keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 48: Kondor 162
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 47: Hastings 179
Kondor made sure he was wearing the two chains which marked him as a hero of the realm twice over as he wandered the castle that day. He was trying to position himself near the visiting ambassador without being obvious about it, and several times found himself in a position to tap into the man’s thoughts.
The efforts were useless.
He found Lauren after dinner, and explained it to her. “It wasn’t that I couldn’t tap into the man’s thoughts. I just couldn’t understand a word he was thinking.”
Lauren nodded. “People tend to think in their own native language. Sometimes you can induce them to think in a language they know well, by engaging them in conversation in that language, but most of the time people think in one language even when they speak several.”
“So, what do I do?”
“It’s not easy, but remember I taught you how to tap into the speech center of someone so you could speak and understand his language?” Kondor nodded. “Well, it’s a bit tricky, but if you can do both at once--tap his speech center and listen to his thoughts--you should be able to understand what he is thinking.”
“You’ve done this?” he asked.
Lauren thought a moment. “Not,” she said hesitantly, “that I recall. Of course, it’s been hundreds of years now, and I’ve done a lot of things I don’t remember having done. But the only time I remember needing to tap speech centers was when we were in the parakeet world, and I never had cause to read their minds otherwise, and gradually learned their language anyway so I could speak to them when the language link failed. But I have used two and even three skills at once, although it seems that the more skills you combine the more likely it is that you’ll fail or even botch at one of them.”
Again he nodded. “So I could try this, but it might be dangerous, particularly since I’m not very good at either skill. Perhaps you should do it?”
Lauren nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe so. I am considerably better at reading minds than you are. What I’m not as good at is getting close to the ambassador.”
“There is that. You could do this remotely?”
“I could try targeting him through clairvoyance, you mean? I don’t know. I’ve never managed to read someone’s mind unless the first time I tried I could actually see the person. But then, maybe I can read his mind at breakfast tomorrow, and after that it should be easier.”
“Then it’s a matter of whether he’s thinking anything useful,” Kondor said.
“Yes, there is that. Just because you know what someone is thinking doesn’t mean you know what they’re thinking.”
He laughed. “I get it. You mean, just because you can hear and understand their thoughts right now doesn’t mean you have any insight into the plans or motivations.”
“Exactly. You have to listen for a long time, and you have to get lucky, I think.”
Kondor shrugged. “That makes sense. Well, I’ll see if I can inveigle a seat close to the ambassador and the amir tomorrow at breakfast, but I’ll leave the mind reading to you for the present.”
“Good enough,” she replied. “Shall we get some weapons practice in before dusk?”
“I’m game. Let me call Zeke--he’s keen on learning primitive weapons combat, and I don’t want to exclude him.”
“Just send him a telepathic message to meet us in the courtyard. I think outside today--it must be stifling in the gym.”
They parted to prepare for practice.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #338: Verser Missteps. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: