A Walk in the Woods: Episode 12

Jardyce is feeling a bit better, as the blanket and shelter warm him and the pain in his foot decreases perceptibly.

Jardyce: Not a bad trick, there.

Katsura smiles, although she's still quite wary of what this Gen might do to her nagerically. She wishes Nick would return to protect her. She'd also feel much better having him in zlinning range. She's going to have to take transfer soon.

Pinecone is very impressed by what Lady Cat has done, though he secretly wishes there were a visible wound that he could actually see closing up.

Jardyce moves away a little as Kat releases his foot, until he is as far away as practical from the two Simes (not very) and has the side of the pit at his back. He's more aware than most out-Territory Gens how futile such measures really are, but hope springs eternal.

Jardyce: Is that the sort of thing Simes learn when they get older?

Katsura: It's a channeling function. We call it 'healing mode'. But renSimes can help Gens somewhat, too.

Pinecone ~~ perks up ~~ a bit at the thought that he too might learn some of the Snake People healing.

Jardyce nods.

Jardyce: I seen that, before.

Katsura: Have you? ~~ surprised ~~

Jardyce: Yeah. Years ago. I told you I was living on borrowed time.

Katsura: Borrowed time?

Katsura isn't familiar with the idiom.

Jardyce: By all rights, I should have been killed nearly ten years ago.

Katsura: You were attacked?

Katsura braces herself for a tale of terror and death. She puts her arm around Pinecone. ~~ safety ~~ comfort ~~

Jardyce: I was captured. By a girl who'd just changed over and her younger siblings. They kept me captive for several months. Lost the best part of the trapping season.

Katsura: Why did she not kill you?

Jardyce: The next-youngest boy was of the dangerous age. She wanted to be prepared, just in case.

Katsura winces, but nods. It makes sense, if one is committed to a junct life.

Katsura: It is unfortunate she did not take her family to Nivet.

Jardyce: She was quite a kid, actually.

Jardyce can't help a bit of ~~ admiration ~~ from seeping through his ~~ aggravation ~~. He shakes his head.

Jardyce: It was already late fall. The younger ones could never have made the trip to the border. Besides, there was the family farm to think about.

Katsura: But... she would have to find someone to kill every month... and not be shot by the other people.

Katsura is revolted by the casual assumption of the girl that her life is more valuable than that of any number of Gens. But that is how juncts think, or they can't survive. Norrin, for example.

Jardyce: That bothered her a lot, so she picked her targets as carefully as she could. Fortunately for me, I wasn't on her list.

Katsura hugs Pinecone closer.

Katsura: Mr. Jardyce, before I came to your Territory, I had never met a Sime who had killed more than once, or one who believed his life was worth the deaths of many other people. We call such people juncts. We do not allow people to live like that any more.

Jardyce: I didn't say she thought her life was worth the deaths of other people. But there were things she had to do before she could die.

Pinecone nods; he can understand that. His people have stories about heroes who did unthinkable deeds to save their folk.

Katsura nods, and tries to overcome her revulsion, assisted by the generally blunted emotional response of a Sime in need. She's not so far into need that stories of the Kill might cause her to raise intil, however.

Jardyce: When she turned Sime, she killed her mother. Her father was dead already, so the farm went to an uncle. He wasn't interested in passing it on to her siblings, or caring for them. In fact, she overheard him planning with his own son to make sure that all of them failed to reach their majority. So she got them out, and was keeping them alive in the hills until the oldest of her brothers turned Sime or didn't.

Katsura listens, wondering how common such brutal disregard for human lives from purely venal motives is in Gen territory. She understands better why one of her teachers called the out-T Gens juncts.

Pinecone finds these horrors beyond his comprehension, and says nothing.

Jardyce: When he turned human, she made me promise I'd help him get the little ones back to civilization, and let me go. I heard later that she walked right at a party of hunters. Once her family was safe, she couldn't bear to live a killer any longer.

Katsura: I can understand that. In Nivet, it was not uncommon for new Simes not to live long after changeover, in the old days. If they did not kill themselves outright, they neglected themselves to death.

Katsura turns to Pinecone.

Katsura: Those days are over, in Simeland. Simes do not kill. They take transfer from channels like me, and live safely with the Gens.

Katsura rubs his shoulder.

Katsura: You will never kill.

Pinecone feels ~~ safe ~~ under the Lady's touch.

Pinecone: Thank you, Lady Cat. You saved me from the darkness of the day.

Katsura: This is the purpose of my life. To stand between the Sime and the Kill. To give life without ever taking life, so that no one need take life.

Jardyce scratches his beard.

Jardyce: You can make life?

Katsura: I can serve Simes in transfer, so they can live without killing.

Jardyce: Do without the Gens, and all that?

Jardyce is rather ~~ in favor ~~ of such a solution.

Katsura: No, we cannot do without Gens. But a channel can take selyn from a Gen without harming him, and store it in her body to give to other Simes later. In Simeland, all the Gens donate to channels.

Jardyce: Ah. A steady supply, and all that.

Jardyce is starting to see why these Simes bothered to heal his foot. He definitely prefers this sort of situation to the alternative, as it leaves more opportunity for escape.

Katsura: Don't worry, Mr. Jardyce. I do not need your selyn, and I would only take it if you wanted to give it to me.

Katsura figures Nick wouldn't see it quite this way.

Jardyce: Humpf.

Jardyce understands this as meaning "I don't need your selyn at the moment, so I'll give you a chance to resign yourself, if you don't take too long."

Katsura: When Nick returns, we will help you get home. If you cannot walk so far, I will carry you.

Jardyce: It's only a few miles. I'll make it.

Jardyce does not want to be carried by a Sime -- it might give her ideas.

