Soup In Code [8 Nivvem 4261]
Now and then, I go to the Sloop in Soup for lunch. Actually, I haven't been there all that much in the last couple months, since it is not as convenient to Quelldrie House as it was to the old apartment. Mostly I've been frantic as a sparrow at lunchtime, dashing around to try to eat something and buy a stupid orgasmic trinket for a nendrai and finish an assignment and get to class. Or, on those days when I have fewer classes and choose not to eat at home, I go to a somewhat nicer class of restaurant.
Still, it's not so far from the building where the Howling Horn is published. A Zi Ri newly in love is permitted to be hopeful, isn't zie?
The first person I noticed when I went there was the Herethroy code-named Darvarslash. (I don't know what a "darvar" is. I presume it's some obscure word for some Herethroy facial feature or other, or maybe a shade of red, since Darvarslash has red slashes on her facial chitin.) At least, that's the name she goes by at Across Saga. I don't know what name she uses in everyday life.
"Good noontime, O Zi Ri. It is a pleasure to meet you at long last, though of course I have heard of you," she said, just as if we hadn't shared a bottle of brandy with four other assorted traff-folk last week. I was not offended. I now know that it is simply code for, "I would prefer that our association not be made public."
"And it is a pleasure to finally get to come to your notable and remarkable establishment," I said. That's not traff code, though. That's court code, and it's slightly making fun of him, for being so formal.
(Note to self: At some point I must be sure to write a Ketherian-to-Ketherian translating dictionary. We all use the same words and have the same meanings, but what we say with them isn't at all the same.)
She glanced up and down the rows of tables. "I'm afraid this is not the time of day in which single tables are available," she said. I don't think that's code for anything, except, maybe, "A Zi Ri's lunch is going to be very cheap, and I don't want to turn away three or four full-paying patrons to get your business, very sorry, Sythyry."
I glanced up and down the rows of tables. Jinthinia saw me first, and waved to me; it is an inexpressible pleasure to have a sweetie who is not ashamed to be thought to know one in public. "I believe I see a friend of mine; perhaps I could share her table?" Which is code for, "I believe I see a friend of mine; perhaps I could share her table?"
"But of course. It is our pleasure to seat friends together," she said. Which is traff code for, "You guys are sleeping together now, right?", or, perhaps, "Congrats for hooking up," depending just how accurate the Traff Cafe rumors were.
Jinthinia was sitting an Orren man, whom she introduced to me as, "My ex-husband's ex-husband's ex-husband, named Ojjo this week." That's Orren code for ... something. I will have to ask her what, when I get the chance. She introduced me to Ojjo as, "This is Sythyry -- zie's the adventurer Zi Ri, y'know." Which is code for, "Please pretend that that's how we met, sweetie, for this is a person with whom I distinctly do not want to discuss what we were doing three nights ago."
"A pleasure to meet you, Ojjo. I take it you work with Jinthinia at her day job?" This is generally-polite-person code for "My goodness gracious and little mauve handkerchieves embroidered with clocks, but your hands are both black as black can be from claws to elbow."
"Right, we do. The Duke once said that we'd be outlawed if we swam in the same pond, did you know that?" said Jinthinia quite seriously. That's got to be code for something, but I didn't know what.
Ojjo grunted politely and took a big bite of sloop. (Which is to say, buttered toast floated in his soup.)
"Why is that, Jinthinia?" I asked. That's arcane Sythyry code for, "Why is that?".
"Oh, if both of us swam at the same time, we'd get the pond all black from the ink," she said.
"Do the other inkers have the same interdiction?" I asked.
"Them? No. Just the Howling Horn inkers. 'cause we print nastier stuff about the Duke than any other broadsheet," she said. "He doesn't want our stories in the water!"
She's kind of unrefined, but I think I like her better than Ilottat, already.