Another Evening at the Guest House



"Yilli, I'm glad you're back."

"It's nice to be back, Janush. Ah, that feels good."

"It feels good to me too. Have you eaten? The food here is great.

"It doesn't take much to be better than a Sime Center cafeteria, but yes, it's good food, good enough to tempt a Sime. Can you get me some of those cut up raw vegetables and a slice of black bread?"

"Sure, I'll be right back."

*   *   *

"Great. Let's just sit here on the sofa together and you can help me eat this."

"Lita says there's hot water in the kitchen if you want a pot of trin."

"Good. So where is Skyepar?"

"He's working off his entran for a few hours at the Central Sime Center. He should be back here soon. I offered to go with him but he told me to go on ahead."

"How did it go with the bureaucrats? Did he get it all sorted out?"

"Yes, he did. Just a few more details to finish, he said, but I don't know what they are. He'll drop off the papers and pick up my records at the Sime Center tonight, so I won't be on the boards tomorrow and I can move out. It's okay if I bring my stuff here, isn't it? I've just got the one backpack."

"Of course. If none of your friends want the clothes that don't fit you, you can give them to Lita, and she'll send them to a Newcomers House for some out-T Sime to wear."

"Oh, that's good. I didn't know what to do with them. Are you comfortable, Yilli? May I put my arm around you?"

"Yes, if you like. Now you're making me hungry. Thanks."

"Skyepar told me to look after you, and he's my boss by now, I guess."

"Well, you wouldn't want to spoil your reputation as an obedient employee."

"Yilli ... please teach me to do things for you. I really don't know how to take care of a First."

"You're doing very well just following your intuition, and I'm a very easy channel to support, but I did promise Skyepar I'd teach you to take care of sick channels and channels in trouble, and let you practice on me, and I intend to keep that promise. Here's one trick. Suppose I weren't willing to eat, but you knew I should. You could make up a plate with small pieces of food like this, that are easy to pick up and eat, and just sit here with me like this, with the plate on your lap, but almost on mine, too. You could distract me with conversation, and focus on a particular piece of food and how good it would taste and how much you'd like to eat it, and quite likely I'd pick up a piece myself, and eat it almost without thinking."

"I'd like to try that sometime, especially if you aren't aware what I'm up to."

"You could try it on Skyepar. I bet he hasn't eaten anything. Did he have any lunch?"

"He had part of a bran muffin and some trin with honey."

"That's better than usual when Roza isn't around. You've done well."

"Thanks. He said he just wanted trin, but I broke the muffin in half and projected hungry and how good the food was, and sort of handed the piece of muffin to him while we were talking."

"Sounds like I'm teaching you something you already knew."

"Well, you did tell me this morning to make sure he ate something, and that was what I came up with. He took me to a nice trin shop. I had a sandwich and a bowl of soup too."

"If you like, try it on him again when he comes back tonight."

"Okay. Yilli, I think Skyepar is strongly attracted to me too, and I think he really wants to take transfer from me. Is this going to be a problem between the two of you? Is there anything I can do about it?"

"We've been sharing Roza, another Gen to whom we are both strongly attracted, for many years now, and it's brought the three of us closer together. Of course, she is attracted to us, too, but in somewhat different ways. How do you feel about Skyepar?"

"I like him, and I really appreciate what he's doing for me, and I get that same pleasure out of letting my field follow him that I do with you. He had me work with him a little today, and help him with an outfunction, and it felt really good. I would like to serve transfer to him, if I can get up to his level. I feel all that for you, too, but with you there's more. I know part of it is ... "

"Don't be embarrassed, I can zlin your sexual attraction. I'm glad of it."

"Are you? Yilli, I don't really have much experience..."

"It's okay, Janush. I wouldn't expect it at your age. We'll manage. You see, I don't dare get pregnant. With my heart, I probably couldn't survive it. Janush, relax! Don't worry! If we wait a few more days it will be safer. I can also teach you some things Skyepar taught me, so we can make love without the risk. I think you'll enjoy them. I do, and they're about as effective against the CDs."

"Yilli, you really scared me."

