This is a story from Nevvis’s past that nobody knows. If you elect to read it, you can’t tell a soul. Don’t feel like you have to read this story. You can enjoy the next book in the Drani series just fine without knowing this information, but if you decide to read it—if you decide to take a peek into Nevvis’s past—you have to keep his secret. Trust me, it’s important.

Jarin

Nevvis watched the Arlele from the window, an older man long out of his prime but still foreboding both in size and character. To the outside world, Jarin was just a groundskeeper. Someone Nevvis kept close for sentimental reasons perhaps but nothing more. No one could ever know what Jarin really meant to the powerful Dran.

Nevvis could still remember the day Jarin discovered him hiding in the dirt behind one of his father’s mining equipment sheds. Nevvis was focusing so hard on his game, he didn’t hear Jarin approach. It wasn’t until Nevvis had three small smooth stones levitating with some semblance of control that he felt the Arlele’s presence. The rocks fell to the ground creating a puff of dust as a six-year-old Nevvis looked up at the huge dark-skinned man towering over him.

Jarin squatted down, looked at the small pile of stones lying on the ground then back at Nevvis. “That was very impressive,” he said, idly rolling one around in his hand. “How many can you keep up at a time?”

Nevvis hesitated. “Five right now,” he finally ventured. “But I’m doing better. Last week I could only hold up three.”

Jarin smiled and Nevvis couldn’t help but smile back.

“Wow,” Jarin said, handing the rock back to Nevvis. “Keep practicing and you’ll have quite a talent there. From three stones to five in only a week. That’s nothing to laugh at.”

“You could do that with no problem. I bet you could hold up a hundred at one time,” Nevvis said, suddenly feeling embarrassed again. “My father says you’re the best man he’s ever hired, Dran or Arlele. He said you can do anything.”

Jarin’s smile widened. It was sincere and warm. The spots that ran along his temple and down his neck were an even darker shade than his skin, and even though his smile was genuine, the dark spots warned Nevvis that the Arlele was also hiding secrets and hiding them well. Not even Nevvis’s telepathy could pick out what the man was thinking

“Well, I don’t know about all that, but I can probably hold up more stones than you. The thing is, young man, there are a few differences between you and me. For one, I’m much older than you are, and I’ve had considerably more practice,” Jarin said, carefully taking Nevvis’ left hand in his. “And the other is that I’m an Arlele,” Jarin ran his hand along Nevvis’ bare forearm—the place where a band would soon be, had Nevvis been an Arlele, “and you, my young friend, are a Dran.”

Nevvis looked into the man’s eyes. He knew Jarin could see his fear. Even at that young age, Nevvis’s telepathy missed very little, but there was no hiding that fear because it was real. Jarin was right. Only Arleles were able to use telekinesis.

Jarin smiled encouragingly. “You are Morris’s oldest boy, aren’t you?”

Nevvis nodded.

“Does Morris know you can manage five stones already?”

Tears welled up in his eyes as Nevvis shook his head.

“Does he know about any of the stones?” Jarin pressed.

Nevvis chewed on his bottom lip and just shook his head again.

“I see,” Jarin said, studying the rock in his hand. “What’s your name, child?”

He tried to be brave, but the tears spilled down his cheek despite his efforts. “Nevvis,” he managed in barely more than a whisper.

“Well, Nevvis,” said Jarin, picking up the pile of dust covered rocks. “Do you know what I think?”

“That I am not really a Dran and that my father just found me somewhere?” said Nevvis, tears streaming. “And pretty soon, I’ll be getting my spots on my arms and face and stuff.”

Jarin laughed softly and placed his hand on the Nevvis’s shoulder. “No, young man. You are definitely a Dran and you are definitely your father’s child. What I think is that you are very, very special. And, I think that you have an equally special talent with these stones.”

“Really?”

“Oh, absolutely. I also think that you should be very quiet about this special gift you have. You shouldn’t tell anyone. Not even your father. And you need to practice hard until you’re really good at it before you let anyone know what you can do.”

Nevvis nodded, enthralled by the idea of keeping a secret from his own father. “How will I do that?” he asked.

“Well, you’ll have to practice in secret. Would you like for me to help you learn how to hold up a hundred stones at one time?”

Nevvis could barely believe it. Jarin, the most talented Arlele in the whole city, maybe even the whole planet, was going to be his teacher. “You would do that?”

“It would be my privilege,” returned Jarin. “But it would have to be a secret between just us. Nobody else can know. Not your friends or your younger brother or sister. Not anybody. Not even your parents. Do you think you can keep a secret like this from all of those people?”

Nevvis wiped his eyes and nodded. “I can.”

“Are you sure? Your father is a powerful telepath. Can you really keep a secret from him?

Nevvis nodded again. “He’s always busy. And besides, I know how to trick him. I know how to trick all of them. They won’t find out. Not from me. What about you?”

“I have some tricks of my own.” Jarin smiled approvingly and handed the stones to Nevvis. “How about if you meet me right here after your classes tomorrow and we can get started.”

Nevvis frowned. “My father said I shouldn’t go around the mines. He said I could get hurt.”

“He won’t have a problem as long as you’re with me. I’ll tell him that you’ll be spending time with me learning about your future. How’s that sound?”

With a nod, Nevvis stood, tossed the rocks on the ground and turned to go. “I won’t tell anyone, Jarin. Nobody will ever find out.”

Jarin tousled Nevvis’s hair and smiled down at him. “I know you won’t. You’re a smart young man. Now, let me walk you home so your parents don’t worry about you.”

Nevvis smiled at the memory and at the living version of Jarin fussing over one of the beloved plants that nobody else was allowed to touch. How different would Nevvis’s life have been had it not been for Jarin’s wisdom and insight? Nevvis eventually figured out that he could never tell his father about his telekinesis. He could never tell anyone. With Jarin’s help, he became quite skilled and through the process of keeping it a secret, he honed his telepathy and shielding skills to a level that surpassed anyone he knew.

At the age of twenty-six, Nevvis became the youngest member of the Sinku, the secret government body that ruled the planet. At thirty-three, Nevvis succeeded the Council Head following his death and became Kitalku, the most powerful person on Drani. Through it all, Jarin was the only living soul, other than the other council members, who knew about Nevvis’ dual talents. In return for his friendship, Nevvis made sure that Jarin never wanted for anything.


The Shreet are coming...