Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Traveling Companions - part 2

Narrated by Gairlia

As soon as we left my home town of Vend, Flarmia pulled a pair of glasses, like those her and Boantor were wearing, from her luggage and gave it to me. “Take this. It will protect you from the spiritual depravity we will doubtless encounter.”

“But we’re still in Righteousness,” I objected.

“If we’ve displeased Streculic, he is bound to attack us. This is Yoho’s means of protecting us for the eyes are the doors to the soul. Also this isn’t an independent country like Hecrin, it’s part of Pax so anybody can come here.”

I put them on but I was very dubious about the whole thing. I got the feeling that Flarmia wasn’t being entirely honest here. Of course that was stupid because I was a hipsickah and shouldn’t be able to read minds. The glasses made things look darker but I soon got used to them.

We chatted about our backgrounds and what courses we were taking. Flarmia was going to study healing while Boantor would be studying engineering. I told them I’d be studying theology.

The bus seemed normal enough and followed the expected, tortuous route through the mountains to Coldren.

“Part of the depravity at the University,” Flarmia said after a while, lowering her glasses and looking at me with the normal, slanted, blue, quippa eyes, “is this stupid points system. They don’t admit to it, of course, but they give people points depending on how much of a victim they, or groups they belong to, are thought to be. You get fifty points for being female ...”

I wondered if this was going to be so bad.

“... no points for being a Paxian, twenty points for being a quippa, twenty points for being mentally ill and twenty points for being a Winemaker and ... you are heterosexual?”

“Yes,” I said, “not that it really matters, I suppose.”

“It does to the university,” said Flarmia. “No points for that then and they subtract five points for being a Proselyte. That gives you a total of a hundred and five.”

“It works on sex,” said Boantor, “nationality, race, korbar, chronic illnesses, religion and orientation but they subtract points for being devout. The farther you are from being a male, Paxian, faharni, hipsick, with no chronic illnesses who’s heterosexual and a devout Trulist, the higher your points. That’s why they take points off for being devoutly religious.”

“Isn’t a Universal Winemaker Celibate more like a moderate Trulist than a devout Trulist?” I asked.

“I suppose you could argue that,” said Flarmia. “I didn’t make this up, somebody worked it out somehow, they don’t admit to doing this.”

“For example,” said Boantor, “I get no points for being male, no points for being Paxian, no points for being a faharni, ten points for being a nibey, no points for not being chronically ill and twenty points for being a Winemaker and no points for being heterosexual but they subtract five for being a Proselyte. Therefore I only get twenty five.”

“I get fifty points for being female,” said Flarmia, “no points for being Paxian, twenty points for being a quippa, ten points for being a nibeyah and twenty points for being a Winemaker but I lose ten for being a Celibate.”

I’d been to Coldren before. It was the largest town I’d ever been to although I was told it was small compared to some towns on the plains. Strangely it didn’t have as many disused buildings as most places. It was built on a mountainside beside a flat area that had once been a lake but had long ago silted up. In its center was the temple of Prondo-Garatam, which was technically a Trulist Holy Site but as Prondo-Garatam was the god composed of all other gods, he was seen as close enough to Yoho. Therefore it was mostly run by Universal Winemakers and our main Holy Site.

The bus dropped us outside this temple. It was late, long after sapphire dark, so we were given a quick meal and shown to our rooms.

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