"I know. But, look, I'm almost twelve years past changeover, and I've been okay so far, so you can trust me not to let anything happen. As for you, me and Skyepar, he and I have a good bit of experience in dealing with that awkward instinct Simes have, when they are both low field and in the presence of a high field Gen. He's taken transfer from Roza in my presence and then served me while her slilbliss was still echoing in the ambient, and made it seem for me almost like both transfers were mine, directly from her. He's a brilliant channel, and I probably owe him my life. He, I and Roza go back a long way. I don't think there's any way you could disrupt that relationship. You don't have to worry that either of us will feel jealous about you."

"Good, that makes me feel better. At the training camp, there were all these stories ... it's hard to know what to believe."

"It's always good to be aware of possible problems, and be prepared to deal with them if they happen. That's what you were doing by asking me. You can always ask me things like this, especially if you want to know the Sime's or channel's view. That's how you'll learn. I'm your teacher now, and it's my job to answer your questions."

"Thank you, Yilli. I hope to be a good student. You're giving me an opportunity I never expected."

"You'll do well, Janush. I'll enjoy teaching you. Look, I've eaten all the food you brought me."

"Shall I make a pot of trin?"

"Yes, please do. Wait, here comes Skyepar."

"Good evening, Yilli, Janush."

"Sit down, Skyepar, let me zlin you. What have you done to yourself? Janush, get the trin, and some food for Skyepar."

"I'm all right. I just have to rest and calm down a bit. Janush, you can stay. I've told him a bit about my past, Yilli. They called me in on a difficult changeover at the Sime Center. The boy survived, but it was close. On the way over here, I just started remembering the bad times too vividly and got myself upset."

"Janush, look after him. I'll get the trin."

*   *   *

"Here, this will warm you up. I'll get the fire going too."

"I'm feeling much better. It was just walking over here in the dark, it was hard to control my thoughts."

"Do you want some sage advice from the Sectuib in Teiu?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"You'll get it from Roza if you don't get it from me."

"Go ahead."

"You should do more changeovers, normal ones. Take a few shifts in town every week. It will be a good review for Cago, and the good memories will counteract the bad ones."

"Roza says the same thing. You're probably right. There's always a bit of politics about serving changeovers, Janush. Every channel wants to do them, so it could create resentment if I take them away from the local staff. But I do have the excuse that I have to review for Cago."

"You don't have to serve them all, just attend them, zlin them. You'll also have the excuse that you're helping train the missionaries, as a favor to your wife's House."

"There's that. You don't expect me to eat all this, do you?"

"No, just as much as you feel up to. Janush will help you."

"I guess I'm outnumbered."

"You are."

"I suppose I can eat some of this buckwheat. I've always liked buckwheat."

"It's good, Skyepar, it has walnuts and eggs in it."

"Hmmm, and you're making me hungry, Janush. Thanks. It is pretty good."

"So, is Janush all ours now?"

"Yes, I've got his file in my bag there, if the two of you want to look through it while I eat."

"Okay. Ah, an assignment card. Shall I give it to him or do you want to do the honors?"

"Go ahead, Yilli."

"Here you go, Janush, your first assignment card to a First."

"Thank you, Yilli, Skyepar."

"What a beautiful mix of emotions."

"It doesn't have a date and time on it."

"I always let Yilli fill that in herself. She would just ignore whatever I put on it anyways. You two will have to work that out yourselves."

"I'm a really lousy employee, Janush. Good thing I've got this job as Sectuib."

"Yilli, what would I have to do to be invited to pledge Teiu?"

"I'd have to feel that it was the best thing for you, and that you believed that too. I already feel that you'd be an asset to my House."

"Until I met you, I never thought I'd be able to join a Householding, so I never really thought about what it would be like."

"When we get out to the university, we'll be staying at the seed farm, which is part of the Householding. Some of the members from Konawa will be up there too, to help out for the Church event. It will give you a chance to meet members and see what you think about us. Skyepar thinks if I'm going to steal you from the Tecton, it will be better to do it while you're still officially a Second. As he's told you, we have time-limited oaths. Since we got the Householding reestablished, I've had a policy of always taking a one-year oath at first, and at the end of that, both sides reconsider."

"You and Skyepar keep saying it will protect me from the Tecton. How does that work?"

"As a member of my House, your first loyalty is to me. Technically, I can control all your actions. The Tecton takes a labor quota of channels and Donors from each Householding. There's a complicated formula establishing equivalence between people of different levels. The Householding has some leeway in how it makes up the quota, but the Tecton can demand at least part of it in a particular form. In our House, we have dozens of Companions, but very few channels. My Second Channel is the Controller of the Sime Center we run at the tree nursery site near Konawa for the people of the area, so we get credit for one full time QN-2, which is more than the Tecton would require of us."

