“Yes. There is. But not a difference that makes it megalomania to think that any of us might have to fight either way. I’ll tell you how I look at it. Haven’t you noticed how in our own little war here on earth, there are different phases, and while any one phase is going on people get into the habit of thinking and behaving as if it was going to be permanent? But really the thing is changing under your hands all the time, and neither your assets nor your dangers this year are the same as the year before. Now your idea that ordinary people will never have to meet the Dark Eldila in any form except a psychological or moral form—as temptations or the like—is simply an idea that held good for a certain phase of the cosmic war: the phase of the great siege, the phase which gave to our planet its name of Thulcandra, the silent planet. But supposing that phase is passing?
They are incomparably less ancient than Hressa-Hlab, specially Surnibur, the speech of the Sorns. I believe it could be shown that Surnibur is, by Malacandrian standards, quite a modern development. I doubt if its birth can be put farther back than a date which would fall within our Cambrian Period.”
“And you think you will find Hressa-Hlab, or Old Solar, spoken on Venus?”
“Yes. I shall arrive knowing the language. It saves a lot of trouble—though, as a philologist, I find it rather disappointing.
“But you’ve no idea what you are to do, or what conditions you will find?”