Sorry for not writing these last few days. The dean broke my right forepaw.
That is probably worth more explanation. The dean in question is the somewhat elderly but still energetic Dean Celandine Carsnell, Dean of Students: a distinguished (but not too distinguished) old Herethroy woman. She was playing catch with three or four Cani students in the yard around Sprowlween Hall. Spirshash and I were reading about collections of small carved birds in the yard. Someone threw the block to the dean, and she missed, and it nearly clonked Spirshash in the head. He picked it up and threw it to her. I sort of half-hid under a flowering bush to get out of the way. A few minutes later, the dean, chasing the block into the bushes, stepped with all her weight on my right hand. I'm a small lizard, and she's a big Herethroy!
Apologies came loud and fast! It might have been better if I hadn't screamed fire and set her kilt ablaze. Still, the dean was soon extinguished with poor wine, courtesy of Spirshash. I still owe him a bottle of poor wine.
Healing my hand is not so easy. Fix the Fractured Fingers isn't all that hard to find at an academy. But the person who casts it will be a senior student in Corpador, not a trained and qualified healer. So he didn't do a very good job of it...
Which, of course, meant that I had my forepaw wrapped in wood for the better part of a week. [Sythyry indiscriminately uses both the word for "hand" that most bipeds would use, and the word "paw"/"forepaw" that a Sleeth would use. Most Ketherian dictionaries do not approve of the latter usage for Zi Ri. - your faithful translator]
And, when I say, "better part", I don't mean "longer part". It was only four days, less than half a week. But my Deepening of Understanding class had the formal requirement of writing two essays, one explaining why the Duke of Vheshrame is a wicked man, and another explaining why his wickedness is utterly justifiable. For some reason, I had expected to write these essays starting somewhat after sunout the day before they were due ... but there is no excuse for explaining why a paper was not written better than "Dean Carsnell broke my paw."
Well, that would work in most classes at least. In Deepening of Understanding, the response was, "She rarely injures students without a good reason," followed by a series of questions designed for me to explain and admit how foolish it is for a small person with light bones to be underfoot. After that they let me say the essays, rather than writing them. I shouted them from the rafters though -- no Small Blue Pain Lizard underfoot! They laughed, for smarmy intellectualism is the true essence of Deepening of Understanding.
And, for unaccountable reasons, Iska showed up with a pot of very small meatballs for me, such as I could eat one-handed. This is all very awkward -- she still doesn't know that I wouldn't let her live here, and I still think she's awfully foreign and lower-class. Thery and Iska are getting fairly friendly -- Thery complained about Havune to her for an hour, while they ate most of the meatballs.
Speaking of eating, somebody asked me what eating utensils are used in Vheshrame, and how I manage them. [The editor is unaware of this question. - ed.] The second question is easy enough: I have several sets of utensils made for Zi Ri. I generally carry a knife, a skewer, a spoon, and a scoop around in my saddlebag, in case I need to eat politely. Well, every scholar carries a knife for sharpening pens; I use the same knife.
- The Skewer: A stick of ivory with a sharp point, used for spearing small food items and bringing them to the mouth, or for holding large ones steady while they are cut with the knife. I often don't bother with using a skewer except in formal circumstances or very messy foods, since I have long sharp claws and heat doesn't trouble me.
- The Spoon: A stick of ivory (or wood, but ivory's better because it doesn't pick up tastes so fast) with a little cup on one end, used for picking up small quantities of soup or other liquid; it is either poured into the mouth, or held close to the face and lapped. My forked tongue is not very good for lapping, so I use the former method. Everybody else mostly laps. (Except Khtsoyis -- I've never seen a Khtsoyis eat. Probably just as well. And Herethroy can put the whole bowl of the spoon in the mouth, if desired, though that's considered rude -- when Dustweed does that when we're eating together, I make sure to use my claws instead of the skewer.) Oh, it is also used for dripping sauces onto things, and stirring, and so on. In a pinch you can use the back end of the spoon as a skewer. If I only bring one utensil besides my knife, it will be a spoon.
- The Knife: A flat piece of meng [a hard vegetable], edged with spell-hardened glass if you are moderately rich or even metal if you are immoderately rich, used to cut things. I have a small one, edged with copper.
- The Scoop: A square of leather, in which saucy or larger foods are scooped up and held to the side of the mouth for biting by the carnassials of those who have them (Cani, Zi Ri, Sleeth except Sleeth have no hands), or the front for biting by the incisors of those who do not (everyone else). Good manners dictate having one scoop per person per scoopworthy dish (if there are three stews, each person has three scoops), and, if the dishes are served commonly, not licking the scoop until one has ceased to eat from the common bowl. This is why individual service is destined to Rule The World Tree.
- The Cooler: A small but thick ceramic bowl or tray, in which extremely hot foods are placed until they are cool enough to eat. Sometimes you also mix dipping sauces in it. I don't know if this is officially a utensil, but if you're going to a meal where you should bring your own utensils, you should bring your own cooler. (In Mrasteia, people use a Heater as well, looking just like the cooler but kept hot by Pyrador or a charcoal brazier. In Choinxeia -- and Aradrueia for that matter -- cooks serve food at the proper temperature, in respectable places at least. In any case, I wouldn't use one, I'd just breathe on the food.)
- The Chalice: A shallow bowl on a stem with a wide foot, usually made of wood. Used for beverages or thin soups. Most people pick them up by the stem and lap out of them. Herethroy in a hurry will put the edge of the chalice to their lower lip and sort of pour the beverage into their mouth, but that's rude (I suppose because nobody else can do it very well). If you are a small person with a long flexible neck and a forked tongue, it is easier to leave it on the table and poke your muzzle into it and drink that way. Technically this should be rude too, like Herethroy drinking, but if you've ever seen a lizard tongue lapping you'll know that's ruder. Again, I don't know that this is strictly a utensil.
Ask Sythyry anything, IC, and expect a smarmy answer.