Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Orientation - part 2

Transcript from Klardian’s recording device. Holding cell of Mage Hall

Several people came into the cell, including a cute but creepy faharni girl with red hair in a bun who looked too young to be a student. A cold chill ran up my spine, was she the Vineyard Magis? She certainly fitted the description. She seemed to be in charge, which didn’t make me feel better. The others all looked at Tan with glasses, visors or transparent plates with handles. Would they detect his magic resistance? I had no idea how these things worked.

Klardian: Sorry but you didn’t say anything about the Vineyard Magis, that is who you are isn’t it?

Breeze: You have somebody better to put this spell on him?

Klardian: It just seems a bit excessive.

Tried hard to think of a better reason. Then it occured to me that she might be a mind reader and I tried to stop thinking.

Breeze: Personally I think this is overly lenient.

Tan: I think you’re cute.

Klardian: I’ve already arranged this with the University legal department.

Breeze: Mumbles something and turns to Tan. This associate is supposed to be protective. Seems a bit odd though. How were you equipped with this associate?

Tan: Don’t know, it was when I was small. I’m sure my parents paid somebody good money to do it though.

Breeze: Whatever, it won’t stop what I intend to do.

She started waving her hands around Tan. She seemed to be talking to the others about what she was doing but it was all mumbo-jumbo and my recording device didn’t catch much of it.

Breeze: Right that should do it. I suggest you read these.

She handed Tan a book and a leaflet.

Tan: What?

Breeze: You won’t be able to get drunk now. That’s a leaflet about basic Winemaker doctrine, the new edition covering Scriptural Winemakerism. That book’s about how to relate to psychics and magi, including teleporters.


After Tan was released I intercepted him, before he could get into more trouble and gave him a curry wrap and a cup of coffee. I was hungry and thirsty, not to mention tired, as I’d been up most the night.

Klardian: You should really try to catch what you can of the orientation talk.

Tan: Yeah.

Klardian: This is really important. It was a lot of work getting you off ...

Tan: She thinks I won’t be able to get drunk but magic doesn’t work on me.

Klardian: If I was you, I’d keep quiet about that. It may be useful if people don’t know. That was Breeze, the Vineyard Magis! If anybody can figure out your magic resistance and find a way round it, she can! Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that if you get in trouble again, what happened last night will be taken into account and, depending on what you’re alleged to have done and what evidence there is, it may be very hard for me to get you off again. Therefore try to stay out of trouble! Be nice to girls and don’t get drunk, even if you still can! For that matter, don’t even think about fornicating anybody from this hall, it’s full of magi! Probably best to avoid anybody associated with the University!

We came to the parking cave.

Tan: Where are we going?

Klardian: My car’s here. I’ll take you to the ampitheatre, after that you can go where you’re expected to. If you feel uncontrollably randy, there is a Trulist temple!

Tan: I’m a Winemaker!

Klardian: You can still use Temple Prostitutes! At least according to Trulist laws!

I may have to find him a girlfriend. Not sure how as very few people in the valley aren’t associated with the University. I know you want him to find a nice Winemaker girl, perhaps I’ll find him one but I don’t know what’s available. I now think it’s unlikely he’ll simply hit it off with a girl in his chamber.


Narrated by Gairlia

I found myself seated beside Flarmia and Water-Current with Boantor, as normal, beside Flarmia. Several people were on the stage, some looking rather eccentric or in religious robes. I sat quietly trying to convince myself that my hall of residence was not full of magi. Maybe not my cavern at least but a little voice pointed out that other Winemaker sects weren’t opposed to magic or psychics. I certainly wasn’t an anavah, the dean must have been mistaken.

Eventually a bennis man stepped into the middle of the stage. “Can we have quiet please and get this started?”

Everybody went quiet.

“Good. Welcome to the University. Well it’s now officially two universities imaginatively named ‘A’ and Aleph. We’ve allocated all the women to ‘A’ and all the men to Aleph. This should mean that you won’t have to worry about that law against getting romantically involved with a student at the same school, which nobody is sure applies to the University anyway, physicists must be loving this. Yes, I know that only works for heterosexual relationships but that should work for most of you. If you want to get romantically involved with somebody of the same sex, it’s easy for one of you to change which University you’re officially in. Just try to keep track of that if you change your partner, you can change what university you’re in as many times as you like. I suppose we don’t have a good solution for bisexual polyamorous people but I don’t think there are many of you.

“Now, you’ve probably noticed that we have quite a mixture here, people from all over Midbar, at least the inhabited parts, but we even have some from outside the Great Basin, a few off-planeters and two from other universes. This means different races and religions. As the University is in Pax, we expect you to be tolerant. We also don’t tolerate sexual abuse so stop doing things to people if they voice objections and leave people who are unconscious or mentally impaired alone. Things get legally murkey for people with mental illness or disability although we don’t have many of the latter. The hipsickim among you may be feeling uncomfortable. This is because most people here are psychics and many are magi, not just those in Mage Hall. The Mage Hall ones are the more hard-core magi who are often studying magic related subjects.”

I was glad I wasn’t in Mage Hall.

“Using date rape spells is also something we don’t tolerate. If you’re psychic and didn’t realize, it’s likely to be getting obvious now. We have a counselling service if that’s a problem for you. We also have people who can train you to better use your powers. We can even teach certain people to teleport.”

I was now feeling very uncomfortable and looked around. I knew Flarmia and Boantor were nibeyim and Sixteen and Breeze were anavot but hipsickim felt uncomfortable around them so this didn’t mean I was psychic.

Several other people spoke from the stage, giving various instructions about living in the University.


The vehicle, or another similar one, took us on a tore of the University. Our guide, an older student, decided to start with the observatory but this meant going back past our hall. On the way she pointed out various things. As we passed our hall she said, “This is Mage, sorry Quambrim Hall.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a slip of the tongue or if she was trying to insinuate something. I looked at Water-Current who didn’t seem worried but I’d never known her not to be annoyingly cheerful.

We continued up a rough road, through almost lifeless mountainside until we got to a mountain top with a collection of domes on it. We got off and went into the nearest dome.

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