not a one but is taken with speech."
David suddenly realized that Allayo had said that – exactly that – in the viewing lounge. Maybe it was an invocation? He glanced at Father and found Father looking back.
Allayo climbed up to a place beside the Elder, and an echo of the Mouth's song swelled amidst the gathering, then ebbed again into silence. The gecko-girl performed a dipping bow that ran from her nose to the tip of her tail, while heads bowed throughout the crowd. Not far from where they sat, a mother Gariniki took a tiny child by the nose and bobbed its head.
"Young Allayo today returns from Trial," said the Elder. "She shall be taken by the Word before the gathering, and be judged."
Allayo raised her whistle-toned voice, and again the eerie hum washed through the gathering. "Let the sacred Word take me! The People gather in the House of Leaves before the Mouth; the Word flows through the gathering, and I speak."
The thrumming chorus responded. "Allayo is taken by the sacred Word!"
"I speak my Trial: it is a tale of strangers."
"The feet of Chares-mudi in a foreign land!" replied the gathering at once.
"No," said Allayo, "not Chares-mudi these, but strangers