While the Wizard Slept [12 Hispis 4385]
I was either asleep at the time, or disenchanting Quendry, or both, so I didn't see any of this. All I know about it is rumor. The Mural of Civic Virtues and Vices in Daukrhame portrays Rumor as a monster with two heads, vast ears stuffed with parsley and music boxes, vast mouths with flapping tongues. Its body is a mechanical sausage-grinder, though.
The scene: lunchtime on Strayway. Two dozen liveried wrongfolk are sitting at four tables, as a handful of their compatriots serve them a wonderful vegetarian feast. Few if any of them are fretting about the continued absence of their patron. More of them are fretting about the continued absence of meat. (Arfaen, whose job it is to provide a wonderful omnivore lunch, is busy with Quendry and me.)
Inconnu:"Umbers, dear sweet Umbers, after the last of the blueberry tart has vanished into the tart and non-tart alike, would you care to come with me deep into the bowels of Strayway, where many delights await?"
Umbers:"Are you sure those are the bowels you'd like me to ... never mind that."
Inconnu:"No, no, no-no-no! I didn't mean that! This was just an offer of a walk, you see! A walk, an explore, a peregrination sort of thing! Not an attempt to satisfy any carnal urges!"
Umbers:"Oh? Why not? The color and texture of my carapace displeases you?"
Inconnu:"No! Not in the slightest! I greatly admire the interplay of middle brown and reddish-brown on your smooth and only occasionally spiky thorax!"
Umbers:"So you are trying to take advantage of me."
Inconnu:"No, really, I'm not planning any sort of insidious or untoward situation!"
Umbers:"Oh, you don't like my reputation. I can understand that. You're better off associating with the Khtsoyis."
Grinwipey:"Hey! I don't want Inconnu trying to oogle me prandies! And he sure ain't gonna give me the wrip-wrap in some distant parlor!"
Inconnu:"I wouldn't do that!"
Umbers:"Why not? You call yourself traff, don't you?"
Inconnu:"Well, yes, I do.... I am!"
Grinwipey:"I ain't! He tries anything, I'll whopple his head 'til he turns tail, and his tail 'til he looks like a beaver!"
Inconnu:"I won't, I won't!"
Umbers:"Maybe you're not really traff."
Inconnu:"I am! I just don't want him to beat me up!"
Umbers:"Feeling a bit cowardly today, Inconnu?"
Inconnu:"No! I'm brave! I just want to be brave in the exploring kind of way."
Umbers:"Oh, you think there are dangers in the inner rooms of Strayway?"
Inconnu:"Oh, yes! Terrible dangers! Strange perversions of space and time which Sythyry's experimental spells caught up!"
Umbers:"And you wanted to bring me among the terrible dangers without warning or defense."
Inconnu:"I'd defend you, sure as eels is eels!"
Umbers:"Between the Zi Ri and the nendrai, eels might well be parasol demons back there."
Inconnu:"I'll fight them off! I'll stretch their stretchers, I'll rule their ferrules, I'll sprong their springs!"
Umbers:"A battle sure to lure me onto the nearest divan, legs spread wide."
Inconnu:"No! ... um ... or ... yes... or ... maybe."
Umbers:"Of course, the divan would probably start talking to us. What would you do then?"
Inconnu:"I'd stuff artichokes in its armrests!"
Umbers:"Oh, you don't like an audience when you conduct your flirtations?"
Inconnu:"No! The purest privacy, the utmost discretion, the strictest seclusion -- this is my watchword!"
Umbers:"Which is why you've been discussing this with half the crew around, so loudly that Zascalle is covering Ochirion's ears."
Inconnu:"No! This was merely an invitation to ... to ... "
Umbers:"Something you'd rather that Calla didn't find out about?" She waved a forehand towards the kitchen.
Calla: [coming out of the kitchen with a tray of grilled leeks] "What shouldn't I find out about?"
Inconnu:"Nothing happened! Nothing happened at all!"
Grinwipey:"And if'n anything had happened, he'd be a clubpuddle on the floor like the dashitzie."
Calla:"I see. Have a leek, Inconnu?"
Inconnu:"Oh! Yes! I love the sleek and elite leek!"
Calla smiled and patted Inconnu's head.
Rather afterwards, my devoted staff investigated the event, so that I didn't have to do it myself.
Jyondre:"Why did you turn him down, Umbers?"
Umbers:"I turned him down?"
Yerenthax:"He clearly wished to indulge in such pleasures as mammals may share with insects! Due to your teasing, such is not possible with you, nor with Calla!"
Umbers:[wiggling her antennae] "I don't think Calla is very much jealous. But he'll have better luck pursuing zir if he pursues just zir."
Jyondre:"Does he have much chance with her at all?"
Umbers:"I don't know. Calla is unfailingly polite to me, but she thinks she'd be better off associating with the Khtsoyis."
Yerenthax:"Did you do something dishonorable that the rest of us should know about?"
Umbers:"Kantele knows my life's story; I told her when I came to Castle Wrong for refuge. It's not a very proud story in spots. I didn't break my sword word, if that's what you're after; I promised to do some unsavory things for some bad reasons, and I did them, and I'm trying to have nothing to do with that sort of person or situation anymore."
Yerenthax:"There is a measure of honor in that!"
Jyondre:"So -- were you trying to save Inconnu's honor or attention for Calla? Or trying to put him off? Or trying to lead him on?"
Umbers:"Nothing like that. Just trying to get him into a Wild Rush. Didn't work, even."