"Nonsense. Utter nonsense," Shanneh stated confidently the next morning when Frevven told her about Yolinda's death, her parents' strange belief, and his own suspicion that someone knew more than they had told.

Shanneh's transfer with V'lis had gone well, and she was full of life and energy. Even better, she was leaving later in the day on the Cormorant. After this, Frevven would be in charge.

"Who knows what silly religious ideas the Gens will come up with next," she went on, "and who really cares? Richt is nothing but a fanatic. Only a minority of the people on the Out-Islands belong to his so-called Salvation Church."

"Shanneh, even a small number of religious fanatics can wield a lot of power, if the circumstances are right. Where I grew up­­"

She waved her hand disparagingly. "That was twenty years ago and in another part of the territory. It could never happen on Innsfrey."

"I'm not so sure."

"Listen, the first couple of weeks I was here, I was a little crazy too," she confided. "It's the lack of work, and the isolation. Makes you imagine all sorts of silly things. Once I'm gone, there'll be more for you to do. Kurt's pretty good at entran out-functions, if you get to the point where you can't handle it anymore."

"I can handle it."

She shrugged. "Up to you. I might have expected you to take that attitude, given the way I've heard that you feel about the Householdings. They seem to think they're better than the rest of us, too. Humph."

The silence lengthened between them. Frevven didn't feel like debating the merits of the Householdings with Shanneh just now. In fact, he found her satisfaction and exuberant good humor wearing on his nerves. But she was entitled to be happy. Who wouldn't be, leaving a dismal post like Innsfrey?

Squelching a twinge of jealousy, Frevven left the other channel to finish up her final report. He had his own report to file, detailing the circumstances of Yolinda's death.

Shortly after noon, he went to the door to bid Shanneh farewell, along with all the rest of the staff. The Donor sent from the mainland as her Escort stood impatiently alongside her, obviously anxious to get going.

As the hubbub died and everyone went back to work, Frevven almost imagined he could feel the walls of the Center closing in around him, beginning to collapse from the sheer weight of hatred outside. Responsibility for the Center and its occupants settled onto his shoulders like a soggy, wet woolen cape.

He shivered and retreated into the relative security of his office.

Two days later, the scheduled time had finally come for Frevven's transfer with Kurt and the Donor was late.

Frevven paced back and forth across the transfer suite like a caged animal. He paused briefly to stare into the fire burning on the hearth, absently moving the teakettle further from the flames so it wouldn't boil over. Then he turned away and resumed his pacing.

Nothing had gone right since he'd come to Innsfrey, and nobody liked him, and Shanneh had thought he was crazy, and the local Gens were all religious maniacs, and the nightmare he'd had last night had been so awful he hadn't been able to remember it but he'd woken up with tears running down his face, and he just didn't want to be here at all, he wanted to go­-

Home? Where was home, for a Tecton channel?

Frevven twisted his lips into a sardonic smile. Whoa, take it easy. Everything would look better once this transfer was over with. Need always made life seem harder to handle. Wait, just wait.

Where was Kurt? Why didn't he get in here? Why didn't­-

He isn't here because you sent him to the ship chandlery as Anieva's Escort, you idiot. Stop it. If you hadn't been trying to show off, casually sending your Donor out on an errand, you wouldn't be feeling like this. It's your own fault, so cut the complaining. If you'd had more sense, you'd have sent V'lis.

But that was hours ago, and Kurt wasn't back yet, and it was almost time­-

An awful thought trickled through Frevven's mind.

What if something had happened to Kurt? He might have been attacked by a berserk changeover victim while he was out with Anieva. Then what would he do? There wasn't another Donor on the islands, with the exception of V'lissia, and she had just served Shanneh two days ago. She couldn't help him any. It was a long way to the mainland. What if no one could make it out here quickly enough? He hadn't even sufficient selyn in his secondary system to manage a decent shunt into his primary system, to buy time.

An abyss of nothingness opened in Frevven's imagination. He felt himself sliding toward it, with no one there to catch him. He tried to push the image away, but it persisted.

Calm. He had to keep calm. Worrying this way only increased his rate of consumption of the little selyn that remained in his primary system. Kurt would be here any minute. He had to be.

Frevven looked out the window at the breakers rolling heavily in on the beach below, wishing he could see the street leading into town instead. He went back to pacing the room. Maybe Kurt was on his way even now.

