[13 Hispis 4262]
Chelinet had just asked me if she was traff. A highly ethical lizard would have given her an answer full of equivocations and qualified possibilities. A slut would simply have said "Yes". Being neither one, I, um, tried to be accurate and helpful and worldly. "Well, usually we wear identifying signs so we can find each other. Figuring out whether one is traff is usually done privately or, well, in pairs or trios. I would be glad to help you, if you would like."
Chelinet:"Would you please? It's so hard to know who to talk to. Half my friends are upper-class snobs who wouldn't think twice about sleeping with someone of another species, but wouldn't dream of actually falling in love. The other half are lower-class slobs who wouldn't dream of touching someone of another species, and wouldn't dream of falling in love."
Me:"Well, I wouldn't just dream about it, I've done it. Though it didn't work out in the end, either time."
Chelinet:"Were they upper-class snobs who were sleeping with you frivolously first?" At that point I roughly knew that she wasn't flirting with me. I wasn't crestfallen though -- Orren don't have crests. It would have been quite awkward in my real shape.
Me:"No, actually. One was an upper-class snob who went to great expense to seduce me; I'm not sure he intended me to fall in love with him, though he certainly didn't mind it. The other was a lower-class snob -- and slob too, I suppose -- and that wasn't exactly love quite."
Chelinet:"Do you know ... you won't tell anyone, will you?"
Me:"One learns discretion when one is traff. Also when one is in the Duke's special service. ... Um ... that came out wrong. His agent for dealing with the nendrai problem."
Chelinet:"I heard a little about that. OK. I've been having a bit of an affair with Moria -- you do know Moria, don't you?"
Me:"Only in the vaguest way. She's, what? Rassimel, mostly black with a very dramatic white stripe down the middle of her face and tail?"
Chelinet:"It's all over her middle, everywhere. I checked."
Me:"She's an aristocrat somehow?"
Chelinet:"Her father is Undersecretary of the Exchequer."
Me:"Oh, my. That's Lord Eddarna?"
Chelinet:"Yes ... you think he's not enough of an a noble to have a cross-species affair? Or for his daughter to?"
Me:"No, I think he had me tried for treason five days ago."
Chelinet:"Oh, no! What happened?"
Me:"Um ... I ... was declared innocent? Otherwise I'd be sort of executed, I imagine. And the Duke mocked Eddarna mercilessly."
Chelinet:"Oh, no ... I mean, I'm glad you were declared innocent, I'm sorry my ... whatever she is to me ... was involved."
Me:"Was she involved?"
Chelinet:"I don't think so really. She doesn't live at home or anything like that.."
Me:"It was mostly Darsues' idea. But Eddarna has never liked me very much. I don't embezzle enough to satisfy him."
So I had to explain that for a while.
Chelinet:"Can I talk about her, then? I don't really have anyone good to talk to... you won't use it against her father?"
Me:"I'm trying to make peace with her father, actually. And I can hardly be evil to someone for being traff, since I am too, can I? And I certainly can't be evil to someone for not being traff, that doesn't work at all."
Chelinet:"I see ... well ... can I tell you a little about her, and you tell me if she's actually in love with me, and I'm actually in love with her, or what?"
Me:"I'll ... um ... give you a slightly educated opinion."
Chelinet:"That will have to do."