“The last caravanserai.”
“Sounds delightfully harrowing. Do they call it such perhaps, because so many journeys find their terminus there?”
“They call it such because it is the last caravanserai.”
How appropriate. And how long will it take to get there?”
“Ah, I see.” Kurga gave up trying to engage her further. Their captain was not one to idle the hours with inane chatter. Probably the first woman Kurga had met who wasn’t. How fortunate for me to be trapped on a boat with her for several months, he thought. There was no sound but the hissing of sand under the foils. “Three days,” Kurga mused. No one said anything. “I don’t suppose you know any songs?” Prudence just gave him her “bug” stare. Ch’Voga didn’t move at all. He had been doing nothing but stare off into the distance since he awoke and realized what had happened. “And you Kisretti? Will you not grace us with your melodious voice at all this stretch?” There was no answer. “Oh come now! You can’t sulk the entire way!”
Prudence scoffed, a snorting sound under her veils, “Watch him.”
“Really! Grow up! You act as if you didn’t want anyone to save your life. Quite ungrateful. I’m sorry, what was that?”
“I said, perhaps you shouldn’t have,” Ch’Voga mumbled.
“Perhaps next time we will not. For a savior, you are most unappreciative of your saviors. I thought you wanted to be a missionary, not a martyr. Whom will you save if you’re dead?”
“Who will be saved if I run away in the middle of the night? What will the Emperor think of Yeshua’s followers now? The well of living water is poisoned.”
“I've no idea what their well has to do with it but maybeit he will believe Yeshua's witnesses are smart enough to know when they are not wanted.”
“The Emperor did want me there. He was eager to learn!”
“Precisely why the Vizier did not want you there! Honestly, Ch’Voga, this is not that hard to understand. For the Emperor to turn his ears toward you, he has to turn them away from some one else.”
“Politics!” Ch’Voga spat. “Idiots! Squabbling over the temporal and ignoring the eternal! It is more than stupid, it is immoral!”
“Yet to their eyes you are a thief whose come to steal their power. Which makes you the immoral one.”
“Ridiculous! I only wish to teach, not rule through another!”
“Do you?” Prudence asked.
“What?” Ch’Voga asked, surprised by this opening of a new front.
“Do you “only wish to teach”?”
“What are you implying?”
“Did you proselytize the wharfmaster? Did you witness to Khop the Steward or any of the guards or servants of the citadel?”
“Opportunity. I would speak with anyone regardless of their station.”
“Of course you would. Did you like him?”
“Of course I liked him. He was innocent and earnest and endearing and horribly overwhelmed. What of it? What are you getting at woman?”
“My mind and its thoughts are my own.” With this she fell silent and Ch’Voga turned again to face away from her. Kurga felt they had pummeled the poor, naïve evangelist enough and let it lay. He was nearly lulled into a midday nap when Ch’Voga spoke again.
“I said, they are the same you know.”
“Do you know the ancient word for ‘witness’? The one used in the Scriptures?”
“I confess I have no idea.” Kurga yawned, not really wanting a lesson in linguistics or theology.