Chapter 4.

2 Feb

Gaen knocked on the door of the apartment, and Raxis opened it and let him in. The farrier had bad news to relate. He did so before sitting down with his friend in the parlor.

“Dawt Uxor had decided to quit the Association and has recommended that all who follow him do the same. The division is now complete and final. There is no going back for the engineer and the people he has convinced to accept his ideas. This means there is a permanent schism between us. No reconciliation will be possible.”

“That is a terrible thing,” said Raxis, frowning. “Who could have foreseen that misfortune? The rift is now a permanent one. We shall be at war with those who are leaving us.”

“What will we say to the journalists when they ask our reactions, our view of what Dawt has succeeded in causing? How will we explain this to them, or to our own followers?”

The Deliverer’s face seemed to warp into a strange and unfamiliar shape. But then it reverted to its normally solid, stable form that everyone knew.

“We have to stay patient and confident in the coming days,” he said. “There is no other way. For now, Dawt has the initiative. It’s like a game of hazard. Our opponent is holding the dice and has the privilege of throwing them. Whether he wins or not, we too will get the opportunity to take our chance with the dice. There is no reason for us to despair. Our victory will come, though it will in no way be easy to bring about. The psychics of Velvet must eventually realize on which side lies the truth. That will be our day, when the light of reason shines in the minds of all. At that time, we will receive full recognition and justification. It will come to us in time, of that I am certain.”

Gaen frowned. “Let’s hope this engineer doesn’t throw us a seven or an eleven.” He paused a moment. “Why don’t we take a streetcar down to Association headquarters? We can pick up whatever rumors are circulating about the schismatics and their activities. That may turn out to have some value for us.”

Xipha Lokum was the wealthiest woman on the planet of Velvet. The middle-aged heiress did not enjoy being referred to as a rich spinster, but that was what she really was. The petite, brown-eyed blond worked hard as the active owner of Central Echoline, the core operator in the capital of Tinok. The governmental, business, and commercial institutions that ran the rest of the planet were situated on territory that her own company controlled and connected.

All the magneto-echo systems in the suburban rings and peripheral regions around the capital depended on coordination by the facilities under her control. The keystone of all these lines lay in the firm hands of Xipha. She knew that fact well. It was the basis of her haughty attitude to others. Arrogance exuded out of every pore of her pale skin. She was a proud aristocrat and she realized that everyone who came into contact with her knew that as well. There was not a measure of modesty anywhere about Xipha. She had always been totally ignorant of any such virtue. To her, it did not exist as a positive value.

Although Orez had succeeded in winning dominance over the directors of the companies to the north, east, south, and west of the city of Tinok, the central hub continued to be a missing link in the echoline chain. Without this core element, his combination was denied effective completion of the chain that was needed. That was the problem holding back the Focusist plan. It arose from the stubborn independence of Xipha Lokum, who refused to sell or cooperate. She had become the big obstacle to victory over the party of Raxis Absum and his generalists. It was this wealthy spinster who stood in the way of the scheme for a new echo system that was to be the foundation of a focalized communication system of telepathy.

The three Uxor brothers held a meeting at the ancestral mansion over their difficult new problem.

“One of us should make a personal effort to convince the woman and gain her cooperation,” held Trino, looking first at Orez, then at Dawt. “Which one of us will it be?”

The two older brothers turned to each other, waiting for the youngest to volunteer.

Finally, it was Trino who made the decision he seemed unwilling to.

“I think it should be you, Dawt. You are the best person to explain to her what Focalism is attempting to create for the psychics of Velvet. There is no question that you have a persuasive charm. She will be greatly impressed by what you say to her. Your personality is a winning one and can influence her to change her mind. I am sure of that.”

With reluctance and misgivings, the youngest and handsomest of the siblings accepted the mission.

“But how do I get to see that busy, protected individual?” Dawt asked the other two.

Trino gave a quiet little laugh. “That is your responsibility, dear brother,” he said with a sly, meaningful grin. “You must figure that out on your own, by yourself. No one else can devise a method of meeting her for you to apply.”

Xipha Lokum was a passionate music lover. She had for years been a member of the board of trustees of the Tinok Polyphonia. Her attendance was a staple of all the concerts and performances at Harmonium Hall. This season, the highlight was to be a special show given by the Ensemble of Early Music. Antique instruments with an old, romantic flavor were scheduled for presentation. It was clearly going to be the prime sensation of the year. Everyone knew that and prepared for a gala evening of musical classics of the highest quality.

Dawt Uxor succeeded in obtaining a ticket for himself to the musical spectacle of the year.

He patiently listened to an hour and a half of unfamiliar playing by virtuoso musicians. Their instruments included a psalterium, virginal, rebec, archlute, clarionet, hautboy, flageol, saxtuba, violone, and saxhorn. The program consisted of oratorios, preludes, serenatas, pavans, and minuets by historically important composers.

The audience was thrilled to the heights by all that they heard played that night.

In a orchestra seat beside an aisle, Dawt suffered through the polyphonic program of music he had never heard before. His background was in science and engineering, not the arts.

His eyes scanned the upper loge balconies until he spotted the heiress sitting by herself.

She wore expensive white taftah with a vair collar of wild squirrel fur. Her blond hair was piled up in a stately top knot. A necklace of gigantic pearls ringed her throat.

Before the final number of the concert, a famous tone poem, Dawt left his seat and slipped up the side stairs down which the people in the expensive balconies would necessarily have to descend very soon.

When the music finally ended and the audience gave its last applause, he girded himself up for what he was going to have to do in the next several minutes.


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