Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Orientation - part 4

“What do you mean ...” Plumin said. “Never mind. What about you?”

A Nuhara with a yellow beard and a grey robe stood up. “I was driving to Navinuharbilag when it was destroyed right in front of me. I went to try to rescue people but then I heard the troops along the border had been murdered ...”

“Killing an invading army isn’t murder!” shouted Clindar.

“Did you see what that weapon did to them?” asked the Nuhara.

“Yes,” said Clindar. “I don’t know who did that or how but I think everybody with a brain knows if it hadn’t happened, Aramator would have invaded Pax.”

“So you loudmouth,” said Plumin, pointing at Clindar, “which of these have you met?”

“I wasn’t in the First Minris Disaster,” said Clindar. “I was in Rendamar when Navinuharbilag was destroyed. I wasn’t at Beit Ha-Am but the teleporter who heckled Guldren came and told me she wasn’t responsible for the bomb. I didn’t have anything to do with the Starship explosion and I don’t think I’ve ever met any of the Phantoms but how would I know? I’ve met or was at all of the others, including Blethdian who I knew before she was president, and I’m actually married to Sixteen.”

“What’s her real name then?” asked a man nearby.

“Dwendra.”

“What’s your name?” asked Plumin.

“Clindar.”

Plumin picked up a small computer. An awful lot of people seemed to have devices here. She tapped her fingers on it and looked at it. “Oh, well some of that’s true, including being married to Sixteen. Well, you,” she pointed at somebody else in the seats, “which of these things have you encountered.

“Aublelma killed my Love Priest,” said a girl, “and kidnapped some Temple Prostitutes from my temple.”

“And you,” Plumin pointed at somebody else.

“I was in Taunbrit when Beit Ha-Am was destroyed and I saw a teleporter,” said a young man. “He was going round telling everybody to keep calm but that seemed to have the opposite effect.”

“You!” Plumin pointed again.

“I visited Minris Vineyard and I found the Haprihagfen really creepy and there were some strange looking people.”

“And you!”

“I’m a mage and after the Second Minris Disaster, all magi were told something about teleporters. I have some strong suspicions I’ve been near some.”

Several other people said how they thought they’d seen a teleporter or had known somebody who’d been killed in one of the disasters or had been interviewed by Blethdian when she was a reporter or had seen a strange bennis girl who might have been Aublelma.

“Do we notice something?” asked Plumin. “You’re all still here and still have most your parts. Obviously these people can’t really be that dangerous.”

“They’ve killed thousands of people!” shouted the Nuhara who’d seen Navinuharbilag destroyed. “That’s just in the last few years! The dead aren’t here! A number of us have seen them killing people!”

People started arguing. Water-Current leaned across me and said something in Semic. Clindar replied in the same language.

There was a small explosion and I felt a lot calmer but somewhat depressed.

“What some of you clearly don’t understand,” said Plumin, “is that facts are utterly irrelevant. Our jobs as priests is to make people feel better, not to make them aware of the truth. We’re not military leaders or politicians, except for some Nuhara religious leaders.”

There were some grumbles and it was clear that a number of people were unhappy about that but some spell was preventing them from speaking up.

“Perhaps,” Plumin looked at her device, “Clindar would like to tell us what he thinks about how dangerous these things are as you seem to be an expert.”

“Oh,” said Clindar standing up. “Well the events have happened so they’re not really an issue unless you’re a time traveler. Nothing and nobody is completely safe. What varies is the amount of stupidity, bad luck or contrary ideology you need to be hurt by something or somebody. Blethdian can change laws and her lover is very rich, controls a number of businesses including a lot of the media and is a Trustee. She’s also very korbarist and is promoting fear and hatred of psychics and magi and teleporters. Her lover’s company has a wormhole to a parallel universe where there are lots of XT’s and some strange stuff is going on there. The Mysterious Monsters were quiet dangerous and seemed to be trying to undermine Midbar’s ability to defend itself from off-planet attacks but their agenda has never been clear. They suffered heavy losses in Rendamar and may not pose a serious threat again. You probably should have put the Bounty Hunters up there as well. We know very little about them but at least one is a teleporter. They’re enemies of the Monsters but they don’t seem to want to communicate with anybody else or to let us find out much about the Monsters so it may not be a case of the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Also very little is known about the Phantoms. They seem to have been hiding in this solar system since the Landing and attacking any ships with FTL drives. We don’t know why. Benai Nibeyim is complicated. The group that cause the most trouble are the Merchant Division, which consists mostly of hipsickim. They seem to prefer the other candidate to Dwendra. You should have put the Unknown Grand Farmer Candidate up there as well. It’s likely that if this person’s identity was known, they’d get far less support. Haprihagfen generally won’t hurt you unless you attack them or do something else really bad. The same goes for the avatars but Aublelma does seriously hate rapists and Love Priests. If you’re not one of those or a Mysterious Monster, you don’t have to worry about them. Sixteen, again won’t hurt you much without considerable provocation.

“There are, I suppose, four main groups of teleporters. There are those in the Mysterious Monsters, who are probably very dangerous but they seem to be keeping a low profile at the moment and all their teleporters may be dead. There’s some who belong to an organization called Psychic Love who are opposed to the Winemaker prohibition against homosexuality and the Trulist prohibition against psychics having sex with each other. This group is small and their agenda confused and they don’t seem interested in violence. There are some Nuhara teleporters who seem to be moderates but like to keep themselves to themselves although they seem to have been trying to steal that starship that exploded but claim that somebody else destroyed it. There’s at least one Bounty Hunter Teleporter but very little is known about them.

“The Righteous Army are vigilantes so they only attack very bad people, mostly Nuhara rape gangs.”

“Religionist!” shouted the Nuhara who’d seen Navinuharbilag destroyed.

“Not all quippa teleporters are Nuharas,” said Water-Current.

“Yes,” said Clindar, “quite true. Most teleporters belong to Haprihagfen so they’re fundamentalist Winemakers, often Scriptural Winemakers, and won’t hurt you much without a great deal of provocation. Haprihagfen forbids teleporters from teleporting into close proximity to people and assassinating them and will take drastic action if they think a teleporter’s done that. Is that sufficient?”

Plumin didn’t seem terribly happy with his answer but seemed unsure about how to respond. “That’s not what we’re going to tell people. Probably. Anyway, perhaps I should ask my colleagues to talk about their courses.”

Several people spoke about courses on the main religions, Semic and Quippa.


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

I met Tan after dinner, when, he started heading for the hall bar. I’d done some research and developed a plan.

Tan: I can’t get drunk anymore!

Klardian: Are you sure of that?

Tan: The cute, red-haired mage said so.

Klardian: You really should go to the Winemaker meeting.

Tan: Why?

Klardian: For a start your parents would like you to find a nice Winemaker girl to marry.

Tan: They’re all fornicating genetic engineering labs!

Klardian: The ones who aren’t in this hall are probably more normal. There are two Winemaker organisations. The UWS is smaller but probably has the more normal members. The CWC has more members but they tend to be more fanatical. A lot of Winemakers don’t belong to either but you’ll be more likely to meet a nice Winemaker woman if you join one of them.

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