"Yilli also overfulfills a quota of Firsts by working at the CRF a few months per year."

"That started out as part of the agreement I made with the Tecton that allowed me to reestablish my House. It's lapsed now, but I'll continue it as long as Skyepar and Roza are there. When members work for the Tecton, in quota or not, they get paid like any other employee, and they contribute any money in excess of their requirements back to the House. The important point here is that if you want to work for the Tecton, it's up to me to say whether you do and for how long. Conversely, if the Tecton wants you to work for it, they would have to negotiate with me about it. Since we have only two TN-1s now, and Roza works almost full time for them, and Mavis does the occasional transfer too, they would have a hard time requiring your services to fill our quota."

"It strange to think of being a Companion instead of a Donor."

"The words have quite different meanings, apart from the context of channel and Gen."

"Yes. Yes, they do. When I was a kid I used to read stories about the Householdings, but I always imagined myself as the channel. When I established, I hoped that there would be the same kind of relationship, even if it was from the other side, but I never really got to know any of the channels I worked with, even when I served them in transfer."

"That's how the Tecton is, and that's how the Tecton wants it."

"What ... what would I be doing if I were one of your members?"

"Again, I'm not convinced that pledging Teiu would be the best thing for you. I'm the only QN-1, so I would take transfer from you part of the time. I'm reluctant to go against the Tecton's policy of not allowing the same pairing more than a few months in a row, so other months, you would be serving other channels, Tecton channels. One would probably be Skyepar. The rest of the time, the rest of life that exists between transfers ... well, we'd have to work that out. Some of it you could spend with me, either at the Householding or travelling. The rest you could spend working for the Tecton. As your Sectuib, I can negotiate for you to work at places that are of interest to you and would help develop your skills to your benefit and that of the House, but I can't promise to be successful at it. As a member House of the Tecton, Teiu is somewhat lacking in prestige and influence. Unfortunately, other than our little rural Sime Center, we don't have any in-House projects that require Companions, especially of your caliber, other than assisting and supporting me in training Gens as missionaries for the Church."

"I want to be with you ... "

"It's too early to think about making a real commitment, Janush. The next few months will let us see how we do together. If Skyepar is right, and it would be best for you to pledge while you're still a Second, it would be a one-year pledge only, and you wouldn't have to do it until just before you give him transfer, which will be almost two months, perhaps longer."

"Yilli ... I ... "

"Just relax, Janush. There's plenty of time. Your position right now is very open ended. You've got a lot to learn, and plenty of time to get used to us, and the new possibilities. Try to just take it as it comes for now."

"I'll try to."

"Look, while we were talking Skyepar ate his supper. Well done, Janush. More trin, anyone?"

"I'll have a refill, Yilli. Thanks, Janush. I probably wouldn't have eaten anything without your help."

"Can I do anything more for you?"

"No, this is just very pleasant, sitting here, with you letting your field go where it likes. I think you're what they call a 'drifter', Janush, an unusual sort of Companion. I've never met one before. Sort of the opposite of a fanir."

"That's interesting. I've never met either kind."

"I met two fanirs at Rialite in my First Year. I was very impressed. But I must say I like this drifter effect much better. It's a good thing you have such excellent control over it."

"I had never really tried letting my field follow a channel until Yilli told me to when she was testing me. At the training camp, they really emphasized controlling your field and only supplying certain standard patterns when requested. I'd never just let go like that with a high-order channel around. It felt like taking off tight clothes that I never realized I had on."

"Yilli, come over and sit on the other side of him. I love to zlin that effect where he weaves the three fields together. Are you able to feel what you're doing?"

"I can feel it happening, but it's not like I'm controlling it."

"Yilli, what do you think, can we develop his sensitivity and control further, so he can do more precise work?"

"Oh, I'm sure we can. It's all new to him, and look how well he's doing. It's going to be real pleasure working with him, for both of us."

"Would you like to try some more things tonight, Janush?"

"Yes, I would."

"Good. Let's get the dishes and cups out of the way and sit here on the sofa for a while. Janush, I'd like you to just relax ... let your field flow where it wants ... good... Now put a bit more power behind it ... that's it ..."

