Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Strange Winemakers - part 2

Narrated by Gairlia

I stood in the short hallway, with my back to the door and my bag beside me on the floor. I felt an intense wrongness. I was pretty sure Flarmia was sexually exploiting Boantor, the both of them sworn to celibacy. I had no real evidence and I knew people who reported such things tended to get into trouble themselves. The hall had a door on each side and one at each end. The door behind me, led into the large chamber and I’d just come though it. It had a notice about seeing a hall councilor if you had mental problems and gave directions to the councilor’s office. A quick investigation showed that one of the side doors was locked and the other opened into a small bedroom with a single bed. The end door opened to a small bathroom. Well I realized I needed that.

I prayed briefly but it didn’t really help. I wasn’t sure what Harbinger to call upon. Then I set about unpacking and putting my things in appropriate places in the bedroom I could open.

After a while, I felt an increasing, strong, feminine power, the front door opened.

“Hello, room mate you here?” a female voice shouted in Southern Quippa with a Righteousness accent.

I opened the door and found a quippa woman standing in the hall. She had long blond hair and was dressed in the normal bright clothing of a Paxian woman. Well I was sure she was neither a vaguely religious Nuhara nor a Celibate but I was pretty sure she was a psychic. I told myself I shouldn’t be able to identify psychics because I was a hipsickah.

“I’m Water-Current,” she said, smiling broadly, “I guess I’m your roommate.”

“I’m Gairlia. Pleased to meet you. Only this room seems to be open.”

Water-Current pushed the door opposite mine and it opened. “Biometric locks. Now bathroom!”

Water-Current set about unpacking her rather large amount of stuff while chatting about pretty much everything. She was annoyingly cheerful. It was rather like listening to a rambling monologue as I didn’t feel much like talking.

“You got a boyfriend?” she asked at last.

“I’m a Proselyte.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry for you. I’m available, well I sort of have a boyfriend, but I know there are loads of single guys here and mostly smarter than average. I don’t intend staying available for long. Let’s face it, not many quippa Winemakers and we look good!” She struck what I think was supposed to be a sexy pose with her head tilted back, arms flung wide and chest out.

I decided I had limited tolerance for Water-Current. Part of it was the weird, powerful feeling I was getting from her. I’d felt similar things before on a couple of occasions. I hadn’t liked those people at all. I left the room.

I was fairly sure the clouds on the ceiling had moved and the sun was closer to the far end from the entrance. There were some people standing around. What looked like an Idlan family were speaking to each other in Hecrini. Three people dressed in some sort of uniform were working in the kitchen. There was another group consisting of two young faharni men and three women. They were between me and the entrance so I had to go past them. I got a very strange feeling from them, similar to the one I got from Water-Current. What sort of name is Water-Current anyway? I realized that one of the girls in the group was a faharni with red hair in a bun. Couldn’t be! Another woman was also faharni with a very fancy hair style who was pointing at plants. She was the one who’d been examining the plants before. The man beside her was somehow familiar. The remaining woman had dark, curly hair and her back to me. As I passed, she turned and glanced at me. Dark eyes, light skin, strange little nose. A glildac! I really was going mad! Then a very handsome faharni man smiled at me in a way I didn’t really like.

I walked past him to the main door. It had a holographic map of the hall on the inside. There was a sign saying, YOU ARE HERE on one chamber. This was near the middle of the mountain and above a large chamber marked BALL ROOM which had red writing saying CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS across it at an angle. I found the councilor’s office which was just along the corridor from where I was.

Narrated by Eleprin

I was standing out in the common room with Printorac, Breeze, Clindar and Dwendra watching the other students and wondering who we should talk to. A group of idlans were standing together talking in Hecrini. Gairlia walked past emitting unhappy vibes. I wondered if we should talk to her. Then a tall, handsome faharni watched her walk past him.

“Probably should keep an eye on Gairlia,” said Breeze and headed for our room.

The handsome faharni came up to us. Now he was close, I could tell he was a hipsick. What was he doing in Mage Hall?

“Hi,” he said in a posh, Central Island accent, “we seem to be the only normal people here.”

“Oh,” I said, “nobody has ever said that to us before.”

Dwendra looked at the hipsick and pointed to her face.

“People never accuse me of being normal,” said Clindar.

“Your mother always says you’re normal,” said Printorac to me.

“I don’t think she’s ever said we were the only normal people at wherever we were.”

“Do you mean we’re the only faharnis?” Printorac asked the hipsick.

The hipsick looked around. I was pretty sure he was feeling uncomfortable about all the psychics nearby and I’m not sure he’d registered that Dwendra was the glildac. “The idlans are talking Hecrini and the quippas have their eyes hidden and are probably Nuharas.”

“This is a Winemaker cavern,” said Clindar, “so they’re probably Universal Winemakers.”

“What are we?” asked the hipsick.

“I don’t know about you,” said Printorac, “but,” he pulled me to him, “we’re Scriptural Winemakers.”

“So are we,” said Clindar, pulling Dwendra to him.

“Anyway I’m a Winemaker,” said the hipsick, “so I’m allowed to be racist.”

“No you’re not!” I exclaimed.

“What?” said Printorac.

“My name’s Tan,” said the hipsick.

“I’m Eleprin,” I said.

“And I’m Printorac.”

“Guess!” said Dwendra.

“I’m Clindar.”

Tan showed no sign of recognizing us. I was often surprised how little attention many people seemed to pay to the news.

“What subjects are you taking?” asked Tan.

“Advanced healing,” I said.

“High magic,” said Printorac.

“Theology,” said Clindar.

“I art still in adolescent school,” said Dwendra, “I art here because I art Clindar’s wife.”

“I’m taking sociological psychology,” said the hipsick.

“Oh,” I said, “that’s pretty much useless.”

“I suppose it could be used to manipulate society,” said Printorac.

“If anybody’s doing that,” I said, “they’re not very good at it or have a weird agenda.”

“Maybe there’s more than one group with different agendas,” said Printorac.

“Benai Nibeyim hath trouble deciding on a coherent sensible policy,” said Dwendra. “Canst not even decideth upon a High Farmer.”

“I suppose you could get a job detecting and countering social manipulation,” I said, “although this could get very ethically and legally complicated.”

Tan clearly had no idea what we were talking about and said, “Well it’s easy and I can just spend a few years partying and then have a degree so I can get a good job.”

“Doing what?” asked Printorac.

“My parents have good connections so they can find me a management position in some business bossing about all the scientists, magi and healers.”

“That seems rather korbarist,” I said.

“I’m a Winemaker,” said Tan, “I’m allowed to be korbarist.”

“No you’re not!” me and Printorac shouted at him at once.

“What!” shouted Dwendra.

People turned to look at us. Tan looked around smiling pleasantly.

“OK,” he said to the crowd, “These people here think Winemakers aren’t allowed to be korbarist. What do you think?”

“That you’re in the wrong hall of residence,” said the nearest idlan who was a small woman.

“Well it’s kind of korbarist,” said a tall, bearded idlan, “if you count discriminating against hipsickim.”

Several people sniggared.

“It’s not like there’s any written rules or anything,” said Tan.

“What!” gasped the small idlan.

“No written rules!” exclaimed Dwendra, covering her eyes with her hand.

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