Lap'da begins his story. "Our ancestors came from the sky, wielding a mighty sword. They had been travelling a very long time, away from hardship and towards... something. There were those of my ancestors who thought that the travelling should stop, that we should find peace, and arrange somewhere to stay, somewhere we could free ourselves from the machines that brought us here. That was us. We settled here in the woods. We are home."
Lap'da adds, "That is what I would tell the Sheriff.
This Sheriff is interesting. He thinks that there is maybe more behind
the images and symbols than just the legends of a primitive race.
He tries hard to learn our language; it is hard to understand each other
without communicating. The translators do not know all of our language,
just the version that the city people took. As they say, they wanted
a language that was of this planet -- but they took a child's form.
There are many concepts which they cannot represent or understand."
He pauses, and returns to the matter at hand. "Their history of us
is close in spirit. Go back to the records of those landing here.
See how many landed, see how many ran off into the forest. You will
find that of the names that arrived, all of them were in the settlements."
Misha asks, "So none that arrived ran off?"
Lap'da shrugs and smiles, "Did they?"
"I believe you are telling me that the Janns didn't come on the ships that the people in the settlements came on, but I don't know why you can't be plain."
"Some people don't like their illusions broken. I like to present evidence and see how beliefs shape the interpretation. Someone from the settlements would say... what would they say? Someone who believes that I am the descendent of those who arrived in those ships?"
"I suppose they have some reason to fear if you Janns didn't come on the ships. I don't know why." He changes the subject, "So what happened to the sword?"
"It's a symbol. The Sheriff would link it in with their history. You know they came from the Sword Worlds?"
"I had forgotten that."
"You see? Background changes the story."
"But that doesn't answer the question."
"No, it doesn't. The sword was put aside for a while, and then carried on. Onwards." He pauses, and adds, "We were tired of the fighting. We thought that this was far enough. We struck a deal. There was some other conflict going on here that we didn't need to get involved in."
"Here? On this planet?"
"No, not on this planet. It was a violent time around here. We could have tipped the balance, but a petty struggle was not our concern. We made a deal that we would stay here, their war would pass us by, and we would just pass on through."
"Deal with who?"
"The ones who were fighting. Yes, they had a name, but not one you would recognize now. I think they have no name now. But it was before the settlers arrived here. We had been here for... about... 1200 years when they came. We have been here much longer than the settlers... but the north is enough for us."
"What about the forest that died?"
"We left." Lap'da pauses. "They needed to learn. All lessons are expensive. But now, it is stable."
"How much influence did the Janns have on the newcomers?"
"That's an interesting question. I don't know."
"How much direct influence did they have? Obviously they taught the language. Did you instruct them?"
"Am I instructing you?"
There is a long pause. Misha resumes, "I notice you carry no weapon."
"Why would I need a weapon? I am no threat. I am not prey -- I am not meat to the creatures of the forest."
"It just seems like someday, somewhere, someone would want something enough from you to want to take it."
"You want something from me."
"True, but not badly enough to take it. Perhaps I grew up with different ways."
"All ways are different. So what do you do now?"
"I work for the Marquis. I am his weapon."
"So he did bring one. Two of them."
"I suppose if you grow up with weapons you begin to see everything as a weapon."
"Or you understand the nature of what is not a weapon. Is there anything which is not a weapon?"
"Not from my perspective."
"That is true." He pauses. "A weapon needs someone to wield it. That's why the Marquis has only two weapons."
"From my perspective he has more wielders than that."
Lap'da changes the subject. "What does he plan
to do now, look for this creature? How does he plan to find it?"
"As far as I know, his plan was to come here and wait until it showed up."
"Will you all stay here to help him?"
"As long as he wants us; as long as we desire to continue in his employ."
"So what do you think the Sheriff wants?"
"My thoughts are incomplete, but the crew member we left at the Sheriff's home has attributes the Sheriff might find valuable."
"Was he offered these attributes?"
"I don't know the details of the arrangements... he was offered something. I am concerned that the Sheriff might have decided it was cheaper to take than to negotiate."
"That's not the Sheriff's way."
"I am pleased -- encouraged -- to hear that. But if that's true, I have no other explanation for this comment about us being out of the way."
"That was not his thought."
"All right. Then perhaps whoever is calling the shots is not negotiating in good faith."
"Do you have any idea whose thought that was?"
"Do you know who has enough influence over the Sheriff to cause him to do favors for him?"
"No. But he would not respond well to threats."
"There are other means of influencing someone."
"What other means of influencing him?"
"To give an example, the Sheriff holds his position at the hands of this system of government."
"Yes, but it's established to support him."
"But if someone has enough influence to remove him from power..."
"He would have to be incompetent."
"Perhaps someone could show him incompetent."
"He sets the tests of the sheriffs. This is unique to the sheriff of this forest."
"OK. The Sheriff must love something, perhaps this forest? Someone could influence him by threatening the forest."
"He does not respond well to threats. Do you think the Sheriff might trust this person or other persons?"
"That's another way of wielding influence."
"The Sheriff is an intelligent man. At what levels did the Sheriff play his game?"
"I don't know. Perhaps my concern is for naught..."
"Surely he knew I would not allow you to be harmed."
"I'll take your word for it."
"So this other person, your crew person, can he take care of himself?"
"In some ways, certainly. But it is my job to take care of him myself."
"Does the Marquis think there is cause?"
"Part of my job is to think there is cause."
"So what cause do you see?"
"What gives me cause for concern is the Sheriff's words -- this other person's words that came from the Sheriff's mouth. Perhaps it is my job. But enough about the Sheriff. This creature we seek. Is there a creature that is commonly called the hunter that hunts hunters?"
"There is a creature that eats just those creatures that eat just meat, yes."
"Does it live in this area of this forest? Can we meet it here?"
"How would you meet this creature?"
"I would wait until I saw one."
"What does this creature look like?"
"They are quite small, about a meter long, and about 40 cm high. They are solitary. They are sluggish and slow until they attack. When they attack, they do so very quickly and must eat to store up energy."
At this point, Helia walks over and joins them...
(Referee and Misha's and Helia's players only)