Mirrored from Sythyry.
We have hired Windigar and the sky-schooner Joyful Scimitar to fly to and from Kismirth. We really want people to visit a lot. It didn’t seem right to make the skyboat entirely free; a round trip from Vheshrame costs a lozen, and takes two-thirds of an hour each way. It costs rather more — though it seems to take rather less — if one resorts to the expensive but excellently-stocked bar on Joyful Scimitar, or, on certain evenings, the exotic dancers who sometimes perform en route if Kismirth is being slow.
Windigar, being one of the most sensible Orren currently living, has been given authority to make judgments about the fares and such as suits the situation. Allam explained to him that the farmers were considering immigrating to Kismirth. Windigar, as aware as anyone else in the Inner Circle of Kismirth that we need to get our population up quick, was pleased to offer them free passage, and, I believe, free kathia.
A truly elegant gentleman with a truly elegant copper coronet — a High Prince’s crown — stood by the port, smiling, as passengers trickled off of Joyful Scimitar. Allam immediately jumped to the utterly wrong conclusion, and respectfully bowed to him, saying, “Excuse me, O Great Mayor of Kismirth…”
The gentleman smiled, and bowed back, a fine if nonspecific courtly bow, and said, “I’m afraid you have the wrong Rassimel. I am not the mayor of Kismirth. Instead, I have the honor to be the High-Prince-High Prince Rastomil, and the official greeter and ceremonialist. In this office, I am most pleased to welcome you to Kismirth. Still, if you have a question or concern or wish that does not require the whole of a Mayor, you may feel free to present it to me, and I will do my very best with it.”
“We don’t mean to intrude on your lordship,” said Allam. “Please excuse us…”
“Ah! But you simply intrude upon a reverie — I would not go so far as to call it boredom. I was watching passengers disembark. And, if the truth be known — as it inevitably will be, that being one of Truth’s ruder habits — I was hoping to have a more interesting conversation with one of them than the simple smiling and returning of bows that I had been doing. So you see, if you do me the honor of telling me what it is that you wished to speak to the Mayor about, you will actually be doing me a service — more than that, by the spanglio! An outright kindness! Unless, of course, your need requires the Mayor herself, in which case I shall delay you no further.” Prince Rastomil punctuated his discourse with three flourishes and one curtsey, following the court protocol of Barency.
“Well, your lordship, we were thinking of, well, moving to Kismirth, and we were wondering what the farming situation is like. I’m sure that that’s beneath your notice and your dignity, your lordship, such a common thing as that.”
“If there’s anything undignified about farming, I’m sure I would never notice!” said Rastomil. “One thing that I have noticed is that we need rather more farmers than we have at the moment, and five skilled adult Herethoy such as yourselves — to say nothing of your bright-chitined children — might do extremely well here. What would you like to know?”
“Well, the first thing we were wondering is, have you got any farms here?”
Rastomil nodded. “Indeed we do! They are not quite like other farms anywhere on the World Tree, though. I should be glad to show them to you.” He saw Allam’s perplexed look: nobles do not often give tours to peasants! So he added, “If you prefer, I could ask a farmer to do so. But our farmers are all doing useful and important things, and I am merely standing about smiling at people. My time is far less valuable than theirs.”
“That’s not how barons and counts of Vheshrame usually rate their time,” said Coriander.
“Ah! But I am not a baron or a count, and I am not of Vheshrame. I am, in fact, a prince of Barency. A slightly disgraced one, whose position is such that everyone is happier if I am off in Kismirth than at home in the court of Barency, lurking and lurching around like a soap-golem or what have you, and reminding everyone that my fiancée preferred to leap out of a window and smash her leg, her rose bushes, and her city-state’s trade treaties, rather than marry me. Dreadfully embarrassing, even if I was just as glad not to marry her. Delightful child, she was, but dreadfully young and dreadfully impulsive … in any case, I have been granted a rank here that would be High Prince if Kismirth were a city-state, but it’s not, so I am simply High-Prince-High. Which is a very long-winded and Rassimelian way of saying that my time is not very important at all, and, to the extent that I ever manage to do anything the least bit valuable with it, the value comes solely from helping visitors to Kismirth do whatever it is they have come here to do.”
So saying, he lead the farmers this way and that, mainly deeper into the corridors or avenues of the city, and somewhat down.