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Pepper and Lace Chapter 4: Training Day

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MerchantDeryni:
Chapter 4: Training

   The room was paneled in a light wood, with darker wood for the floor. Windows were covered behind heavy drapes. A small fireplace was on on wall. Double doors were opposite of the fireplace. There were a few different sitting areas, a desk, a conversation area, and a comfortable chair and padded stool next to the transfer portal. Dhyrucc could feel the portal beneath his feet, strong and stable, well used.

Victoria spoke up."This is my training room. I'm going to evaluate your strengths and give you a refresher course on portal usage. You've survived a couple of days of Jumps so you can obviously handle at least that much. So all this should not take long. You should be fine to use the network even now, this is just a precaution. Portal use is always a bit of jumping before looking anyway."

"So you train people to better balance the energies used? Terrel gave the impression you gave some sort of advance training?"

"Well I do have a little list of things I expect to cover. First is lowering shields and linking. Mind speech introductions then a Rapport for faster information exchange. I always like to start with the memory techniques so you never forget what I teach. This is also useful in learning and remembering signatures of portals across the network. In time you could learn several hundred portals to cover all the world. All of that is useless if you cannot remember the portal signature and cannot make a jump.
   Once we get that out of the way and you can make a nice living on the network we can focus on things like improving your carrying capacity and the frequency of your jumping. Energy drain and lending allows you to take passengers without killing them.
   Then comes Portal basics, what and how a signature is likely formed. Balancing energies to new and raw portals with terrible harmonics. This leads into harmonic stabilization. A portal becomes more stable the more it is used. As more and more energy is balanced across it the issues with portal usage are somewhat reduced.
   All this theory leads to warding basics and then portal construction. Ritual setups, energy drains, coordination between the people making a portal. Supplying energy to a crew making a portal if you are not part of the primary team comes after that bit of work.”

   Dhyrucc looked at Victoria in growing consternation. He had done passably well with his tutors growing up. His Deryni training was done within the family and he had been told he was a solid practitioner of the basic arts. This list was more than daunting.  “How long will all this take?”

“It takes as long as you want to study. You could finish today and decide you will simply carry a pack of goods every day and be done. You may do that for a year and then come back to me. Or not. I just want to let you know there is a lot of information available to you, beyond how much money you can make. But let us sit in the comfortable chair and get started and I can try and sell you on a vision after I know whether or not you will die after the first day.”

   Dhyrucc sat in the chair closest to the portal while Victoria sat on the padded stool at the side of the chair. The chair was exquisitely made and incredibly comfortable. Dhyrucc let out a sigh of satisfaction as he settled into it.

“Yes, this is a chair made to relax in. I find it helps in doing shield work. Just try not to fall asleep.”She laid a hand on his forearm and continued in a slower, more soothing tone. “I want you to lean back and lower your shields please. Let go and let me in. We'll chat a moment, then go for a light Rapport. Then I will start to show you the pathways for memory, then portal control. Let go, relax and let our minds mesh.”

   Dhyrucc again felt her mind brush against his shields and he lowered them more smoothly than he had before. Her mental 'hello' still carried with it her impish sense of humour and he smiled even as he felt himself slip another level deeper into relaxation. Rapport was achieved and he took her mental instructions smoothly and turned his eye inward to watch as she showed him the primary centers for rapport and memory.

*   *   *

   An unknown time later he dreamily opened his eyes, feeling himself rise up to full awareness of the outside world. Victoria was no longer sitting on the stool beside him but was at another small table across the room arranging glasses and plates. He shook his head and got out of the chair and went over to her.

“Welcome back to the land of the living. I have food and wine. Sit down in a far less comfortable chair and have some refreshments.”

“How long did we work on things? What time of day is it?” asked Dhyrruc

“Several hours. It is well past noon. How are you feeling?”

“Quite well thank you. I've expended energy, I guess that was the linking over and over again. I remember it all. The eidetic training is still locked in. I will be sure to keep practising that, as you said earlier. Well, 'said' is perhaps the wrong term. What we spoke about. Wait, that won't work either.”

Victoria laughed, “A language needs to be developed to acknowledge what we do. In rapport we send information but do not speak. But yes, keep up the exercises as we went over them. You will be safe on the network. Your range will be limited at first. I would do a single jump and rest for 3 hours. Then another jump. No more than 2 big jumps a day, self powered. I will keep popping in to check on you. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you are drained. Small jumps are okay as well, just not too many or too close together. Not until you get some miles under your belt.”

“You mentioned that before, getting stronger. How does that work? “ asked Dhyrucc.

“How do any of our abilities work, really? All we know is the more often you carry, the easier it is to balance the energies. You get used to juggling and warping the energies to match matrices. As for carrying. The standard bag of material is about 50 pounds. Most walkers build up to put a backpack on with a quintal across their shoulders. That's 125 pounds. It is what traders in the markets use, so it keeps the accounting simple. This also gets you used to balancing the greater weight and thus moving people. I know of a few who move 250 pounds at a go, two quintals. The energy outlay is the same as for a man in armour, so it can be done. It all depends on how you feel after you try the first time. If you survive the process and arrive where you want to, all the better. If not, well, You may not arrive at all. Portals are not the safest means of transport if you are tired, sloppy or careless.”

