July 12th, 2009

sythyry-doomed

(no subject)

Welcoming Committee [20 Hispis 4385]

Having sent a useful and polite letter to the government and aristocracy of Eigrach, it would be impolite to simply wander around Eigrach on our own. So we waited from morning until late afternoon. Probably greeting foreigners was not anyone's most important job, in Eigrach. It certainly wouldn't be in Vheshrame. We dressed in our finest and most formal clothes, and waited.

The sun was more than halfway out [accurately placing the time at somewhere between nine minutes and nine hours after noon; Sythyry is being intentionally vague here. -bb] when a smallish and haphazardish procession passed by the wicker bordello, out the gate in Eigrach's unimpressive wall. When our Extremely Assistantful Lookout (Quendry) noticed them and sounded the alarm, we descended a staircase and formed our own medium-sized-ish and haphazardish procession to meet them.

The Herald Harulse was a tall Herethroy woman, brilliant green of shell, with spark-twinkles tied to her antennae and a sort of caftan of alternating stripes of purple and shell-matching green. She carried a staff covered with bells in two hands, and a large bullhorn in the other two.

The Mayor Mmixamk was a pure-black Cani man wearing formal purple robes and black ribbons that would not have been out of place on a minor official -- a baliff, say, or a minister's secretary -- of the Duke of Vheshrame's court when I was young. If he came there today, he'd look like a clown. Still, he wore the ceremonial diamond-and-copper tiara of mayoriality.

The Sorceress Aiziju was a brick-and-white Rassimel woman with tight stripes on her fur. She was the only one who had not dressed formally for the event; she was wearing a stained ex-white tunic and a pair of quite revealing shorts. She is 378 years old last 17 Oix, and looks at least twice that. She is the only person on Srineia that I have met before.

The Others were a half-dozen assorted notables of assorted species whose names and ranks I would have to ask Kantele to tell me.

Harulse:"Bow, bow, bow and become mitescent, ye foreigners and dwellers in pessundated lands! Now approaching you in all dignity and honor is the grand and unequalled Mayor of Eigrach!" She was using her ceremonial bullhorn; it was not needed from ten feet off.

We bowed, because that's good manners. Aiziju winked.

Harulse:"Now, by the amorevulous command of the great Mayor Mmixamk, you-huh-dono are permitted to rise, to stand up straight and erect for the first time upon the noble soil of Eigrach Mene!"

So we did that too.

Mmixamk:"Ah, yes, quite a pleasure, quite, welcome to Eigrach and all that, it's definitely, promoting tourism, distinguished, very much so, highly, Ketheria, extraordinary. Lenkasia, was it?"

Kantele:"We are pleased to present the Ambassador from Vheshrame, and the credentials thereof, to the most lordly and supreme Mayor of Eigrach!" She held the parchment out to the Mayor.

Mmixamk:"Oh, Vheshrame, Vheshrame, that's the place, wonderful, so happy, not very many, but plenty, don't you know?"

Harulse:"The great Mayor of Eigrach deigns to accept the embassy of the noble city of Vheshrame to the noble city of Eigrach!"

All of the attendants cheered, so we all cheered too. The formalities continued similarly for two very long minutes.

Mmixamk:"Welcome, happiness, prosperity, all of that stuff, lots of things, it's about time, don't you know?"

Harulse:"The Ceremony of Bewelcoming is Concluded. Our Visitors from Afar are officially permitted to place one foot and then another upon the soil of Mother Eigrach, and, from doing so, to perambulate this way and that all through our noble country! By which it is to be understood that visitors from Vheshrame are forever to be welcome in the noble country of Eigrach!"

Kantele:"Wonderful! Would you-nob care to partake of a modest repast of traditional Vheshrame delicacies?"

Mmixamk:"Oh, quite important, any time now!"

Harulse:"The noble Mayor of Eigrach respectfully declines your invitation, but wishes to invite you to a modest repast three days hence at the Mayoral Palace."

Me:"We are delighted to accept."

And, so saying, the Mayor and two of the attendants wandered back to the city, and the rest stayed and chatted as several liveried wrongfolk set up folding tables and chairs on the lawn. They brought forth some of our traditional delicacies: poptaloops, skewered chub beetles with chili cream, skewered mice in the style of Mrasteia (which have over the last century become a staple served at every restaurant in Vheshrame), and this and that and the other. Nobles and wrongfolk partook, and chatted, and it was reasonably friendly.

Aiziju:"Ah, Sythyry. I-hero am glad you've come. And I do hope you're here in a professional as well as a personal capacity."

Me:"Well ... which profession do you need particularly?"

sythyry-doomed

(no subject)

Negotiations [20 Hispis 4385]

Me:"Well ... which profession do you need particularly? Healing? Sewing? Smithwork?"

Aiziju:"Enchantment, of course."

Me:"Oh, that profession."

Aiziju:"Have you abandoned the teachings of your master so quickly?"