"I feel like we're blending together..."

"I'm going to take your right hand with my left, and Yilli will do the opposite. Good. Now Yilli and I will join our other hands... How does that feel to you, Janush?"

"It feels good, more intense."

"Now Yilli and I will make lateral contact with your hands... and now with each other... how's that?"

"It's beautiful. I feel like we're all one person."

"How are you doing, Yilli?"

"How strange ... I can zlin the connections and all five selyn systems ... "

"Can you zlin how he's balancing it all, compensating for the differences between the two of us?"

"Yes, yes I can. This is remarkable, Skyepar. Is it one of your in-House tricks?"

"You've got it. It seemed like something Janush would be good at."

"It is beautiful."

"If we bring his hands up closer to our vriamic nodes it will intensify the effect."

"Wow. Are you okay, Janush?"

"Yes, Yilli. I never knew this sort of thing was possible."

"As a drifter, Janush's body is trying to match both of us at once. This will set up a beat frequency ... a slow one ... I'm going to try to find it and reinforce it with a pulse from my secondary ... see if you can pick it up and match me, Yilli."

"I think I've got it ... "

"The heartbeat of the world ... "

"If we were gods we could take transfer this way ... "

"I'd love to serve you both like this ... I don't think I could tell us three apart if we did ... "

"Like floating in golden light ... "

"I'd like to go hyperconscious for a few minutes, then we should dismantle this before we get stiff. Let's let Janush relevel us when the time comes. Do you think you can do that, Janush?"

"Yes ... go ahead, I'll bring us all back ... "

*   *   *

"Good, very smoothly done. Now let's take this down in the reverse order of how we set it up ... good ... "

"What a beautiful experience, Skyepar. Thank you, Janush."

"This is the sort of thing I was telling you about in the roof garden this afternoon."

"It's wonderful."

"It's good for ramping your selyn production up to match us, so we can count it as professional development. We wouldn't want the Tecton to think we were doing anything for the pure pleasure of it, now would we?"

"It's certainly not like anything we did in training camp."

"I'll put on some more water for trin."

"Skyepar, I've been thinking about Natural Donors since you mentioned them this morning. The most famous example was Hugh Valleroy. People in your House must have met him and Klyd. Did they ever talk to you about it?"

"The Zeor Farrises are an endless source of fascination for the Sat'htine Farrises. There was a lot of talk over the years about those two. There still is."

"What about that first transfer the two of them had? How could Hugh, with no more experience of transfer than a fairly bad burn, serve a channel of Klyd's speed and capacity? Do you think it really was the peak experience they both claimed it was, or did Klyd fudge it a bit?"

"Well, there are several theories. One is that Klyd still had lots of selyn in his primary from the shunt just before they were captured, so it was really a shunt and a partial, and he didn't draw at top speed, but his psychological need was so intense that it satisfied him well anyway, especially since the two of them were such a match in other aspects, and Klyd had gotten quite fixed on Hugh during the experiences of the previous few days."

"Hmmm. It's hard to imagine that Hugh could have gone from nothing, maybe a GN-3 or GN-2 to even a low TN-1 in a month. The tolerance for the draw speed can only be innate, of course, but to be able to drop his barriers ... Well, Klyd did have the reputation for being irresistible nagerically, and if Hugh really was willing to die, I suppose he could open himself entirely."

"This is where the whole Natural Donor idea gets involved. Some of the capacity must have been innate, but how was it developed? Hugh had spent years as an interpreter for Gen military interrogators and as an interrogator himself. He must have spent a lot of time in the presence of Simes being tortured, Simes in hard need, Simes in attrition. I don't know how he could stand it -- just zlin how the mere thought is affecting Janush. I like the theory that his capacity was being developed all that time, even without draw, just from exposure, and without conscious intent on his part."

"Klyd said that he knew at first zlin that Hugh could make a Companion for him. After that, he couldn't rest until he'd qualified him -- you know how it goes for a channel like that, Skyepar. That Hugh had any other plans for his own life would have been immaterial. I wonder how much that burn was under control."

