Phaniet and the Mayor [23 Hispis 4385; Eigrach, Srineia]
I didn't mention it last time, but I had tied a few strips of silk cloak around Phaniet's arrow-wound, as a makeshift bandage. She didn't want more. «For tactical reasons, Sythyry. It's easier to make someone feel ashamed of attacking you if you're dripping blood on them.»
«I suppose. If you start to feel dizzy, scribble to me and I will be over straightaway. Or even get a healing spell from that Cani guard with the Healer's Guild insignia on his baldric,» I nattered at her. She had barked at the Cani healer when he tried to help her before.
«Are you hinting at something, Sythyry?»
«Am I? Like what?»
«Like that scolding the mayor isn't worth my life.»
«Right. It's not.»
«I am so surprised,» wrote Phaniet. «If you insist, I won't die, though. Hmff!»
«You misspelled "hmph".» If you can't be useful, be pedantic.
The Conversation (Mayoral Edition):
Phaniet started off rather directly. "Well, that was quite an informative and effective introduction to Srineian civilization. A few more etiquette lessons and you might start to catch up with the sky pirates of Dossemar. The nycathath has you utterly outclassed, though."
The mayor gestured impatiently to Bwipin. Bwipin curtsied to him, and then sat heavily in a creaky wicker chair. "Yes, and we're blasted sorry about that, too, Phaniet."
"If I had known what dinner parties were like on Srineia, I would have dressed appropriately. Enchanted chain mail would seem to be de rigeur. Or outright world-amber armor for a state ball, I should expect."
"Well, yes, you might say that. We're a bit provincial down here, I do admit, Phaniet; we're not used to nendrai," said Bwipin.
"And I suppose springing a formal court occasion on the poor monster was your way to try to get used to her? What did you expect, anyhow? That she'd come in wearing flowers and ribbons like a Zi Ri, and behave all elegant and charming? My lords, recall: four days ago she gave Dossimar Mene a vast ruining, from which it will not recover in four years, or perhaps forty."
Mmixamk nodded. "Happy dream." He scowled, and wrote "We simply wished to make her happy. We never dreamed it would end so badly."
Phaniet laughed. "End so badly? Lord mayor, what makes you think it has ended at all yet? By my reckoning, there are three mighty powers on Srineia; you have injured two of them not a quarter-hour ago. And I somehow doubt that Shadatei will exert themselves on your behalf."
"Well, we certainly don't want this to become a military occasion," said Bwipin.
"Then starting off the evening with arrows and three-handed swords brings a remarkable risk of misinterpretation," said Phaniet. She poked at her arrow wound, and wiped blood on a napkin.
Bwipin wagged his tail, holding it low. "A blasted good point, which indeed might have occurred to us had we had the opportunity to discuss it with the guards. Didn't work out that way though. So the Mayor has authorized me to make some concrete apologies."
Phaniet wagged her tail. "Concrete apologies sound like just the thing to keep Dossimar from looking like a little morning chalice of kathia before the main devastations."
"Well, for Sythyry we have available a quite nice house in midtown, recently vacated by a baron and family in fact. Six assorted Orren as servants there, plus an excellent Cani chef who could be transferred there by breakfast-time tomorrow," said Bwipin.
Phaniet flattened her ears. "Precisely why the wizard would want to abandon zir new skyboat -- in which are stored an unimaginable array of useful and delightful mysteries, and upon which zie has spent about half your lifetime working -- to move into this house in midtown, is beyond me."
Bwipin curled his tail. "We could sweeten the arrangement somewhat."
Phaniet handed him the sugar-bowl and a soupspoon off the banquet table.
Bwipin considered it. "A Herethroy indentured-woman of quite magnificent stature and elegant carapace, and known for being distinctly generous with mammals, especially after her chances for marriage were eliminated recently. I am certain she would charm you thoroughly."
Phaniet barked, "Hah! Sweetening my corner of the chalice is certainly necessary, but you must present me with a beverage which Sythyry and Vae will be willing to choke down first. Case in point: offering Sythyry some haphazard townhouse is all very well, but a townhouse with six servants is expensive to maintain. Supporting half a dozen impecunious Eigrachters is hardly the delight that it may seem in the abstract."
"Seven of them; the townhouse -- more of a mansion really -- comes with a seneschal," said Bwipin. "But yes, I do see the point. Wherefore I promise that the city will pay their salaries."
Phaniet snorted. "Hardly the only expense of running a mansion. Are we to accept whatever hand-me-down furnishings the bungalow currently endures? I doubt it has sufficient gardens; can you truly expect the wizard to perform zir mystic meditations without fresh cut flowers? The reek from its cellars and middens may be considerable: incense of quality will be essential! And so forth!"
"The city will be glad to pay for these things," said Bwipin.
"Perhaps Sythyry will consider this sufficient ... though I suspect that your guard's driving a sword through zir chest after zie had already ceased hostilities -- and by 'ceased' I of course mean 'had never begun' -- may render zir unusually hard to please today. Having a few rib-bones broken can do that even to the sweetest-tempered of Zi Ri. Now comes the more troublesome part: how will you placate Vae, who is, first of all, the more likely one to destroy a city; second of all, the one who actually lost a body-part; and, third of all, unlikely to have much use for some hovel or other in the city."
"Well, we are prepared to present her ..." started Bwipin.
Phaniet leapt up and barked in his face. "Bwipin, you shall do no such thing! If you wish to deal with Vae, you must hire Sythyry as your intercessor! A careful adherence to this regimen has preserved Vheshrame in perfect safety for centuries! You must do the same -- anything else would be folly!"
Bwipin crouched and tucked his tail between his legs. "Truly? ... We are blasted new at this bit about having a nendrai in the city-state. The chromodon isn't an eighth part so fussy."
"Did you try cutting bits off of him?"
"Not this one," said Bwipin.
"Probably wise," said Phaniet. "In any case, you must proceed sensibly here. If you wish to placate Vae, you must hire Sythyry to do it. Oh, you could try to do it on your own ... but the whole point of this conversation is that you don't want your city-state destroyed, isn't it?"
"That would be just about the point of it, yes. Does zie take money for placating Vae, or do we need to track down more promiscuous Orren for zir?"
"I imagine money would suffice." Phaniet was careful not to claim that I had actually gotten money for it ever before, which I have not, exactly. (Nor promiscuous Orren, for that matter.) "After a while, the promiscuous Orren get expensive to feed and house. And zie can only really use a dozen or so in a day, anyhow. Beyond that they start to blur one into each other."
Bwipin regarded Phaniet with very wide eyes. "A dozen a day? Is that really ... ? Well, we'll pay zir for it."
I completely agreed with Bwipin about a dozen Orren, when Phaniet told me about it later.