   They dined in silence for a time, then Dhyrucc spoke up again.  “How does one get paid? Terrel said he would speak to me once you cleared me, but I was on day rate until then. How much does one get paid, if it is not crass to ask?”
“Well day rate is the rate of a Master Mason or carpenter. If you simply pick up a pack and move it from point a to point b in the network you get paid that amount. It lets even the weakest of Deryni make a living far above the norm.
   Truth be told the next form is far more common. Assume you work your first day and do not take the wages home. You hand it back into the house and ask for shares. What this does is finance the purchase of another load of material. This is similar to families pooling money and financing a merchant venture to the east. When it returns, if it returns they get a proportional share of the profits based on how many shares they bought.”

“My father did this, but the ship did not come back. Pirates we heard. Our ship never did come in. It is what lowered our holdings.”

“Well on the network the reality is there is almost no chance of pirate attacks in the basements of the merchant houses we have strung across the world. So you deposit your pay and buy shares. This will buy you say a 10 percent share in the cargo. Remember the price we buy the material at is very low, so your money buys a goodly percentage of the load. So when you carry it you are carrying your own cargo. When you arrive in the city where it will be sold the house sells it and you get your percentage.
   There are overheads and fees for transporting the material across the network. Instead of 1 merchant ship we have 30 houses from here to Mumbai to take care of. All the security in place at every location to prevent people from discovering what is whisking along the aether unbeknownst to them. This costs. But still, a days pay invested will make you 3 to 5 times your income. Which can again be invested to buy a months worth of income. Subject to the limits of the market and other walkers carrying goods. We are our own worst competition.
   Finally you can simply pay a fee to use the network and travel where you wish. If you want money you buy something and carry it and sell it to the house at your destination. You can sell it outside the house, but creating competition to the house is a bit awkward. The profits are obscene, even with all the overhead. Remember, there are items that are work 20 to 30 times their price. So spend a gold there and get 30 gold back here. Everyone wants those items, so it can be a struggle. Lots of people in the world with money though, so it works out pretty well. Any debts you or your family have can be erased very shortly. Your ship has come in, and will come in every day.”

“Well then. Let us continue with the lessons and then I will be ready to do at least a day rate tomorrow if you will allow it.”

Victoria smiled and gestured to the comfortable chair on the other side of the room. Lead on.

The afternoon passed in a mix of telepathic communing and then a verbal dissection of what they had just covered. Victoria was an excellent teacher and had alternate ways of explaining a thing when Dhyrucc was puzzled but the material. As the afternoon came to a close she said, “You are cleared for the network. Don't over extend or exert yourself. Make your money, invest some and learn.”

“Well with the teaching you have given me now I feel much more confident. I think I will be fine on the network, even if I just carry fifty pounds a trip.

“Dhyruc, we want to to make a lot of money off you. Your ability to carry material on a portal is profitable. What Terrel and I are really offering you is something in addition to that. You will meet the founders of the network. Old families who built this up as a means of making money to support the Deryni when they were pushed out of every job in Gwynned. We are the new guard. The old guard just want to make money, as much of it as possible. A portal network managed well can do that. But Terrel realizes that the network is doing something else. While it puts cities in touch with one another for profit. It puts Deryni in touch with one another to build and run it. Think of it Dhyrucc. A hundred years ago Gwynned burned out the Deryni. So much was lost it will take years to recover.
   Not all was lost though. Torrenthi families took in fleeing Deryni. Some of those Deryni were Adepts who kept some of the knowledge. Others passed it down by teaching. As the network grew the lore of portals was collected into the teams that built the first portal network to smuggle salt past the Customs officials. Then there were the teams who travelled disguised as human merchants. They arranged deals and houses across the land and brought back the first packs of spices. This gave the Deryni money to buy the rest stops, to pay the bribes to get human covers established as merchants. To get Deryni houses established where they were allowed to.
   The new Guard wants to collect all the lore from all the little towns and spots where the Deryni went to ground. Collect the lore and teach it, to preserve our heritage. I've written several books on Deryni abilities. I do not use the esoteric language of the old scrolls. I lay it out just like I did in our Rapport. I want you to understand it, no false starts, no dead ends. Learn it right and learn it well. It is esoteric, but not impossible.
   You can be so much more than a pack mule Dhyrucc. No matter how gilded the harness, a beast of burden is how you show value to them. I see the potential of an Adept in you. Dhyrucc. Learn well and explore, then teach and pass it on to others.”
   Victoria paused and looked at her fine clothing and surroundings. “And make a good living while you are at it.” and smiled again. “ Even there we of the new guard disagree on certain established conventions. We make our obscene profit by paying the producer the same pittance as they have always had. Then charging the customer the same outlandish fees as the human merchants who have to sail the goods around the world. It pays for all this, but we could raise the standard of living for the grower, and still make a good profit.
   This is all a discussion for another time. Go and earn some money and then I will talk to you again. Maybe you will have come up with a plan of your own.”

   The pair rose from their seats and stepped to the portal. In a moment the room was empty. 


Jerusha:
More and more interesting....

revanne:
Loving this.

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