On Accepting Bribes [23 Hispis 4385; Eigrach, Srineia]
Everyone Else:"They cut off Vae's hand? They shot Sythyry full of arrows and swords?"
Me, Vae, Phaniet:"Yes, and they shot Phaniet too, but not as much."
Everyone Else:"Why is there still this city called Eigrach?"
Me, Vae, Phaniet:"They had pretty good reasons for attacking us. Also, they didn't hurt any of the children or anything."
Everyone Else:"When do we leave? Where do we go?"
Me, Vae, Phaniet:"We haven't quite given up on Eigrach yet."
Everyone Else:"Why on wood not?"
Me, Vae, Phaniet:"Well, we have to get Strayway repaired. Also it was just a misunderstanding. Also we had a harsh and awful trip to get here, and we don't want to totally waste it. And they did give some pretty nice and grovelly peace terms."
Everyone Else:"Ooh, grovelly peace terms? What do we get?"
Phaniet:"I didn't know that Sythyry was sharing."
Me:"I don't even know what you negotiated for -- is it shareable?" This was not strictly true, though less false than it might be. I hadn't gotten the details from Phaniet yet.
So Phaniet explained.
Inconnu:"They're getting zir seven Orren? What, don't they think I can take care of zir?"
Umbers:"You're busy taking care of me now."
Dorze didn't say anything, but he looked hurt. (Evidently the stowaways are thoroughly integrated into the crew now, and I'm going to have to spend the next three and a half centuries apologizing to La Hish and Nangbang.)
Me:"And you're not taking care of me anyhow."
Inconnu:"I can handle every non-Orren on this ship and still have energy for more!"
Rheng, Lithia, Grinwipey, Vae:"Not me, Thank You Very Much."
Treacle-Eyes:"Um ... you're an Orren, dear." She evidently doesn't know any better. Lithia is going to have to tell her sooner or later. .
Lithia:"I ... oh! He said non-Orren? I missed that." I don't think that counts as telling her.
Inconnu:"As if I would touch an Orren?"
While the youngsters were flirting or whatever, some of the more serious and sensible people thought more seriously about the situation. By "sensible" I very much do not mean "sensible".
Me:"Inconnu's powers of lizard-pleasing to be ignored, I'm not really sure I want a townhouse or mansion or whatever this is. Do I, Kantele?"
Kantele:"I'm sure I don't know. I suppose it could come in handy for something. And it's free."
Arfaen:"Gifts of people are never free."
Windigar:"I wouldn't mind a place to stay that wasn't on board Strayway. Not that I mind being here, but being on the skyboat all the time and not getting to fly it is rather getting to me. And having a few more Orren around -- I mean proper Orren, not like Inconnu -- wouldn't do badly for me either."
Inconnu:"I didn't hear that!"
Este:"Plus the rest of us could stay there if we're out late in the city. If it's conveniently located and all, at least."
Phaniet:"How could you not want it? I worked hard to get it for you, Sythyry!"
Jyondre:"And it would emphasize your nobility. Obviously you must be noble: you own a mansion in Eigrach!"
Me:"OK, I'm an ignorant Zi Ri. I suppose I can at least go and look at the place."
Phaniet:"And the Orren who work there! You need an Orren or two, boss. You need one so bad I can smell it across the room."
I cast a scent-destroyer. Phaniet shook her head. "Not that kind of smell." Cani can be quite annoying indeed.
Vae had been sitting in a miserable tangle all conversation. Now she spoke up.
Vae:"The woe and the vileness it is, that I should attack them and make them give me stone swords and stone tables."
Phaniet:"Well, you didn't attack them. They attacked you, at least first."
Vae:"Not so calm or safe was my well-guarded pathway of kidneys in the sky! And should a nendrai wear a fortress when she goes to visit a fortress? Not a bit should she!"
Kantele:"They should have waited to attack until you did something the least big aggressive!"
Vae:"Not! The by then it is too late! If I am alive and within seven hundred miles, it is too late!"
Me:"That's ridiculous, for many reasons, which you know quite well."
Vae:"Not ridiculous, but only true! Not a hunting lodge, not a sharp sword, not a stone table shall I take from them! The apology I should make to them, save that I know that doing so would bring further doom!"
Phaniet:"Technically, the fact that you are allowed to know that means it's not true." Vae peered at Phaniet mournfully. "That's not how everything works. Just about you giving presents and being helpful to primes."
Vae:"The curse am I from one end to the other. Except the other is actually eighteen curses. Not shall I accept a single terch from Eigrach by way of apology. The apology I'd give, if I dared."
She stomped over to the window -- taking a sort of smallish elephant shape to stomp more effectively -- and did something extravaganant to the wind, with Pyrador.
Vae had turned the strong rollward wind into a vast ball of angry red flame, floating over Eigrach as if it were tethered by a very long and fireproof string. On the side of the ball was written, in letters of eye-aching poisoned lightning, O ye miserable and fear-wracked primes of Eigrach, I pour out unto you the apologies. Not more shall I intrude myself upon your prostrate and quivering land! Imagine that I were absent a thousand miles hence. Pretend that I were inert, asleep, drugged with the dismal fruit of the quen-vaah vine! Consider me gone; forget me; wake not with the fear of me driving you from your comfortable beds! Ignore me -- Ignore me -- Ignore me!!!"
Everyone:"Um ... Vae? I don't think that will work."
Vae:"And how could it not work?" And couldn't understand any of the possible problems.
(You may have noted that I did not fret about getting a salary for tending Vae. I absolutely deserve one.)