Sympathy from the Beast [12 Thory 4262]
Vae:"And Sythyry, why are you are smelly with nervous now? And do you expect me to work some extremely helpful and necessary transformation uon you?"
Me:"Well, it's not really more likely today than any other day."
Vae:"The embezzlement! And are you ready for the embezzlement today? The embezzlement victim I have brought for you!"
She held out a paper doll.
Me:"That looks like a paper doll."
Vae:"The paper doll it is!"
Me:"Tell me, please, how I am supposed to embezzle this doll?"
Vae:"The doll is one you should sell for a great deal of money!"
Me:"Well, it certainly is a well-made paper doll."
Which it was. It was in the shape of a Rassimel. It was tolerably well drawn, in pencil lines. Tethezai could have done a better job, but she's a a third-or-fourth-I-forget-which year art student. It was torn, not cut, but torn very neatly. The arms, legs, and tail were fastened on with little bits of bone. Bone that had (I guessed) been softened by a simple spell, kneaded into little worms, poked through holes in the paper, shaped into brads, and allowed to harden again. Whoever made it must have been a mage of at least moderate skill. I'm pretty sure Tethezai could have done that too. Oh, and the other unusual thing was that it had a preservation spell on it, a pretty substantial Sustenoc Herbador thing.
Me:"I'm not really sure that I'm exactly going to be able to sell it for a lot of money. No insult intended to you, if you made it."
Vae:"And me? Not a thing like that could I make!"
Me:"Um ... really? Maybe if you practiced drawing for few months. And precise paper tearing."
Vae:"No, no, no! Not I it was who made this, but a mighty one!"
Me:"A bigger nendrai?"
Vae:"Not a bigger nendrai! The Spiridor goddess Iraz Halix it was who made this doll?"
Me:"... Really? ... "
Me:"Um ... what?"
So the full story is this (approximately). Seventy years ago Gyola Far, who is the Tree-wide High Priest of Iraz Halix in one of her cults -- I don't really know much about her cults -- held a banquet in the honor of the goddess. This is three-times-yearly cult function, and mostly an excuse for a cultish party. Rather unusually, she showed up for it, in the shape of a Rassimel woman missing one arm and one leg. The cultists, being Iraz Halix cultists, recognized her instantly, and put her in the seat of honor. Two courses later, Pyongvar Far, the six-year-old nephew of Gyola Far, snuck behind her and asked her if she wanted to make paper dolls with him. Which she did, later that evening. Her drawing skills are somewhat amateurish for an immortal older than the world, I suppose, but perhaps she doesn't draw very much in her ordinary activities. Her bone-magic powers maybe didn't show at their fullest. Probably Vae would have used an insanely powerful spell to attach the doll together, like wrapping it in a pocket universe or something. Her powers of tearing paper are at least godly in scope, since she evidently tore the whole thing out of the sheet of paper in a single casual rip. No lesser being could have done that. Except maybe a paper elemental or or a monster 'specially designed to have grand nonmagical powers over paper, or something like that. If there are any, I don't know.
Anyways, at the end of the evening, Gyola Far took the doll that Iraz Halix had made, and preserved it, as a relic of the goddess.
Which I suppose it is. It's not a tremendously useful relic. (I think it would be a minor boon to enchantments for animating Rassimel shaped things. If she'd animated it, it would be a major boon and I'd want to keep it myself. As it is, it'd probably save me a few hundred lozans for a consecration at a temple -- I don't know that I could use both. A small shrine to Iraz Halix that I could use to consecrate them myself might cost, oh, a few thousand lozens and a month of special training.
So, it's really just a collector's item.
If I can find someone who collects minor god junk.
This is a big city. There's got to be a Rassimel who will pay vastly for it.
Me:"How did you get it?"
Vae:"The looting I made, of the Iraz Halix cultists as they moved their main temple to Oorah Thrassen."
Me:"I suppose I can't complain if you're looting the Oorish cultists. I think that's official city policy, even."
Vae:"I know! And are you going to give me anything for this doll, or do I need to loot you too?"
By which I understood that we'd spent too long talking, and I needed to trade a box of candied shrimps and a throw-and-catch toy for a very valuable paper doll, probably worth at least a few thousand lozens if it's worth a terch (though I'm not quite sure which one it is.)
And so I never had to explain to her what I was actually nervous about, which is just as well.