The Gradual Week 7
- Sandro settles into his cabin aboard the Serquian and shelters there for the first day, feeling unsettled by his recent experience with the adept. The next morning he walks the deck and, after looking out at the various islands for a time, the sea and the sky, he feels invigorated again.
- The third morning, now feeling himself again, he again walks the deck. He plans to get some composing work done this day, but before that happens a woman with a silver mane appears at his side at the ship's rail. It's Renettia, the woman adept he first met on Ristor. She tells him that she will assist him upon arrival in Quy. She demands his stave and 40 thaler - no other currency will do. Sandro has to change money and retrieve his stave from the cabin, but he gives both to her and she leaves him for a time. She returns later that day to hand his stave back, and says there was 'nothing to be done'. Pheelp, the male adept who refused to give his name, had apparently done a good job. Where does she stay on the ship, Sandro wonders?
They arrive at Quy, a steep, wooded island. Renettia appears at his side again before they dock. There's some confusion over whether he's been to Quy before. First he insists not, but maybe he has. She concludes that both she and Pheelp have made a mistake - that Sandro has been to Manlayl instead. Sandro agrees. Renettia tells him that it's an honest mistake - Manlayl is 'gradually cognate' with Quy, meaning it has a similarly sized and shaped gradual profile. Because of this mistake, an adjustment must be made and it must be done ASAP - assuming he agrees. After he checks in at the shelterate building, she takes is stave and leads him off, insisting he bring all his luggage with him if he doesn't wish to lose it.
- They embark on a small boat and motor out into the sea, where they circle around some small islands. The sun seems to rise and fall in the sky, setting in reverse. She quizzes him on his planned itinerary, and they speak a little about the smells on Temmil, his final destination. He recalls his last trip there. When they finally return to Quy, there's no sign of the Serqian, and she tells him he was here before afterall: "Your earlier visit to Quy. I should have realized. You were here before. Before is the same as now. Sorry.' Sandro replies: 'But I did come through Quy before. I have remembered.' She says, cryptically: 'Then is twice the same as now.' He heads to the Shelterate building to report for the first time. He has gained just over 5 hours.
- At the Shelterate Building, he sees Renettia again, but she has changed her clothes. He ignores her and enters, where he is grilled by the customs officers - especially about whether he will be working on the island. Working without a permit is a serious offense. They search his luggage and question him on his notes and violin. Afterward, he heads to the harbour but the Serqian is nowhere in sight. A schedule informs him it will arrive later in the day. He decides he doesn't want to be there when it arrives - he's afraid to see who might bet off the ship! So he heads to the hotel he booked.
- Renettia reappears in the story. She has an accent, as if to explain away the poor communication between Sandro and her. Proper understanding seems to be impossible between Sandro and the adepts. Is this a reflection of how Sandro interacts with the World? The Archipelago? Is it a metaphor for all of our existences? Do we barely hang on to understanding in this world by the seat of our pants?
- If the whole Adept thing seemed like a shakedown before, Renettia's cornering him on the ship seems even doubly so. And yet, the results of these excursions do have obvious results. Has the world changed while Sandro was in the boat, or has Sandro?
- Was it your reading that Renettia made a mistake in thinking Pheelp made a mistake earlier? And that maybe she's overcorrected, and returned Sandro to his very first visit to the island?