Negotiations [20 Hispis 4385]
Me:"Well ... which profession do you need particularly? Healing? Sewing? Smithwork?"
Aiziju:"Enchantment, of course."
Me:"Oh, that profession."
Aiziju:"Have you abandoned the teachings of your master so quickly?"
(Aiziju is under the misconception that I was ever Glikkonen's student. Reasonable enough, since we met at a celebration of Glikkonen's 4300'd birthday and nearly everyone there was a former student of Glikkonen. (I would have studied with zir, but zie never wanted to live in Vheshrame for very long, and I couldn't leave the city for very long.) Aiziju was slightly out of place, having been Glikkonen's wizard's assistant for most of a century herself. The terms of their parting were not excellent, though I do not know the details.)
Me:"No; I've just been doing a great deal of craft enchanting lately."
Aiziju:"Well, we can discuss the techniques later, if you think it advisable."
Me:"With all due respect, Phaniet -- the Cani holding hands with the Rassimel over there -- is a perfectly fine wizard's assistant to me."
Aiziju:"I don't mean to criticize your assistant in the slightest ... actually, a warning: she might not want to be quite so affectionate with another species in public here ... but if we might have a bit of privacy?"
Me:"Well, of course. Private from Phaniet?"
Aiziju:"Not at all, if she is your assistant! This is a matter of enchantment, after all."
So, rather later, in the parlor with the suicidal couch:
Aiziju:"Would you like to know the circumstances behind our request, or simply the request itself?"
Me:"My dear Aiziju, we are here as tourists!"
Aiziju:"Forgive me -- for all my time working for Glikkonen, I did not quite master the Zi Ri idiom."
Me:"We are here to experience the branch. Knowing the circumstances is part of the joy of travelling."
Aiziju:"Well, perhaps you may think that Srineia is recently colonized. By some measures, such as the history of Vheshrame or the life of a Zi Ri, it is." (I wonder if she has me partially confused with Sazandigraa.) "But in its own terms, it is not. The firstborn children here are dead of old age. The cities are mature and starting to get powerful. The monsters are being beaten back to the Verticals. In all ways, Srineia is civilized."
Me:"So we had heard! Indeed, this was part of its interest and appeal."
Aiziju:"In particular, some fine points that the first settlers left unsettled are becoming more relevant. The precise boundary between Eigrach Mene and Heleshario Mene -- is it still partially demarcated by the line from the town of Jungus to the top of the Zonsmi Oak?"
Me:"A topic that is surely a matter of great concern for people living near Jungus, to say nothing of the family of sparrows nesting atop the Zonsmi Oak. And, at a guess, even more so to any number of lawyers and nobles in Eigrach and Heleshario?"
Aiziju:"Well, I doubt that a single bird comes close to the Zonsmi Oak. You should go see it, from a safe distance. But you are right about the lawyers and nobles. The discussion employed a great number of them for, oh, twenty or thirty years."
Phaniet:"But no more?"
Aiziju:"But no more. The Zonsmi Oak has taken upon itself to wander another mile and a half, generally towards Heleshario."
Me:"Oh, inconstant oak!"
Phaniet:"What sort of an oak tree is it?"
Aiziju:"I should not describe it as an oak tree at all, though the resemblance is clear enough. In any case, what is the border now? The line from the town of Jungus to the Zonsmi Oak? Or to the Zonsmi Oak's previous position? And, if so, which one -- the one of last year, before its current fit of wanderlust, or the one of seven years ago? Or perhaps the original one from the first days of colonization, when the agreement was made -- if we can figure out where that was?"
Me:"Lenhirrik, the goddess of plants, must love the lawyers of Srineia, so well does she prosper them."
Aiziju:"When the Zonsmi Oak wanders a few hundred feet at a time, I agree with you. The current change is too drastic for lawyers; it is several square miles of territory. Our noble and subtle mayor Mmixamk wishes to declare war over the matter, following the customs of civilized lands."
Me:"Forgive me, but are you quite sure that Eigrach is in the right in this matter? An impartial observer might observe that the boundary has moved considerably in Eigrach's favor, without particular compensation to Heleshario."