Abruptly, Frevven froze in mid-stride. Through the heavy insulation of the walls, he thought he could zlin a Gen coming down the hall. Going hyperconscious, he dropped all awareness of his other senses and concentrated exclusively on his perception of the approaching selyn field. Kurt. Had to be. No one else would zlin like that. He breathed a short sigh of relief.

Even before the Gen opened the door to enter the room, Frevven had taken a seat on one of the stools by the counter, leaning back and trying to look as if he'd been there all along.

"Sorry I'm late." Kurt hurried into the room. His nager was ruffled, swirled with a disturbance he was trying to smooth.

"What happened?" Frevven asked, letting himself dwell on the glow of well-being and life emanating from the Gen, waiting while his upset died away.

Kurt shrugged, trying to make light of the entire incident. "Oh, nothing really. A couple of kids yelled insults at Anieva and me on the way back. When we ignored them, they threw rocks at us along with the insults and one of the rocks broke a store window. That caused quite a commotion, but we finally got it all settled." He smiled, and his little moustache turned up at the edges, echoing the curve of his lips. "No harm done. I hope you weren't too worried."

"No, no, not a bit."

Frevven banished the last vestiges of black panic from his mind. It was all right now. Kurt was here. The Gen's field seemed to brighten the entire room, filling it with life and well-being.

"Frevven?" Kurt's eyes darted toward the transfer couch in the corner, his invitation clear to zlin. Frevven realized he'd been basking stupidly in the Gen's lovely nager, staring at him with unfocussed eyes. He rose to his feet.

Without any further conversation, they took their places, Frevven reclining and his Donor sitting next to him. Kurt held out his hands, leaning to touch his lips to Frevven's as the channel's tentacles wrapped around his arms. Frevven noticed the unaccustomed tickle of Kurt's moustache against his upper lip as he began to draw.

Selyn flowed like a bright river into Frevven's starved primary system, up his arms and then out to all the parts of his body. Empty spaces filled and awakened to the promise of reprieve from the monthly death that faced every Sime.

This was Frevven's own transfer, not the slow, carefully controlled draw into his secondary system, but what he himself required for his own life and satisfaction. The average Gen would never be able to stand up to such a thing, but a professional Donor like Kurt could do it.

Frevven let his draw speed increase a fraction. As always, he had to be careful. Lately, he had encountered a number of Second Order Donors who couldn't comfortably handle the speed at which he drew, although they never had any trouble with the overall amount of selyn he required. They could all manage that, but he'd occasionally scorched a Donor who simply couldn't release selyn fast enough. That didn't look good on his record, so he tried to make sure it didn't happen very often.

As soon as Kurt showed any sign of discomfort, Frevven would slow down. It didn't feel as good that way, but he simply didn't dare risk hurting a Gen.

Frevven let his draw speed climb a little higher, enjoying it but alert for any problems. Ah, nice, not to have to hold back so hard. Not to have to throttle his automatic reflex to draw full out. Not to­-oops!

Kurt was fast but not quite fast enough. At the Gen's first twinge of discomfort, Frevven ruthlessly cut his speed. Once again, he would miss the real peak of satisfaction that he might have felt, but that was all right. He could live without that, if he had to. Better that, than risk hurting his Donor.

At all costs, he must not harm a Gen. He dared not rely on the anti-Kill conditioning that was supposed to throw him into an abort if he lost control and actually came close to killing a Donor. That worked pretty well for non-junct channels, but it didn't always work for disjuncts. He couldn't rely on it, so he wouldn't let himself even get close to such a situation.

His primary system replete with selyn, Frevven terminated the transfer. He could get all he had to have to stay alive, and that was what counted. Still, Kurt was not as slow as many of the Donors he'd had.

As Frevven broke their lip contact, he found himself anticipating the next time he might be able to have Kurt in transfer. It would be months, but it would be something to look forward to.

Frevven withdrew his laterals from Kurt's arms, but he was strangely reluctant to let him go entirely. With his need satisfied, all his other senses seemed magnified by his sudden lack of sensitivity to selyn fields. Kurt's arms felt solid and warm beneath his hands, the short blond hairs a fine tickle under his tentacletips. The Gen seemed solid and safe, a bulwark against the inevitable inroads of need.

Then Frevven felt himself slip into post-syndrome, the long-repressed emotions of the past month clamoring at his mind, all the more intense for having been pushed aside and unfelt. Emerett and Yolinda, lying dead in their graves. The loneliness and isolation of this horrible little island.

