A Modest Repast [23 Hispis 4385; Eigrach, Srineia]
Vae took the shape of a twelve-foot-tall demon with seven tusked mouths and seven arms holding seven blazing flags. "Not a single-jivu sort of-edu attack-nob is this! The-unhi invitation-edu is-nob with me-edu!" She made a hash of the Srineian, which I found reassuring: she hadn't done her usual Mentador tricks to learn the language.
The guards, ignorant of Vae's actual wickednesses and language patterns both, took their jobs seriously. "We are betrayed! The foreigners have betrayed us!", one of them yelled. Spells of entanglement and paralysis becames spells of scent distortion and vegetable transformation when they struck Vae's shield. Other spells of entanglement and paralysis entangled and/or paralyzed Phaniet and me.
Vae picked up Harulse and waved her at the tower. "Not like that, not like that! The invitation is ours!", she proclaimed, in seven voices speaking not quite in unison.
"Save me!" wailed Harulse in a regrettable moment of comprehensibility.
"They've got that dunce Harulse!" cried the sergeant of the guard. "Get her free!"
"Absolutely, haven't we just!" yelled the mayor frantically. "Underneath it all!"
I have previously noted that Eigrach's and Srineia's magic is not the most sophisticated. The walls are far inferior to those of Vheshrame, or even to what I could build. Their magic weapons, similarly, are not of the highest quality. And of course there are many more monsters in the area than there are in Vheshrame.
Yet, Eigrach and Srineia survive, and prosper.
They do so, naturally, by the strength and skill of their heroes. At home, the city guard are tolerably well-trained at arms, and spend an hour or two each week studying with an arms-master. Mostly they patrol the city or stand by the gates and let everyone know that the city is Well-Guarded. Here, the city-guard has a great deal to do by way of actual fighting against monsters. Their training is practical rather than theoretical, and it is not confined to the occasional lesson. The Eigrach city guard is quite good.
Three Cani flew at Vae's face, menacing her eyes and tongues with quick dancing blades. She hissed, and bit one of them. A daring Herethroy teleported next to her, and whacked off her hand with a huge three-handed sword. Harulse fell to the ground, and two Orren dashed out and scooped her up.
"Never, haven't we enough, exactly!" yelled the mayor.
Vae, still protesting obscurely that she was invited, crammed the Orren guards and Harulse into a pocket universe. Since this looks just the same as, say, disintegrating them or transforming them into air, the remaining guards redoubled their assault. Vae, crying a storm of bloody shards by this point, disembowelled the Herethroy guard and one of the Cani, grabbed her severed hand, and teleported off in a complete and miserable huff.
Sometime or other while that was going on (the details are obscure), I got unparalyzed, and Phaniet got free entirely. So some city guards shot three arrows into my chest, and one into Phaniet's shoulder, and shouted for us not to move or cast spells. So we didn't, until Vae had left.
The remaining guards surrounded Phaniet and me, pointing seven hundred very sharp and dangerous things at us. "Foreigners! You -- do -- not -- move!" growled the sergeant. Which we didn't.
"Never, quite thoroughly, absolutely!" wailed the mayor, dashing down the fort's stairs. A few other Eigrach notables, including Phaniet's new old friend Bwipin, followed him. The injured guards reembowelled themselves.
I was bleeding rather a lot, so I healed myself. I didn't move a bit, I swear it, but evidently the sergeant counted spellcasting as moving. So he stabbed me through the ribcage. Which was, in my professional opinion, about as much of an injury as the three arrows had been. Very annoying. Also very painful.
The mayor tackled the sergeant from behind, knocking him to the ground, and punched him in the face a few times. The sergeant looked puzzled and not very badly hurt.
Bwipin said, "Phaniet, you weren't attacking us, were you?"
Phaniet wagged her tail. "No. The nendrai just has taste for the dramatic now and then. You can tell when she attacks you though; the sky is full of the most terrible elementals, and she picks up hills and whomps you with them."
The mayor scribbled on a bit of paper: "I never intended anything of this sort to happen. I am quite thoroughly embarrassed, and will make absolutely any sort of apology that I can!" He waved it at the sergeant, and then at me.
"Let me heal my assistant and myself, to start with," I said. The guards put their weapons down.
Phaniet shook her head. "Draw this arrow out and stop the blood, but wait a bit on healing the wound." So we did that. She looked quite a mess, with her triple-cloak all rips and shreds, and her black silk dress ruined with her blood. I healed myself all the way. The sergeant looked a bit ashamed.
"What happened to Harulse and the Orren guards?" wrote the mayor.
"Over there, stuck in a pocket universe," I said.
"I can't tell from here," I hissed, and then remembered how to do it. "Actually I can. No extra spells cast on them."
"This isn't at all what we intended," wrote the mayor, and another half-page of apologies.
"Boss, you go make sure the nendrai is calm," said Phaniet. "I'll stay here and explain matters to the Eigrachters."
("Boss" here is evidently used in the sense of "The one whom I tell what to do.")
So I stared at Vae through her insignia -- she was getting one of our parlors on Strayway all bloody, from her wrist and both eyes (being back in her usual big-lizard shape) and another dozen wounds from where she was biting her flank. I wasted a cley getting there in a hurry, and another one putting the hand back on, and a third making myself large enough to hug her properly.
And spent the next hour and a half trying to return her to what passes for sanity in a N. lacrymosa. She was furious at herself for starting a battle by mistake, for ruining the one and only invitation that a prime had given to her in the last century (this clause was revised several times until it became factual), for letting the guard cut off her hand, for grabbing Harulse, for not just teleporting to the top of the platform. And, above all, for having yet another mental blind spot with which she can terrify or horrify primes and not realize it until too late. She's actually noticed this one before; she just can't remember having it.
(The only way that I managed to stay calm for Vae-petting was that I promised that I could have an episode of the utter shrieking fantods at Kantele when I was done.)
There's only so much comfort that anyone can give. Most of what she's desparing about is true.