Good Night at Alexture
Smoke dances from the smoldering embers of Master's fire place. His own pipe filled with flavored tobacco, and not the purple plant Anna poked in her own long stem. I poured hot Leaf juice into three cups and served each, keeping one for myself. Music of ticking clocks came from the walls in all directions, but my keen ears could hear the bubbling of dinner in the next room.
When I returned, Anna and Master were talking about the health of an indevidual and its effects on their minds. A reason, Master Drate said, to keep in shape if we require focus.
"Sleep, for example, must be kept to six hours, no more or less else it should muddle the mind. Also, I think something for the digestion, but you may have this covered with your diet of fruit and leaf-juice." He held his cup up, twitching a long, fur-tipped, ear. Felves have a thing about ears, I've noticed.
"I'm not certain I could convince the city guard to eat nothing but fruit and Leaf, Drate." Anna drew on her pipe. "It will be hard enough to teach them patience of thought."
"Then you must be discerning on who you wish to teach. It is not an easy path, this process of deduction, for the little minded to wander down willy-nilly. We've not even nailed down a logical process other than our two rules."
"It would be so much easier if you came back with me."
"No, I'm quite done with that city. I've collected from Annalow only bad memories."
Master Drate smiled, "And good friends."
"Quill, you look strange in Felf clothes."
I curtsied. My dress leads all the way to the floor, as is the way for felf wear. "I find I like it, Mistress."
"Just Anna, please."
"Bah," Master puffed "I've tried for years and failed to break her of that habbit. Just let Quill act as she wants." I bowed to my Master. "See that? She knows she's not a slave anymore, but she won't stop that."
"That reminds me," Anna said, "The family of Felves in Annalow..."
"It's quite as you imagine. We've sent word to the other hidden towns of Felf kin. As of now we value both industry and knowledge. You've seen the great library." He motioned toward the tower out of his window. "That's a collection not just of history, but science, philosophy, the whole bun and butter. You're library,I've heard has a draconian method of collecting knowledge, but efficient, none the less."
I looked at Anna inquisitively. She answered me, "They kidnap books from ships. There's a sect of city guards who help. If a book or scroll exists in port, the Library takes it, copies it, and returns it." She turned back to Master, "and I notice, it's the same here."
"We don't take without permission, Anna. That's barbaric."
"Our city, our rules."
"Oh, well. To that I have nothing. You mumes are already known for being insane precocious slavers. You're words only encourage the stereotype." Anna laughed. "But this is your plan? How will you gather your students under wing without proper credentials."
"It will be as you say, I supose." Anna took a sip of Leaf before returning to her pipe. "First I'll win them with my magnificient brain, then split the wheat from chaff and teach the rest. I think five will do for starters, and we'll move on from there."
"Pardon me for interrupting, Mistress," I said, "but are you not consultant, rather than teacher?"
"This is unofficial, Quill. I need ears and eyes in the city, and the City Guard may yeild to my influenced. If I move the right pieces, I can start my own department of City Guards and claim them as part of my research team." She waved it away, "But that's long term. For now, I'll be happy if I find Borcs, Mumes, or the like subjectable to the art of deduction."
"Science." Master said.
"It's so clearly an art, Mister Felfkin. Look at the nessessary choices involved. What do you look at first? Where do you check? What's more or less likely to leave such a trace and why?"
"But that's it exactly. You cannot express a feeling in deduction, Anna. Science is a method of understanding. This is what we do!"
"Hmmm...I know from experience that you CAN express in logic."
"Mmm." Master took a few puffs. "We're at a stalemate, then."
Dinner was served shortly after their debate and conversation turned toward more amiable things such as the beauty of the surrounding forest of Alexture and the contrast of fasions between the Felf communities love of thick or encompassing wear and Annalow's love for bare skin and warm winds. This turned toward how weather and environment can effect fashion and I lost track after that.
Master Drate's routine has always been to take hot bean juice in front of the fire place after dinner, but Anna after her travels could not be made to join him that night.
"That's for the best. Tomorrow I'll show you around our town. It's small but you may have noticed our love for gears and such. It's good excersize for the mind, Anna. Quill, our guest room is ready?" I nodded. Master stood and bowed. "Then I bid you good night, Miss Goldeyes."
Helping Anna with her bags, I led her upstairs to the small room we've prepared. I would have done it myself if not for personal touches Master wished to place in the room. Anna thanked me and pulled me inside with her.
"Quill, I'm curious."
"Just Anna. I'm a friend, not a ruler." I think I blinked at her. "Quill, you've read all my letters and compiled the story in your own way. I read it on the way south from home, but I noticed no where do you have your thoughts on the whole event."
"I have none, on the whole, Mistress."
"How can that be? I know you still love Annalow."
Pulling my ears back, I thought about it before speaking. "Have you seen many plays at the coloseum?"
"Not many. No."
"It's sort of like that. I'm happy enough to view the events without taking part. To ask what Lily Ripper means to me is to ask how Murrian and his fighters mean. The only difference is this is not a fiction. I do understand this killer may go down in legend. I'm even surprised the Captain let him go without a fight."
"I think Nara Nakki showed the Captain what they had in mind, but returning to the subject, you said 'on the whole.' Does that mean there's something specific?"
An Effee smiling can throw most off, because we show more of our buck teeth than people are used to. Anna handled it like an old handler, tho, and smiled back. "Oh, Mistress, I was most pleased to discover I wasn't the only practitioner of Magic. I've spoken with Wellgrace, your High Preistess' effee about it. He was most kind."
"Uh...How far can you see, Quill?"
"I've not been idle, Mistress. In these last couple of years, I've trained myself to see to the other side of the world. Did you know it was round like a ball?"
"And..uh...everywhere you can see..."
"I can touch. Yes. That has it's own quirks you wouldn't believe. Even as it's night here, on the other side of Mash'ta it is just becoming morning. Wellgrace and I whisper to each other about it from time to time. He's old and lovely and as smart as Master Drate. Amazing."
"Any...uh...other part of the story you wonder about or feel something for?" I shook my head. "Just that there are others like you? I assumed you already knew that."
"When you look at a complex tapestry, Mistress, do you register every tiny detail all at once or does your eyes follow the patterns and explore a small amount at a time."
"I think I understand." I bowed. "Is there anything else?"
"No. Thank you, Quill." As I left I heard her say "I mean it. Thank you."