Floooooooosh looked up from a tray of cookies. I was more than usually worth looking at, for (1) I was wearing a romantical pointy hat, and (2) the Duke's lockbox was floating behind me.
Floosh: "Hello, Sythyry."
Me: "Hi, Flooooosh. Want some money? It's sparkly and round!"
Floosh: "Sure! Want a warm cookie?" She pointed at the box. "Who's your friend?"
Me: "Sure! Oh, that... it followed me home. Can I keep it?"
Floosh: "I suppose you'll have to ask your roommates about that."
Me: ""Pet box" sounds like a pretty stupid sort of pet. Better than the blossomary or the cat, though. Actually I'd get slightly prosecuted if I kept it. It's yours!"
I persuaded the box to land on the counter, and to open itself, and to show off a large stack of big round 100-lozen coins. Floosh set off a bound spell.
Me: "Yike! What was that?"
Floosh: "Oh, nothing. Just calling the bank. I don't like t keep that kind of cash in the shop, really."
Me: "I don't like that kind of cash following me around!"
Floosh: "Yeah. Probably would have been smarter to float it in front of you, really....So, I guess this means the grand monster baking extravaganza is on?"
Me: "It's on. I dunno specifically how grand the monster is, though. She's not one of those big city-state-sized flying island monsters, ... um ... what are those again?"
Floosh: "I have no idea, Sythyry. I'm no monster specialist. Wheriwhiffle are about the only monsters I deal with, really. Anyway, I meant that the baking would be grand, not the monster! You're still looking for twelve-thousand? Did you decide on the little scupture thing, or some other "signature" for them?"
Me: "Just a little Vheshrame city seal, I'm afraid. Nobody seemed to think that the Duke riding the nendrai was a good idea."
Floosh: "That's easy then. A little chocolate and marzipan seal in the middle of a sweet bun, then."
Me: "Sounds tasty! I mean, elegant! Let me know if you want me to help inspect those."
Floosh: "Well, I'm definitely going to do a few samples before doing the whole project. How much do you think it is? The banker will likely be here in a few hours, I'll have her doublecheck it."
Me: "I didn't count 'em. I hope it's all enough."
Me: "It ought to be ten thousand lozens. A hundred coins."
Floosh: "I definitely can't use those to buy eggs from the local farmers! But I guess that's what the duke uses, and easier to carry."
Me: "You can only buy eggs for terch?"
Rather remarkably, if unappealingly, Floosh was not Wild Rushing anymore. She had obviously been planning. On second thought, that is appealing, since if she doesn't screw this up, I'm less likely to ... whatever the Duke does to people in charge of projects that screw up. I don't know what that is. I hope to perpetually stay ignorant of this.
Floosh: "Well, not for terch. But usually I can only get maybe a few hundred eggs from one farmer at a time, and they tend not to be able to make change. And they don't usually use banks."
Me: "How many eggs will this take?"
Floosh: "Well, one fried egg in the box, and probably about a half and egg for the pastries, so...eighteen thousand? We'll be visiting many many farms."
Me: "Oh, good heavens. That's quite a lot of eggs."
Floosh: "Well, it's a lot of breakfasts!"
Me: "I suppose it is... how big is your kitchen?"
Floosh: "Well, we'll probably be usuing the whole town of Threeze as a big staging area."
Me: "So you won't be doing it in the city? That'll make delivery much easier.... I had a nightmare last night that you'd delivered all the boxes to my bedroom and I had to fly them to Vae myself."
Floosh: "Well, I don't want Vae coming to Threeze, please! But you and some helpers can certainly get them there."
Floosh: "Do you want to vary the boxes by species? Easiest of course is to just make one type, no meat in it, and annoy everySleeth."
Me: "I don't care, really. So many people are going to have so many strong emotions about this that annoying the Sleeth of Oorah Thrassen doesn't seem like much of a matter for further nightmares. If there are any Sleeth in Oorah Thrassen. There's no countryside there."
Floosh: "OK. We'll keep it to eggs and pastries and fruity stuff, then."
Me:[Landing on the counter with an uncharacteristic flomph.] "What should I be doing on this?"
Floosh: "On the counter? Staying off it, really. Here, have a warm oven."
So I slithered into the oven and peeked my head out.
Me: "I mean, on the project."
Floosh: "Oh! Right! Staying here until the banker arrives, to make sure the bakery isn't overrun by thieves who've been tracking the scent of lozens. After that, well...tomorrow I make you a few samples of boxes, and you pick one or take them to the Duke and have him pick one and approve it."
Me: "You can just use his usual order, can't you?"
Floosh: "I could, but usually I do samples for a big order. Let me do it this way, I'll feel better about it. You can apprive it yourself if you don't want to go back to the DUke."
