come to think of ourselves as such.”
“Spare me your lectures,” Urthona said. “I don’t care for your attempts to justify your degeneracy.”
Anana shrugged and said, “You’re hopeless. But in a way you’re right. The thing to talk about is how we can escape.”
“Yeah,” McKay said. “Just how we going to do that?”
“However we do it,” she said, “we can’t go without the knife and the axe and the Horn. We’d be helpless in this savage world without them. The chief has the axe and the Horn, so we have to get them away from him.”
She didn’t think she should say anything about the knife in the jeans. They’d noticed it was gone, but she had told them she’d lost it during her flight from them.
A man untied their hobbles, and they resumed the march with the others. Anana went back to her language lessons with Nurgo.
When the tribe got to the pass, it stopped again. She didn’t need to ask why. The country beyond the two mountains was black with clouds in which lived a hell of lightning bolts. It would be committing suicide to venture into it. But when a whole day and night passed, and the storm still raged, she did question the youth.
“The Lord sends down thunder and lightning into this country. He topples trees and slays beasts and any human who is foolish enough to dare him.”
“That is why we only go into the sea-country when his wrath has cooled off. Otherwise, we would live there all the time. The land changes shape very slowly and insignificantly. The water is full of fish, and the trees, which do not walk, are full of birds that are good to eat. The trees also bear nuts, and there are bushes, which also do not walk, that are heavy with berries. And the game is plentiful and easier caught than on the open plains.