Chapter 2 The Gameplayers of Zan Chapter 4

Chapter 3Edit


Fellirian makes her way home from the Institute on the monorail. The ride home is fairly short, much shorter than the ride to the Institute, but it will still be late when she arrives home. She contemplates the Emblem, symbolizing ler society, which sits outside the Institute; seeing the omnipresent glow of human society on the horizon, she ponders the humans' Shifter Society, which decrees that humans must make maximum use of space at all hours of the day and night.

On the verge of sleep, someone sits beside her, a hooded ler figure. He speaks to her, and introduces himself as one she once knew well, and she recognizes him from a glimpse of his face. He tells her that someone will come to her yos, asking a service, and that they must not be refused; they may even be there at that moment. He tells her that the humans are stirring, but that he will tell her little more, letting her find out the details for herself.

The monorail car slows for her stop. She gets out, then stops to call back to the ler still in the car that she will do as he asks. He points out that there is someone waiting in the shed. Fellirian goes to look, and sees a young ler wrapped up and apparently asleep; she shakes the ler's shoulder and discovers her own Nerh, Pethmirvin. She signals the monorail to move on, and then asks Pethmirvin what she is doing there.

Pethmirvin says that she was to tell Fellirian not to dawdle along the way, but to return straight to the yos, because they have important guests, an elder named Perwathwiy and a younger ler named Sanjirmil, both from the Terklaren Braid. The elder refused to enter the yos, and is out in their shed, but Sanjirmil is inside, both waiting for Fellirian and Morlenden to both be present.

They set out for their home. Fellirian thinks about their visitors. Perwathwiy, 'grandparent' of Sanjirmil, is hetman of Dragonfly Lodge, for elders of the Gameplayer Braids. Sanjirmil is Klandorh-to-be of her own Braid. Fellirian and Pethmirvin walk along old game trails; the rain has stopped but the trees are still dripping. They pass by a number of dwellings in the woods, including a few elder lodges.

Fellirian thinks back to when the afterparents joined their braid. Fellirian had brought Cannialin, a girl from a neighbouring braid, for Morlenden, but Morlenden had surprised her by bringing Kaldherman, a rough and uncouth nerh from a braid farther away. Initially shocked and disappointed, Fellirian discovered that Kaldherman was actually deeply tender, and held her in the highest regard and admiration.

They arrive at the yos. Before they enter, though, they both have to undergo the Water Rite--Pethmirvin because she had dallied with another ler youth on her way to the monorail, and Fellirian to ritually cleanse herself of the world of humans, and of her emotions at Vance's spying in particular. Pethmirvin splashes quickly in the icy cold water of the trough and dashes inside, while Fellirian takes a more thorough and prolonged immersion and wash. Afterwards, she dries off, making sure that the water is still again before she enters the yos, carrying her clothes with her.

Inside, she dresses in clean clothes and enters the hearth to meet the rest of her braid. The children, including Sanjirmil, are in bed. Her braidmates attend to her, giving her food and braiding her damp hair. They tell her that even Perwathwiy is asleep, since she insisted on speaking to Fellirian with the rest of them, and they didn't know how late she was going to be, so the business was postponed until morning. Morlenden said that he hadn't gotten back much earlier, having attended to a weaving ceremony in a remote district and walked all the way back. Fellirian thanks them for waiting up for her, and then the four of them go to bed, crawling into the sleeping chamber and curling up under blankets.

After the other two are asleep, Fellirian asks Morlenden if he knows what Perwathwiy's business might be. He admits he doesn't know, but the effort she's going to implies that it must be serious and important. Morlenden asks why Fellirian spent so long at the Water Rite, and she tells him about Vance spying on her. They then join their braidmates in sleep.

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