As Maluk was speaking, a motion near his arm caught Kira’s attention. Just above the table edge, a small catlike snout flicked whiskers from left to right until two piercing yellow eyes looked straight at Kira. As if the little animal was frozen, it ceased all motion and stared intently at her. Maluk saw her attention diverted and looked down beside him. He picked up the furry animal and shook his head in exasperation at it.
“I have told you to stay quiet, Pugpug.”
The little animal made a soft purring noise and its whiskers started to twitch once more.
“You really must forgive Pugpug,” he told Kira, “she is the most curious little Pollan I have ever met.”
He turned once more to the animal and hefted one finger in warning. “And you know what happens to curious Pollans, Pugpug.”
The animal gave a soft squeal that uncomfortably resembled a giggle. Maluk placed it back on the ground and out of Kira’s sight.
Kira looked at Maluk. “What kind of animal is that? I do not think I ever saw one quite like it.”
Maluk seemed reluctant to talk but Kira’s questioning gaze warranted some explanation. “It is a Pollan. They live in the Northern countries.”
Kira was intrigued. “You have been in the North? I have heard it is very dangerous in the north.”
Maluk shrugged. “Danger is a relative thing, Lady Kira. If one knows what the dangers are, it is fairly easy to avoid them. Besides, the North is huge and as diverse as the Federation.”
Kira nodded in agreement. “As diverse as the Federation and the lands around it, Lord Maluk.”
Feeling her rebuke, Maluk inclined his head as to apologise but instead answered: “I am no Lord, Lady Kira. Maluk will do well for me. No more, but no less.”
Kira stared at the man but something in his eyes stopped her from further inquiries. His eyes spoke a quiet warning but she was not certain what he was trying to warn her for. At her side, Rannol once more came to the rescue and gestured to the man at his left. Kira reluctantly turned her attention away from Maluk and to the finely dressed man.
-> goto Part 10: Deserts served at last.