"Klyd claimed that Hugh was wrestling with him for control of the transfer, but Klyd was working with his secondary. In hard need or not, really, how could he lose it? How could Hugh overcontrol him? I've wondered whether he was trying for the kind of deep draw that would really get Hugh up to capacity and he just didn't know how to manage it when Hugh wasn't easily overcontrolled. When Hugh was stronger than even Klyd could anticipate, he couldn't believe it and kept bulling ahead, not realizing that the burn was worse than he planned."

"The arrogance of Farrises."

"The infallible intuition of a Sectuib?"

"So here he had this mature Gen, many years past establishment, a complex knot of Simephobia and Simephilia. He scorches the shen out of him as soon as they meet, he embroils him in a lot of conflicting demands of cooperation, dependence and secrecy, he appeals to his secret heart as an artist and the hope of rescuing the woman he loves from a terrible death. He shows a man who has always been an outsider, who has never had a secure home, the best of Householding life and offers him a respected place in it. He exposes a man who has never seen an ideal worth believing in to the threat of Zelerod's Doom and the ideal of Unity. He takes him out into the intense stress of constant danger, danger even from apparent friends at Imil, if Klyd's collaboration with the out-T Gens is discovered, immerses him in an alien and hostile culture. All the time the effect is to isolate the two together, closer and closer. Physically close too. I'm sure Klyd was working on Hugh's field the whole time. The best channel of his generation, the most ruthless, the most skillful manipulator, the most idealistic, the most sure of himself..."

"He made his mistakes, but he could always recover from them and come out looking like it was all planned... until the last time."

"I don't think he ever understood Hugh, or his effect on him."

"That's what a lot of the Gens in my House think. That if he had understood what he was doing, he would have had to have been a real sadist. The cruelty was breathtaking."

"And what do the Farris channels think?"

"That Hugh was a Wild Gen who could never be trusted to really understand what Zeor was about, or a Companion's role, or what a Sectuib is."

"I think I'd have to side with the Sat'htine Gens on this one. If Klyd had been planning to inflict the maximum suffering on Hugh, he couldn't have come up with much worse. He took his first and deepest love away from him, and killed her via Muryin. He got Hugh to send Kitty, the mother of his child, off to a hard death as a spy. He set him up to nearly kill Muryin at her changeover. He damn near tortured Ediva to death over a period of months right in front of Hugh. If Hugh hadn't defied him, Ediva would have shenned herself to death and Klyd would never have discovered the Thirds."

"He could never really acknowledge or respect Rior's philosophy. The more Hugh developed it, the more Klyd hardened his position against it. Klyd had a much more flexible view of potential futures when he first met Hugh. He'd been Sectuib only a few years, his grandfather was still alive, he was younger, more open minded, more optimistic. He was no Risa Tigue, but he envisioned some of the possibilities they later implemented in Gulf, some of the possibilities the Distect has taken up. But the Distect has gotten extreme beyond reason since Hugh died, assuming what we hear and read is true, which is open to some question."

"I don't think Klyd could hear what Hugh was trying to tell him, and he never realized it. Hugh was an artist, his mind worked very differently than Klyd's, and Klyd was the sort to disregard what he couldn't grasp. And for all his idealism about Unity, Klyd really couldn't comprehend a Gen who was an independent adult, who had lived his life without Simes and hadn't been raised to defer to channels, and especially to a Sectuib. A Wild Gen indeed, from a culture much more different than Klyd understood."

"Even when it came to the heart of Klyd's expertise as a channel. Klyd kept denying the orhuen, if that's what it was. Perhaps he denied it more because Hugh kept begging him to acknowledge it, or to explain it. It was agony for Hugh, to be nagerically chained to a man who rejected his deepest beliefs, and wouldn't acknowledge that their link was no longer voluntary. Klyd couldn't bear the interdependence, the loss of control."

"What do you think about this 'underdraw' idea?"

"It's unprecedented, but it makes sense in a way. There's got to be something that makes a Gen's field stop rising and level off, and I suppose if that failed, underdraw is what you'd get, but we've never seen it before or since."

"What do the Sat'htine Farris channels say about it?"

"They wish Klyd had gotten Hugh to have a lot more children, preferably with a lot of channels and Companions, so they'd have more examples to observe."

"What a bunch of Genfarmers! No, that isn't fair, after all, they breed themselves by the same criteria. Well, Hugh's son is a Gen, Sosectu in Rior, I guess, for all of Rior that's left."