Everything he hadn't been able to feel because of the repression of need now flooded back over him in one relentless swoop. Abruptly, he wanted to pull Kurt into his arms and cry against his chest.

But there were too many other memories and images mixed in with that accumulated mishmosh of emotions. If he once opened the door on all that, even the tiniest crack­-

Telling himself firmly that this was nothing but the usual annoying and overemotional Sime response to a transfer, Frevven refused to give in to it. Some other time. He'd deal with all that some other time.

Short-circuited from feeling, his mind drifted to other things he had not been able to notice for quite some time. Things like the desirable women on his staff.

Hmm, he thought, this must have been a better transfer than I realized, if I'm even thinking of that. Maybe Anieva­-?

He had provided transfer for her just the other day. She might be interested. V'lissia's face popped into his mind, but he rejected it. If there were a choice, Frevven usually preferred Sime women. It just wasn't the same with Gens, although he knew there were many Simes who wouldn't agree.

Then he remembered he was still holding Kurt's arms. The Gen's gray eyes regarded him with a hint of amusement, and a strangely wistful smile played at the corners of his mouth. Frevven could have forced himself to go duoconscious so he could zlin his Donor's now-low field and discover the feeling behind that expression, but it wasn't worth the effort. Besides, there was no call for him to do that. Probably none of his business anyway.

With a sigh, Frevven released Kurt's arms from his grasp. Even low field, the Gen pulsed with fresh selyn production. Ah, to be able to do that! Never to feel the inevitable slide into need, never that awful, deadening time of anxiety and obsession. It must be nice.

The slightly wistful smile on Kurt's lips faded, and he was all professional Donor again, concerned for his channel.

"Everything okay?"

"Uhm," Frevven nodded, unwilling to get up from the couch.

"Can I get you a cup of trin tea?"

Frevven looked at Kurt then, and really saw him. The Gen was concerned, appraising him, probably wondering why he wasn't violently hysterical, as many channels would be at this point.

"Yes," Frevven said, swinging his feet over the edge of the couch and sitting up. "That would be nice."

Kurt went to the fireplace, drawing the teakettle away from the flames and pouring some of the hot liquid into ceramic mugs. He handed one to Frevven, sipping cautiously from the other himself.

"I'm fine, Kurt. Really."

The Gen shook his head. "No. I didn't do very well. If I had, you wouldn't be so calm. I'm sorry."

He really meant it. He thought he'd failed to provide a good transfer.

"No, that's not so," Frevven protested. "I just don't get very post, that's all. You were great."

Kurt shrugged, not quite believing Frevven's reassurances.

"I'll even show you my report on the transfer, if you don't believe me," Frevven promised.

Kurt looked at him squarely, his gray eyes slightly narrowed. "It doesn't just disappear, Frevven, because you refuse to feel it. Nothing just goes away. It has to go somewhere."

Really? Frevven thought sardonically. Then a strange idea occurred to him, suggested by Kurt's remark. What about the unexplained deficiency in changeovers here on the islands? Those extra kids just went away, didn't they?

Suddenly, like a spark leaping a gap, something connected in Frevven's mind. He jumped off the couch. "No, they didn't go away," he muttered. "They went somewhere, and I intend to find out where."

Now there was real alarm on Kurt's face. "What are you talking about?"

"Huh? Oh. I just thought of something, that's all. Would I be permitted to go through the population records at the Town Hall? Look through birth certificates, death certificates, things like that?"

"Maybe. But wouldn't it be easier if V'lis or I went? Now that Shanneh's left, you shouldn't be away from the Center for something like that. Besides, you'd have to wear your retainers all the time."

The channel nodded absently. Setting down his half-finished cup of tea, Frevven grabbed up a sheet of scratch paper from the counter top and began scribbling enthusiastically, jotting down the information he would want collected. Kurt leaned on the counter and shook his head at the channel's strange behavior, but he didn't say anything.

Frevven never did get around to inviting Anieva to bed, even though she, and several of the other women on the staff, just "happened" to encounter him at potentially convenient times over the course of the next few hours.

V'lissia, when he called her to his office to explain the research he wanted done, slid abruptly from pleasurable anticipation into vexed annoyance, much to Frevven's puzzlement.

"Research?" she repeated blankly as the smile faded from her face. "You called me in to ask me to do research?"

"Yes." Frevven handed her a sheaf of papers. "I've made up all the tally sheets for you. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. Shouldn't take more than a few days for a population of this size. I've checked with the Town Hall and everything's all set." He rubbed his hands together in evident satisfaction. "Now maybe I'll start getting some answers."