Me: "I should ask Kaim-Su what to do. I don't know if this is a usual order, anyways. These aren't supposed to be so much "tasty" as "terrifying"."
Floosh: "Yeah. That's not the Duke's usual. Terrifying, yet tasty, was what I was going to aim for."
Me: "I like that combination!"
Floosh: "Does Vae...um...have any favorite or characteristic foods?"
Me: "We just had fish, the time we ate together. And it reeked of excessive magic, 'cause she was teleporting it around."
Floosh: "Probably not good, if this is going to the countryside. Too many Herethroy."
Me: "No ... I could ask her next time I see her. Day after tomorrow."
Floosh: "If you want her input on the breakfast. Or you can just decide. It should be...distinctive somehow, I think. Besides the magic-reeking and all, I mean."
Me: "And levitating. It's going to levitate, too. Vae insists on that. She wants it to look all magical and everything."
Floosh:[With a smirk.] "I can put it in sparkly-looking boxes if you want."
Me: "How about stamping "This Delicious Breakfast Brought To You By Too Much Magic?" on them?"
Floosh: "It should say something like that. Please get the actual wording from Seeks-Too-Much-Trouble, or whoever's doing the politics part of this."
Me: "Oh! OK. ... What else should I do?"
Floosh: "Have another cookie."
I tried, I really did, but one cookie is a lot for me.
Floosh: "Once we get going, if you can spare the time, I'd love to have you out home to help supervise everything. People will think I'm less crazy that way."
Me: "Oh! I should be able to make a day-trip or two or three or four. This semester's going to be utterly doomed anyways."
Floosh stared at the door a bit. I eventually decided to help her staring. A very smartly-dressed Rassimel man had come to the bakery. From the way he was smiling, he was either exceedingly fond of pastry, or expecting to get his share of the ten thousand lozens.
Floosh: "Oh, hello, Bergness! Thanks for coming by so quickly. Beleive it or not, the Duke actually came through on this thing. I'll be pulling all of this back out, in smaller coinage, overthe next week or two, so don't hide it too far away." She winked "And after this project, I'll be taking out the rest to build my mansion on the riverside."
Bergness: "Oh, capital for you, Floosh! You're doing quite well for yourself, I should say."
Floosh: "Yes. I'll be collapsed on the side of the river for a week after this is through, but it should be exciting."
Bergness: "I didn't quite understand what the order was about."
Floosh: "Just...a really big custom order for the Duke. Some...political thing, I suppose."
Bergness: "Oh, excellent. Getting a regular catering gig for the palace will get you out of this dump."
Floosh actually kissed the wall of the bakery.
Floosh: "Never! How else could I keep up with my flirting with students? Here, have a cookie."
Bergness: "You ...? I'm not entirely sure I want to know." However, he did not neglect to take the cookie.
Floosh: "Oh, just teasing you. Actually, I'd like to buy the place outright, make improvements. YOu can't beat the Academy location, really."
Bergness: "Well, for a particular clientele, I suppose. I hear the Academy Bakery branch by the palace is doing well, though."
Floosh: "And good for her, too! Maybe I'll buy them both out....In any case, go hide this all up for me before the student gangs start roaming around again. It's nearly dusk."
Bergness: "Well, we'll certainly do that... Wait. Student gangs? I thought the Academy students were the noblest on the branch!"
Floosh:[Grinning.] "You never know when a Zi Ri might just op out of your oven, demanding treats!"
Well, I understand my cue, at least once in a while.
Me: "I demand treats! I shan't pay a terch more than ten thousand lozens for them!"
Floosh: "Sythyry, this is my banker. No one better to trust way too much money at once to. Bergness, this is Sythyry. I daresay you know zir, by family connections, in any case." She packed a little box of cookies. "Here, for your children. "
Bergness: "Why, thank you!""
Bergness and I politenessed at each other a bit. It was less terrifying than politenessing with Vae.
Floosh: "I'll be in touch with the lists of farmers for payments in a few days."
Bergness: "I shall instruct the accountants ... do you have special needs for them?"
Floosh: "I don't think so. I'll let you know if anything exotic comes up. But I thinks it's just eggs and butter and flour and candied fruit."
I tried to explain a little, but Floosh shushed me. Bergness departed with further assorted politenesses.
Floosh: "Well, I was tryingto keep her from knowing you were directly involved."
Me: "Oh! Sorry!... but, why?"
Floosh: "Just, well, everyone knows that you're nendrai-tending on the Duke's orders...but the Duke has a lot of other things he's involved in."
Me: "That makes sense. I should be more careful. Of ... something." I didn't understand at all, but there's no disputing with Floosh when she says that sort of thing.
Floosh: "OK, I've got to heat that thing up, and I don't want these poptaloops tasting of feathers, so out!"