"And Klyd went off to die alone in the wilderness, to vanish without a trace..."

"Maybe he ran off with the gypsies, like the folklore that professor at NNU is gathering. The hidden channels of the gypsies, with their sorcerous techniques, healed him of his broken orhuen..."

"How romantic! Much better than the unimaginable anguish of a high-order Farris dying slowly of attrition. Are you all right, Yilli?"

"Yes. Unimaginable indeed."

"Apply a little extra support to her, Janush."

"He is, he is. Thank you. Are you okay, Janush? Are we shattering too many of your illusions at once?"

"No. It's interesting. I guess I'd never thought of Klyd and Hugh as real people who made mistakes, who didn't have all the answers. They were history book figures to me."

"They were larger than life, giant figures of tragedy. Someday great literature will portray them. But they were people too, who ate and slept and exchanged selyn, and sweated and shat and struggled to do what seemed like the right thing at the time. They guessed right a lot, but eventually their luck ran out, or their tragic flaws overcame them, depending on your philosophy of history. They were great men and they made the world we live in."

"I've wondered how things would have been if the two of them had lived a bit longer."

"It's hard to say. Once established, the Tecton-as-government took on a life of its own. If they hadn't died their tragic and romantic deaths, their heroic images might have been chipped away by unseemly wrangling with each other and with the Tecton. Or worse, by being identified with the Tecton and all its flaws. This way we can say: 'Oh, if Klyd were still alive, things would be better. He would never have allowed this or that to happen.'"

"True. Maybe you only get to lead one revolution per lifetime, and the father of the revolution becomes an embarrassment to his children. So we remember him best in those heroic paintings you love, in his beautiful Zeor blue cape, his classic Farris features, his mature strength."

"The paintings are awfully unrealistic, but I like them the more for it. There they are, out in a drought-stricken wilderness, but the Householding capes are clean and bright, blue and orange and red, even the blood is bright and clean, the dead and living are nobly posed, every figure in place in the composition, not at all like the dirt and chaos it must have been."

"You're a secret romantic, Yilli."

"We all have our vices. I can embody Pragmatism, the Virtue of my House, and still enjoy looking at those paintings. You should go to the Museum tomorrow, Skyepar, take a break from shopping with Janush, and have a look at that wonderful mural of the Gulf Spring Trade Fair."

"Have you seen it, Janush?"

"Not since it was finished. I haven't been to the Museum for a couple of months."

"Yilli told me that you've been trying to continue your education by reading up on channeling and Companion's work."

"Yes, there's a library at the Sime Center. I found most of it hard to understand, just from words. But when Yilli actually did some of those things, I knew what they meant then."

"A lot of our knowledge is like that. The words are meaningless without the experience to apply them to. But it's good that you can learn from reading. Many people can't. You learned to read as a child -- you said you'd read stories about Householdings."

"Yes. My stepmother sent me to school, and the people who took me in after she died made all of us orphans go too. I liked reading. When times were hard it helped me imagine how they could be different."

"I've brought some books for you two. This one is mostly for Yilli, but she may want to try some of it with you. It's the newest volume of a series from Rialite. They're trying to collect and publish all those in-House tricks and private methods that the Householdings have developed over the centuries, so everyone can use them. My great-aunt Mora is one of the authors of this one, so it contains some things I've taught Yilli already, but with all the technical terms and the math."

"Thanks, Skyepar. I didn't know this volume was out yet."

"Mora sent me a pre-publication copy. Maybe she's forgiven me for not being Farris. There's some tricks for taking down the fields of uncooperative Wild Gens in there, though, so maybe it's because I'll be going to Cago."

"Do you want to play ferocious Wild Gen, Janush, and let Skyepar and me overpower and drain you?"

"I don't know if I could get my field to go along with the uncooperative part."

"That's okay. I'm sure there are better things to try in the book."

"Now this book is for you, Janush, but Yilli should help you work through it. I asked Roza for her opinion on the best book for training a high level Companion, and this is the one she recommended. It's pretty dense, a reference book rather than a textbook, and you really require a channel to demonstrate things for you, but it has most of what's known in it. It was published by Invor, before Unity, and it includes some methods that the Tecton regards as suitable for therapeutic use only, or not permitted at all. Yilli and I will help you sort out which is which. We'll make a Donor-Therapist out of you eventually, but it's important to keep straight what can and can not be done without specific authorization from the supervising channel."

