Tales of Midbar: Poisoned Well

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Orientation - part 8


The priestess put a hand over her face.

“I love Winemakerism,” the mixed race woman continued. “I love the festivals and the traditions. I love eating mollusks and herbivores that aren’t ruminants! I don’t understand why we should listen to a girl who says she’s from a millennium ago ...”

“I art just asking people to followeth scripture,” said Dwendra.

The strange woman hoisted up her skirt and jumped onto the stage in front of Dwendra, who stood up.

“All right,” the woman said, looking a bit shocked. I think she’d determined Dwendra’s korbar. She turned back to the audience. “I’m a daughter of a nibey and a katcheyah, which should make me a hipsickah but I’m actually a nibeyah ...

“So much for korbarim genetics!” said the “intellectual” Winemaker.

“Katchayim can have one recessive nibey allele!” I said. Breeze and Dwendra said similar things at the same time.

The woman in the long skirt continued, “... and I don’t like people thinking I must marry a psychic because I’m a psychic ...”

“It’s for your own good,” said the priestess.

“We’re not forcing you to marry anybody,” I said.

“I thought there were supposed to be a hundred anavim on the planet,” said the strange woman, “so why are about half of them here? Well anyway I don’t see why we can’t follow the Harbingers and not bother much with the Yohoist scriptures ...”

“You mean just do the bits you like?” I asked.

She stared at me and then said, “... and worrying about Sixteen!”

Tan stood up and said, “What about the couldn’t give a fornicating turd Winemakers? Who fornicating cares if the Vineyard Magis is married to Nuhar Zorg or quippas are allowed to teleport or Molgren’s married to a ghost and who Haprihagfen are allowed to marry as long as I’m not forced to marry one ...”

“You won’t be!” said Breeze.

“... and why worry about what some old books say? I’ve never even seen one!”

“I gave you a copy!” shouted Breeze.

“Aren’t you basically the same as a Normal Winemaker?” Krandian asked Tan.

“Whatever,” said Tan. “I just think you’re all making a big fuss about fornicating all!”

“Is your position really any different from the so-called ‘normal Winemakers’?” I asked.

“Don’t fornicating care!” said Tan.

“Let’s update the chart,” said Krandian. “I think include ‘fundamentalist’ as distinct from ‘scriptural’ but don’t bother with off-planet, interdimensional, non-heterosexual or ‘don’t care’“.

There was a pause and then Varmigan said, “I think there are other issues these groups may differ on, or perhaps not.”

The other issues we came up with were; marriage, psychics, priests and politics.

The chart was changed to:

Normal Winemakers - General - Just want to be left in peace. No detailed ideology. Intimidated by others. Marriage - No strong position. Psychics - Don’t really like them. Homosexuality - ? Priests - ? Politics - Economics.

Universal Winemakers - General - Follow teaching not in scripture. Mostly Paxian quippas. Marriage - Life long opposite sex only. Psychics - discourage from breeding or marrying. Homosexuality - Against. Priests - Should be celibate males. Politics - Morality.

Intellectual Winemakers - General - Don’t believe scriptures and just follow them in spirit. Marriage - No strong position. Psychics - Question existence of psychics and anavim. Homosexuality - OK. Priests - Should be properly educated (to not believe anything). Politics - Economics.

Haprihagfen - General - fundamentalist, turning to Scriptural Winemakerism. Only certain Winemakers allowed to join, usually contacted at 12 or 13. Marriage - Only allowed to marry each other. Life long opposite sex only. Psychics - OK. Homosexuality - Against. Priests - Should be hereditary can be female but often can’t manage this. Politics - Morality.