(Aiziju is under the misconception that I was ever Glikkonen's student. Reasonable enough, since we met at a celebration of Glikkonen's 4300'd birthday and nearly everyone there was a former student of Glikkonen. (I would have studied with zir, but zie never wanted to live in Vheshrame for very long, and I couldn't leave the city for very long.) Aiziju was slightly out of place, having been Glikkonen's wizard's assistant for most of a century herself. The terms of their parting were not excellent, though I do not know the details.)

Me:"No; I've just been doing a great deal of craft enchanting lately."

Aiziju:"Well, we can discuss the techniques later, if you think it advisable."

Me:"With all due respect, Phaniet -- the Cani holding hands with the Rassimel over there -- is a perfectly fine wizard's assistant to me."

Aiziju:"I don't mean to criticize your assistant in the slightest ... actually, a warning: she might not want to be quite so affectionate with another species in public here ... but if we might have a bit of privacy?"

Me:"Well, of course. Private from Phaniet?"

Aiziju:"Not at all, if she is your assistant! This is a matter of enchantment, after all."

So, rather later, in the parlor with the suicidal couch:

Aiziju:"Would you like to know the circumstances behind our request, or simply the request itself?"

Me:"My dear Aiziju, we are here as tourists!"

Aiziju:"Forgive me -- for all my time working for Glikkonen, I did not quite master the Zi Ri idiom."

Me:"We are here to experience the branch. Knowing the circumstances is part of the joy of travelling."

Aiziju:"Well, perhaps you may think that Srineia is recently colonized. By some measures, such as the history of Vheshrame or the life of a Zi Ri, it is." (I wonder if she has me partially confused with Sazandigraa.) "But in its own terms, it is not. The firstborn children here are dead of old age. The cities are mature and starting to get powerful. The monsters are being beaten back to the Verticals. In all ways, Srineia is civilized."

Me:"So we had heard! Indeed, this was part of its interest and appeal."

Aiziju:"In particular, some fine points that the first settlers left unsettled are becoming more relevant. The precise boundary between Eigrach Mene and Heleshario Mene -- is it still partially demarcated by the line from the town of Jungus to the top of the Zonsmi Oak?"

Me:"A topic that is surely a matter of great concern for people living near Jungus, to say nothing of the family of sparrows nesting atop the Zonsmi Oak. And, at a guess, even more so to any number of lawyers and nobles in Eigrach and Heleshario?"

Aiziju:"Well, I doubt that a single bird comes close to the Zonsmi Oak. You should go see it, from a safe distance. But you are right about the lawyers and nobles. The discussion employed a great number of them for, oh, twenty or thirty years."

Phaniet:"But no more?"

Aiziju:"But no more. The Zonsmi Oak has taken upon itself to wander another mile and a half, generally towards Heleshario."

Me:"Oh, inconstant oak!"

Phaniet:"What sort of an oak tree is it?"

Aiziju:"I should not describe it as an oak tree at all, though the resemblance is clear enough. In any case, what is the border now? The line from the town of Jungus to the Zonsmi Oak? Or to the Zonsmi Oak's previous position? And, if so, which one -- the one of last year, before its current fit of wanderlust, or the one of seven years ago? Or perhaps the original one from the first days of colonization, when the agreement was made -- if we can figure out where that was?"

Me:"Lenhirrik, the goddess of plants, must love the lawyers of Srineia, so well does she prosper them."

Aiziju:"When the Zonsmi Oak wanders a few hundred feet at a time, I agree with you. The current change is too drastic for lawyers; it is several square miles of territory. Our noble and subtle mayor Mmixamk wishes to declare war over the matter, following the customs of civilized lands."

Me:"Forgive me, but are you quite sure that Eigrach is in the right in this matter? An impartial observer might observe that the boundary has moved considerably in Eigrach's favor, without particular compensation to Heleshario."

Aiziju:"Oh, the justice of the situation is clear enough. We are trying to grab a chunk of wild and debatable lands, no question. If the Oak had wandered the other way, we'd be just as vehement about the prior boundary. Nobody but that idiot Harulse thinks we're in the right."

Phaniet:"Harulse is the idiot?"

Aiziju:"Don't let the mayor's speech problem fool you. He's quite smart, and you can tell that if he's got pen and paper. Harulse is a complete and utter idiot."

Phaniet:"Ah. So, about the war? What sort of war did you have in mind?"

Aiziju:"Just a simple little duel-war: a few heroes from one side, a few from the other."

(We've had more vicious wars than that in Ketheria over a few square miles of land. Bear in mind that few countries are bigger than fifty miles by fifty miles, so five square miles, say, is a significant slice of land indeed.)

Me:"I do hope you're not inviting me to be one of your champions. I am not much of a brawny mercenary warrior!"

Aiziju:"We do not lack for suitable and enthusiastic heroes! But we are a bit low on armaments. Our greatest warrior uses a one-charge Shattering Sword, and another uses a Mountain Mace, can you believe it? And the warriors of Heleshario know the command word for the Shattering Sword, so it wouldn't be much good."

