“I need someone to mold something for me,” said Davis. His fingers trembled at the thought, and the crystals clutched within clinked together with low and resonant musical tones.

“Well, I am a molder, so in that sense you’re on the right track,” Caroline said. She’d led Davis into a nearby Grant’s Crossing greasy spoon; they sat opposite a molder cook who was busily shaping the dry infertile dust of the Permeable Lands into unwholesome dishes. “Put those down before you break them.”

Davis laid the crystals on the table, and Caroline delicately tapped one, smiling as it gave off the proper note. They were among the few things it was impossible to mold into existence, even in the Permeable Lands. “I need you to mold a person for me,” he said at length.

“Oh, is that all?” Caroline said, sounding bored. “You can put half of those away. Give me a brief description of appearance and personality and what name you’d like them to have. Complex clothes are extra, and don’t you dare try to remove them from the Permeable Lands unless you want a pillar of dust and a pissed-off molder.”

“No,” Davis said, trying hard not to adopt a condescending tone despite the youth of the girl he was addressing. “Not just any person. Not a new person. Someone that I used to know.”

Caroline recoiled. “Someone alive?”

Davis breathed a deep and racking sigh. “Dead. My daughter.”

“Now that is a whole other thing,” said Caroline. “Take those crystals back out. Do you know what you’re asking for? We’d need to go to the very heart of the Permeable Lands for that, the most permeable of the permeable. I’d be unable to work on anything else for at least a month, and you’d be responsible for all incidental travel expenses.”

“Can’t…can’t you just create her like you did with that fake bar, all those fake people?”

The girl glared at him. “The bar was an illusion, sand and dust suspended in the air and given a little color. Nothing solid, nothing alive.”

“From a description? I’ve read your ‘Molders’ Creed’ and it’s all about how creation lies in the whole, not the details. Complexity of result isn’t necessarily complexity of input?”

“Yeah, but think about it. If you gave me a description, I could mold someone. It might even look superficially like your daughter and act like her a little. But it would still be my interpretation of her. You’d be paying me to create a third-hand copy. No, for a job like this I have to have your thoughts–everything you ever saw your daughter do or say. I need access to your most intimate perceptions of her.”

“Is that what you mean by the most permeable of the permeable?” asked Davis.

“Precisely,” said Caroline. “It’s damn hard to alter anything once it exists–you might remember that from the Molders’ Creed too–and to get the information I need for your daughter, that’s exactly what has to happen. It’s still not going to be perfect: the molding will be based on your memories, after all, not any kind of objective reality. It’s a fool’s errand, but at least you’ve found a molder who will at least try to give you something close to what you want rather than just a cheap and unsatisfying simulacrum.”

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