Mushrooms [11 Thory 4385; Eigrach, Srineia]
We -- Phaniet, Este, Windigar, Kantele, and me -- passed through the lumpy streets of Eigrach to the sweet terraces of Via Tydirdi, where the garden of fragrant lillies was a bit past its prime, but the poisonous but lovely hazillit trees were in bloom all about the white-and-rainbow meringue that was Bwipin's longhouse. "Symbolic," said Kantele, who does not trust anyone in Eigrach.
The Khtsoyis guards in their busby hats greeted us at the door. "G'day to you-dono, visitors. You'd be the snushmangers from Ketheria, wouldn't you?"
"We are the nobles, scholars, and guildsmen of Ketheria whom Bwipin has invited to this place," said Phaniet. "Our personal habits are far too refined and sophisticated for discussion with such as you."
"Haw! Told you they was the snushmangers comin' up the walk," said the one on the left, and turned a dismal sick green color. Both Khtsoyis giggled. "Hey, c'mon in, sit in the parlor. Bwipin's still tryin' t'cram his fat belly into a waistcoat 'n tights."
We sat in the parlor briefly, and grumbled about being insulted by Khtsoyis. "Snushmanger, are we?" But what do you expect, from Khtsoyis?
In due course, Bwipin showed up in the parlor, dressed in a loose caftan and a topologically troublesome hat. "Oh, cursed sorry to be so slow, lordies, but I'm not as nimble as I was a hundred pounds ago. Shall we proceed on our little snushquest?"
We blinked at each other. "Snushquest?"
"Our expedition to find and devour the most expensive mushrooms in Eigrach!" boomed Bwipin.
"Someone called us 'snushmangers'," I explained. "We took it for some sort of insulting term for our choice in lovers."
"Not all of our choice!" noted Windigar.
Bwipin sputtered, "Good heavens, man, someone accused you of being mushroom-eaters! Did they know you were going to Gutrumy House?"
"Well, actually, they did," I had to admit.
"Well, if 'snushmanger' is an insult nowadays, it is an insult I shall wear proudly, blast it! I don't get to Gutrumy House nearly often enough. Too expensive, says the wife and spouses!"
"How much should we expect it to be?" asked the practical Kantele, who, along with Zascalle, is quite worried about our finances.
"Ah, think nothing of it. On the city, ma'am! On the city!" proclaimed Bwipin. "By way of a bit of extra apology for the troubles in this and that, and the shipwrights being so slow and all. We're blasted sorry for all that. And I don't mind being your native host there myself!"
"Oh!" said Este. "Shall we change here, or at the restaurant?"
"Change?" asked Bwipin. "You have brought a bit of a suitcase with you, haven't you?"
"With your permission, should you choose to provide it, we were going to all turn into Cani, so as to best appreciate the subtleties of the poisonous mushrooms," Kantele said.
"That's a blasted good idea! Here, I'll grant you temporary auxiliary membership in Coryn!" said Bwipin. We fiddled with magical talismans and Cani garments. Bwipin fiddled with paper and clan tokens. And sniffed. "Phaniet, should I leave Este out of it? You forgot that Strayway had only strong rosemary soap, and went and used lavender!"
"Oh, no," said Phaniet, tail between her legs. With my new Cani nose, I could tell she smelled faintly of male Rassimel. Bwipin, of course, could tell more.
"Ahh, don't fret about that. A distinguished foreigner such as yourself isn't expected to behave like an Eigrachter. Besides, he's a Cani now, isn't he? Though he doesn't blasted smell like it on you!", boomed Bwipin. "Let's go!"
Briefly: as fancy a restaurant as I've ever been in, and that means, quite fancy indeed.
The decor: spiderwebs. Not cobwebs, mind you. The restaurant was bright with sunlight through wicker, and not a single speck of dust sullied the white wythes. But the decor was spiderwebs, artificial spiderwebs made of silk threads, sparkling with powdered glass, spread across floors and ceilings and tables. You could regard them as very sparse and spirally doilies, if you like.
Out of deference to Grinwipey, or my own life, I paid close attention to the restaurant's protections. They looked quite good. Area-effect Heal Poison devices, usable thrice daily for itchy and fever poison (which are annoying if not cured), twelve times daily for harm and howly (which can kill you if not cured).
Plus the waiters -- all Rassimel for better healing power -- clearly knew their magic. Kantele ordered the grilled ciovulse mushroom appetizer; she was the first one to be served. It was beautiful: a spray of tiny pink and purple mushrooms, sprinkled with a few drops of fish sauce and brandy, and grilled over a fire of cedar and onionseed. We passed it around and everyone sniffed at it, and then Kantele popped it into her mouth. "Delicious!" she said, and swallowed, and enjoyed the flavor for a whole ten seconds. Then she looked a bit worried, and gritted her teeth.
Then the waiter stepped behind her and cast Heal Howly Poison. A respectable-strength cast for a non-Guild healer.
Kantele relaxed. "Great staring gods, that's an odd sensation. I needed to scream, over nothing in particular."
I wagged my peculiarly fluffy tail. "Howly poison does that. You scream so loud that you crack your ribs, or you do when it starts to hurt. I've been poisoned that way a few times, and not with a helpful waiter to heal me afterwards."
The waiter smiled. "We strive to please. Who is comfortable enough to have the next appetizer?"
"How much cley do you have left?" asked Este, rather rudely.