"...so wherever you are, you will eventually leave the quandary!" This would have been reassuring to Alex, if this were in fact a quandary in which he was floating, but it came as cold comfort, as this particular aetherial non-conformity allowed of only two exits. He remembered that much from his hurried briefing, only hours earlier.
A dilemma then... was the same thing true of a dilemma? He couldn't remember. So! He might be in here forever. Surely they hadn't intended that! The whole thing had happened so quickly. And there again was that strange voice in the back of his head. Alex asked it to go away, and it did.
In the earliest days of the Teertsi occupation of the Azure Delta, stories had been passed around from neighborhood to neighborhood; like, for instance, the old washerwoman from Scrub Sheelie, who, after the Teertsi gangs had taken her family from her, had turned her strong hands from wringing out the days laundry to wringing the necks of any young Teertsi foolish enough to venture out after the curfew they themselves had imposed. In Galvany Fields, where Alex had lived before coming to Azure Spires, the standard rejoinder to this story had always been that, were the Teertsi youth not so filthy that they rarely had their clothes laundered, the poor woman might have accepted their trade instead.
Alex had cringed when he heard stories like these. In those first days of occupation, his family had known both poverty and mistreatment at the hands of the Teertsi. He would never forget this.
He had been there to witness the Teertsi Hole opening. This he would never forget either. There had been chaff demons in the fields that day. Each year at the harvest, the crop mages would set hexes on the straw and threshed hay, separating the usable wheat and other grains from the rest. As the hexes took effect, the chaff would form whirlwind homunculi, thin and tall, graceful manakins which would then lend their assistance during the rest of the harvest. They were neither strong nor durable, but the chaff demons were reliable, until the Autom Feast after last harvest, at which they would dance themselves to pieces.