Katsura doesn't think the walk would be good for his broken toe, but isn't going to argue right now.

Jardyce knows just enough about Simes to know that their interest in, and aggression towards, Gens decreases rapidly with distance.

Jardyce: You know, half the town would be having fits if they knew there were three Simes camped in the hills.

Katsura: Two Simes, two Simes who never kill. I hope you will not tell them about us.

Jardyce: This Nick is still a child, then?

Katsura: No, he is a Gen. A man perhaps your own age. My Donor.

Jardyce: Your Donor?

Katsura: My Companion, it would be better to say. Channels work with Gens who have the talent and training to help them with their work.

Jardyce: I guess it would be kind of hard to find a Gen willing to stick around you, at that.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Ask Nick about that. I think he likes to work with me. Right, Pinecone?

Pinecone: Yes, Hunter Jardyce. Nick enjoys what he does with Lady Cat. I have sensed it.

Jardyce gets exactly the wrong impression, of course.

Jardyce: Well, I guess a man's tastes are his own.

Pinecone shrugs.

Pinecone: Hunter Jardyce, you will not be offended if I ask questions?

Jardyce shrugs.

Jardyce: Dunno. Are you likely to ask offensive questions?

Katsura: Pinecone is of the Free People. He does not know how your people live.

Pinecone nods.

Pinecone: The Town People are strange to us.

Katsura isn't going to explain that the young Sime is showing the symptoms of First Year -- intense curiosity and desire to learn.

Jardyce: We don't see many of your folks around here, that's sure.

Pinecone: That is so, for our territory is now far away. But my question is this: how do you all live together in a territory so small? My Elders teach that if many live close together, the game will become too scarce and the People will starve.

Jardyce: Most of us live by farming, not hunting.

Pinecone is ~~ puzzled ~~.

Pinecone: What is this "farming" of which you speak?

Jardyce: We plow the ground and plant crops, water and tend them over the growing season, and harvest them to feed us over the winter.

Pinecone: Ah. You make plants grow on purpose, then? The Elders say that if the People did that, they would no longer be Free, for whoever makes plants grow, belongs to those plants.

Jardyce: True enough. A farmer is tied to his land.

Pinecone nods.

Pinecone: So among the Town People, only the hunters are free?

Jardyce: Free, yes. Except that we must be successful at hunting, or we won't be able to trade for the things that don't grow in the forest. So I'm really as tied to my traps as the farmer is to his land. And as your people are tied to your lands.

Jardyce looks at Kat.

Jardyce: And as your people are tied to the Gens who live among you?

Katsura nods.

Pinecone: I think that is so, Hunter. But the forest gives my People everything they need: food, water, shade.

Jardyce: Only so long as your People take care of it. Correct?

Pinecone nods.

Jardyce: So your people are also tied to their land. Much the way a family are tied to each other.

Pinecone: But we are not tied to it. The People have not moved their fires in my life, but it has happened many times, as the stories tell, in the time of the ancestors.

Jardyce: Farming is a bit more stable than the way your people live, but when it fails they move on as well.

Pinecone nods ~~ thoughtfully ~~ and looks at Katsura.

Pinecone: Lady Cat, the Simes also farm for their Gens?

Katsura: Simes and Gens both farm. Most families have both Simes and Gens.

Pinecone: What about hunting?

Katsura: Simes don't eat meat, and most of the Gens who live in Simeland don't either. So people don't hunt for food, but they do for hides and furs, sometimes.

Jardyce: Why turn your backs on such a good food?

Katsura: Meat isn't a healthy food for Simes, and most Gens grew up not eating meat, so they find the idea distasteful.

Katsura also finds the idea distasteful. Yuk.

Jardyce: I guess if you tell a kid something often enough, he'll keep believing it as an adult even if it doesn't make sense.

Katsura: I suppose so.

Pinecone: Still, Hunter, I have learned that what is said of the Snake People is not true, or not all true.

Jardyce: So what are you doing out here, anyway? It's a long way to the border with your land.

Katsura nods to Pinecone. She'd rather he continue so that she doesn't have to answer Jardyce's question.

Jardyce looks at Pinecone.

Jardyce: I've known that for a long time. On the other hand, a lot of what's said is more true than not.

Pinecone: I hope that is so. I should not want to find that the ground I walked on was actually pine branches over a pit.

Pinecone winks.

Jardyce winces theatrically.

Jardyce: If you two were normal Simes, you'd never have waited for me to come to you. It was a good trick with the blanket, though. ~~ somewhat grudgingly ~~

Katsura: It wasn't a trick, Mr. Jardyce. You are not our captive. You can leave any time you wish, but I hope you will let us help you get home.

Jardyce: No offense, Ma'am, but I don't think the folks at home would want you anyplace near.

Katsura: No, no offense.

Katsura is a little offended -- she knows she'd be risking her life to help Jardyce get home, which is why she wants to wait for Nick, who could probably talk people out of shooting her, if necessary.

Katsura: If you like, I will suppress the pain in your toe so that you can walk more easily. But you must be careful, since the injury is still there, even if you feel less pain from it.

Jardyce is willing to settle for a bit less pain, if he has to make a run for it.

Jardyce: Thank you kindly, ma'am.

Katsura settles in for another healing session -- good for entran, good for distracting herself from her need and her worry about Nick returning soon and in working condition, and good for protecting Pinecone from uncontrolled Gen pain.

Katsura is glad her loose sleeves cover her arms. From his experiences, Jardyce might well know just what swollen ronaplin glands mean.

Pinecone knows enough to be ~~ concerned ~~ that Lady Cat may be overdoing it, and hopes Nick comes back soon.

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