Songs of Innocence and Experience Points [5 Thory 4385]
This Part Is Innocent
I have, in principle, forgiven Totalie for his -- in his opinion -- awkward and rather painful response to the -- still in his opinion -- pass that I made at him. In practice, I do intend to treat him reasonably, but I don't want to go back to Glynubla House very much, nor to see him again any time soon. (Which is hardly how I expected to think of the first traff Orren I met in Srineia, but this vacation is not going according to plan.) Fortunately I do not have to.
Me:"Este, Arfaen, could I impose upon you greatly and terribly?"
Este:"Sure thing! I'm not busy today." He looked a bit put off at not being busy: we had expected the shipwrights to come today and start the repairs (which Este would keep an eye on), but they had sent regrets.
Arfaen:"After lunch, if you don't mind. I'm trying to be good and not make Calla do any extra meals."
Me:"There's not a great hurry. It doesn't even need to be today. You two were fairly friendly with Totalie, weren't you?"
Este: [laughing] "Fairly friendly, to be sure." I stared at him. "Nothing that Phaniet would be jealous about. Sure, I'll go for friendly."
Me:"Could the two of you give him a few lessons in Vheshrame-style transaffection and the manners thereof? "
Grinwipey:"Hoy, take him to the cellar and tie him to a chaggering chair and pedagogue him 'til his eyes fall out!"
Me:"I'll leave the details of your instructional policies to you. If you're taking him out to lunch or something, I'll pay, though."
Zascalle:"Speaking of which, I wasn't successful yet in getting money from Vheshrame -- not yet -- but the Mayor's accountant gave us a letter of credit, so we're not quite broke."
Me:"Are we close?"
Zascalle:"There's plenty of money in your accounts in Ketheria. Down here, we're paying a lot, and for things we didn't expect to, and running rather low."
Me:"Oh, dear. Thank you, Zascalle."
This Part Is Also Innocent
Kantele pinioned me on the dining-room table with an innocent stare, and asked, "And how have you found Eigrach as a tourist destination so far, Sythyry?"
"Dismal," I said.
"Have you actually been in Eigrach yet?"
"I was in the city when Totalie attacked me, in fact."
"Have you been around there yourself any other time?" she interrogated.
"Not much," I admitted, because I was pretty sure she'd been tracking me. "I popped into the gate and looked arounce twice. Not a bit more though."
"Why on wood not?"
I tied my neck and tail in knots trying to explain that I'm the only Zi Ri on the whole branch and when I get near the Eigrach gate everyone stares at me. "They get more touristing out of me than I do out of them. It's not fair really."
"So go as an Orren girl!" she said, and slid a small wooden casket across the table to me. I knew what's in that casket; I had made it for Mynthë decades ago. It is a short feather wand, with which you may transform yourself into another prime species. (For up to 81 hours, but you can transform back to yourself when you want to, which Mynthë rarely did but everyone else who has used it usually does.)
I used it. It is considerably more awkward to be a naked Orren girl lying on a dining-room table than a naked Zi Ri. (One always looks about the same when one casts Cloak to become another species, unless, for some reason, one looks different. I have been turning into a college-age Orren girl since I was college-aged; I have never much tried to be anything different.) "And I'll be needing clothes, too," I said.
"In that parlor -- or maybe that one? I can't remember which", Kantele said, pointing off to the side of the Grand Dining Hall, which has far too many parlors and other doors off of it.
(Digression: I am shy about putting on or taking off clothes. I am not particularly shy about being seen unclothed aboard Strayway; it is a perfectly dignified way for a feathery lizard to appear -- though I do generally wear ribbons if I'm in more public. Most bipeds wear clothes most of the time in public, of course. Being nude and Orren in my own skyboat among my adult friends is a touch unusual, but, if I don't think about it, doesn't actually feel different than being nude and Zi Ri. If I do think about it, it feels rather dirty, perhaps because I mostly did that sort of thing with Mynthë. Being clothed and Orren feels a just touch dirty; the tickle and pressure of clothing makes me a bit more aware of my body: or, more exactly, the body I am currently using that is not precisely mine. But putting on or taking off clothes is quite embarrassing -- perhaps because I am not very good at it, or perhaps because I cannot avoid thinking how I look while I am doing it.)
wobbled strode with a slightly cautious dignity into that
parlor, wherein I interrupted two friends doing things that they Absolutely
Should Be Doing Together In Private. I yelped loudly enough for people in
Oorah Thrassen to hear, excused myself in a hurry, and scurried into the other
"You look a bit shaken. What happened in there?" Kantele asked.
"Blenny and Quendry are playing diamond chess," I said. "I don't want to wiggle furry breasts at either of them."
"Sorry, sorry," said Kantele, who wasn't, much.
I'm not sure if this is innocent or not
So I went into the other parlor, and investigated Kantele's choice of clothing. And stuck my head out. "You're trying to get me laid, aren't you?"
"Well, you're not, and I think someone ought to," said Kantele. "And if you're not going to avail yourself of certain eager youths on-board who are devoutly hoping to complete the full set of other-species lovers before they turn thirty." (That would be Inconnu, unless I've missed a decade or so and one of the kids has grown up an awful lot.)
"I am not wearing this around Eigrach," I proclaimed. "And you know very well that it's about seven flavors of immoral to sleep with my hirelings, henchmen, servants, or clients."
"For which reason you carefully made most of the traff-folk in Vheshrame into your hirelings, henchmen, servants, or clients," said Kantele.
"Not true. Just the ones who needed help," I quite accurately corrected.
Kantele shook her head. "Which turned out to be most of us, at least at one point or another. In any case, we're not in Vheshrame any more. There must be hundreds of traff-folk hidden in that city out there. Go out and claim one or two of them! You wouldn't be the first wrongfolk to!"
"Not wearing this!" I whined.
"It worked fine for me," said Kantele. "In case you were wondering where I've been the last few nights."
"Out of mourning, I take it?" I asked, somewhat unkindly. Her consort died a few years ago.
"Dearie, I was out of mourning two months after he died. You, I'm afraid, have been in mourning for Mynthë since before I met Hithiat, and that was fifty years ago."
I thought about that. "Right. I am now persuaded that either (1) I should wear these interesting garments, and use them, or (2) I shouldn't get involved with mortals anymore. I'm not quite sure which."
"Well, since you're putting the clothes on, it looks like (1)," said Kantele.
"I'm going to wear livery over them, though," I said. It made sense to me -- pretending to be an Eigrachter is too hard, pretending to be any sort of local not much better, and wearing Strayway livery is pretty much advertising that I'm traff, anyhow. And if I do meet someone, and get to the point of removing the livery, discovering the interesting garments underneath it probably won't hurt the mood a bit.