Fantasies and Realities: Episode 16

Sedel ambrov Dar has enjoyed being at home again. The nightmare of the Dam site assignment behind him, good food, good people and real walls has been enough to lull away the constant alert he had fallen into.

Sylma ambrov Dar is also indulging in the luxury of a warm bath daily, without having to deal with Sectuib Naros and his numerous progeny. She also likes having someone besides Sedel to spar with; it keeps her from getting into a rut.

Sedel enjoys having people to work with who aren't either running scared or trying to get away with something.

Sedel: It's good to be home!

Sylma: Yup. We've been in exile for way too long. There's a place for serving Dar here at home, too.

Sedel: Yes and if I never have to leave again it will be too soon. ~~ humor ~~

Sylma: Well, that's up to Sectuib. Let's not remind him we're here, all right?

Sedel does the nageric disappearing trick the House is famous for.

Sedel: Well, ahead of you kiddo.

Sylma chuckles.

Daisetz, the Sectuib aforesaid, walks into the room through the doors near the front end, rolling a short fat log he has obviously brought from the woodpile. He upends the log deftly and sits on it.

Sedel does a double take. ~~ huh? ~~

Neffer, First Companion in Dar, disdaining a seat. squats next to his channel.

Sylma turns at the zlin of Sedel's ~~ huh? ~~ and puts her best face on it.

Sylma: Sectuib!

Sedel would laugh, but there is something less than funny about Sectuib's feel.

Daisetz: Okay then. This general meeting of Householding Dar is hereby called to order. I'll get to you in a minute, Sylma. Got to follow the Procedure, y'know. Old business?

Daisetz pauses briefly, then goes on.

Daisetz: No old business. New business?

Daisetz pauses briefly again.

Sedel swallows convulsively.

Daisetz: Sylma?

Sylma: Er, yes, Sectuib?

Daisetz: [bass rumble] You raaaaang?

Sylma: We were just saying how good it was to be back home.

Sedel: Yeah, really nice...

Sylma's experienced laterals zlin that she and Sedel are being called on the carpet -- again.

Daisetz: Good to have you back from the dungeons of the Tecton Criminal Investigation Division. Or whatever they call themselves now.

Sedel can't put a finger on it but something is about to hit the fan. Most likely his butt.

Daisetz: Anyhow, sit tight a bit while I do some discernment.

Daisetz zlins the House, or most of it, anyhow. As far as he can tell, everyone else is a bit ~~ puzzled ~~ but not ~~ worried ~~, so all is well for now.

Sylma wishes she knew what infraction has come to Sectuib's attention, because she'd hate to accidentally admit to something that is as yet unknown.

Sedel thinks: Tecton Tribunal, he can take; insane Controllers, he can take; Sectuib being, well, diversionary he can't take.

Daisetz: Sedel. Ah yes. Remind me, Sedel. What would be your current rating for unarmed combat again?

Sedel: Er, um, fifth rank.

Daisetz: Riiight. And yours, Sylma?

Sedel wonders what this is leading to. He thinks: Tecton Tribunals.

Sylma: Um... the same.

Daisetz: Also fifth rank! Veeery good. And my rank would be, Neffer?

Neffer: First rank, of course, Sectuib.

Daisetz: First rank. Excellent. And tell me, naztehrhai, is there anyone here who's willing to challenge Sylma or Sedel for their right to hold the fifth rank?

Daisetz listens to the silence for quite a while.

Sedel hadn't expected a Ranking Challenge.

Daisetz: Apparently not. Now what rank do you need to teach tenth-rank beginners, Sedel?

Sedel: Third rank...

Daisetz: And does anyone care to tell me why you need to hold such an exalted rank to teach beginners?

Daisetz shrugs broadly.

Daisetz: Go ahead -- anybody.

Sedel suddenly feels like a tenth rank beginner after a thorough beating. He tries not to scuff his toe in the proverbial sand.

Sylma: It's critical that teachers have the experience to handle beginners without hurting them, or being harmed themselves.

Sylma repeats the Dar truism.

Daisetz smiles broadly and radiates ~~ happiness ~~ into the ambient.

Daisetz: Truly you understand well, Sylma.

Daisetz narrows his eyes and makes his voice and nager ~~ menacing ~~.

Neffer continues to hold his nager ~~ neutral and unobtrusive ~~ so as not to interfere with Daisetz's sculpting of the ambient.

Daisetz: And what rank would Nick Reckage have, then?

Sedel: Nick? [squeaks]

Daisetz: Nick. Now known as Nick ambrov Sat'htine. Sometimes Companion to the Heir to Sat'htine.

Sylma: Nick has no rank in Dar. Nor any interest in one.

Daisetz twists his head to one side and gives Sylma The Look.

Daisetz: But suppose he did. Then based on his current knowledge and experience with unarmed combat, his rank would be?

Sedel is starting to have uncomfortable flashes of memory regarding a bar and a certain Chief Donor.

Daisetz smiles.

Daisetz: Approximately.

Sylma looks at Sedel for help.

Sedel: Ninth rank beginner.

Sedel would actually put Nick somewhere in the first rank for what he already knew but let's not make matters worse.

Daisetz: I quite agree. Although when I sparred with him at Sat'htine ...

Daisetz feels the ~~ surprise ~~ ripple across the Householding.

Daisetz: ... I was rather surprised, considering that he's never been to Dar, that he knew enough of our techniques to qualify for ninth rank.

