Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Strange Winemakers - part 3

Narrated by Eleprin

Most people opened their mouths and some put their hands across their eyes.

“Haven’t you heard of Winemaker scripture?” asked a tall woman with fair skin and long, curly, blond hair and dark glasses, like people sometimes wear on planets with brighter light than Midbar, completely obscuring her eyes.

“The priests say it isn’t important,” said Tan.

“By ‘priests’ you mean Molgren?” asked Printorac.

“He ignores scripture but says we should love each other but you seem to be missing that bit,” I said.

“I thought it was all of them,” said Tan. “Does it matter?”

“Scripture art all that mattereth,” said Dwendra.

Tan looked at her.

“OK,” said Tan. “I don’t do religious arguments, they’re confusing but I find psychics creepy.”

“How are you feeling now?” I asked.

He looked at me as if he didn’t understand the question. “Look loads of people get killed in magic accidents, every mage I’ve met has been weird, even this really sexy one with huge boobs on the beach who was a total cell job and there was this mage who scared everybody who was also a Trustee and there are monsters attacking people and teleporters teleporting into people’s bedrooms and raping and killing then and the Righteous Army killing people! This psychic stuff is just fornicating weird and dangerous!”

“Teleporters don’t teleport into people’s bedrooms and rape and kill them!” said Clindar.

“The Righteous Army only kill bad people,” I said, “mostly Nuharas.”

“Oh so you’re all experts on this stuff?” asked Tan skeptically.

“You do know what hall you’re in?” asked the small idlan.

“Of course Quambrim Hall,” said Tan.

“Which is better known as ..?” asked the small idlan.

“Does this matter?” asked Tan. “A name is just a name.”

“Didn’t you read the prospectus?” asked Printorac.

“Or the letter telling you you had a place here?” I asked.

“How did you even get in here?” asked the small idlan.

“My parents did all the organizing,” said Tan. “How did you get in here?”

“Passed a bunch of exams,” said the small idlan.

“Became a mage and a healer,” I said, “and passed a bunch of exams and filled in an application form and took an interview.”

“Same except I’m not a healer,” said Printorac.

“Persuaded some priests that Universal Winemakers needed to have some magi and understand magic and psychic powers,” said the tall blond.

“I also became a mage,” said the small idlan.

“Pretty much the same,” said Clindar, “but I also became an acolyte and have done a lot to sort out the mess in Rendamar.”

“I art his wife,” said Dwendra.

“Why are we all talking about magic and magi?” asked Tan.

“This is usually called Mage Hall,” said the small idlan, “because it’s where they put most the magi. Most people here are magi.”

Tan giggled, “I’m sure that can’t be right. Just because some people call it mage hall, it doesn’t mean it’s full of magi. There are plants here and magi don’t like plants.”

Everybody looked shocked and put their hands on their faces and one idan pretty much fell over laughing.

“I’m going to the bar where I can probably get more sensible conversation and booze,” said Tan.

He turned and ran straight into Mara, looked down and said, “What the fornication are you?”

“A woman,” said Mara.

Tan grimaced and walked around her.

“It’s only hair!” she said.

Tan headed for the main doors.

“A hundred and seventy five!” I hissed to Nivulan.

“I only know the scores,” said Nivulan. “Whoever worked these out didn’t break them down. He’s probably an athlete. The University doesn’t like getting rid of them so they give them high scores. Anyway he’s one of few Paxian High Family Winemakers so you might like to be nice to him, even if he does act like a moron.”


Narrated by Gairlia

I found the councilor sitting in a small room with old furniture. He was a faharni and gave me similar feelings to Flarmia and Boantor.

He smiled and said, “Sit down, it would help if you give me your name.”

I told him and he pressed keys on a device and looked at a screen that was turned away from me. “Now what is the problem?”

“I need my medication changing, it seems to have stopped working.”

“Why do you think it’s stopped working?” he was smiling but not giving any real indication of what he thought. Except I felt he was more interested in what I believed than what was wrong with the medication. Then I’m not a mind reader so I don’t know why I felt that.

“I keep getting weird feelings from people, I think my overseer is sexually abusing a male Proselyte, my roommate gives me very strong feelings and is annoyingly cheerful and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the Vineyard Magis and Sixteen.”

“By your overseer you mean?” he waved a hand.

“Flarmia, she’s a Celibate Sister but I’m having doubts about how celibate she is.”

“Why do you think she’s abusing this, did you say ’Proselyte’?”

“Yes, that’s somebody who’s training to be a Celibate so he’s not supposed to have sex either.”

“Why do you think she’s sexually abusing him?”

“They’re in the same room! That’s not right!”

“Have you seen them engaging in sexual activity?”

“No.”

“Has this Proselyte said anything to you about being abused?”

“No.”

“You realize if they’re engaging in consensual sex, we can’t do anything about it?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

“Did you see ghostly images of, you said Breeze and Sixteen?”

“No, not ghostly, they looked solid and were standing with some people I didn’t recognize.”

He stared at the screen again. “Sixteen is a resident of your cavern. The Vineyard Magis is a part time staff member. They’re both high profile anavot ... The Vineyard Magis equipped Sixteen so they do know each other. You might well really have seen them. The other stuff I’m not so sure about. Your roommate should be very compatible with you. You’re both Winemaker quippas of the same korbar and about the same age. She’s a foundling of unknown origin, possibly kidnapped from Aramator. She was raised by a Haprihagfen community. She’s probably lived a rather sheltered life and may react strongly when she discovers things aren’t how she thinks or how she thinks it should be. She’s also not sworn to celibacy so she’s likely to invite young men round or take you places where people are looking for sexual partners. Your overseer, that’s Flarmia right?”

“Yes.”

“She’s 37 years old, noted for her theological knowledge and spiritual warfare. Taking Advanced Healing, which involves a lot of magic. Isn’t that odd?”

“She says we need to know about it to fight it.”

“So she has a weird agenda and you think she’s sexually involved with Boantor? Her agenda might not be what it seems.”

“I shouldn’t spread rumours, it’s just a suspicion.”

“Boantor’s 19 and only has a high school certificate. Taking magic. Wouldn’t your religion consider him rather young to handle something so corrupting?”

“He has Flarmia, and the glasses,” I pointed to my glasses.

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