The Weapon Shops of Vheshrame [22 Hispis 4385]
A Taste of Eigrach
Jyondre and Yerenthax came back to the skyboat before noon. (We weren't spying on them much -- we'd mostly been spying on the Cani.) The official reason was that they knew we were sitting more or less alone there, and I hadn't gotten to go into Eigrach myself yet. (Vae, of course, will never get to go in.) And our kitchen staff was all off touristing. So Jyondre and Yerenthax took it upon themselves to buy a basket of local delights, and bring it home to us.
Suspiciously, Jyondre was carrying the basket.
I'm sure I will have plenty of time to describe Srineian food, so I will not explain everything about the picnic yet. Just one dish though.
Jhaafrilya look like little eggs, the size of quail eggs, but they look like they are made of butter and dipped in a blend of crushed roasted spice seeds, sesamum and coriander and cumin and all. So you take a bite of one, and discover that, far from being a ball of solid butter, they are filled with a thick paste which is surely made from dried red peppers, and smoked green peppers, and fermented purple peppers, and surmounted orange peppers, and enhanced paisley peppers, and salted hake, and roasted snake, and condensed lake, and essence of rake, and pureed headache, and mother-of-quake, and consumption greens, and space marines, and runner beans, and walker beans, and jogger beans, and rolling-around-on-fire beans, and driving-the-wax-chariot beans, and, perhaps, chopped up deep fried thunderstruck zucchinis as well. (This recipe is approximate -- I am sure that there are peppers, hake, and beans, and many outlandish things -- but the fact that half the ingredients are wholly imaginary should not deter you from making it yourself and trying it.)
Quite remarkable. I have no idea whether I like them or not. Jyondre certainly does. The Cani have no actual notion of not liking a food, which will serve them well in a cuisine as overwhelming as Srineian can sometimes be. The Rassimel didn't like it, and the Herethroy couldn't have eaten it because of the hake and snake. Vae will eat anything we give her, and like it, of course. Poor Vae.
After lunch, Yerenthax went to take a nap. This is also suspicious. (I specifically suspect her of having been killed harder than I thought the other day, and/or too much pretending not to be quite as bewhompted as she actually is is getting to her.)
Our Third Customer
(I have nothing interesting to say about the first or second customers -- a swordsman and an archer/air mage who came in and had very ordinary first discussions about their preferred weapons.)
Ah, but the third customer was Glekjinga, a dignified Rassimel man of classical raccoon styling, wearing a dignified hat of orange fur half again as big as his head, with leaves carved of some orange wood in orbit around it. I think he was wearing other clothes too. I'm not sure. I could barely take my eyes off his hat.
Glekjinga:"Ah ... excuse me ... if you're not too ... well ... busy? I-hero am Glekjinga. Aiziju sent me."
Me:"Welcome to Strayway, Glekjinga. I'm Sythyry, in case it's not obvious, and this is my assistant Phaniet."
Glekjinga took a look at Phaniet. His tail went so bottlebrush that you could see tiny lightning bolts leaping off of it. "Oh ... well ... I see ..."
Me:"I can assure you that Phaniet is one of the best wizard's assistants to graduate from Vheshrame Academy this century. I am quite pleased that she agreed to work for me."
Phaniet:"Is something the matter?"
Phaniet scribbled a secret message to me: «He's an information mage. One of our scryers?» Her handwriting in reality is small and neat. Her imaginary handwriting is big and loopy and flamboyantly traff, with little and occasionally quite rampant Rassimel marks and Orren marks tucked into the serifs and ornaments.
Glekjinga:"Oh, nothing, really." He kept glancing at Phaniet whenever he thought nobody was watching, though. Specifically, at her bosom (which is unremarkable among Cani bosoms) and her lap (which is unremarkable among the laps of Cani women).
Me:"You do seem a bit ill at ease about something. Before we get down to business, is there something that we could do to relax you?"
Glekjinga:"No -- no thank you."
Phaniet:"Perhaps you would like one of the best Vheshrame surprises. They are really quite delicious. And very filling."
Me:"And quite surprising."
Glekjinga:"Oh, seven dear gods, no."
Me:"You might not expect Phaniet to be the sort of girl to come up with something like that. But she is. He has more surprises that that, even, and much larger ones. If you're very lucky, you might find out."
Glekjinga:"But ... she's a Cani ... "
Phaniet:"After a little taste of my sausage surprise, that won't matter in the least to you; you can be assured of that."
Glekjinga:"I ... I never ... I don't ..."
Me:"Oh, I'm sure that if you can eat jhaafrilya, you'd absolutely adore a Vheshrame sausage surprise. They've got a sort of clove paste on a guntry sausage, then wrapped in puff pastry."
Glekjinga:"... guntry sausage? You mean a real sausage?"
