Return of the Sleeth [somewhere over Choinxeia; 27 Trandare 4385]
The last flames in the sun flickered out at the traditional hour. It is pleasant to fly in a sky-yacht with giant burning candles around it; we bring our own light. Also we can be seen from tens of miles off, which would be a problem if we were pirates or city guards or adventurers or something. Fortunately we are tourists.
In this instance, we are tourists who are trying to meet one of our number, outside the little village of Goldenprallow. We were fairly sure that he was there, since we (Thiane, Vae, me) had seen a flicker of Locador, looking more or less like mine.
We hadn't decided on a specific spot to meet, just "near Goldenprallow". But, how hard could it be for a Sleeth to spot a giant floating candlabra in the night?
And it was fairly urgent to find Rheng, or at least, Snootloose. Quendry was exhausted, and crying in his mother's arms, and refusing to go to sleep until Snootloose was his once more. This had disrupted the kitchen considerably, since Arfaen was supposed to make dinner, and couldn't. Calla had graciously agreed to cook; but we are not proceeding towards getting organized. I suppose I shouldn't expect half of Castle Wrong to be very organized, even if we are living in a yacht now.
We circled around Goldenprallow a few times, slowly, listening for the roar of a Sleeth. No roar, no Sleeth, no Snootloose. Also no dinner for Windigar and me in the cockpit.
Two-third of an hour later, on the third time around Goldenprallow, a shout from the ground.
Ground:"Ahoy, the candelabra!" Ground was not a Sleeth. Ground was a Herethroy wearing armor and carrying a three-handed sword. We decided to be polite to Ground.
Me:"Ahoy, the ground!"
Ground:"What are you doing?"
Me:(explain, explain, explain)
Ground:"Well, you're scaring the village. Could you please make your way to the city skyport, and come back to Goldenprallow tomorrow if you need to?"
Me:"No, we're trying to meet a Sleeth here so the Cani boy can sleep. "
Ground:"Dern cryptic Zi Ri!"
Me:(explain, explain, explain)
Ground:"That's, um, very noble or something of you. Could you please stop circling the village, and land, or something that's not quite so spooky?"
Me:"Certainly; we don't want to annoy the natives. I apologize to them, in fact. Do you have any idea where the Sleeth might be?"
Ground:"No, I'm afraid not."
Rheng:"The Sleeth is here in the bushes these last two hours."
Me:"Why didn't you say so the first three times we were here?"
Rheng:"I am eating a spare gazelle."
Eventually we sent the knight back to Goldenprallow with a barrel of reasonably good wine by way of apology, and landed, and let Rheng aboard.
Me:"Did you get Snootloose?"
Rheng:"I am the thief supreme! Snootloose is in my left saddlebag."
Quendry:"Snootloose!" [falls asleep instantly and has to be carried back to his cabin.]
Rheng:"And in my right saddlebag is the true prize of your desiring, rrai!"
Me:"Snootloose is also in your right saddlebag?"
Phaniet:"Has the nendrai been up to her tricks again?"
Rheng:"Rrai, you are the funny Zi Ri! Open my saddlebag, and behold!"
Phaniet did, running her hands through Rheng's backfur. Rheng stretched
luxuriously. One must always wonder who is doing what with whom
Castle Wrong Strayway.
Then she opened the saddlebag, and stared.
Phaniet:"Great googly-eyed gods. There's a tail in here."
Rheng:"Do not exaggerate! In my saddlebag is only three-quarters of a tail!"
Me:"Leftovers from your dinner?"
Phaniet:"Hardly. A Cani tail, male, young adult. He ate garlic sausages and cabbage for lunch, probably at a cheap lunch-house by the public pond. He was very worried -- how long were you stalking him, Rheng? No, he's not scared, just worried. Angry, too."
Rheng:"Close enough for a Cani nose."
I can't smell. (I mean, I can smell, but not the way a Cani or a Sleeth can smell.) So I looked at the brown stripes on the tail. Many, many Cani have brown stripes, but who would Rheng want to maim?
Me:"Is this Quendry's father's tail?"
Rheng:"Close enough for Zi Ri eyes. You may now reward me thoroughly."
Me:"I didn't ask for his tail."
Rheng:"You employ a Sleeth, you employ the Thief Supreme! You do not ask. This is important! When you are in court, you must say, 'I do not ask for his tail! Give me the mind-spell of truth, I say it again, I do not ask for his tail! It is all the fault of the Sleeth!' But the Sleeth is the thief supreme, the Sleeth cannot be found."
Me:"Well, we're not going to court over this."
Rheng:"Rrai, no, we are going to Srineia instead! As we fly we will know that revenge is done! He crimes and wickeds at Arfaen, at Quendry, at Mellilot, at you! Today, he weeps because of crimes and wickeds! He would tuck his tail between his legs in his shame, but, somehow, he cannot!"
Me:"I think that rescuing his son from him was enough revenge. Besides, I didn't ask for this tail and I don't want it. I'm going to have to spend several cley to send it back."
The first cley was for Fresh Meat, which wards off spoiling. And the first complication there was, what power? It's a lot harder to reattach the thing while the spell is in force, and the more power, the longer the spell lasts. But my fellow master-healers at the Healers' Guild know what power I use, and they will think strangely of me (and that I am apologizing badly) if I don't do it as well as I can. So I did it the ordinary way (full power), and hoped that he didn't actually need it for a couple more weeks.
Tomorrow morning we're going to have to stop by some city or other, and send the tail back by post. With an apology, probably some incense. Arfaen will have to pick it out, and Rheng will pay for it. Probably from future wages. If we were on a schedule, we'd be off the schedule.
Me:(an impassioned lecture about how we should not take revenge for every insult, because we are traff and otherwise wrong, and would have to constantly fuss with revenges.) With most people I would take an ethical argument, not a practical one, but ethical arguments with Sleeth are not always very useful.
Rheng:"I do not see the problem. That is a good way to live!"
Me:"We get so many insults that we could spend every moment and then some on revenge, and still not get finished"
Rheng:"Stalking the Cani, biting off the tail of the Cani, these take one minute or two! You spend much more time waiting for me to finish my dinner, rrai!"
Me:(gets distracted, complains about that too.)
Fortunately he has no enemies in Srineia, so he won't go biting tails off there.