Arfaen's Credentials (when things go wrong) [22 Hispis 4385]
Quendry:"Jemp-jinga? Do you know that you have a squirrel in your yard? I think it eating mushrooms! Maybe also cheese! Does a squirrel eat cheese? I think maybe your squirrel eats cheese!"
Jempjinga:"We have hired it at the exorbitant price of three fine cheeses a week, payable in full every third day, for the sole purpose of entertaining distinguished young visitors from Vheshrame such as yourself. And keeping the mushrooms under control.."
Arfaen:"Quendry, please don't bother the gentleman."
Jempjinga:"Madam, chatting with the young and innocent is rarely, if ever, a bother." He tilted his left ear by a very careful eleven-and-a-quarter degrees. Or something. I couldn't see any gesture, but Arfaen cringed.
Arfaen:"He had nothing to do with it."
Jempjinga:"No, I should think not. Young master Quendry, I have three granddaughters not far from your age. Perhaps you could figure out which of you has affan in decorating tails with ribbons?"
Quendry:"Can a squirrel tail be decorated with ribbons? Maybe a mushroom can be decorated with ribbons!" Arfaen hugged him, and he ran off to play with the clan Coryn girls.
Jempjinga:"And now we come to the matter of your clan standing."
Arfaen:"Well, I was born to clan Denn, auxiliary clan Coryn. I had to change when I married a Denn man."
Jempjinga:"He would be the father of your charming and innocent son, I take it?"
Jempjinga:"You are estranged?"
Arfaen:"We are divorced from three years."
Jempjinga:"You did not see fit to change back to clan Denn?"
Arfaen:"The situation was not propitious."
Jempjinga:"I should imagine not. Ah, Frise. Please allow me to introduce Arfaen, the cook to the visiting wizard, from Vheshrame."
Frise:"A pleasure to welcome you to Eigrach, good Arfaen." She was another pure-white Cani of some rather elongated breed, and wearing flowing (and quite revealing) robes of white gauze.
Arfaen, Frise, Jempjinga:A variety of politenesses and courtesies for some nine minutes.
Jempjinga:"Arfaen is presenting her credentials in Clan Coryn. However, she is an adulteress, and, indeed, not even the most decent sort of adulteress. I do believe she's taken up with the Herethroy currently nibbling on sweetmeats in the parlor, if I am not mistaken."
Vae:"And how does he know that? She never said any such thing."
Me:"I have no idea."
Jempjinga:"The question being, of course, who knows precisely what?"
At which point a phantom Cani hand caressed me about the head and wings. I rather jumped. One of the more accidental features of the insignia is that one wearer may thusly pet another, which had engendered some small amusement when it was first discovered. I was uncertain why Arfaen (or Phaniet) was petting me just then; neither of them had done it ever before. (Nor in person, in case you are pruriently keeping track.)
Arfaen:"Well, Mellilot knows most of it, I will say."
Jempjinga:"As one might expect."
Arfaen:"Phaniet, of course, is my confidante. I have no secrets from Phaniet. Nor from Thiane, who tutors Quendry."
Arfaen:"I am sure that other people suspect. We are aboard a skyboat, after all, and the quarters are rather close. But there are no other Cani aboard, save my son and, lately, a stowaway of no great interest. I should be surprised if any of my friends were unaware of it, or found it upsetting."
Jempjinga:"Of course there is a good deal that you are concealing."
Jempjinga:"And if you believe that, Frise, you are more of a greengrocer than a countess capable of producing substantial rewards at a mere whim."
Arfaen:"I won't be doing anything disloyal!"
Frise:"But you already have, haven't you?"
Arfaen:"I have not!"
Jempjinga:"Few people can lie to me successfully, and fewer can lie to Frise."
Frise:"I can see by your face that you are trying to be a honest girl. I don't imagine it can have been that bad... but you'd best tell us what it was. "
Jempjinga:"And a fine time you'll have on Srineia, if we refuse you for being a liar and scoundrel."
Arfaen petted me again. Rather roughly! It would have tugged my feathers, if it were actual touch rather than simply displaced sensation.
Arfaen:"It wasn't much."
Frise:"Tell us!" She stood in a traditional Cani pose of assertion of dominance, ears high, tail high, that sort of thing.