Me:"Well, we do put real sausage in sausage surprise. I suppose it might be more surprising not to have any. Or to have a fake sausage, though, given how sausage is made, I'm not quite sure if it is ontologically permissible for one to be fake. But we're sort of conventional and conservative and ordinary and normal and plain and simple and traditionalist at heart, really."
Glekjinga:"You ... are ...?"
Phaniet and me, unison:"Oh, indeed we very much are."
Glekjinga rubbed his eyes, presumably trying to wipe from them some scraps of seeing [an illusion of] Phaniet, unsuitably modified, doing something or other quite exceptional. "I-hero should dread to meet someone you consider abnormal."
Me:[brightly]"Oh! That would be our nendrai, then! Shall I see if she is available?"
Glekjinga: [Eyes changing color to match his hat.] "I believe she is quite busy coordinating the party ... "
Vae: «Not so much do I wish to meet this man who scries on me and thinks I do such a pornography of a party!»
Me: «I don't know where he got that idea -- the illusions are only to look like primes, mostly us. Well, sort of like primes. I suppose he decided that my Mutoc wasn't good enough for all the special effects.»
Me:"Ah, the party."
Phaniet:"What would a nendrai be doing at a party? Unless it were a monster party of course."
Glekjinga:"I ... perhaps ... "
Phaniet:"Besides, I don't believe we've quite had time for any sort of substantial party for any Eigrachters yet. Except the light collation for the Mayor of course, but our chef managed that, not our nendrai."
Me:"We don't generally ask the nendrai to run minor errands."
Phaniet:"Just large ones."
Me:"Very large ones."
Phaniet: [Arching her chest to best effect, which, honestly, is not all that good.] "Immense ones, really."
Glekjinga:"Quite alarmingly so..."
Phaniet:"Like ridding the ship of sky pirates, say. She's quite good at deeds of violence."
Glekjinga:"I thought she also did ... " His voice trailed off.
Glekjinga:"... well ... other kinds of ... "
Phaniet:"What, you don't think we can manage to be impressive without a nendrai's help?"
Me:"We're quite well-endowed on our own with skills and capabilities!"
Glekjinga:"I don't want any of that!"
Phaniet: [pouting dangerously] "You don't?"
Me:"Then why are you here?"
Glekjinga:"A ... weapon ... "
Me:"Of course, as you say, a weapon."
Phaniet:"A mighty weapon."
Me:"A potent weapon!"
Phaniet:"A stupendous weapon!"
Me:"Paid for by the city of Eigrach, if I understand properly, for use in a duel-war over some land."
Glekjinga:"Well ... yes."
Phaniet:"Then you agree to ... participate. In this ... transaction."
Glekjinga: [crossing his legs nervously.] "What ... what ... do I need to do?"
Me:"You must start off by ... explaining."
Phaniet:"Yes. Explain what you ... like."
Me:"What you ... enjoy."
Phaniet:"What you find ... effective."
Me:"What you would like to ... use."
Phaniet:"And how you would like to use it."
Me:"And any ... special ... requirements."
Phaniet:"And, of course, how ... large."
Glekjinga:"Only Rassimel only Rassimel only Rassimel only normal ordinary proper Rassimel!"
Me:"What if a prime of some other species were to show up in the duel? I don't believe the composition of the enemy team is known yet -- or even decided yet -- and it's sure to be polyspecific in any case."
Glekjinga:"I mean for lovers!"
Me: [In a silken huffy tone] "I'm sorry, but there seems to have been a bit of a misunderstanding. This is the flying weaponsmith. The flying bordello isn't due 'til next week. "
Glekjinga:"... oh ... "
Phaniet: [patting Glekjinga on the head] "Quite all right, dearie-poo. The decor on the outside can be a bit misleading, if one's imagination runs along those lines."
Glekjinga:"It ... doesn't..."
Me:"Then what were you getting at?"
Glekjinga:"I ... wasn't..."
Me:"Honored Rassimel. Please cease your insinuations and let us discuss the matters of business and enchantment that you have come here for. Yes, I am traff, it is no great secret. No, I do not take lovers from among my customers, nor do I necessarily expect to select a lover this decade in any case. In any case, I do not appreciate being approached with sly hints in front of my professional assistant, who is a gentleCani of high moral character and impeccable credentials. Kindly attempt to keep your mind focussed on the task at hand, which is to say, discussing your preferences. In magic swords."
Glekjinga:"... ok ..."
Phaniet:"Precisely. How large do you like it?"
Glekjinga covered his eyes with his hands and whined.
Phaniet:"Oh, dear. I do hope that you feel better before the battle. I don't think you're quite in good fighting form just now. You seem a little skittish."
Glekjinga:"I think I may withdraw."
Phaniet:"Perhaps wise. Your nerves to seem shot. I should hate to be seen in public waving something so large around so ineffectively, myself."
Which of course is no way to treat a paying customer ... Which Glekjinga was not.