Parric seemed to withdraw into his trance.
"What are you suggesting?" Parric said. "I'm asking you for informations. You're not having any for me."
"Look, if you want to know who's behind this thing, it might be more productive to come at it from a different direction," Knowicent said, sitting before Parric with legs crossed. "You've accumulated a few enemies, as I recall."
"Not that I am knowing of."
"What about the Eldminster of Hahn?"
"The Eldminster is at cross-purposings."
"And the T'choulic Taman?"
"I see. Okay then, which individuals you've been at cross purposes with in the past are capable of engineering this moironteau variant?"
"None are capabling."
"Aren't you even going to think about it?"
"No needings to. None are capabling. Not T'choulic Taman, not the Eldminster of Hahn, not even Condros Fane. None."
"You went up against Condros Fane? Why hadn't I heard about that?"
Parric gave her a withering stare.
"Look, without more data from your end my options are limited. If you're certain an old enemy--excuse me, cross-purposing--isn't behind it, then that doesn't leave much. A new enemy is pretty much all that's left. Someone you don't yet know you're in conflict with." Knowicent sighed. "I can give you everything I have on the moironteau. The data'll only be of limited relevance, though. This creature's been completely re-engineered--if it's an oxygen breather now, there's not way to tell what other alterations have been made."
"And the footheads?"
"No telling. I've got dozens of potential analogs--everything from finger-long sleacath to oceanic fraust large enough to swallow a moironteau whole. As far as convergent evolution goes, that one's fairly common across a wide range of cosms."
"I'm thinking as much," Parric said. "You may be going now."
"If I had a specimen, a tissue sample--"
"Yes, well, I am not having samples for you. You may be going now."
"Don't go alone," Knowicent said. "Take Rumbroid and Coreace. Or what about the Junsturs? You're on good terms with them, right?"
"Shit, Parric, I'd like to think we've moved beyond a purely client-customer relationship. But if you don't care about my concern for your well-being, think of Flavius. He wouldn't want you to get yourself killed, would he? I'll admit I don't know much about these things, but everything I do know points to these moironteau being designed to kill you. Unless you want them to succeed, the next time you venture out into the Nexus I suggest you do so armed to the beak and with lots of backup." She smiled. "Who knows? A great wizard like you, lots of hero-types would likely volunteer just for the glory. That's not even considering other magicians who'd want to learn by seeing you in act--"
"That is not being possible. Craftings are not magicings," Parric said. "Besides, what you're suggesting is againsting the tenets of my order."
"Right, right. Your all-powerful 'tenets of the order,'" Knowicent said. "Tenets which I've never learned from you in, what? Ten? Fifteen years? Care to enlighten me?"
"That is againsting--"
"--the tenants of your order. Right. Can't say I didn't see that coming." Knowicent ran her hand through the flickering mass of cables on her head. Her eyes narrowed an accusing glare at Parric. "And you've never broken them before?"
"Thanking you for the informations you're giving," Parric said, more sharply than before. "Payment for such is transferring to your accountings. You may be going now."
She started to protest, but Parric twitched an antennae. Knowicent's avatar dispersed in a spray of light.
Parric shifted, trying to regain his meditative state. His tail twitched. He breathed deeply then slowly exhaled.
Sighing, Parric sat up. He was too agitated now, too conflicted. Knowicent had that effect on him, always posing more questions than she was paid to answer.
His wing sent a sharp jab of pain in protest. Parric flinched, softening his movements. The wing would have to wait a little longer, until he'd regained his composure.
"And you've never broken them before?"
Knowicent, she who made a career of knowing everything, was oblivious as to how deep her words had cut. The tenets were meant to pose a continuing challenge. Many Crafters faltered. It was expected. But Parric had never heard of any Crafter of Onimik as lacking as he. He thought back to his multitude of failures against the moironteau and shuddered in shame.
He would do better the next time. He had no excuses.
Calmly, Parric extended his antennae and started Colloreep's Third Current. He hadn't performed the exercise in a very long time. He'd neglected all of his exercises for far too long. He'd start with an easy one, and work his way up from there.
Parric sealed the door, blocking it from all intrusion. Then he expanded the interior of his room seven leagues in every direction. Satisfied he now had enough space to practice the Third Current freely, he solidified the air, then inverted it before collapsing the entire mass into a singularity of pure energy.
Yes, he would definitely do better the next time.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Parric seemed to withdraw into his trance.