V'lissia's nager soured even further as she glanced over the pages of neatly ruled and handwritten columns. By the time she finished, her feelings had curdled into a violent swirl of distaste. She opened her mouth as if to speak, then thought better of it. Clutching the papers in one hand, she stalked out of the room.

Still mystified by her reaction, Frevven wondered vaguely if he had managed to insult her in some way. He shrugged. What had she expected him to want, after all? Maybe he should have sent Kurt, but Kurt already had his hands full, working with Anieva and the crew of the Morning Star as they got the little cutter ready for winter. V'lis was the more dispensable of the two, so he had chosen her.

He shrugged again. Who could figure Gens?

Two days later, V'lissia flounced into his office. She dropped a pile of slightly crumpled and very bescribbled papers on Frevven's desk, announcing, "There. All the figures you asked for, the last five years, everything. Shen, that's the most boring thing I've ever done, and I've still got a headache from reading all those documents."

Frevven leafed eagerly through the papers, ignoring V'lis and her headache as best he could. She was still fairly low field, so her nager was less overwhelming than usual.

"Well, aren't you at least going to tell me what you expected me to find?"

His eyes still scanning the new data V'lis had brought, Frevven handed her the other set of figures he had previously worked out from the Center's records.

"Look at this. When I first got here, Shanneh told me the number of deaths in changeover had dropped, but what's actually happened is that the number of changeovers has dropped along with it. I'm trying to figure out why."

"Coincidence," V'lissia suggested.

Frevven shook his head. "Maybe. Maybe not." He traced several columns on V'lis' research, forefinger and two tentacles running down the page to keep his place. "There seems to be a somewhat higher death rate among the young teen-agers. And the death certificates don't go into much detail in many of the cases." He tapped impatiently at one column. "`Natural causes' or `drowned, body never recovered' doesn't really tell us much."

He frowned. "Do many children drown around here? I'd have thought they would have learned to be more careful, growing up so close to the water and all."

"Depends. Lots of kids go to work on the fishing boats when they're still quite young, and there are a number of accidents and people lost overboard every year. That would account for a lot of the drownings."

"Perhaps," he replied doubtfully.

"But you don't think so, eh?" Her liquid brown eyes studied him carefully, but she kept her nager deliberately neutral.

"No. There's got to be some better explanation, some reason for this. Why has the changeover rate dropped steadily over the past year? What's happening now that hasn't happened before?"

V'lis shrugged. "Let's see. Last summer we had a severe drought. Last winter there was an influenza epidemic. The Snow family built two new fishing boats for their fleet." She went on rattling off incidents in the recent history of the islands. Frevven shook his head.

"Hasn't Clarendon Richt been minister at the local church for a little over a year?" he asked suddenly.

"Sure. But what could that have to do with anything, unless you're willing to believe that the kids have been able to pray themselves out of turning Sime," she retorted scornfully.

"That wasn't quite what I had in mind." Frevven ran the tip of a ventral tentacle over the small medallion he still kept in his pocket. He shivered. No, please. I don't want to have to deal with these people. I don't know if I could stand it. Let it be something else. Or, better yet, let it be my imagination.

The channel sighed. "Thanks for all your work, V'lis." He gathered the stack of papers in his hands, tamping down the edges to form a neat pile.

"Anytime," she said, with no effort to hide the insincerity of her remark. She must obviously think the whole thing a wild goose chase.

"I'll read through all this more closely later. Maybe there's something I missed. You've done a very thorough job."

Her nager thawed a bit around the edges. Still low field from her recent transfer with Shanneh, she nevertheless formed a very reassuring throb of steady selyn production, even carried on the wave of her displeasure with him. Next month, she would be his Donor, and it would be two days late for her. That promised to be a better-than-average transfer. He'd looked at the figures in V'lissia's file and she was good. With a little more effort and training, she could be a First Order Donor.

As if she could tell what he was thinking from the expression on his face, V'lis' dark eyes took on a mischievous sparkle. She pushed an unruly lock of hair back from her face and tossed her head, as a new swirl of feeling brightened her nager.

Damn, why did it seem so bloody-shen familiar when she did that?

Frevven wanted to frown in puzzlement, but he chose to smile at her instead. After all, this was next month's Donor, and she'd serve him whether she liked him or not. But it would be more pleasant if she liked him.

