“So tell me, Gilfrid of the North, how long have you been among us here?”
“Not very long. It’s a bit hard to tell, but less than a – I suppose you don’t have days here, do you?”
“Not as such, no.”
“Then how do you reckon time? Or do you?”
“Well, there are a few clocks here and there. Largely in around the centre, and at a few of the busiest gateways. But for the most part, it’s not that kind of place. You want to see someone, you go find them. You don’t make an appointment. It’s not like we need to track days or seasons for agriculture. You see: I know more about your world than just its delicacies. And if for some reason you need to count days, then most people sleep on a roughly similar cycle. That’s close enough for most purposes.
“But if you’re freshly arrived, then Alfvin hasn’t had time to lead you too far astray, has he?”
“I don’t think I’d call it leading me astray.”
Gil flexed his hand, although the pain and numbness was only a memory now.
“Mind you, it’s not exactly keeping me on the straight and narrow path either.”
Alfvin chimed in here to defend himself.
“I do what I can, but I fear I am a poor teacher. I am quite out of practice.”
“To be fair, you have been showing me how things work here. ”
Pol burst out laughing at that.
“How things work here, according to Alfvin! That is a class I would pay good money to watch you take. If I didn’t have plans already, I might do just that.”
“Well, we can not all be insiders like you. But I make do as best I can. If ever you turn your hand to mentoring, perhaps we can compare notes.”
“Perhaps one day we’ll do that very thing. But you’re a long way from home base aren’t you? What brings you and the fresh meat out this way?”
“Research, as you might call it. But research of a less carnal variety then you may be accustomed to. Gilfrid was curious to see how things are done at other gateways.”
“Ah, a curious mind? Perhaps he has what it takes to succeed in spite of you. If you’re looking to explore the delights of other lands, this is an excellent start. Indeed, I’m off to sample some delights myself. I shouldn’t really keep my companions waiting. I’d introduce you, but, you know…”
He jiggled the translator hanging around his neck.
“Not much point without one of these. ”
Pol turned to Gil.
“If you manage to survive this one’s advice, then I’m sure we will meet again.”
And with that he strode off back to his waiting friends.