(Shattering Swords try to, um, shatter things that they hit, when a command word is spoken. If your foe knows the word, she can make you waste the sword's single charge for the day on something useless. Mountain Maces are nice clubs: they are light most of the time, but become quite heavy when swung downwards. In skilled hands -- or tentacles, more likely -- they are somewhat deadlier than a metal mace. Neither of these is a particularly imposing magical weapon.)

Phaniet:"Those are both recipe enchantments. Is Srineia lacking in Great Enchanters?"

Aiziju:"Not completely lacking -- I do some -- but our specialists are few and not quite up to Glikkonen's standards."

Me:"I, too, am not up to Glikkonen's standards. Ask me again in four thousand years, and I may be up to zir standards of to-day." My voice had a harsh edge to it, which Aiziju understood immediately.

Aiziju:"Oh, heavens, we're not asking you to make Holocaust War weapons! We'd rather give up the whole Zonsmi Triangle than have anything more serious than a duel-war here. We don't want to burn the branch off, great staring gods!"

Me:"So you wish to have some more conventional weapons? Simply of higher quality than the quotidian efforts of the local recipe enchanters?"

Aiziju:"Exactly."

Me:"May I ask an impertinent question?"

Aiziju:"Well, of course..."

Me:"What is the relationship of Eigrach and Dossimar?"

Aiziju:"Not very good, I'm afraid. We have had rather less contact with the upper branches since Dossimar raised their tolls, then raised them again. Actually, there have been some rather extreme rumors about Dossimar in the last month or two." She hesitated, so Phaniet and I stared at her. "Well, an accusation that their navy took two skyboats passing through."

Me:"I should believe that. They had raised our toll to thirty thousand lozens plus a rape, and they didn't seem done with raising it."

Aiziju:"Oh, my. What happened then?"

Me: «A somewhat carefully edited and phrased version of the history from previous entries. »

Aiziju:"That is not utterly out of keeping with the wilder rumors."

Me:"So: I would be glad to exchange some enchanted weapons for the labor of carpenters and shipwrights. But I should not be so glad if the weapons were to be used in the style of Dossimar."

Aiziju:"I am certain that some such exchange can be made. And we scorn piracy, murder, and rape, as do all decent people. I, who was born in Ketheria, would hardly be living here if it were a violent or vicious place!"

Me:"Excellent. Phaniet, and Zascalle my accountant, perhaps would be better than I for discussing the detailed arrangements for payment and repairs?"

Aiziju:"And I'm sure that their counterparts in the city would be delighted to discuss matters with them. You and I should discuss the specifics of the weapons, of course."

The Doom

No doom this time! That's allowed, isn't it?

Your favorite enchanted weapon is:

Sword
2(6.5%)
Mace
0(0.0%)
Spear
0(0.0%)
Dagger
2(6.5%)
Bow
4(12.9%)
Glove
5(16.1%)
Trireme
6(19.4%)
Other
12(38.7%)

What do you mean by "other"?

And what sort of enchantment do you like on it?

Flaming
1(3.2%)
Sparky
1(3.2%)
Accurate
3(9.7%)
Makes you invisible
1(3.2%)
Makes you faster
6(19.4%)
Goes around armor
4(12.9%)
Teleports victim around
2(6.5%)
Unhealable wounds
0(0.0%)
Other
13(41.9%)

What do you mean by "other" this time?

And what do you use it for?

Killing monsters
6(19.4%)
Duelling
3(9.7%)
Duel-wars
3(9.7%)
Hate-wars
0(0.0%)
Showing off your wealth
0(0.0%)
Piracy
0(0.0%)
Killing primes
0(0.0%)
Other
8(25.8%)

Oh, my. What do you mean by "other" this time?

And how do you like it decorated? Bearing in mind that each item of decoration will cost you suitably lots.

Gem on the pommel or whatever
1(3.2%)
Metal inlay
3(9.7%)
Fancy-shaped blade or head
1(3.2%)
My personal sigil
2(6.5%)
No such effete frippery!
12(38.7%)
Something custom
3(9.7%)

And your custom decoration is...

And how would m'lord like to pay for this?

Cash: half now, half upon completion
5(16.7%)
The credit of our city and civic government is excellent.
2(6.7%)
This letter of credit upon a major Ketherian bank should suffice, should it not?
1(3.3%)
A complete repair of your poor smashed sky-yacht would be about right.
7(23.3%)
Would you like this Grace of Hren Tzen? I think that more than covers the price.
2(6.7%)
Behold the Arcane Legendary Crown! Perform this labor for me, and it shall be yours!
2(6.7%)
Um ... after we slay Blue Trumgullion, we'll be rich and we'll pay you then, is that OK?
2(6.7%)
Something quite original!
9(30.0%)

What novel payment scheme will you arrange?