Confession [27 Hispis 4385; Eigrach; Srineia]
When I answered Totalie's strangly kiss with fire-breath, Totalie at least had the grace to release me and leap back, eyes full of clattery madness, shivering with a Wild Rush. It was Not Cute under the circumstances.
Rheng came roaring up the stairs, his tail streaming behind him; Sleeth can hear better than other people. Phaniet and Arfaen followed in a frenzy, and Yerenthax thundered up after them. Totalie was quickly surrounded and pinioned.
"So: shall I treat that like an attempted rape, or an attempted murder?" I asked Totalie.
Totalie's voice was muddy with pain, and, I should imagine, blisters on the tongue and palate. "No, no, nothing like that!"
Arfaen snarled and shook Totalie's shoulders. "What did you do to zir, you putrescent mushroom?"
"I, I didn't, ow," mumbled Totalie.
"Strangled me and tried to lick my tonsils," I said. "Held me by the neck and shook me around, too," which was somewhat of an exaggeration.
Rheng put a heavy paw on Totalie's mouth. "Perhaps your own tonsils are itchy, rrai? Perhaps I scratch them for you?" Totalie whined.
Phaniet tugged Rheng's harness. "Stop, stop. This is perplexing in a confusing sort of way. I can think of several proximate goals that the gentleman might have attempted. Was he trying to kill Sythyry?" Totalie was shaking his head, but could not speak under Rheng's paw. "Perhaps -- but why use his bare hands, and why try to kiss zir?"
Rheng snorted. "Perhaps he has the poisonous fangs. I know stories of such Orren!"
"I know stories of such norren, myself," said Phaniet. "Conversely, was he trying to rape Sythyry?" Totalie shook his head again. "The practical issues of forcing a wizard are boggling. I cannot how it could be sensibly attempted; I should use blackmail, myself, if I were so foolish and wicked as to try such a thing. Can it be that Totalie is foolish, wicked, and astoundingly impractical? Well, yes, it can, of course it can, but perhaps there is another explanation."
"I don't much care about another explanation," I said, because I was rather cross. "If we were at home I'd take him to court for assault. As a foreigner I don't expect I'd have much chance of success here, though."
Phaniet, who is a loyal and extremely helpful assistant, ignored me. "I suspect that there is more going on here. Rheng, let the gentleman talk."
Rheng laughed. "I let him talk. Does Sythyry's kiss let him talk? Or does he enjoy the blisters and the burnings." He moved his paw off Totalie's mouth.
Totalie squeaked, "They said that's what the Zi Ri wanted!"
"They did, did they?" I hissed. "Who are they, and why are they ordering abuse on my behalf?"
"And is that them watching now?" asked Phaniet.
I checked, and half a dozen people were scrying on us. "Phaniet, make them stop watching." Which she did, quite adequately.
"Right," said Phaniet. "This sounds like an annoying little misunderstanding. Let's clear it up by providing a better and more true understanding, shall we? Arfaen, let him stand up and fetch him some water, would you be so kind?"
"I don't want a conversation with him. If he touches me again I shall burn the part he touches me with off," I said. My loyal and obedient clients ignored me.
Totalie lapped water from a chalice. "I thought zie likes that sort of thing. I asked, really I did. I was trying to be the best seneschal I could. I need to understand what the new lord wants and needs for that, don't I?"
"The new lord wants and needs Totalie punished for assault. Don't do anything illegal, or not very illegal anyhow, but maybe Rheng could claw him in the process of pulling him off of me, perhaps," I said. Everyone helpfully ignored me.
Phaniet looked alarmed, and wagged her tail placatingly to Totalie. "Oh, dear. You talked to one of the information mages, didn't you?"
Totalie nodded. "Oh, yes. Glekjinga gave me lots and lots of details."
Phaniet's ears drooped. "Then you deserve an apology. One of our defenses backfired."
"Why does he deserve an apology? I think he should be apologizing!" I
noted in a
whiny justifiably upset voice.
"I suspect he'll want to apologize quite a bit too," said Phaniet. "But actually I think we cast a fireball and are now complaining that our house is burning." She turned to Totalie. "So, who did you talk to about Sythyry, and what did they say?"
"Well, of course I talked to lots of people, anyone who knew anything. Glekjinga is one of the, well, he was 'specially interested in foreign wizards. He's an information mage, Rassimel you know..."
"And rather easily spooked," said Phaniet.
"I wouldn't know about that. He'd been ... well ...", said Totalie, and faded off.
"He'd been scrying on us at home, is what he'd been doing. Which isn't a thing we much approve of," I said. "Though he's a branch-width more polite about it than you are."
Totalie nodded. "Yes, that's it, exactly. So he knew what you'd like, I thought, and how best to negotiate with you. He said that you, well, liked being grabbed by the neck, and, well, never mind the rest." Everyone stared at him and motioned him to continue. "Well, and, to be passed around like a bottle and give a treat to all the males in the room with your mouth and neck."
I hissed and flapped my wings in a fury. Everyone ignored me, except Arfaen, who petted me, just as if I weren't four times her age.
Phaniet shook her head. "Actually, scrying on a wizard of Sythyry's subtlety is not as accurate as might be hoped. That was not actually Sythyry that Glekjinga observed; it was an illusion. Designed more to entertain than to instruct, if you must know."
Totalie stared at me. "So you don't..."
"I do not. I very definitely do not. Haven't done anything even remotely like that for ... longer than you've been alive. I am very fussy about my choice of lovers," I said. "And being held by the neck isn't a bit appealing, either."
Totalie dashed the rest of his chalice of water onto the floor, and threw himself after it. "Then I am lost -- ruined! Doomed forevermore!", he said, as he wobbled into water-form.
"Now he sounds like part of Sythyry's household, rrai!" said Rheng.
What is the most important thing for me to think here?
1 = Innocent Misunderstanding. 10 = Attempted Crime. Which is it?
What should I do to Totalie?
What should I do about Eigrach?
What should I do next?