Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Strange Winemakers - part 4

Narrated by Gairlia

“I’m sure there’s something not right there. The other singles are Jirmi, a poor kid from Rendamar who’s here on a sports scholarship and is taking Faharni literature. Probably not as smart as the other students and may develop feelings of inferiority. Then we have Ingrat, another Hecrini. Taking Financial Studies. Cofath, also Hecrini, taking Math. Tenacious is another foundling raised by Haprihagfen but only for a couple of years. A bit of an unknown quantity this one. He’s taking nanotechnology. Nogbrin and Yandras are both from Hranbrian, that’s in southern Pax, both taking Business studies. Eemiscoeai is from a parallel universe and taking Faharni literature as well as being an assistant in the physics department. Tan is from Castalion and is taking sociological psychology. Kliatra, from Jalmid, taking art. Mumardia from Ermish, taking Economics. Jyrbian from Laraget, taking physics. There are several others who are all Paxians or Hecrinis taking magic. Generally the singles mix with each other and married mix with each other. Of course, if you mix with the singles, they’re likely to try to have some sort of sexual relationship with you. Printorac, of course is the famous boy mage, of course he’s taking high magic. Eleprin is his wife, rather controversial as she became his guardian and converted him to Scriptural Winemakerism. She’s taking Advanced Healing. Dwendra, also called Sixteen, claims to be a time traveler from before the Cataclysm and the Grand Farmer of Benai Nibeyim. She’s still in high school. Her husband, Clindar, is a son of the controversial lawyer and rabbi Latchmir. Clindar’s supposed to be a descendent of the Yohoist priesthood and is taking theology. Dwendra and Clindar basically founded Scriptural Winemakerism. Could be a lot of trouble with those two. I hope that will give you a better idea of who you should be making friends with. Another thing you should know is your diagnosis is controversial as is the treatment. The psychiatrist who prescribed your medication is known for issuing questionable prescriptions. Anyway, you’re supposed to be having a get-to-know-your-neighbors meal soon. As I said, Eleprin’s a healer who’s studying to be a healing doctor.”

“Flarmia’s a healer” I said.

“Yes she is a healer studying to be a healing doctor but I meant Eleprin as you seem to have an issue with Flarmia and it may be good to get a second opinion. If you ask her, she should be able to keep an eye on you during the meal. Perhaps late tonight, or early tomorrow we could discuss your medication with you and Flarmia, as she’s supposed to be taking care of you.” He turned the screen around, it was displaying a picture of the girl with fancy hair. “This is Eleprin.”


I got back to the cavern. There were now more people standing around, some of them very strange looking and I also got weird feelings from them. I noticed Flarmia and Boantor standing together and talking to Water-Current. Were they talking about me? Did Flarmia and Boantor think Water-Current was a Universal Winemaker? Two young idlans were talking to each other but the others had left. The people working in the kitchen were more active and there was a smell of cooking food. Breeze had gone but Sixteen was still there, talking with Eleprin, the two faharni men and a strange, hairy woman. I approached them.

“I may not be devout but that doesn’t mean I’m not a Scripturist,” said the hairy woman.

“Doth thou taketh any of thou’s doctrines seriously?” asked Sixteen.

“Excuse me,” I said, “You’re Sixteen aren’t you?”

“My real name’s Dwendra,” the glildac said.

“Was the Vineyard Magis here earlier?”

“Yes,” said Eleprin.

“Anyway,” I pointed at Eleprin, “can I have a word with you in private please, now?”


Eleprin took me into her chamber. It had a large room with a double bed and a door on one side, presumably to a bathroom. Well she certainly wasn’t celibate!

“I think my medication’s wearing off,” I said. “I think I saw the Vineyard magis, Sixteen, some sort of ape thing and some odd looking people.”

“Breeze was here earlier, Dwendra is here, there’s a hairy woman from a parallel universe and some off-planeters.”

I was starting to worry that I was hallucinating what Eleprin was saying.

Eleprin got a device, I think a portable computer, and pressed buttons on it while looking at it. “Your diagnosis is controversial and so is the prescription. Strovmovin is normally prescribed in a large dose for a short time to prevent brain or spinal cord damage in somebody who has a head or back injury or something. Asparin is a synergist which increases one of its side effects. This isn’t recommended at all!”

“Judgemental much?”

“Sorry, I was really criticizing your psychiatrist rather than you. Anyway, what do you want of me?”

“I want you to keep an eye on me for the evening, make sure I don’t lose it.”

“Yeah, I can do that but you should ask about stopping this medication.”

“I’ll talk to somebody about it tomorrow but I have an overseer who’ll have to agree and I don’t trust her but I think that’s because the medication’s not working properly.”

“I’ll put a calming spell on you which should stop you freaking out until tomorrow morning.” She waved her free hand around in a odd way.

“I’m a Universal Winemaker ...” I felt as if a huge load was being lifted off me. Suddenly I didn’t care if I was hallucinating of there really were famous people and people from other universes and other planets.


Upon leaving the cavern, Flarmia stopped us. “She’s in my care!” she said sternly to Eleprin.

“Technically she’s in the care of the University medical services and we act as ancillaries to that while we’re students,” said Eleprin.

They proceeded to have a rather technical argument about medical law until somebody sounded a gong to tell us the meal was ready.

Some more people came out of the caverns at the side. I noticed that one was a small girl with green hair. We took chairs round the large table with the kitchen in the middle. Flarmia insisted that I sit beside her and headed for the end of the table away from the door. It was now getting darker in this chamber and the sun was disappearing at this end but a bright white disc was apparent at the other side.

“Sorry but I believe you’re sitting in my chair!” said Flarmia to a busty idlan woman who looked as if she’d been in a paint fight. Instead of the normal sari, she was wearing a gold bra and a skirt.

“This is where the chamber mayor sits,” said the idlan, was that girish coloring on her face makeup or tattoos? “I’m the chamber mayor.”

“I’m a Universal Winemaker celibate,” said Flarmia.

“That doesn’t matter,” said the chamber mayor. “The chamber mayor officiates at formal and semi-formal meals. There will be an election near the end of the year, when we know each other, and you can run for chamber mayor if you like. I’ve already had somebody giving the chefs advice!”

“I have catering experience!” said Eleprin who was taking a chair nearby. “I’ve won cooking competitions!”

“She even hunts the goats herself,” said a tall, strange looking man.

“The chamber mayor is right,” said one of the cooks. “I believe we’ve also got a Trustee, some acolytes and an hereditary Yohoist priest here and they’re not trying to take the leader’s place.”

“Too much trouble,” said a faharni man, looked more like a boy, who’d sat himself next to Eleprin.

A bearded faharni man with long hair had sat himself next to the chamber mayor.

I considered the chamber mayor. Fifty points for being female. Twenty points for being an idlan. Judging by her accent, ten points for being Hecrini. Twenty points for being a Winemaker. That gave her at least a hundred and twenty points.

“You don’t accept my authority as a celibate sister?” asked Flarmia.

“I’m a Scriptural Winemaker,” said the chamber mayor, “so no I don’t and I doubt anybody does except you Universal Winemakers.”

“I see,” said Flarmia, “well you will answer to Yoho for this!” She found three more chairs together and sat us down, right opposite the hairy parallel universe woman!

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