Much to Frevven's disappointment, Janni Cabrell did not appear for the changeover class that week. In fact, there were only five children present, when there should have been six.

"Anybody know what happened to­-" Frevven glanced down at his list of names, looking for the one who had not answered "--William Snow?"

A shaking of heads and a shrugging of shoulders. None of the students seemed anxious to meet his eyes.

"Flora, judging by your address, you live up the street from him, don't you? Any idea why he isn't here?"

"No, Hajene Aylmeer. I haven't seen Willie lately."

Flora's pigtails whipped the air as she shook her head vehemently from side to side. She was a tall, heavyset girl with terribly crooked teeth, which she usually hid by steadfastly refusing to smile. However, just now her somber expression didn't seem to be merely hiding her teeth. Although it was difficult to zlin the dim fields of children, Frevven would have sworn the girl wasn't telling the truth.

"All right," he said. "Perhaps he'll be back next week. Let's begin the lesson, shall we?" He rested one foot on the edge of the library table and looked down at the youngsters sitting around the table. "According to her notes, Shanneh went over the stages of changeover with you last week. Now, who can tell me the very first thing to look for?"

All but one student's hand went up. Flora stared morosely at the empty seat across the table. Throughout the entire lesson, Frevven didn't think she heard a word of what was being said.

"William Snow?" Kurt repeated. "Sure, I know who he is. The Snow family owns five fishing boats and runs the fish-packing plant. His father's the Town Manager. They're only the richest and most influential people on Innsfrey. Why?"

Frevven explained.

Kurt nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps someone should stop by the plant and ask a few questions?"

"My feelings exactly. You get your coat and I'll get my retainers."

"Uh­-that wasn't entirely what I had in mind. There's no reason for you to go."

"I want to meet these folks myself, since they would seem to be Innsfrey's leading citizens."

"Mr. Snow's most likely out on one of the boats. And you won't like his wife very much. She's­-what's the word I want? Sanctimonious?"

Frevven raised one eyebrow. "Oh? Now you've really got me curious. Let's go."

Kurt gave in gracefully. He went to fetch his heavy coat from the coat rack without another word.

Fog swirled along Water Street in dank tatters as they headed for the fish-packing plant at the opposite end of town. The foghorn keened its warning into the darkening afternoon, as the mist threatened to thicken into drizzle.

Frevven pulled his cloak closer around his shoulders. At least the dismal weather cut down the number of people out on the streets. Less than a week past their transfer, Kurt was still low field, so he didn't make a particularly good Escort.

He shrugged his shoulders, feeling the moisture trickle under his collar and down his neck. He could have taken V'lis along, but she wouldn't have been too much better than Kurt. Besides, Kurt had a better command of English, especially the clipped and oddly accented dialect spoken by the islanders.

Besides, V'lissia still makes me nervous, he added, annoyed that he should feel that way. In the Tecton, one Donor should be the same as another. And yet, for some reason he couldn't quite grasp, Frevven tended to shy away from V'lis.

He dismissed all thought of such matters from his mind as they approached Innsfrey's fish-packing plant. It sat on the inshore end of a long and sturdy pier, which was now crowded with schooners and assorted smaller boats, all unable to venture out in the treacherous weather. Business couldn't be very good today, but even so, a fair number of people bustled around the back of the plant, intent on tasks Frevven couldn't even guess at. On some of the boats, crew members climbed rigging, scrubbed decks, or engaged in other forms of routine maintenance.

Much to the channel's surprise, a passing Gen mumbled a soft "Good afternoon" as he went by.

Frevven did a double take before he recognized the Gen as Lem Cabrell. Lem hurried out along the pier and boarded one of the boats, giving no further sign that he had noticed them.

Frevven followed Kurt through the front entrance of the plant, trying not to grimace at the strong odor of dead fish permeating the entire building. Heads turned to stare at them, and the ordinary buzz of many interlocking conversations died abruptly into silence.

Kurt strode confidently over to a low counter. "We'd like to see Mrs. Snow, please," he informed one of the startled clerks.

"Uh, yes, just a minute. I'll see if she's in," replied a portly Gen man, bustling to his feet and disappearing around a corner.

"What could I do for you--gentlemen?" Mrs. Snow inquired from behind the bulwark of her wide oaken desk.

Farika Snow was a handsome woman. She might have been called beautiful, except for the severity of her expression and the haughtiness with which she held herself. Her pale blue eyes formed a striking contrast to her glossy black hair, giving the impression of diamonds set against a background of ebony.