Arfaen:"I've been having a bit of an affair."
Arfaen:"Cheating on Mellilot, I mean. With an Orren boy from the skyboat."
Jempjinga:"Such is the honor of the transaffectionate, I suppose. You'll be having affairs with five others soon, I imagine." He flicked his tailtip a whole inch to the left.
Arfaen: Tail low, ears flat, and so on.
Frise:"But you might do better to explain the rest of it, whatever that may be."
Arfaen:"Syth ... someone important on the skyboat has their eye on the boy."
Frise:"You can say the rest of zir name, dear. We are quite aware of the wizard's proclivities."
Arfaen:"I'm sure Sythyry would be very upset if zie learned about me and Inconnu. Please don't tell!"
Vae:"And have you been seeking Inconnu?"
Me:"Not particularly. He is quite pretty, but he's so very young, even for someone his age."
Vae:"And why would you be upset, from what Arfaen has done?"
Me:"I have no idea what Arfaen is going on about. Or why she keeps poking me."
Jempjinga:"Full information is necessary for the clan! But it can be kept confidential. For a greater or lesser length of time."
Arfaen:"What would you have me do?"
Jempjinga:"Nothing that would cause yourself or your companions the least bit of trouble, of course."
Frise:"But if you chance to hear of your wizard discussing making weapons for other cities of Srineia, well, letting your friends and dominants in Clan Coryn would hardly cause the least bit of trouble for yourself or your companions."
Jempjinga:"And you could keep your little betrayal of your betrayal of wedding vows secret."
Frise:"And there might well be some gifts. From your friends in your clan, of course. Nothing would be surprising about that."
Arfaen rubbed around my ears, quite hard.
Arfaen:"I'm only the day-chef. I don't hear about everything. But if I do hear something, my superiors in Clan Coryn will hear it as well."
Jempjinga:"Ah, excellent. You are, in the end, a sensible girl."
Frise:"Can you give her the clan-tags, Jempjinga?" Of course Frise herself isn't clan Coryn, since she's the wife to someone who is.
Jempjinga:"Of course, since you request it, my dear. I must say that if you dishonor yourself again -- say, by concealing information that you have sworn to provide -- I shall have you stripped of your Coryn membership. I don't imagine your reputation could survive that, especially given what else it's had to endure."
Frise:"Of course Mellilot and even Inconnu are your own private matters. I can't imagine that your clan will have anything much to say about it. I can manage my husband, I'm sure, should the situation arise."
Jempjinga:"Well. Should her membership need to be ruined, rest assured that no secret will remain unrevealed."
Frise:"I can't imagine how such a fate as that would ever come to such a sensible girl as our Arfaen. Do you like codelieth perfume, Arfaen?"
Arfaen:"I usually can't afford any."
Frise:"Just a few drops, dear, but you won't want to be using too much, what with that Herethroy and all." She gave Arfaen a tiny glass teardrop of a bottle.
Arfaen:"Oh! This is quite nice!" She sniffed it deeply, and wagged her tail with a dangerous ferocity.
Frise:"My pleasure, dear!"
Jempjinga: [who had left to get a clan emblem from Bwipin, and just returned] "And here you are." He handed it to Frise, who tied it on Arfaen's arm.
They were polite (Jempjinga) or friendly (Frise) for a presumably carefully-calculated nine minutes or so. Then Quendry and three cute little puppy-girls skipped into the room.
Quendry:"I have affan! I have affan in purple ribbons!"
Arfaen:"You certainly look like you do!" Which he did. One of the girls was wearing nothing else, and the other two were rather entangled.
Quendry:"They have an oyster bed! In the back yard! It is full of water! Oysters like to sleep in water! Now, the oysters are sleeping with purple ribbons in the water!"
Jempjinga:"Oh, dear. I shall have to have the gardener untie them. "
And they were all perfectly friendly, just as if the Eigrachters hadn't just bullied Arfaen a few minutes before.
Vae:"And what was that about, and what just happened?"
Me:"I hope Arfaen is willing to explain."
Vae:"And why did not they check that Arfaen was in the clan, the way they did Phaniet?"
Me:"I guess they weren't trying to blackmail Phaniet."