Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pretty: Insulated

David's head hurt. He'd had a headache all day. He blamed it on the lump that was on his forehead, acquired during last night's attempt at a skrying. The papers in front of him didn't help at all. He stared at them, shifted them around on the table. One piece of hemp-paper was a solid column of names and numbers. It was pretty clearly a page from a ledger, with debits and credits showing in different-colored ink. Only one page, though, and the names on the page did not have anything in common with the names on the other pages he had in front of him. Another was a single page from someone's diary, describing a purely mundane day in the life of a purely mundane person.

When he started working in the room, he tried to make eye contact with Inessa, but had quickly given up on that. There was something about her intent stare, the way she didn't blink enough, that made him look at her chin whenever he spoke to her. David turned and looked at Inessa's chin. "If you'd tell me more about what you're looking for, I'd be better able to help you."

"It's not that I'm holding something back, David. I do not know any more than you do about your task. The information you refine must be untainted by expectation, unshaded by perception. The people to whom I report know little more than I do, and I don't ask. Information can only flow one way here, and doing that is very challenging. Trust me, we've learned our lessons the hard way when it comes to ensuring a single direction."


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