All Very Innocent, Really [13 Oix 4261]
Ptefshi:"Sythyry, do you ever go to the cafe called Across Saga?"
Which is as straightforward a way of asking "Are you traff?" as any in Vheshrame. Except for asking "Are you traff?", I suppose. Or ... on second thought, it's as delicate a way of asking "Are you traff?" as any in Vheshrame. (Ten days away from the journal and I have forgotten how to write, it seems.)
So I astutely deduced that he was asking if I was boinking the nendrai.
Me:"Only with primes!" Which is to say, "no".
Ptefshi:"Well, if you do happen to go there tonight ... don't go there tonight."
And, incidentally, I have been back to Across Saga half a dozen times since then. The firt two times were with Ilottat, who I had persuaded to be a Rassimel for the occasion by means of some bound spells and some brandy. He's pretty uncomfortable there, so since then I've been going back alone.
Ptefshi:"It's being, well, inspected."
Me:"What sort of inspection?"
Ptefshi:"To see who goes there, of course. People who go there sometimes need special ... protection, it's somehow called ... which the city guard is happy to supply."
Me:"The people who go there may need special protection, but I've never heard that the city guard was doing that."
Ptefshi:"Well, some of those people would need protection more, and have it less, if the guard didn't provide this particular service. For that matter, Across Saga itself needs a great deal of this service, and pays accordingly." He curled his tailtip. "It's a bit ugly."
A bit, yes.
Me:"When should I be out of there?"
Ptefshi:"An hour or so after sunout."
Me:"What if nobody's there? If everyone learns about this inspection in advance?"
Ptefshi:"Then, I suspect, you don't hear about the next time. Likely I don't either."
Me:"You're not involved in this inspection?"
Ptefshi bristled at me. "Hardly."
I thought a bit, and thanked him.
Across Saga, at sunout
So of course I was at Across Saga an hour before sunout, looking like a Herethroy. I can't warn everyone, but I could warn a couple friends.
Thestra was there alone, eating the pickled caterpillar appetizer in the social half of the room. She's Cani: short, red-tailed and foxy, muscular, and some sort of criminal or other by profession. We've played cards and drank brandy and complained about our lovers and otherwise been fairly friendly. I asked for an invitation to join her, and got it. The vegetarian appetizers didn't look very good, so I turned into an Orren and ordered some grilled fish bits in three spicy sauces. Casting Cloak of Another God is a good way to get attention in Across Saga, which I usually don't want, but this time a bit of eavesdropping on me wouldn't go over that badly.
Me:Pleasantries, pleasantries, pleasantries.
Thestra:Pleasantries, pleasantries, pleasantries.
Me: "Across Saga is going to get visited by the City Guard in about two-thirds of an hour."
Thestra:Unpleasantries, unpleasantries, unpleasantries.
Me:"You're going to have to teach me some of those words."
Thestra:"Later. Last time the guard came I had to pay about two hundred lozens. I don't have that much on me."
Me:"Time to go, then?"
Thestra:"Definitely time to go. Thanks for the tip, Sythyry. I owe you dinner or something. It's good to have a friend in the guard."
I suppose I do count as a friend in the guard, sort of.
Me:"I suppose I should go too. They might be early."
Thestra:"Come to my place for a bit, if you like? You've never met my lover, and I can pick up that dinner I owe you on the way."
(Thestra explained the guard's scheme: for a modest fee, the guards will, themselves, not do anything unpleasant to the patrons of Across Cafe. For people of other interesting behaviors as well -- such as herself -- the fees can get quite large. Later on, Khyrrain corroborated this, and noted that the guards involved get some 2/3 of the proceeds, the relevant captains and such get 1/6, and the duke gets 1/6, so the matter is entirely legal and entirely properly overseen. Khyrrain doesn't get involved in that particular deed either ... I wonder if she and Ptefshi are a couple .)
And that's why I wound up at Thestra's house that evening.... In case you hear something less reasonable from Ilottat.[And thanks to jareth_atian for a Katrina contribution.]