Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

A [Business] Meeting with Monsters [21 Lage 4261]

We're trying to look innocuous and unconcerned, of course. Nonchalant. Not a single chalan here! Nope, nope!

So, I flew casually through the city gate. Not the main gate, the Halflight Gate, which is much smaller and on the other side of the city. Vae wasn't there of course, and, officially, nobody else from Vheshrame was around or even interested.

Which is utterly false. Kaim-Su, Seeks-Balance, Paarhan, Rhedwy, and two dozen equally imposing people were lurking casually in the two towers that flank the gate -- towers heavy with Illusidor enchantments, which we're fairly sure Vae can't see through.

Inside the city, lesser guards were standing two or three blocks from the gate, informing everyone that it was closed for another hour or two at best. There was much grumbling. There was even more grumbling when I flew overhead -- "Why does the Zi Ri get to go through?"

Get to go through? The hardly!

Outside the Halflight Gate is a small stand of arken trees, which is specifically where we agreed to meet. I had almost landed on a branch when I noticed the whole grove was all sparky to the magic sense with something unduly complicated and Mutoc Sustenoc Kennoc Locador Corpador.

I peered at it a bit, then tried to use the Eye of Mirizan and Melizan to dissect it a bit. Which was not easy, since it's not exactly what the Eye is intended for, and I'd never used the thing before. An embarrassing ninth of an hour later, I decided it was an overly complicated thing that was watching for one prime species, and would teleport a particular far-off person here when such a person came.

Maybe ... Glikkonen is traff and waiting for zir Orren lover?

Well, no. Zie wouldn't use an overly complicated spell like that, zie'd trim it down to the right size. For one thing.

I couldn't think of any decent way to procrastinate any more, so I landed on the branch. Which, of course, brought Vae there, in her usual spell-display of straight claws and curved claws opening around her.

It's easier to deal with Vae when she looks like a big ugly lizard than when she looks like a standard cute Orren girl. One's habits concerning people and monsters are not confounded. If one is traff, one is less likely to find one's interest interested. And so forth.

She does look hideous though. She's huge and overgrown. Her scales are big craggy sloppy things. Her face is casual and blobby. She has no wings, so she looks like a very chopped-up and crippled lizard.

And she's got more spells around her than the city wall does. Defense spells, they looked like at a quick glance. My pile of rescuers would have to spend a long while blunting them down before they could do anything much to Vae herself. I hoped the Eye of Mirizan and Melizan was paying attention to them.

Me:"Hallo, Vae!"

Vae:"Hiio, Sythyry. It's glad to me you came." She sounded morose.

Me:"You sound morose -- is there something wrong?" Yes, this is technically treason, but I think this treason is part of my new job responsibilities.

Vae:"Oh, it's a terrible fear I put on Greenspikes, and all without meaning to." She talks backwards like that.

Me:"How did that happen, if you'd like to say?"

Vae:"From when I protected her, is all of it. She's all nervous now, and full of fears." She sounded petulant. "And nothing was I doing but keeping her from getting her beating!"

Me:"Well, I think you made your point on the thugs. But then you made it a few more times, and quite hard. We're fairly gentle people really, and that's what we like in our lands." I doubt that Vheshrame has been described as "gentle" three times in three thousand years, and I was quite sure that the hordes of mighty warriors sitting safely behind the city walls were giggling their tails off.

Vae:"It's not so gentle I was raised, though. I fear me I'll cast the quick and regret the slowly." (I fear you too, Vae.)

Me:"Well, could you take a shape without a tail? Zie could be less afraid that way." In a story I read as a tiny lizard, a tiny lizard tricks Blue Trumgullion into taking a tailless shape, and then all heroes come and kill him. How To Kill Nendrai didn't mention that, but it seemed like a good approach.

Vae:"Might could be!" She turned into a pren tree in a huge glass pot. No tail in sight.

Defeating a nendrai couldn't possibly be that easy.

Vae:"..." Pren trees in glass pots can't talk.

Until they do a sloppy Mutoc Sustenoc Airador Illusidor Spiridor on the air blowing through their branches, turning some of it into sound. This wasn't an insanely complicated spell, either -- if it were a pattern spell, I could cast it. "Is it any safer you're feeling, Sythyry?"

Well, I had been for a few seconds there.

Me:"Well, I rather doubt you're here to do anything horrible to me, Vae."

Vae:"That I am not! It's trading that I'm here for."

Me:"Well, how do we do that?"

Vae teleported a small bundle of moss next to me on the branch. I peered at it. It fell off. I flew down to look. Each thready leaf of moss had a vein of lead running down the middle.

For a tailless nendrai, she was certainly casting quite a lot of spells.

Me:"That's lead moss!" My powers of observation and analysis are among the keenest on the branch. (At least, I'm among them when I'm with certain of my friends.)

Vae:" It is, truly, and without any spells on it at that. Can you sell it in the city, think you?"

Me:"I'm sure the guild smiths don't hide themselves past all finding! I don't know how much they'll pay -- I've never sold 'em lead moss. Or anything else."

Vae:"I've only just begun to know how much things are costing."

Me:"And what would you like me to bring you in three days?"

Vae:"Oh, anything, I suppose me. A book, perhaps, for it's a bit lonely and tedious in the Underneaths to me."

I wonder how she'd appreciate a copy of How To Kill Nendrai?

Me:"Ah, I live among many bookstores! I shall find you ... a book of stories? A textbook on legal philosophy? A book of recipes for cooking birds?"

Vae:"The stories? Easy stories, like? I haven't been reading for very long. It's fighting my mother taught me first, and only a little of how to live with myself between fights."

Which, I suppose, is a reasonable parenting style for a monster.

Me:"I'll find you a good book of stories!"

Vae:"Oh, the thanks!" She hopped up and down excitedly, using a separate tiny teleport spell for each hop. That was just plain ostentatious: she would have wasted fifteen cley on hopping, if she had been using cley.

And then she asked after Strenata, and that was its own tricky bit of diplomacy to answer -- especially since Strenata herself was listening from inside the gate, as best she could. And then she teleported away.

I flew back to the Halflight Gate. I have never, ever been so glad to be back inside city walls.

Except three days ago, and three days from now, and each three days forever.

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