A Mistake ... or a Subtle Nendrai Trap? [27 Nivvem 4261]
(Answer: a subtle nendrai trap. Unquestionably.)
I was already in the air, since everyone was much bigger than me. I stupidly fluttered around Vae's heads and warbled "What's wrong, Vae? Are you OK?" and other such useless matters. Until I realized I was talking to one of the fake heads, and tried two more before I found one. By which time Vae had more or less calmed down, though she was still tailthwacking the ground and turning beetles into miniature tornadoes and grass into burning squirrels. Still, as I did it, I had visions of Prof. Dargwyn picking up a thesaurus and looking for the harshest possible adjectives for my semester's grade.
Vae:"Ow! What a very strange hurt that was!"
Vae:"The something very generous with the pain! Also, convulsions."
Seeks-4262:"Magical convulsions, it looks like. That's pretty unusual. Has it ever happened to you before?"
Vae turned back into her usual hideous self, and stopped with the high-grade magical assault on nothing in particular.
Txiane:"Oh, me, I'm very sorry ... I hope I didn't offend you?"
Vae:"Not a bit! But your egg was most amazingly painful."
Txiane:"It's never done that before..."
(I note in retrospect that Txiane is speaking like a normal person, not like Vae. Either Vae copied Fiarel's language for him (which would have been rude, and someone surely would have noticed), or Vae copied her own (likely) and chooses to speak oddly for her own reasons.)
Vae:"Not still is it doing it."
All the magic students stared at the egg for a while. It's offworld magic, which I've never seen before (unless I'm forgetting something), and that makes it look very odd. I'll discuss it later if I feel like. Aside from looking very odd, it's also pretty boring. It's just about a very simple Heal Once kind of spell, only with its god-connections tied in a knot back to itself. Anyways, it couldn't cause pain, unless you crammed it up someone's cloaca or something.
Then, of course, it was time for tea and theology.
The Tea: Tassington and Brathny's "Noble Duke of Charrow" blend, which is very nice. Fiarel had bought a packet of it in town on the way out. I can supply water.
Me:"Vae, everyone, would you like some tea?"
Vae:"The yes! The quickly soon!"
Yes, I knew what I was offering to her. I feel rather like a whore at times, and a whore with an underage and unwilling customer at that. But Vae seemed so shaken by the episode that it seemed the right thing, to give her an extra gift and the concomitant pleasure. Sometime, I hope, I shall get a less disgusting job.
Seeks-4262, Rhedwy, Fiarel, and I had a long discussion about what happened, with Vae listening and moping, and Txiane listening and looking rather baffled. (Txiane:"I know all the words now, but it still doesn't make any sense." Evidently the theology of his home world is rather different.)
Our conclusion -- and we're going to write an academic paper about it -- is this.
- Nendrai experience pleasure when they get things from primes.
- Nendrai experience nothing when they get things from native monsters.
- Nendrai experience nothing when they get things from certain off-world monsters. Vae has been off-world once or twice, and knows this.
- Txiane is a para-Orren, though. It's not exactly clear what that means in full detail, but he is the closest thing his world has to an Orren (except Fiarel, of course), and he is close enough so that ... um ... we're not sure exactly what that means.
- But, it seems (from limited experimentation) that nendrai experience convulsive agony when they get things from off-world para-primes.
- Presumably Gnarn designed this intentionally when she created the nendrai.
- Now, why would she do this?
- Well, it seems likely that the pleasure stuff is intended to keep nendrai close to primes, and constantly interacting with them, so that we (primes) get the greatest amount of trouble per unit nendrai. Vae is a good case in point.
- And, if one is a wicked god, and one is building a monster with freakishly powerful Mutoc, and even more freakishly powerful Mutoc Locador -- one might be aware that one's monsters could easily leave one's universe, and zap themselves about the pancosmos for amusement. Or to escape from interacting with Gnarn's primes. Perhaps, somewhere, they might find some other primes -- or, at any rate, creatures close enough to primes to trigger the pleasure stuff that Gnarn so carefully built into the nendrai. (After all, primes are built in what surely must be the seven most sensible shapes for sentient and civilized species anywhere -- excluding the Khtsoyis of course -- so it's hardly unlikely to find para-primes (whatever that may mean) in other universes. Witness Txiane, for one..)
- So, a suitably clever and wicked god (e.g. Gnarn) might well incorporate safeguards into her designs. Thus, we conjecture based on limited direct testing ("Not a bit more testing shall you do on me!" says Vae, "For the hurting and the paining of the one test was plenty and more than plenty. Also next time I might destroy half of Vheshrame Mene.".) that only true primes are prime-like enough to please nendrai ("The pleasure me, maybe. Not a bit does it please me." says Vae.) Para-primes (whatever they may be) are actively discouraged, as is the activity of going offworld to seek them.
- (Highly cogent concluding paragraph goes here in the final paper.)
On Insulting Nendrai
Vae:"And what chances do you think I have, when I go try to kill the goddess?"
Me:"None. Are you going to try to kill the goddess?"
Vae:"Not today, I fear me. Not tomorrow either. The day I have some tolerable chance, I shall do. Not so insulted have I ever been, ever."
(I don't recommend the practice of insulting nendrai unless you are a god yourself.)
After the other primes and para-prime left, Vae cried, moped, whined, complained, and otherwise radiated misery at me for a very long time -- so long that I missed my date with Jinthinia. Vae was thoroughly insulted.
- It is offensive to nendrai that they are made as playthings of a goddess. (Sorry, nendrai. Everyone else was too.)
- It is even more offensive to nendrai that the terms of their being playthings are so undignified. Some creatures get their own odd emotions, like mherobump having andile. Some creatures get good reasons for hating primes, like us stealing their land. But the nendrai -- who, in their own estimation and many other peoples' too, are the grandest and most terrible monsters of all -- get these crude, haphazard controls, of base pleasure and base pain. So, undignified.
- And the fact that Vae has holes in her psyche as well, which is more dignified, is no consolation. Instead it is a separate insult.
- Getting comfort from a Zi Ri counts as getting something from a Zi Ri. Repeatedly over the course of the afternoon. If I could please Jinthinia this many times in an evening, I'd be the greatest lover on the World Tree. Standing up my girlfriend to repeatedly pleasure a monster is thoroughly offensive to me, as is repeatedly getting pleasured when she wants to get comforted is to the nendrai.
So the evening probably was just what Gnarn wanted. I can't say that the participants were delighted by it.
And I still have to make it up to Jinthinia somehow.