Mirrored from Sythyry.
Arfaen, wearing the official kitchen pinafore on the off chance that she actually got to do any cooking that day, was sitting on her throne. It’s not very regal as thrones go. It’s a five-legged stool with a spinning seat, on a Herethroy-high truncated pyramid of a platform in the middle of the main kitchen. (We do not let space go to waste. It’s not a solid platform; it is full of spare pots and stoves and useful-but-not-that-useful tools.) From there, Arfaen can oversee about a quarter of what goes on in her domain.
Simmerene looked up to her and wagged her tail. With her ears set just so and the fur of her face lying like that, it clearly meant “I am scared and would like to talk about something, but it’s not an immediate problem.”
Arfaen spun the stool to face her. “Good afternoon, Simmerene. What’s disturbing you?” She held her ears and whiskers in that special angle that clearly (to another Cani) indicates “I am busy and important, and you are but a peripheral member of my pack, so I will pay attention and be helpful but, unless the situation really calls for it, I will give you only so much of my time and attention.”
“It’s that woman you set me working with…”, said Simmerene. The careful closing of an eyelid and twitching of a cheek said quite obviously, “She’s a nonprime, a monster, from another universe. How do you expect me to work with her? How do you know she won’t turn into a spiky tentacled horror and kill us all and spoil the soup?”
“Octagons the Elfimel, yes,” said Arfaen. She quirked two fingers in that gesture which has clearly hinted, “She certainly is an alien and a monster, but she is a para-prime. If you treat her as a Rassimel, you will not find yourself too disappointed. I personally have visited her home universe, and know her history and her powers.”
“You know about her?” asked Simmerene. She dipped her muzzle and opened her jaws a touch, as if to say, “How monstrous is she? Do I dare to work near her?”
“Oh, completely,” said Arfaen. She stretched one leg in that angle that connotes, “She is perfectly safe. I do not fear to work with her, and neither should you. Please make the attempt. If you really can’t manage it, I will find you another job; but do make the attempt.”
(Arfaen, by the way, says that I am utterly exaggerating how Cani communicate, and that everything but the most straightforward emotional content was done with words. She was there, and I was not, so how could she possibly have it right? Also, she claims that she told Simmerene about Octagons beforehand. But who do you trust — me, or Arfaen?)
“Thank you!” said Simmerene, wagging her tail in that precise rhythm which says, Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you thank you! Oh, by the way, I accept your affan in this situation! Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you thank you!” (Arfaen says that this translation is about right.)
Arfaen smiled. “All is good now?” The lolling of her tonguetip indicated that: “While I know the situation is actually perfectly fine, I understand that you are a skittish person, and out of respect for your personal troubles and insecurities I will take care of you as necessary, but you must make the effort.” (I am sure that Arfaen would say that this translation was spot-on, if I were to show it to her in advance, which I am not.)
Simmerene leapt a bit. “All is!” She turned around and scampered back to the soup-stove.
Arfaen glanced at Simmerene as she walked off. Simmerene was wiggling her rump in the traditional way in which Cani say, “I have a Thing for the Rassimel women with expansive bosoms, and this Thing extends to Elfimel at least, if not actually all sorts of para-Rassimel, though I believe Octagons and her sisters are the only para-primes of any sort in Kismirth.”
“I wonder how that will end up?” said Arfaen to herself.
“Forgive me, Octagons. Arfaen said you’re fine and trustworthy and safe,” said Simmerene, and took up her fan again.
Octagons smiled. “Oh, excellent! I was hoping I was!”
Simmerene smiled back, and brushed the steam away from Octagons’s sweaty face.