New Roommate [14 Trandary 4262]
Wol Æþingorga hæp du gleswa Glött
Chamthosh chyiau oc chleswa dött!
Which is not the sort of thing that I really expect to be greeted with in the morning, not even in the Lightly Scaled Refectory. Even if it were Ghirbis in a Mood, it would be sung, not declaimed in a resounding and very foreign accent.
I blinked at the declaimer, who was a short Cani dressed in a very new crimson kilt, a blouse that couldn't have been any more of last year's fashion if it had the words last year's fashion -- or more realistically, I suppose, Court ball, 14 Trandary 4261 -- embroidered on it, and a glowing illusionary beetle perched jauntily on the end of one of his whiskers. He was prolate, but not by much.
Being the intensely literate and quick-witted sort of lizard that I am, especially before my first bath in kathia in the morning, I declaimed right back at him, "Huh?" Almost immediately, I bit my tail, for not having the ready wit to riposte with something equally eloqent and obscure, such as "I beg your pardon?"
"You don't recognize it?" he asked, as he devoured four poptaloops, as part of what seemed to be an effort to become oblate as quickly as possible.
"At this ridiculous hour of the morning, I'd be lucky to recognize my own mistress," I replied, pretending (a) that I still had a mistress, and (b) that I still had some manners.
"From Æloch-dü Verter...?" he said, using the most emphatic interrogative particle, yet leaving the actual question unstated. I presumed that the question probably was supposed to be, "Don't you recognize it, you dunce?" He continued, using that particle more often in one morning than I had heard it the previous month: "The Chopistau Poet? From Banneryar? 2281-2297 or so? On Mrasteia? Surely you know of this!" He usen the most emphatic interrogative particle, a literary form which I don't think has actually been spoken this century.
"I do believe I may have heard of Mrasteia," I said. I hate when people assume that I'm several thousand years old, just because I'm a lizard.
"Delightful, delightful!" he replied, tail wagging up a storm.
"Well, not to my taste," I said.
"No, I should think not," he said. "Almost Gormoror, and quite likely Gormoror-influenced, wouldn't you say?"
"Æloch-dü Verter, I was thinking," he said.
"What could be more natural than to show up here, devour three dozen poptaloops, and interrogate me about two-thousand-year-gone Mrasteian poets before kathia?"
Jarmiet brought me a chalice of kathia, with grated lemon and radish. "Here you are! Now you can discuss your two-thousand-year-gone Mrasteian poets in peace and consciousness."
She seemed surprised and vaguely offended when I puffed firebreath in her general direction.
"Actually, who are you? Ghirbis's latest conquest? Economy sized?" I asked.
"Byalar te-Braccath Oineract Lavender-Spray Tright. A pleasure to meet you!"
So I felt obliged to introduce myself by my full name. I might even have said it right. (And no, I'm not going to write it in here. I'd be no end of embarrassed if I made a mistake in my permanant diary.)
"Yes, yes, of course. They call you something shorter, don't they?" he asked.
"Oh, of course. My friends call me 'Pawn of the Noble Classes'. Except, of course, that my intimate friends call me 'Plaything of the Noble Classes.'" This earned me a pleasantly boggled look from Byalar, at the price of an unpleasantly strange look from Jarmiet. Such prices must be paid from time to time when boggling intruders, however.
"I shall endeavour to remember that and use it appropriately," he said.
"Are you waiting for Ghirbis? I thought she had a date with Darkwad last night." I did not, in fact, think that. I simply didn't think that her latest boyfriend should be rampaging around our kitchen, ravaging our poptaloops, while she was still asleep. She should be tending to him, or "tending to" him, or at least making some effort to conceal him. How this instantly turned into an attempt to make him miserable, I do not know. With his looks and age, and Ghirbis' love of variety, he wasn't going to be Ghirbis' latest boyfriend for very long in any case.
"Ghirbis? No, Anoof and Narngi and Enziet and their family. Most of my luggage is still at the department office, and I'm a bit stout to move it all by myself."
He wagged his tail. "Yes! Indeed! Four big crates that I have tended carefully all the way from Curuneia."
"Oh, dearie," I said. "You're the new roommate." I had just remembered something, about sort of giving my approval to some sort of visiting scholar as the new roommate. Anoof snuck the question into the middle of some drunken moping about Jinthinia. I was rather unclear on the details.
"Yes, of course! A pleasure to meet you at last, 'Pawn of the Noble Classes'," he said with an incompetant courtly bow.
"People generally call me 'Sythyry'," I said. "And Oh! I need to get to class before dawn!" Which is true, though I got there two-thirds of an hour early.
Anyways, that's Byalar. He's Cani, but he's not a relative of the Cani who rule Quelldrie House with an iron tail. He's somewhat older, he's married to a great baron (of some city-state on Curuneia, not on this branch or even Ketheria), and, as far as I know, he's cisaffectionate. We'll see how long that lasts with Ghirbis around and his family not. Though he's older than her usual.
And nobody's told him that he's older than me.