The tent they'd put Parson up in was little more than a patchwork quilt hanging over a clothesline, with a bedroll on the grass, so they met in Janis' yurt. It was huge, and surprisingly nice inside, adorned with embroidered silk hangings of flowers and insects. They sat on downy pillows placed on the thick oriental rugs which covered the floor.
There was tall brass hookah standing near the latticework wall, and Parson nodded at it after he'd flumphed down on his pillows. "Ah. I was wondering."
"Hm?" said Janis, who was still standing by the open hutch, pouring some tea. She followed his gaze. "Oh, would you like to try it?"
Parson considered it, then shook his head with a regretful smile. He wasn't going to mess with any Flower Power until he understood more about how it worked. "Noooo, college is over," he said. "I just meant I'd been wondering how tobacco and stuff worked here, with the no fires rule. It's magical?"
In more ways than one," said Janis with a little wink. She lifted a bamboo tray with two cups of green tea from the cabinet top, pivoted gracefully, and handed the tray to Parson. Then she also plopped to the pillows in front of him.
"So," she said cheerily. "You want to talk about what you wanted? About Carnymancy? Or do you want to talk about what you really need to know?"
She reached for the tea tray on the carpet where Parson had put it, but he handed her one of the cups. She thanked him.
"What do I need to know?" he asked.
Janis took a healthy slurp of tea and cocked an eyebrow. "Do you know anything about Date-a-mancy?"
"It's… the magic of pairings? Relationships between people? I've never really been clear on it."
"Nobody is," said Janis. "Like many disciplines, we have our secrets. I was popped as a Date-a-mancer, originally. I mastered Flower Power and Signamancy later, but I've always… like, been tuned in to the connections between us all. You know? That's what's really important. I think so, anyway. You've got good Date-a-mancy. You're very attractive."
Parson raised his eyebrows. The number of times he had been called that now numbered one, as far as he could recall. Was Janis… was she hitting on him? "Um…"
"I mean in the Date-a-mancy sense," she added. "You attract connections. It's important. Did you know, for instance, that leadership is natural Date-a-mancy?"
Parson did not. He'd actually thought it was natural Thinkamancy, a transfer of fighting expertise from the warlord to the led units. "How does that work?"
She smiled. "It's in the connection that forms the stack. A stack is a magical cohesion, and the cohesive force is Date-a-mancy. For a warlord, levelling has at least as much to do with learning to connect with the units under your command as it does with learning to fight. I think you'll continue to level easily, because you make connections with people. You attract."
Parson picked the other little cup from the tray and sipped his green tea. It tasted kind of like mown grass. Weird, but not unpleasant. "I'm not a hundred percent sure that's true, Janis. But okay. That's interesting. Not sure it's more interesting than Carnymancy, though."
Janis face was knowing. "Parson, what do you imagine were all about? The Hippiemancers?"
"I guess, uh… peace and love and harmony?" he ventured.
Her eyes went wide in surprise. "Yes," she said. "I mean, exactly yes. Who told you our credo?"
"I, uh…" He didn't think anyone had told him. He'd just made a guess from what he knew of hippies on Earth. "It's in your Signamancy," he said, kind of lamely.
She stared at him for a long moment. "Peace," she said after a while, her voice getting low and serious, "is Flower Power. Harmony and understanding, that's Signamancy; you seem to have a grasp of that. But you can't go fight for peace if you don't know love, Parson. There's no peace without it."
She set down her teacup on the rug, uncrossed her legs, and knelt. Then she leaned very far forward and placed her hands on Parson's knees, staring into his eyes. Hers were those strange monochrome circles, like Maggie's. She looked cartoonish to him, like most Erfworlders did.
But she also looked like a curvaceous blonde woman. And she was smart, and interesting, and very kind. And she was not a unit under his command…
"Do you want to know about love?" she asked him softly.