Deathwalker 3.5

             “Kau understates the situation, as usual.” The light, humorous response came from behind us. I was too worried about what made the job special to register the new voice for a second. When I did, it took me another instant to realize that Kau must be Ter Dryst’s first name. To dare to call Ter Dryst by his first name – this must be Ter Fless.
            I turned, scrambling to make my expression studious and trustworthy while absorbing as much as I could about my mysterious employer. The first glance didn’t tell me much. He was a bit taller than I expected, closer to 1.8 meters than the 1.5 that was more common for Ialuans. His clothing reflected the design of his home: his shirt and trousers were different colors with a dark gray on the bottom and a brighter blue on top. I had only seen the style in books from that era, but I had no doubt that the strange material was authentic and likely hideously expensive.
            As I examined him, I once again formed the Kaihmi gesture of respect. His face lit with pleasure.  I nearly smiled back. His friendly, open face made Ter Dryst look like a statue.
            “Deathwalker Sephtis, this is Ter Fless,” Ter Dryst’s low voice held a hint of irony as he made the introduction. Ter Fless held out his hand, and I released the salute to shake his as I had Ter Dryst’s a moment before. That marked both the first and second time I had seen that gesture outside of a book.
            “Kau is right. You have a remarkable knowledge for a new deathwalker,” Ter Fless said as we shook. “Especially for someone so young.”
            I wasn’t sure what to say to that.
            “Is it so unusual here?” I asked, hoping to shift the conversation away from myself.
            “You do not think so?” Ter Fless smiled genially. “Tell me, Kau, how many deathwalkers you think could successfully talk to Tomas on their own.”
            They both blatantly scrutinized me in way that was disconcerting to say the least. Ter Fless with that slight smile, and Ter Dryst in his usual clinical manner.
            “Perhaps half the licensed deathwalkers could have spoken to him in a team of two or more,” he replied after a moment. “Several of the higher level deathwalkers could have on their own with appropriate study. For any to succeed without study on their first deathwalk-”
            “Here.” I interrupted hastily. “It was my first deathwalk here.”
            As tempting as it was to let them think I was a prodigy, this was headed in a direction that sounded downright dangerous. I didn’t want them thinking I was capable of doing something I wasn’t. As Neith would say, “Blow enough hot air, and you’re bound to get burned.”

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