Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Orientation - part 6

Printorac, me, Flarmia, Dwendra, Breeze, Tenacious and Ya!trag headed for the stage. There seemed to be a bit of confusion about who should go. As we approached the stage, Maigarna, stared in our direction, like we were Briad descending on her. She made a strange squeak and backed to the wall at the back of the stage with her arms crossed under her breasts and shivered. I used my avatar power and realized she was terrified and a nibeyah.

I jumped onto the stage, marched up to her, putting a calming spell on her. I got a blast of fear and feelings of rejection and inadequacy. “You’re a nibeyah,” I said quietly, “I suspect you’ve never met anavim before.”

“I have but not this close or this many at once.”

“They won’t hurt you unless you give them good reason to.”

“I don’t feel so bad now, really.”

We took our seats on the stage.

“Now,” said Varmigan, “could you all explain your positions but keep it fairly succinct. You go first, Griafona!”

Griafona was a bennis woman I didn’t know. She had a tattoo of a flower on her forehead.

“I’m speaking for normal Winemakers,” she said. “I’m sorry but I haven’t really prepared this. I’m from Tauradin, which is in the southern mountains so there are few Nuharas and they’re all moderates. Most people are Trulists. As I’m a bennis, people tend to assume I’m a Trulist and that’s fine by me. I was raised to think that religion wasn’t very important but my parents were insistent that we were Winemakers. That meant I didn’t have to worry about becoming a Temple Prostitute, which is good, considering that our local temple got destroyed by the Mysterious Monsters. When I came here, I’m now in my third year, I found there was some hostility between the Winemakers in the theology department, who didn’t really believe anything, and the others. I basically just stayed out of it but I was rather upset by the theology department Winemakers because they just made it sound as if Winemakerism was, well, stupid. Then all the stuff happened that Varmigan and Krandian spoke about. Now I really feel that I’m being squeezed between the Theology department type Winemakers and the Scriptural Winemakers. I’m also a bit worried about what I’ve heard of Haprihagfen and the avatars but I don’t know much about them and I don’t think that affects me directly.” She gave Breeze a dubious look.

The rest of us proceeded to state our positions and the people who were supposed to talk about them made a few comments.

Flarmia didn’t give a very good defense of Universal Winemakerism, basically saying that the non-scriptural beliefs were thought up by people who knew better than anybody else.

Maigarna asked about organized crime among Universal Winemakers. Flarmia dismissed this as a minor issue that only a few of them were involved in.

I spoke for the avatars. The small idlan who was supposed to be speaking about that, just looked at his notes and shook his head.

Printorac spoke about the High Families, although he was the only Paxian Trustee Winemaker. He did talk about the Blue Badges.

The faharni girl who was supposed to be talking about that asked, “Don’t you think it’s rather selfish and unfair for a few people to have this great wealth and stuff?”

“I suppose so,” said Printorac. “There are a bunch of issues with the High Families that I have problems with. I don’t even think it’s really justified by our being descended from the first class passengers from the Tirsac as everybody except quippas and recent arrivals from other planets and universes, must be descended from them by now. At least some High Family estates have lots of associates and may be part of the Mechanism.”

“You say that most Winemaker High Family people are Hecrini idlans, how do they differ from Paxian faharni High Family people?”

“I honestly don’t know,” said Printorac. “My mother didn’t let me mix with other High Family people, or indeed anybody, much. That means that I’ve only recently been socializing with other High Family members but I still haven’t done a great deal of that and I’ve had hardly any contact with Hecrinis.”

Breeze spoke for Haprihagfen, she pointed out that most Winemakers weren’t qualified to join but if you were, they’d tell you. She also said that they did a great deal besides running a Vineyard and winery but a lot of it was secret.

Tenacious talked largely about wormhole proliferation, which he didn’t think was a specifically Winemaker issue. “Something that is significant,” he said, “is that a problem with Winemakerism in this universe is that you believe that Yoho’s avatar lived on Earth after everybody was killed in a nuclear war. I was brought up being told that Yoho’s avatar had lived in my universe, long before we had nuclear weapons. Obviously that solves one of the main objections to Winemakerism.”

The idlan man who was supposed to be talking about this said, “Just a minute! There are Winemakers in other universes!”

“At least one,” said Tenacious. I was fairly sure he wasn’t being entirely honest here.

Ya!trag talked about off-planet Winemakers, but all of them seemed to be Haprihagfen and they’d been isolated on a starship which had lost its ability to communicate for about a century and so knew very little of what was happening with Winemakers (or anybody else) on other planets.

“I couldn’t find out anything much about you,” said the faharni woman who was supposed to be speaking about that.

Dwendra, of course, spoke about Scriptural Winemakerism.

The faharni hipsick who was supposed to talk about this developed a serious smirk and gave off very smug vibes. “So basically you’re entire claim is based on you thinking you’re a reincarnation ...”

“No!” said Dwendra. “I traveled forward in time through a temporal anomaly, liketh unto a wormhole between paralel universes but that art not the basis of my religious arguments. I art meerly pointing out what Winemaker scripture doth sayeth.”

“Why doesn’t anybody else agree with your interpretation?”

“Many agreeth with it. Yohoism dist followeth unscriptural teachings from the Book of Scholars, which early Winemakers didst rejecteth but they also dist rejecteth some Scriptural teachings and added Trulist and Malgaric teachings which art not in Scripture.”

“I think most Haprihagfen agree with her,” said Breeze.

“So do I,” I said, “and the avatars.”

“And me,” said Printorac.

“If you’re Nuhar Zorg’s wife ...”

“Bride! The marriage wert not commutated!”

“... then you really should ...” he lapsed into Quippa.

Dwendra rattled off something in Quippa.

“A Yohoist Holy Woman surely would speak Semic.”

“Of course!” said Dwendra in Semic. “My family usually spoke Semic at home, I learned that at the same time I learned Quippa and before I learned Faharni.”

It seemed the guy she was arguing with didn’t speak Semic because his eyes glazed over.

The other unfamiliar person was a faharni man who seemed very smug and spoke for “intellectual” Winemakers. He was very waffly and most his arguments, if you can really call them that, were based on little or no evidence and even ignored evidence. At one point he even said, “Some people claim that the ancient prophets were nibeyim and Kindras and Yoho’s avatar were anavim, as were the harbingers. I really don’t understand why anybody thinks this is important. Do anavim even exist? I’ve never met ...”

Breeze hmthed loudly and a few people giggled.

“... any. Is there any reason to think people have any special access to the truth because they claim to be psychics?”

“Yes there art!” said Dwendra. “The biological relationships of the ...”

“Perhaps we can leave arguments for some other time,” said Varmigan. “We really just want to decide where the various groups stand.”

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