Hell's Gate by David Weber

Hell's Gate by David Weber

Author:David Weber [Weber, David]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Space warfare, Space Opera, General, Science Fiction, Adventure, Life on other planets, Fiction
ISBN: 9781416509394
Publisher: Baen Books
Published: 2006-11-14T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter Twenty-Five

The train finally cleared the congested city of Gulf Point, situated at the base of the Finger Sea, where the Gulf of Shurkhal connected that sea with the Harkalan Ocean. Even with the crown prince's prized locomotive, the journey had required almost ten hours, and the Voice Conclave had been over for over an hour by the time they reached the city. Halidar Kinshe felt drained and exhausted, although he'd actually said very little during the Conclave itself. Wilkon had kept him and the crown prince fully informed, and, if he was going to be honest, Kinshe had to admit that it had gone far better than he'd feared. But the generally ugly mood of the attending heads of state had not filled him with optimism. Worse, they'd resonated with his own grinding sense of responsibility and blazing need for retribution, and his mood was heavy as they approached their destination at last.

The Gulf's busy shipping lanes carried freighters laden with goods from around the globe, making Gulf Point one of the busiest ports in the world. It took time to thread their way through the jammed city, swinging around the southwestern-most point of land to head east toward the little town where Shaylar had gone to school. It lay only thirty miles farther down the coast, but the sun had settled well into the west as the special train pulled into the small local station at last and the prince's carriage was unloaded.

It took a little longer to get the cavalry escort's mounts off-loaded, as well, before they could set out to the Institute, and they drew curious stares from the townfolk, who recognized the royal crest on the carriage. Kinshe could see excited conversations springing up in their wake as people speculated about this unannounced royal visit, but they rode in absolute silence as they followed the road through town and out beyond it. The Cetacean Institute was visible now, another three miles ahead.

Kinshe hadn't visited this part of Shurkhal in years—decades, to be more exact. He'd stood on this shoreline as a very junior member of Shurkhal's Parliament, celebrating the opening of Shurkhal's own Cetacean Institute—the kingdom's sole cetacean translation facility. Part embassy, but mostly research station, the Institute had been founded by Dr. Shalassar Kolmayr-Brintal. Although Shalassar was not a native-born daughter of Shurkhal, she had built a legacy in which the entire kingdom could take pride.

Thanks to her work, the dolphins had led Shurkhali divers to rich pearl beds which might have lain undiscovered for centuries, otherwise. Shurkhali pearls fetched excellent prices on the world market, famous for their size and luster, and Shurkhali explorers had laid claim to those same pearl beds in other universes, as well, increasing the kingdom's prestige while providing income to establish Shurkhali colonies.

All of Shurkhal knew who they truly had to thank for that, and Shurkhalis had long since come to recognize Shalassar Kolmayr-Brintal as one of their own, even though she had been born on one of the tiny island chains scattered across the Western Ocean.


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