In the Company of Nendrai [18 Lage 4261]
[This episode is done quickly due to the concrete enthusiasm and well-chosen numerology of of greenreaper. -bb]
My first thought was, more or less, "oh, dearie."
My second thought was, more or less, "Oh, dearie, dearie. She's put us into some horrible pocket universe where she will torture us horribly for daring to make a pass at her."
My third thought was, more or less, "But it's mostly an Illusidor spell." So I looked at the spell. It produced a boundary around the table (Locador) which transformed the sounds of our words and the appearance of our deeds (Illusidor) to give onlookers the impression that we were having a very straightforward and innocuous conversation, in a mindful (Spiridor) way. The boundary was all flexible and penetrable -- when the waiter brought our entrees, the waiter stayed on the outside and the food came in. And since it's a Locador spell, she just had to touch the space around the table with her tail.
Vae wasn't looking angry. Like most Orrens that I have made passes at, she didn't even seem to notice that I had made a pass at her. She was looking at Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution, and fidgeting. "Seeks? Are we being attacked? Is this a trap? Do we need more than a peidachwilio?"
Nendrai, it seem, have their own names for spells.
Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution managed to calm down fairly quickly. "Oh, no, nothing like that. Sythyry thought you were an Orren. Zie enjoys the society of Orren."
Vae flattened her whiskers just like a real Orren. "Oh ... it's two years I'm shy of sexual maturity. The parts that people talk well of, at least."
Me:"Oh, forgive me -- I didn't know -- you look, well, fully grown."
Vae smiled, and thatlooked truly horrible. It wasn't an Orren kind of smile. A Sleeth wearing an Orren body might smile that way. "It's easier to walk around and trade things as a grownup, like, and that's the all of it."
Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution:"What brings you to Crosstown in such a hurry, Vaisessasilmin?"
(She's not named Vae, Woe after all. She's named something long and hissy that gets shortened to that.)
Vae chewed on her arm a bit, nervously. When most people do that, they sort of nibble on the fur. Vae sank her fangs into it, several times, and drew blood each time. Then she tapped her arm with her tail, and the wounds vanished.
Digression on Magic Theory: Healing is ordinarily done with Healoc, which is, of course, the Verb of Healing. But you can do it with Mutoc if you're (a) crazy or (b) far far better at Mutoc than at Healoc. In this approach, you modify the flesh so that the wound is not there any more. It's a fair bit harder to do, both magically (some 10-20 complexity more I think -- that's a lot) and it hurts terribly. It even hurts nendrai terribly when they do it to themselves. Vae winced.
Vae:"I've heard that the city now officially acknowledges that I have moved here, and that it's action against me they're considering."
Me:"She's got spies? In Vheshrame?" This was very unwise.
Vae:"Just the Howling Horn of Hressh-Huu." She cast a sneaky Mutoc Locador spell, reached into a private separate universe, and showed me a copy of Vheshrame's most conservative and accurate broadsheet from three days ago.
I was thoroughly terrified by this time. There are, I understand, only a few limitations on a nendrai's power:
- The spell must be cast by tail-touch.
- The spell must involve Mutoc.
- The spell may not involve Healoc.
- The spell can only be complexity 40 or 60 or 80 or whatever, depending on the nendrai.
Of those, only the first one is at all comforting. Mutoc can do many, many things; it is perhaps the most flexible of the Verbs. Healoc might repair the nendrai without pain, but Mutoc can do it with pain, as her arm-biting demonstrated. Even a complexity-40 spell can do far too much. But the tail-touch was comforting. "Stand far enough away," I had thought when Yylhauntra was discussing it, "And you're safe." But Vaisessasilmin wasn't even pretending to let it slow her down. Her tail was always touching the space around her, for one thing, and the air, and the lights and smells and such in the area, and her own body, even if nothing else. She always has several convenient targets for her magic.
I looked at the broadsheet. There were editorials urging the Duke to devote the city's resources to Vae's destruction. And other editorials urging the Duke to deal with the problem efficiently and not divert important resources from the issues of Pshent, Oorah Thrassen, and so on.
Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution nodded sadly. "I'm afraid our previous arrangement isn't going to work anymore. We will have to think of a new one."
Vae whined. You don't think of a legendary city-destroying monster whining ... but you don't think of them as being two years short of the fun part of sexual maturity either. At least I don't. "I like Greenspikes! I couldn't just let zir get zir beating!"
"Well, you might have chosen less of a torture for those caravaneers," said Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution. "Subtlety has its advantages, when you're trying to be discreet."
Vae seemed on the edge of tears, which is very disconcerting for a legendary city-destroying monster. "It's not so many friends in Vheshrame I have that I can spare one."
"They wouldn't have killed her," said Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution, very gently. "Primes don't kill primes very often at all. Especially not with witnesses."
Vae put her head in her hands and started crying.
Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution is brave to the point of utter insanity. She put her arm around Vae's shoulders and held her.
Vae proved again what sort of monster she is. She turned into a six-legged purple housecat, and teleported into Seeks-A-Peaceful-Solution's lap, and curled up crying.
Nendrai do not cry tears like other people. They cry little triangular blades of glass that force their way out of the nendrai's eyes. It hurts horribly even to watch. I can't imagine how it must feel.