Even more remarkable than her physical appearance, however, was the sheer hardness of her nager. Frevven got the absurd impression that he could bounce a rubber ball off the woman's field.

"Well, what do you want?" Mrs. Snow repeated, her voice, like her nager, set in stone and ice.

Frevven cleared his throat. This woman would be enough to make any Sime nervous. He would have liked to have tried to zlin her without the interference of his retainers. Maybe then he could have penetrated the shell in which she had encased herself.

"Your son didn't show up for class today," he managed to say. "We came to find out if anything is wrong."

"Nothing is wrong. William won't be coming to your class any longer."

"May I speak with him, Mrs. Snow? I'll only take a moment."

She shook her head. "My Willie is safe, Sime. He'll never fall into your hands again."

"Where is he?" Frevven persisted, alarmed at the way the conversation was going. "Why wasn't he in class?"

"I warned him about consorting with demons, but no, he wouldn't listen. He had to go with his no-account friend Flora to your den of iniquity and evil. Well, Willie has borne the consequences of his sinfulness."

"Where is he?"

"Where you'll never go. He is safe in the shadow of the Throne."

Frevven recoiled as if he'd been struck. Long ago, he'd heard that particular expression. His father had used it to describe a child who'd gone into changeover, but been slain before changeover was complete and hence had died while still a child. Thomas Aylmeer had believed such a child would attain salvation immediately.

Something else clicked into place in Frevven's mind. Yolinda's parents had felt the same way about her death. Or, at least, her father had. What if Yolinda had been deliberately murdered before breakout, because of that belief? What if her slashed laterals were not accidental injuries, but were, in fact, the primary injuries, deliberately inflicted by someone who knew they would prove fatal? What if she had been stabbed in the chest only later, after it was discovered that her mother had already sent for the Morning Star, in order that she might die immediately and be unable to tell anyone what had happened?

Frevven shuddered. It could have happened that way. It wouldn't be the first time people had tried to save someone's soul by destroying their body.

Kurt frowned, evidently not comprehending the phrase Mrs. Snow had used.

"Willie's dead, then?" Frevven stated coldly.

The woman's mouth gaped open. She obviously had not expected him to follow her meaning. Her nager flared with apprehension, then steadied. She nodded slowly. "He­-took sick a couple of days ago. He was always a frail child. This time it was too much for him. We buried him yesterday."

You're lying. That's not the way it happened, Frevven wanted to shout. Her shell of non-feeling had wavered, losing its glinting hardness for a split second. Retainers notwithstanding, it was still possible for him to recognize a lie when he zlinned it. Didn't she realize that?

No, perhaps not. She might not have enough experience around channels to know how greatly individual sensitivity varied. Maybe she thought he wouldn't notice.

What if he accused her to her face? Demanded the truth?

Mrs. Snow turned away, striding around her desk and over to the door. She jerked it open. "Get out, both of you. I don't want you on my property."

"Mrs. Snow­-"

"Get out, I said! Or I'll call the police."

As they walked back along the muddy street, Kurt turned to Frevven and asked, "What do you make of that?"

"Willie went into changeover and they murdered him."

"You can't be sure."

"I'm sure."

There was no way around it. Frevven simply couldn't deny his suspicions any longer.

"Kurt, where's the church?"

"A few blocks away, just off Water Street."

"Let's go past it on our way back to the Center."

"Any particular reason?"

"Call it a hunch."

As the imposing facade of the white-painted church loomed up in the hazy mist, Frevven couldn't help but be impressed. Churches always gave him that feeling, and this one was no exception. The building was in the same traditional style as the churches where he had grown up.

He went over to the signboard mounted on the front of the fence and read it quickly.



Sunday Services: 9:30 and 11:15

This week's sermon: "As Dust Before the Wind"

Fellowship Meeting: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Master Watchkeeper: Clarendon Richt

What was a Watchkeeper? The rest of it was familiar enough, but that was a new one for Frevven.

He looked up at the tapering steeple disappearing into the low-lying fog. As a boy, he'd always thought of church steeples as fingers pointing the way to heaven. And then, for many years, he'd tried not to think of them at all. Now, it seemed he had no choice.

He glanced again at the signboard, noting the times.

"Kurt, how would you like to attend church services with me this Sunday?" he asked softly.

The Gen stared at him as if he'd lost his mind.

Proceed to chapter six