Daisetz elevates one eyebrow.

Daisetz: How did that come to be the case? Anybody?

Sylma looks at Sedel for ~~ help ~~.

Sylma: He, er, used to work out with us a bit, at the Dam.

Daisetz: Well. I suppose I should be grateful you didn't teach him everything you know. Or did you.

Sedel decides to grab the berserker by the laterals...

Sedel: To be honest, Sectuib, the first time I sparred with him was to teach him how it felt to be overwhelmed by someone. He had been bullying Sylma -- at least I thought that he had at the time.

Daisetz closes his eyes, opens his mouth, and "looks" at the ceiling for a double beat. Then he closes his mouth with a snap, opens his eyes, and speaks.

Daisetz: Ah. So you felt it was your duty Unto Dar to, umm, "teach him a lesson." To, umm, "do justice".

Sedel: I uh, well... He thought I was trying to show him how to fight. We got to be pretty good friends after that...

Sedel can see no good outcome to this story.

Daisetz: [dryly] I'm glad to hear it. Everyone needs good friends. Sylma, do you have anything to add?

Sylma: He liked working out with us -- there really wasn't a whole lot to do out there, besides work. He'd picked up a little training in some of the Gen styles here and there, which made it interesting for us.

Daisetz: So you're saying he wasn't an absolute beginner, is that right?

Sedel: No, Sectuib, he wasn't. It surprised me.

Sylma: He said that with the life he led, it never hurt to be able to protect himself.

Sedel: Most Tecton Donors are less than useless in a scrap.

Daisetz: That's true enough.

Sedel: Nick managed to get a couple hits in before I started to take him seriously.

Daisetz: Is there anything else that the two of you think I should know... sooner rather than later?

Sedel: I mean we weren't training him -- it was more like an exchange of information.

Sylma: And we didn't even do that much until we knew him well enough to know he wouldn't abuse the knowledge.

Sedel hopes that Nick hasn't abused the knowledge, anyway.

Daisetz: Very good. So what we have here is that you two revealed Dar techniques to someone who was neither sworn to the House, nor invited by the Sectuib or his delegate. And you did so with unworthy motives. And you did so without the necessary qualifications for teaching.

Daisetz turns to his Companion.

Daisetz: Tell me, Neffer, what would be the usual penalty for such offenses?

Sedel would blanch if he weren't already turning red.

Sylma is therefore not deriving the usual level of comfort from Big Brother's field.

Neffer: We could research the archives for a precedent. Or it might be left to Sectuib's discretion.

Sedel knows this is not good. Now how to fix this?

Daisetz: Sectuib's discretion. Hmm. Yes. Something lingering, with boiling oil in it, I fancy. Something of that sort. I think boiling oil occurs in it, but I'm not sure. I know it's something humorous, but lingering, with either boiling oil or melted lead.

Sedel decides that anything he says at this point can and will be used against them. Now if Syl will just shut up...

Sylma has at least gained enough experience at being on the spot to get that much of a message from Big Brother.

Daisetz waits through a long, long, long silence, almost as long as the one that comes after "Your money or your life!" when that notoriously stingy Ancient comedian was being held up by bandits....

Daisetz: Come, come -- I'm not a bit angry. Or perhaps I could send you back to the Dam. I understand the Tecton --

Sedel: Just murder me now. [slips out]

Sylma: Boiling oil and melted lead sound rather warm and cozy by comparison.

Daisetz: Quite so. Just where are you going, Sedel?

Daisetz shapes a nageric shock -- very mild, about like a static electric shock -- for Sedel.

Sedel hadn't even realized he was sidling towards the door.

Sedel: I, er, I, nowhere, Sectuib.

Daisetz: Good. I wouldn't want you to miss the verdict. Sentence first, verdict afterwards, you know. You have already failed to get things right; I wouldn't want you to also get them wrong.

Sylma: We promise to slay the Jabberwock, not the Jub-Jub bird.

Daisetz rubs his head.

Daisetz: I have no idea what you're talking about. In any case, since nobody seems to like the Sectuib's previous ideas, I'll go with the usual "chop wood, carry water" for a few weeks. With meditation on your offenses, of course.

Sylma: Of course, Sectuib.

Daisetz: You'll let me know when you have repented and can promise amendment, right?

Daisetz can of course trivially determine the sincerity of any such claim.

Sedel tries not to let his relief show in his field.

Sedel: Yes, Sectuib, at once, Sectuib! [snaps to]

Daisetz: Not "at once". Not for a few weeks, at least. But I'm glad to see your enthusiasm for self-reform.

Daisetz: In any case, we'll say no more about it for now.

Daisetz picks up on Sedel's ~~ relief ~~ and echoes it in his showfield.

Daisetz: Now, do we have anything else to discuss? Anybody?

Sedel: Noooo. [shakes his head]

Sedel looks longingly at the exit.

Sylma wonders if this is the time to bring up the possibility of studying for fourth rank, but fortunately thinks better of it.

Daisetz: Neffer, anything I'm forgetting?

Neffer: Sectuib never forgets.

Daisetz: Like an oliphaunt. But then again, what has he got to remember?

Sylma: Peanuts?

Sedel: Come on, Syl. I think there's some wood calling us somewhere.

Sylma: Yeah. After we split it.

Daisetz feels free to laugh out loud at Sylma's wisecrack now that the meeting is over, and it breaks up on a positive note for all, except perhaps the hapless malefactors.

Next Previous Table of Contents