Ismeln leads the stranger through the street of Elk Mountain towards the Sime Center.
Ismeln: I'm not sure where they would have placed a young Sime, but Hajene will know.
Ismeln follows the usual practice of not trying to pronounce "Dzerzhanski".
Hycinth follows Ismeln along the street, pausing every now and then to keep his donkey from trying to nibble random tasty-looking patches of vegetation.
Dzerzhanski: Oddball nager coming, Sosu, along with Ismeln -- at least I think it's Ismeln.
Tscheka: Hm. I'll make some more trin, then.
Hycinth gazes around at the village and sighs softly, almost inaudibly, already missing the wilderness. At least it's only a small hamlet, and not a city that sprawls out for miles.
Dzerzhanski: A good plan. In fact, no matter what the situation, it's a good plan to make more trin.
Ismeln is ~~ thirsty ~~ after the long hike, after all.
Tscheka goes into the back room to put action to words.
Ismeln walks up the path to the entrance and opens the door.
Tscheka: Hello, Ismeln, I'm back here making trin.
Dzerzhanski: Come in, Izzy. Who's your friend?
Dzerzhanski switches to more or less straight Genlan, for the sake of the stranger.
Hycinth notes the Tecton uniforms, and feels a touch of ~~ unease ~~, but quickly damps it down.
Ismeln: This is Hycinth. He travels around and trades in herbs.
Hycinth's current state of personal hygiene, or lack thereof, is the most apparently outstanding quality about him.
Dzerzhanski: Cool. Welcome to the Elk Mountain Sime Center, Tuib Hycinth. Do you have any tarragon?
Dzerzhanski loooooves tarragon.
Ismeln: Don't tell me you've already finished that batch I brought you.
Hycinth scratches at his tangled hair, bits of leaves falling out of it.
Dzerzhanski: Sweetie, tarragon goes fast when Dzerzhanski is in the kitchen. Not that I'm actually in the kitchen, but ....
Hycinth: Name a price, sir. I can negotiate, if you would like...
Dzerzhanski waves his left tentacles at Ismeln.
Dzerzhanski: Deal with my agent here. The usual commission, of course.
Dzerzhanski zlins Hycinth as closely as he can.
Dzerzhanski: But I don't think you came in here to sell me herbs, however delectable.
Hycinth nods politely, not displaying much outward facial expression, but letting ~~ good will and friendliness ~~ show clearly in his nager.
Hycinth: I came to see how Sylvera was doing. Is she adjusting well? ~~ concern and compassion ~~
Dzerzhanski: Hmm? Sorry, I have trouble with names. Tscheka?
Tscheka: The young woman who came wandering in, with the cat scratch! The recent changeover from out-T!
Tscheka has never decided just how much of her channel's poor memory is feigned.
Dzerzhanski: Oh, right, of course. Yes, she's fine. We've got her stashed until she can go to a camp. But what's your connection with her?
Tscheka is fussing about in the back room, avoiding looking at the kettle, so it will boil.
Hycinth: It would be best to say that I'm her relative through... informal adoption. She's no longer wanted by her family, like so many others from out-T. ~~ touch of sadness ~~
Hycinth remembers that he is inside, and removes his hat. Surprisingly, there appear to be no mice nesting in the hair underneath it.
Tscheka: [Simelan] Hajene, is this the Gen who gave the child First Transfer?
Tscheka figures the channel can zlin something like that.
Dzerzhanski: [Simelan] He could be, I guess. No way to be sure without a lateral contact exam.
Dzerzhanski: You're from out-T yourself, I gather?
Hycinth: My home is wherever my business takes me -- wherever I can gather, wherever I can sell.
Dzerzhanski nods and decides to speculate in advance of the data, especially as he isn't likely to get any data.
Dzerzhanski: To be sure. But I do hope that if you did give that girl transfer, that you did so on the other side of the border, for both your sakes. A word to the wise, they say, is efficient.
Hycinth: Supposing that I had, Hajene, theoretically I wouldn't have attempted it on this side.
Dzerzhanski smiles slowly.
Dzerzhanski: I see you are a Gen of wit. Well, to continue. If you should happen to be interested in Donor training ...?
Hycinth almost has a facial expression, for a moment -- if he'd let it develop into a full one, it might have conveyed something like "here we go again."
Dzerzhanski waits out the silence.
Dzerzhanski: I gather not. Do we have any further business to do, then? If not, we can rear back and enjoy some trin.
Hycinth: I can't blame you for asking it of me. It's a noble calling, for those who can find it in them. I'm afraid that to... settle down in any one place for too long, however, is incompatible with my own nature. A cup of trin sounds good, thank you.
Dzerzhanski takes over from his Donor and does the honors all round. Nobody can call him a slave-driving channel, not a bit of it.
Hycinth blows on his cup of trin to cool it, and sips it for a while in silence, thinking.
Ismeln sips her own tea.
Hycinth: You asked if, supposing I had given her First Transfer, I had done it on this side of the border or the other side. I know -- you're worried about what will happen when she learns she must have all her transfers from a channel from now on, if she doesn't wish to end up on the wrong side of the law, and what will happen if she can't make herself stop wanting another Gen.
