Scolding [over Choinxeia; 2 Hispis 4385]
So if I'm to pretend to be noble enough to get the "-nob" suffix in Srineian, I need to practice. Or, if I'm to be an effective patron for a pile of socially-inappropriate friends and clients, I need to practice.
So I asked Quendry -- who is, of course, the Supreme Assistant, and has been running around the inhabited fraction of the ship wagging his tail a great deal and only howling a little bit -- to collect Hops and Inconnu for me, one at a time. I sat in state in the fire in a parlor (we really need to name more of the rooms on Strayway, don't we?), and wished that I had thought far enough ahead to put the fireplace higher up. It's hard to be intimidating to a well-over-six-foot-tall cricket-morph when one is a cat-sized lizard sitting in a fireplace on the floor.
Hops looked harried. She was wearing her livery, and twitching her tail this way and that, and walking on four feet but sometimes shifting to two feet and then back to four. It is particularly hard to be intimidating to a tall and brawny cricketmorph when she keeps thumping her black and red striped midlegs on the floor not two feet from one's muzzle. Retreating further into the fireplace -- which I did -- does not make one appear any more impressive. (I've always been particularly afraid of Herethroy feet. They are better armored than most people's feet, and I have twice had my paws broken by Herethroy stepping on them. That is really why I was in the fireplace.)
Hops:"What is it, Sythyry?"
Me:"I'm afraid I'd like to discuss that incident at lunchtime, with you and Inconnu."
Hops:"Oh, I thought you wanted something fetched. I am on duty now, you know."
Me:"No, not that. Quendry is on duty too."
Hops:"I don't see that what Inconnu and I choose to do to amuse ourselves is particularly your business."
I haven't been listening too much to wrongfolk gossip lately. I didn't know there was anything amusing going on between Hops and Inconnu. But, I reasoned, Inconnu is known to be fond of Herethroy -- he is pursuing Calla, after all. Hops is known to be fond of Orren, calling herself married to Tingula. And Herethroy are legally forbidden to be monogamous -- a law that we break at Castle Wrong, like many others -- and Orren usually aren't monogamous either. So it's some sort of lover's spat that spilled over. Or maybe Hops is just proving to Tingula that she likes her better than Inconnu. I've seen that sort of thing before, in cases of permitted adultery.
Me:"I'm sorry; I didn't realize that. Still, could you manage to do it in a way that doesn't upset the nendrai?"
Hops:"I did it in a way that didn't upset the nendrai. Inconnu upset the nendrai, not me."
Me:"Well, you were being obnoxious to Inconnu, and he was obnoxious back to you, and Vae got caught in the crossfire."
Hops:"So, we're not allowed to be obnoxious to our friends on this trip, is it?"
Me:"Not that, exactly. Just cut down on the nendrai jokes."
Hops:"Can't do that. At zero already. Besides, you need to talk to Phaniet more than me, for what she said when Vae came on board."
Me:"I did already."
Hops:"So: you called me in here 'specially to tell me to continue to do what I'm already doing, right?"
Me:"Um ... well, yes, pretty much."
Hops:"Can I get back to doing it?"
Me:"Yes. Sorry to bother you."
Most of an hour later, Inconnu bounced into the room.
Inconnu:"Hi Sythyrs! What's up? What's great?"
Me:"I'm afraid I'd like to discuss that incident at lunchtime, with you and Hops." (Since that wording had worked so well with Hops.)
Inconnu:"Oh, that was great!"
Me:"Making the nendrai upset is great?"
Inconnu:"No, not that part! If I've got to wait on people, it's so much more fun if I get to talk like a cross between a Darraden's waiter and a half-daft Academy professor!"
Me:"Yes, but you shouldn't bring Vae into it."
Inconnu:"I guess not. Vae's not waiting tables or anything."
I can follow Orren non-sequiturs as well as anyone can, and defend Vae better than most.
Me:"Vae is earning her passage in other ways."
Me:"Minor things like protecting the yacht from sky-monsters. But getting the nendrai away from Vheshrame, is the biggest part."
Inconnu:"'Getting...'? That's great, Miss Sythyroid!"
(I wish he wouldn't call me that.)
Me:"Anyhow, she got upset at your little barb."
Inconnu:"Hey, how'd she do that? I was careful! I didn't say I'd treat her any worse than Tingula. And I didn't! There's only one pot of pears and carrots, and everyone eats out of it or they don't get their poachies."
Me:"Well, she thought you were going to. And she thought she deserved it."
Inconnu:"She's a monster! She'd know better than me!"
Me:"Yes, but she's a guest here, and we are being hospitable to her. For one thing, we want her to continue to do her main job of keeping the nendrai away from Vheshrame. For another thing, she isn't that much less acceptable than Lithia, say, or Hops, and those two aren't that much less acceptable than you or me."
Inconnu:"Well, I didn't mean to make her sad ... I'm going to go apologize to her!"
And he was out the door before I could say "Wait."
Well, I certainly can't catch up with an Orren in a wild rush. I poked at my insignia. «Vae, are you there and wearing this?»
«The place of honor it has between my middle wings!»
«There's a crazed Orren coming to try to apologize to you. Could you let him? And try not to do anything much to him for it?»
«The Inconnu that would be, already knocking at my door?»
(So I watched them, on the theory that, if there were any trouble, I could deal with it better if I knew what had happened than if I did not. Also, of course, I am nosy and eavesdroppy.)
Inconnu:"I'mheretoapologize! I'mveryverysorry! I'meversosorryyou'reamonster! I'msorryallover!"
Vae:"I, too, am sorry I'm a monster."
Vae:"And did you serve me the bad pears? "
Vae:"And were there any good ones?"
Inconnu:"Ohyesallthepearsweregood. NotthecarrotsIhatecarrots. I'msorryIservedyoucarrots!"
Vae:"Not a bit do I hate carrots."
Vae:"Not a bit do I hate pears either!"
Vae:"The apology you offer to me is the apology I accept."
Inconnu:"Ohthankyouthankyouthankyou!" He blinked a few times. "Ididit! I'malive! I'mstillalive! IinsultedthenendraibutI'mstillalive!"
Vae:"The life and the unharmed are still upon you! The congratulations are in order!"
Inconnu scrambled off, out of insignia-sight, chanting "I'malive! I'malive! Yeah!".
Vae said to me, «The apology is accepted; the Orren is unhurt; the monster is once again defeated.»
«Are you unhappy?» (Because she usually is.)
«Not a bit! Would that all my defeats were this easy.»
The Final Insult
Quendry wandered back to the parlor. "Hello, Aunt Sythyry! I am still working! Is there anything I can do for you or get you now, because I am the Supreme Assistant!"
"You are indeed the Supreme Assistant. Do you still have affan in Funny Noises?"
Quendry hopped on a chair. (Yes, hopped. Bouncing on the cushion on one foot.) "I do! I have the affan! Bloop-boop poop!"
"Could you be supremely assistantly and go make funny noises at Inconnu for me?"
Quendry bounced around almost like an Orren. "I can! I will making funny noises all over him!"
|Inconnu||Unpunished and repentant|
|Hops||Unpunished and unrepentant|
|Vae||Elegant and noble|
|Sythyry||Uneffective, and, for extra humiliation, now has a crush on Inconnu.|
This is why Zi Ri do not run the World Tree.