Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Orientation - part 1

Narrated by Gairlia

I was laying in bed, half asleep, not sure how much of what I remembered from the previous night was true. There was a knock on my door.

“Yeah!” I said.

“Breakfast!” said Water-Current from the other side of the door.

I could feel her power. Apparently she was an anavah, the most powerful psychic korbar.


The yellow sun was shining again in the main chamber but this time it was at the other end. A lot of other people were eating. Water-Current was with me, as if I needed her help. I noticed a couple of people look at me oddly or whisper to somebody when they saw me.

Before we got to the table, somebody banged the big gong. Everybody went quiet.

“Right,” said a woman I couldn’t see from where I was, “I need to explain a few things to you lot.”

I could see her now, a faharni with light brown hair, a sari and harness but it didn’t seem to fit very well. She strode into the middle of the chamber and then rose off the floor.

“I’m House Dean Griantrag,” she said, loudly. “I suppose I should thank you for probably saving my daughter from being raped. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to determine what Tan intended, even though he did attack another young woman later.” She looked around, probably for me and I noticed she had some tattoos on her face, so she was probably a Trulist, but then continued, “Tan claims that he’s uncomfortable around other races, well he didn’t mention bennis, which makes sense as he’s from Central Island and should be used to them. He didn’t say so, but I’m pretty sure what was really making him uncomfortable were the number of psychics present, including several anavim. He probably didn’t know about this. He claims you bullied and harassed him, is that true?”

There was a pause and then Sixteen’s man spoke, “Bullying and harassment are hard to define but I don’t think our behaviour was unreasonable. We also didn’t do anything for very long. Anyway, being bullied doesn’t justify rape. I’ve been bullied and it never made me want to rape somebody.”

Several people grunted agreement and nodded.

“He says you teased him about his religious views, is that true?” asked the Dean.

“We didst merely tryeth to correcteth his horrendous ignorance,” said Sixteen.

Several people grunted agreement again.

“Could you clarify?” asked the Dean.

“He didst claimeth that there wert no written laws for Winemakerism and that Winemakers art allowed to beeth racist and korbarist.”

“Was that ignorance ..?” the Dean asked but didn’t wait for an answer. “You also upset him by telling him that this hall had a lot of magi residents, which is true and he should have known that so I supposed you were just correcting his ignorance. Then there’s the matter of you trying to protect Chiris.”

“Fornicating a drunk is rape,” said Printorac’s wife.

“Yes,” said the Dean, “I’m thankful for that but it upset Tan. Then I think, probably the most serious problem, was having an untrained anavah who didn’t know she was an anavah and was on controversial anti-psychic medication. Tan couldn’t have been expected to know that without being told.”

“He took her glasses off and opened the front of her sari by force!” said the green haired girl.

I thought about shouting that I wasn’t an anavah but didn’t have the nerve.

“Not acceptable to do to anybody in most situations,” said the Dean. “Do you have any other hiders which could suddenly blow up at people?” She put on something that looked like a pair of binoculars and looked around.

“I’m pregnant,” said Printorac’s wife.

“Our health service can easily deal with that,” said the Dean.

“My husband needs an heir,” Eleprin said, “and I timed the pregnancy so the birth will be in the harvest holiday. Anyway the University has a policy of being friendly to family issues and female reproductive issues.”

The Dean pursed her lips. “I see a couple of you have secrets, which I will keep but don’t make them relevant to any dispute.”

“Why is Tan in this hall?” asked the small idlan.

“Good question,” said the Dean. “We’ve found it best to house the different religions separately. You and Nuharas tend to be intolerant of other religions and homosexuals and complain that the other gets preferential treatment and nobody likes Rofaris and most people think atheists are nearly as bad. It was thought that out of limited options for Winemakers, this was the best choice. He is a chelas. Anyway, as Winemakerism is supposed to believe in forgiveness ...”

“That doesn’t mean not protecting yourself or others from bad people,” said Printorac’s wife.

“I know,” said the Dean. “We’re having an associate bound to Tan to stop him from getting drunk. He should be returning here some time today. I’d like you to be polite to him and not make him feel stupid or interfere if he’s trying to consensually fornicate a sober female. Do you think you can manage that?”

“This sounds a lot like what happened when a pedophile was caught molesting girls in Minris,” Printorac’s wife said. “That ended in disaster.”

“I don’t think this is a very analogous situation,” said the Dean. “Anyway, I have things to do so I’ll leave you to it.” With that she dropped the two meters or so to the floor and swiftly walked out.


After breakfast, I went to the councilor with Flarmia. This time it was a different councilor, a tall, orange-skinned woman with lots of curly, metallic, silver hair. I wondered if she was from another universe. She introduced herself as Dr. Winmain and asked me to put my head on her lap if I wanted. I declined, partly because she was an anavah and partly because she had hair on what I could see of her body, but not her face (apart from what’s normal).

“I’m told there was an unpleasant incident last night,” she said.

I stared at her.

“I don’t really know how to handle this sort of thing,” said Flarmia.

“Who’s side are you on?” I asked Flarmia.

“I want what’s best for you.” She was telling the truth about that, which somehow surprised me.

“It’s important we know what you understand about what happened,” said Dr. Winmain to me.

“Somebody attacked me, I think tried to rape me and I got a bad headache.”

“Why do you think that happened?” asked Dr. Winmain.

“Because the guy’s a piece of feces.”

“He’s not my patient, at least not at the moment. I want to understand what happened to you.”

“People seem to think I’m an anavah or is that a delusion caused by my medication?”

“Strovmovin and aspirin is a controversial prescription,” said Dr. Winmain.

“I think people are prejudiced against doctor Lufarin because he’s a Universal Winemaker,” I said.

“His theories are very consistent with Universal Winemaker doctrine,” said the counselor, “and the results he claims to have from his research are questionable. Also people with similar symptoms to you usually need little or no medication. Do you understand that you should be careful about acting on what voices in your head say and avoid strong emotions?”

“Yes,” I said. “The voices normally don’t make much sense anyway.”

“Then I would suggest that we keep the medication the same for the next light cycle, then I’d like to do a full psychological assessment. It’s likely you’ve changed in the last few years.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” said Flarmia.

“Gairlia hasn’t had an assessment for two years and she’s only been assessed by a controversial psychiatrist,” said the counselor. “She may well have changed in the last few years and it will be good to have somebody else’s opinion. Her medication should really be stopped or changed but we need a better idea of the situation first.”


We went down to the car park and caught the strange little vehicles, which took us to our “Orientation”. The route was the reverse of that from the bus, back through the baren valley to the main University buildings. They dropped us near a huge amphitheater where lots of mostly young people were gathering.
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