SIORETH: A FIRST ENCOUNTER
Lassinda and Estelle entered a room draped all around with soft
hangings. Rich fabrics festooned the ceiling, black velvets covered
the walls, thick floss-mats lay upon the floor. At the back of
the room was someone reclining on a couch, half hidden behind
a screen of pink muslin.
'One other thing you need to know about Sioreth,' Estelle whispered
behind her hand. 'She's a parapsych.'
They approached the screen. Now Lassinda could see more clearly
through the muslin -- could see the enormous size of the woman
on the couch. Sioreth was a fleshy behemoth, shapeless and hugely
overweight. Her loose gown of gauzy green hung around her like
Apart from her sheer size, her other striking feature was her
hair. Straight and long and silvery blonde, it was spangled with
hundreds of shining stars.
Estelle moved the screen aside. Sioreth had her eyes closed,
but she wasn't asleep.
'That's you, isn't it, Estelle,' she said.
'Yes, it's me. And this is Lassinda Lusk. A newcomer to the Uds.'
'Wait.' Sioreth clapped one hand across her eyes, stirred her
limbs and began to lever herself upwards. The process took a whole
minute, by the end of which she was temporarily exhausted. She
sat on the side of the couch, puffing and panting.
'Perception of the eyes -- not to be trusted,' she said. 'Only
the mind's vision. The psychic sense.'
With one hand still covering her eyes, she stretched the other
hand out towards Lassinda.
'Take my hand and touch it against your forehead,' she said.
Estelle nodded. Sioreth's hand was smooth and pudgy, like the
hand of an infant gigantically magnified. Lassinda took it and
guided it towards her forehead. She stood in front of Sioreth,
submitting to psychic examination.
'Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.' Sioreth inhaled slowly and deeply. Then let
the breath out in little spurts, as if tasting and savouring.
'Ah, yes,' she said at last. 'Very positive. A very sympathetic
She opened her eyes. She had green eyes, tiny living specks in
a vast flat expanse of face.
'A Si-genotype,' she said. 'Just as I thought.'
She studied Lassinda's apricot-coloured skin and honey-gold hair,
her softly rounded shoulders and full firm breasts.
'You're a parapsych,' said Lassinda wonderingly. 'I only ever
met one parapsych before.'
'Was she like me?'
Lassinda shook her head.
'There are parapsychs and parapschs,' said Sioreth. 'Some natural,
some trained. I'm a natural.'
'She was trained,' said Lassinda. 'She wasn't very friendly
'Exactly.' Sioreth wafted a hand dismissively. 'Mere training
can never substitute for true psychic intuition. Whereas my intuition
is giving very positive responses on you.'
Estelle stepped forward. 'That's excellent, Sioreth. Because
we were going to ask -- can she stay in your spare back room?'
Sioreth blinked her small green eyes. Then with a massive quaking
and wobbling of flesh, she rose up from the side of the couch.
'My spare back room --' she lifted her arms up high above her
head '--is the very place she must stay!'
Slowly, heavily, she began to twirl around. Her light gauzy gown
floated out in all directions, her huge feet pounded over the
floor. Around and around, rotating across the room, kicking floss-mats
aside, seemingly lost in her own momentum. But gradually she decelerated
and came to a stop, standing beside a curtained interior doorway.
With a grandiose gesture, she lowered her arms and drew back the
'Here is your place, Lassinda Lusk!'
Estelle gave Lassinda an encouraging smile. 'I'm sure the two
of you will get on very well together.'
'Well?' Sioreth cried. 'We are born complementaries, Lassinda
and I. She is body and I am soul. In her, the perfection of physical
beauty. In me, the perfection of spiritual transcendence. How
could we fail to get on well together?'