Anana clamped her hand over her uncle’s mouth at the same time that McKay pressed his heavy body on him. Red Ore struggled, and almost succeeded in rolling over, until Anana whispered in his native language, “Quiet!”
He became still, though he trembled, and Anana said, “We’re here to get you away.”
She removed her hand. The black stood up. She cut the rawhide cords, and Ore rose, looked around, walked over to a sleeper and took the spear lying by his side. The three walked out of camp, though slowly, until they came to an unsaddled gregg. Cautiously, they got a saddle and reins and put the reins on. Ore carried the saddle while Anana led the beast away. When they got to the two grewigg tied to the bushes, Anana told Ore some of what had happened.
The light was a little brighter here on the beach. When she stood close to him she could see that her uncle’s face and body were deeply bruised.
“They beat me after they caught me,” he said. “The women did, too. That went on for the first day, but after that they only kicked me now and then when I didn’t move quickly enough to suit them. I’d like to go back and cut the throats of a few.”
“You can do that if you like,” she said. “After you’ve answered a question. Did you see Kickaha or hear anything about him?”
“No, I didn’t see him and if those savages said anything about him I wouldn’t have known it. I wasn’t with them long enough to understand more than a dozen words.”
“That’s because you didn’t try,” she said. She was disappointed, though she really hadn’t expected anything.
Red Ore walked over to the still unconscious sentinel, got down on his knees, put his hands around the man’s neck, and did not remove them until he had strangled the life out of him.
Breathing hard, he rose. “There. That’ll show them!”
Anana did not express her disgust. She waited until Ore had saddled up his animal and mounted. Then she moved her animal out ahead, and after ten minutes of a slow walk, she urged her gregg into a gallop. After five minutes of this she slowed it to a trot, the others following suit.
Ore rode up beside her.
“Was that why you rescued your beloved uncle? Just so you could ask me about your leblabbiy lover?”
“That’s the only reason, of course,” she said.
“Well, I suppose I owe you for that, not to mention not killing me when you got what you wanted from me. Also, my thanks, though you weren’t doing it for my benefit, for taking care of Urthona. But you should have made sure he was dead. He’s a tough one.”
Anana took her axe from her belt and laid its flat across the side of his face. He dropped from the gregg and landed heavily on the sand. McKay said, “What the…?”
“I can’t trust him,” she said. “I just wanted to get him out of earshot of the Indians.”
Ore groaned and struggled to get up. He could only sit up, leaning at an angle on one arm. The other went up to the side of his face.
“Bring his gregg along with you,” she told McKay, and she commanded hers to start galloping. After about five minutes of this, she made it trot again. The black came up presently, holding the reins of Ore’s beast.
“How come you didn’t snuff him out, too?”
“There was a time when I would have. I suppose that Kickaha has made me more humane, that is, what a human should be.”
“I’d hate to see you when you felt mean,” he said, and thereafter for a long time they were silent.
Anana had given up searching for Kickaha. It was useless to run around, as he would have said, “like a chicken with its head cut off.” She’d go around the sea, hoping that the palace might be in sight. If she could get in, then she’d take the flying machine, what the Wendow had called the shelbett, and look for Kickaha from the air. Her chances of coming across the mobile palace seemed, however, to be little.