CHAPTER 1 TALSAD, BARRIERS BETWEEN
The girl wound her way through the silent streets keeping in the small strip of shade offered by the buildings. In a midday heat that ranged somewhere between uncomfortable and dangerous, the citizens of Talsad took shelter behind closed doorways to avoid the brutal blast of a double sun.
A wave of emotion flooded her afresh, and she halted her progress. The compulsion, more potent now as she neared her friend’s house, carried with it a fear so intense that it verged on terror. Please, Verna, she begged, Control yourself. I can’t move when you do this to me.
During the time she and her father had lived on the planet Talsad, the child had made this trip several times a week, but never alone and never unexpected. Although uncomfortable with the customs and personalities of Verna’s family, her friend had received her joyously. Their relationship had filled an abysmal gap in the girl’s lonely existence. Now that her family had dwindled to a father she rarely saw and servants who regarded her as an alien interloper, she clung to this friendship with all the passion she could sustain.
Elizabeth Remarque knew that she was not presentable. Her red hair was stuck to her sweaty neck and forehead. Dust stained her clothes and shoes. She had discarded the proper veiled attire and had rejected the formal escort in her haste to respond to the driving force of her friend’s need, a force that had drawn her across the city in answer to Verna’s distress.
When the flood of emotion ebbed somewhat, Elizabeth pushed onward with desperate urgency. Afraid of what she might find behind the high walls of her friend’s house, she cautiously approached the doorway, each step more difficult.
Although the onset had been gradual, she had been receiving emotional clues from Verna for nearly a year now, perceiving her young friend’s moods before they had spoken a word. In the beginning, she had thought of it as Verna’s sending to her and had accepted it as part of the gift of their relationship, but lately she had begun picking up signals from other people, particularly if she came in physical contact with them. She had come to realize that these others knew nothing of her enhanced awareness. Reluctant to appear even more alien and wise enough to understand that not everyone had as good intentions as Verna, she had said nothing to anyone.
When she placed her palms upon the heavy wooden door of Verna’s house, the turmoil within seemed palpable, and her knees shook with a reflection of her friend’s fear. With the taste of urgency in her mouth, she pounded with clenched fists on the heavy portal.
At last the door opened, but instead of the expected servant, before her stood a housemother who wore a formal gown, bound tightly around her stout figure. The initial flicker of annoyance on the woman’s face turned to open hostility as she gazed down at the girl. “Go home,” she ordered, waving her away as if she were a persistent insect. “Verna becomes a woman this day. Marriage arrangements have been sealed, and she goes to her husband this afternoon. She no longer entertains Terran barbarians.”
Placing her formidable body in the opening, she blocked any attempt of the child to force her way inside. “Go home,” she repeated coldly, “You may not enter here again.”
“Please, Friend’s Mother,” Elizabeth pleaded, using a pseudo-title, hoping to gain time and entrance, “May I see her just a moment?”
“You’ve caused enough trouble here already. Your father should be ashamed of you. I curse you for your interference.” The woman shoved Elizabeth back and closed the door in her face, her brief touch flooding the child with her anger.
Elizabeth leaned against the closed door, her stomach knotted with grief and her head swimming with disbelief. Marriage seemed an impossible answer for Verna at age thirteen, only three years older than Elizabeth. From deep within the house, she could sense her friend sobbing with despair, and an answering sob rose within her. Elizabeth bit it back and staggered homeward, never having felt more helpless, her compulsion to give comfort unfulfilled.
* * *
Elizabeth Remarque was an empath, a psychic who senses the emotions, the pain of others. I first heard the term in the Star Trek series from the 1960′s. In an episode called “The Empath,” a mute woman was tested to find out if her race was worthy of survival. The actor was a dancer who communicated her reactions with movements and expressions. I thought it an interesting concept.
Empathy, like its cousins telepathy and prescience, is a powerful force linking a community and influencing their interactions with other humans. During the Ysabet series, the reader learns about healing powers and kinetic manipulation. We learn how telepathy weaves a close bond between family members, which sets up their reactions when those ties are broken.
I first conceived of this novel by asking myself, What would happen if a woman met a man from another planet, and one day he left her to go back to his home world, leaving behind a son? What would happen if that son inherited estate and psychic gifts through his father?
Each Ysabet book is a complete novel. They link together through characterization, common themes and settings. They follow the course of Ysabet, that is Elizabeth Elzevir’s lifetime and beyond through her family. Each story contains a political and romantic subplot. Science plays a role in my imaginings about a future time where Mankind has moved across the galaxy and humans adapt to different world.
I have published the first two books of the series and shortly will have a third available through Amazon. They are available as ebooks or as paperbacks. I hope you enjoy them.