Dzerzhanski shrugs, the very picture of innocence.
Dzerzhanski: What, me worry? Thirds never worry.
Tscheka: She's alive, and not junct. That's what's important.
Ismeln: Besides, I expect you didn't really have much choice in the matter?
Hycinth: She has a chance, at least -- I can't make her take it, but I handed it to her. There really was no other choice.
Dzerzhanski nods again.
Ismeln looks at Hycinth with ~~ interest ~~.
Ismeln: You have a very practical attitude towards the matter.
Hycinth: She had sneaked out of her house in the middle of the night, and was running across town in her dressing gown, on her way to a neighbor's house to ask him to shoot her, when I ran into her.
Hycinth is ~~ relieved ~~ to have run into people in the Tecton's employ who appreciate the need for a practical approach at times.
Hycinth: I checked to be certain that it wasn't simply the flu. It so often is, on that side, and the discovery is made too late if at all.
Ismeln: I take it there was no Sime Center in the town?
Dzerzhanski: Not too many have, unless they're on the rail line or something.
Tscheka wonders how many times this Gen has found himself giving transfer to a renSime. He certainly doesn't act like serving Sylvera was a first time experience.
Dzerzhanski: It's not a win to carry the selyn so far. If it weren't for this bit of settlement here, there wouldn't be a single Sime Center in this whole area.
Dzerzhanski uses the local gesture for "hereabouts".
Hycinth: If there is -- when there is -- I take them there first of all.
Dzerzhanski: What, nobody in those places puts you under arrest for giving unlicensed transfers?
Dzerzhanski chuckles hollowly.
Hycinth sips his cup of trin.
Hycinth: If there is a Sime Center to bring them to, I need not give an unlicensed transfer. I let the Tecton do its job, where it has jurisdiction -- I think that's fair enough. It's they who make a business of it, after all, not me. I sell herbs. The fact that I have some other skills which are sometimes useful, on the side, is... not uncommon.
Ismeln: Tell me, Hycinth, what is it about Tecton service that you find distasteful?
Hycinth: If I could stand to spend more of the year living indoors than out of it, I might consider it.
Ismeln: Ah. So it's the working conditions.
Hycinth: As it is, I'm afraid I can't confine myself to any one place for too long without feeling like a bird in a cage, that stares out the window but can never fly through it.
Ismeln: Is it walls you don't like, or are you one of those people who doesn't want to see familiar faces?
Hycinth: I don't mind familiar faces. What I need is the wilderness, the freedom to wander.
Dzerzhanski groans internally at the very thought of such -- unrootedness.
Ismeln: Tell me, do you know anything about sheep?
Hycinth: Only a passing familiarity. I know more about donkeys.
Ismeln: Can you cook with those herbs you gather?
Hycinth: Some of them.
Ismeln considers for a moment.
Hycinth: If you happen to be interested... I have some which can't be found growing around here. The climate is not suited to it.
Ismeln: I expect you will be able to find buyers for them here. But there might be a longer-term association possible, as well.
Hycinth: Oh? ~~ careful curiosity ~~ What kind?
Ismeln: Desperation Point folks are no more pleased to break up their families than anybody else, but there aren't enough of us for the Tecton to put in a Sime Center. They don't even really want to maintain Dzerzhanski here in Elk Mountain, for that matter.
Dzerzhanski: But fortunately the law says nobody in-T can be more than so-and-so many hours from a Sime Center, and off that way [gestures] it's only passable by horse, and not easily.
Ismeln: Now, we have a person or two who are capable of handling such crises, but one of them is getting old. It would be good to have another person who could be called upon if necessary.
Hycinth listens carefully, hands wrapped around his cup.
Ismeln: And frankly, you're more likely to find people who can accept both your talents and your choice of how to use them here than anywhere else.
Dzerzhanski: [softly] La la la, I'm not listening ....
Hycinth: If you wish, I can make this area a part of my yearly rounds. I have certain business considerations -- I must travel where herbs in season can be gathered, you see.
Ismeln: Oh, I understand. On the other hand, you're not collecting herbs over the winter. And that is when the trip to Elk Mountain here becomes difficult.
Hycinth nods slowly.
Hycinth: I see...
Ismeln: Consider it.
Hycinth: I shall. Thank you.
Hycinth: And... thank you for understanding, as few in bureaucracy do, that sometimes a set of rules and ideals must be forsaken in favor of a life.
Dzerzhanski: We're a pragmatic lot out here. Besides, ten years or whatever it is and not a Tecton inspector yet.
Tscheka: And giving transfer is not illegal on the other side of the border anyway.
Hycinth: Indeed. I suppose there are many places around here where a short stroll could make the difference between legal and illegal?
Dzerzhanski: Quite a lot.
Hycinth finishes his trin, and gets to his feet.
Hycinth: Thank you. Good day, Hajene.
Dzerzhanski: Goodbye, and joy be with you!
Dzerzhanski smiles whimsically.
Hycinth turns to leave, letting ~~ gratitude and relief ~~ radiate in his nager.