"Thank you, Skyepar."

"Now Yilli will recognize this last one, which Roza asked me to loan to you if I thought it was the right thing to do."

"Roza is exercising her long-distance intuition again, Skyepar."

"Perhaps she is. Janush, this is the last surviving object from the original House of Teiu. It's an old and unique handwritten book, the Companion's life from the Companion's point of view, a collection of poems and essays and aphorisms. Yilli, tell him the story of the book."

"My grandfather, who founded our House almost fifty years ago, gave it to his brother, who became his First Companion, not long after they first shared transfer. It was an old book then -- Granda bought it from an antique dealer, still in that worn leather wallet we've always kept it safe in. We never knew who wrote it or where it came from. Granda's brother had it with him the night Teiu was founded, so it didn't burn with their mother's house and the rest of their belongings. From my great uncle, it went to my grandmother Yilli, who succeeded him as First Companion. At her death, it went back to him. Later it passed to my father who established as another First Companion of outstanding talent. He had it with him when the original Householding was destroyed by the Nivet Army. We fled out-T, and my father gave it to my sister before he died. So it's the First Companion's token of Teiu, the Sosectu's twice now, the only thing left, but what we bear in our minds."

"Yilli, I can't take this. It's too precious."

"You'll have to argue with Roza about that. It's her decision to loan it to you. Traditionally, a Companion keeps it with him when he travels, in a pocket or inside his shirt. I see that Roza has oiled the leather again, to keep it supple and waterproof. Will you take it? I'd like you to."

"Thank you, Yilli. Skyepar, please tell Roza I hope to be worthy of her trust."

"I will, Janush. I'll also tell her that I had no doubts that it was the right thing to loan it to you on her behalf."

"Thank you ... I ..."

"Here, let's the three of us hold each other closer, and share the beauty of your emotions."

"Yilli is becoming quite enamoured of your nager, Janush. She loves her Sime senses. For her, being with you is like a connoisseur of music being with a gifted musician who never stops playing. Ah ... a beautiful response to that too."

"It feels strange to just let my emotions free with you, after all the effort I've put into learning to control them, and to keep my field neutral or in a standard pattern when I'm with channels."

"Those skills are very necessary, but what you're doing now is a gift to us, an intimate gift. Thank you, Janush."

"It feels so good to be so close to the two of you, the three of us holding each other. Even without lateral contact it's like what we did earlier."

"We'll do more of that sort of thing when we're together again at the CRF, and Roza will be with us too. Her field characteristics are very different from yours. It will be interesting to see what we can do. In the meantime, Yilli will teach you more precision control of your field, and help you develop your sensitivity. She's very good at that -- she does remarkable things with the Thirds she trains. I look forward to what she will accomplish with you."

"I'll do my best with him, Skyepar."

"Write to me, Janush. Tell me what happens and what you learn. After all, as your Controller, I should know what you're up to. Yilli will write to me too."

"Okay, I'll try to keep you up to date."

"Do you like music, Janush? They have a radio in the common room, and reception has been good lately. There's going to be a Zhag and Tonyo performance broadcast a little later tonight."

"Really? I've never heard them."

"They're quite good even with just the audio. We'll have to imagine the nageric component. I don't think it would be polite to try to provide our own."

"I'd like to listen to it. I've only listened to radio a few times before."

"Let's all go then. Lita will provide pots of trin and snacks for the Gens. It's quite a social occasion here, according to her."

"Yilli, are you sure you aren't just looking for another chance to suck up some of that 'prayer' ambient?"

"You liked it too, Skyepar. But I don't think they'll be praying, unless it's for good reception. One lad told me that when the northern lights are active, reception is bad, but I've got no idea what he meant by that."

"It does sound pretty strange."

"Maybe I'll ask somebody when we get to the university."

"Janush, travelling with Yilli is an education in itself. Just watch how many varied things she learns from what a varied assortment of people as she goes."

"There's a Frihill dig we may stop at. There's always something of interest at those, and they are always glad to have company, especially company that can treat minor bruises, strains, aches, cuts, and so forth."

"Education of several kinds. Yilli never does anything for just one reason or one purpose."

"We should probably head for the common room if we want to all sit together. I hate it when people get up to accommodate me that way."

"Lead on, Sectuib."


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