Avatars - General - only 2? Marriage - Life long opposite sex only. Psychics - OK. Homosexuality - Against. Priests - Should be hereditary (not sure if females should be allowed). Politics - Morality

Scriptural Winemakers - General - connected with Nuhar Zorg’s bride (the marriage wasn’t consummated). Believe in following scripture and being more like Yohoists. Marriage - Life long opposite sex only. Psychics - OK. Homosexuality - Against. Priests - Should be hereditary (not sure if females should be allowed). Politics - Morality

High Families - General - few Winemakers, mostly Hecrini. Marriage - ? Psychics - OK? Homosexuality - ? Priests - ? Politics - ?

Krandian said, “Well I think we should each say which of these groups we belong to,” and he proceeded to direct the different groups to different parts of the building.

When he got to Haprihagfen, Breeze said, “We’re not supposed to identify ourselves without good reason but I think we’re all Scriptural.”

“I think it would help if we had a stronger community,” I said, “and had a better understanding of different types of Winemakers as well ...”

“We’ve got to accommodate people who only understand Winemakerism in a simple way!” insisted the “intellectual” Winemaker.

“We’ve also got to accommodate real intellectuals who need to analyse scripture and think it’s stupid to follow a religion without taking its scriptures seriously,” I said.

“It’s impossible to please everybody,” said Varmigan. “But I think this is the closest we can get.”

“Having diverse groups does help us in covering more ground,” I said.

“This is rather what the Winemakers in Minris tried last year,” said Printorac.

“How did that go?” asked the “intellectual” Winemaker.

“Could have gone better,” I said. “That was a somewhat different situation although I think both groups have issues with intolerance of Haprihagfen and teleporters. I also think we became obsessed with building a community and certain people trying to misinterpret Molgren’s teachings to be anti-teleporter. Then things were rather complicated by a load more Haprihagfen moving into the Vineyard.”

Trashmarin Mansion was in a large estate that seemed to take up much of a side valley. We; Printorac, me and our bodyguards, drove along a road beside a dry river bed. There was an old stone wall at the edge of the estate but no gate. The estate seemed to be arranged as a formal garden with a number of dead trees. The only living plants I noticed were some small Opuntias. We came to the house, which already had several vehicles parked outside including a car with pictures of codexes and fires on it. The house itself looked really ancient. Indratar recognized it and remembered it being built shortly after the Landing. There were some dead vines clinging to its walls.

“There are a load of associates bound here,” said Printorac, “as would be expected.”

I put my magic detector on and saw that he was right.

The interior of the mansion was furnished sparsely and in a very old fashioned way. There were places where you’d expect there to be pictures but there were not. The place had a spooky, disused feeling.

“I’m told Yothurin only comes here on special occasions,” said Printorac.

“I don’t think anybody’s here most the time,” I said.

Only clergy, Trustees, their spouses and bodyguards were allowed to come (apparently it was pretty much mandatory). We were ushered into a large hall with a high ceiling. Idols were placed around the sides: Tianamet with a different space helmet design from my family’s idol and with her breasts bare; Quira, god of knowledge and destruction, depicted as a bearded man with a codex in one hand and a flame in the other; Inpari, goddess of wisdom and folly with her cat sitting on her head and one breast bear; Mahudarac, god of stars and planets; along with idols of Shelka, Yoho and Ahmaza, the latter depicted as a bearded man with a garland of flowers and holding a rock, which was presumably meant to be an asteroid. There were some tables of food and drinks, some with signs on a coup saying they were suitable for Scriptural Winemakers or Nuharas. A number of people were already present, some in normal dress, some in religious robes and a couple in Nuhara robes. We got some little pies and glasses of wine from the Scriptural Winemaker table and wondered what to do. Most people seemed to be in groups.

“Do you recognize anybody?” I asked.

“No,” said Printorac. “I think that Idlan’s from our chamber but I don’t remember his name.”

“Neither do I,” I said.

“I think that man is Yothurin,” said Printorac and indicated a very old man in expensive looking clothing, standing with a Trulist priestess and an old woman in an expensive looking sari with lots of jewels on it. They both had oxygen masks attached to cylinders.

We felt anav materializations and shortly afterwards, Clindar, Dwendra, Humbril and Rilletticket arrived.

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