Aiziju:"Oh, the justice of the situation is clear enough. We are trying to grab a chunk of wild and debatable lands, no question. If the Oak had wandered the other way, we'd be just as vehement about the prior boundary. Nobody but that idiot Harulse thinks we're in the right."
Phaniet:"Harulse is the idiot?"
Aiziju:"Don't let the mayor's speech problem fool you. He's quite smart, and you can tell that if he's got pen and paper. Harulse is a complete and utter idiot."
Phaniet:"Ah. So, about the war? What sort of war did you have in mind?"
Aiziju:"Just a simple little duel-war: a few heroes from one side, a few from the other."
(We've had more vicious wars than that in Ketheria over a few square miles of land. Bear in mind that few countries are bigger than fifty miles by fifty miles, so five square miles, say, is a significant slice of land indeed.)
Me:"I do hope you're not inviting me to be one of your champions. I am not much of a brawny mercenary warrior!"
Aiziju:"We do not lack for suitable and enthusiastic heroes! But we are a bit low on armaments. Our greatest warrior uses a one-charge Shattering Sword, and another uses a Mountain Mace, can you believe it? And the warriors of Heleshario know the command word for the Shattering Sword, so it wouldn't be much good."
(Shattering Swords try to, um, shatter things that they hit, when a command word is spoken. If your foe knows the word, she can make you waste the sword's single charge for the day on something useless. Mountain Maces are nice clubs: they are light most of the time, but become quite heavy when swung downwards. In skilled hands -- or tentacles, more likely -- they are somewhat deadlier than a metal mace. Neither of these is a particularly imposing magical weapon.)
Phaniet:"Those are both recipe enchantments. Is Srineia lacking in Great Enchanters?"
Aiziju:"Not completely lacking -- I do some -- but our specialists are few and not quite up to Glikkonen's standards."
Me:"I, too, am not up to Glikkonen's standards. Ask me again in four thousand years, and I may be up to zir standards of to-day." My voice had a harsh edge to it, which Aiziju understood immediately.
Aiziju:"Oh, heavens, we're not asking you to make Holocaust War weapons! We'd rather give up the whole Zonsmi Triangle than have anything more serious than a duel-war here. We don't want to burn the branch off, great staring gods!"
Me:"So you wish to have some more conventional weapons? Simply of higher quality than the quotidian efforts of the local recipe enchanters?"
Me:"May I ask an impertinent question?"
Aiziju:"Well, of course..."
Me:"What is the relationship of Eigrach and Dossimar?"
Aiziju:"Not very good, I'm afraid. We have had rather less contact with the upper branches since Dossimar raised their tolls, then raised them again. Actually, there have been some rather extreme rumors about Dossimar in the last month or two." She hesitated, so Phaniet and I stared at her. "Well, an accusation that their navy took two skyboats passing through."
Me:"I should believe that. They had raised our toll to thirty thousand lozens plus a rape, and they didn't seem done with raising it."
Aiziju:"Oh, my. What happened then?"
Me: «A somewhat carefully edited and phrased version of the history from previous entries. »
Aiziju:"That is not utterly out of keeping with the wilder rumors."
Me:"So: I would be glad to exchange some enchanted weapons for the labor of carpenters and shipwrights. But I should not be so glad if the weapons were to be used in the style of Dossimar."
Aiziju:"I am certain that some such exchange can be made. And we scorn piracy, murder, and rape, as do all decent people. I, who was born in Ketheria, would hardly be living here if it were a violent or vicious place!"
Me:"Excellent. Phaniet, and Zascalle my accountant, perhaps would be better than I for discussing the detailed arrangements for payment and repairs?"
Aiziju:"And I'm sure that their counterparts in the city would be delighted to discuss matters with them. You and I should discuss the specifics of the weapons, of course."
No doom this time! That's allowed, isn't it?
Your favorite enchanted weapon is:
What do you mean by "other"?
And what sort of enchantment do you like on it?
What do you mean by "other" this time?
And what do you use it for?
Oh, my. What do you mean by "other" this time?
And how do you like it decorated? Bearing in mind that each item of decoration will cost you suitably lots.
And your custom decoration is...
And how would m'lord like to pay for this?
What novel payment scheme will you arrange?