Dogpaddling [1 Lage 4261]
At last notice, Ilottat was dumbfounded by the concept of
going swimming with me. Anoof and Narngi rescued me — or
maybe they rescued Ilottat, I’m not quite sure — by
demanding to come too. That was convincing. Everyone, by
this time, suspects that Ilottat is utterly traff and
involved with a traff Zi Ri. (It took me five
tries to write that.) Evidently the presence of
some Cani makes it all innocent.
Or something. I have no idea at all.
Actually they recommended that I use Cloak of Another
God to be Cani in the pond, thereby sparing Ilottat a
certain degree of public scrutiny.
Now, one of the truisms of Cloak of Another God is
that nobody but a Cani can really imitate a Cani. Cani have
many tricks for secretly communicating “I am really a Cani!”
to each other at all times. Actually, they’re not secret,
and they don’t just say “I am really a Cani”. The curve of
Anoof’s tail and the set of his fur in her presence explain
his relationship to Narngi to any other Cani at a glance.
Cani learn these things from birth, instinctively. A
really devoted Rassimel could pick them up in a decade. A
Zi Ri … well, if I liked Cani as much as Orren, I’d
probably learn it in a few decades. It’s tricky.
(I should talk about being able to smell. Cani and Sleeth
always say that nobody but them can really smell. They’re right.)
But today I didn’t need to imitate a Cani well enough to
fool another Cani. The Kalspiren Pond was pretty full, but
mainly of Orren. Naked cavorting waterform Orren. The few
Cani were there to swim, not to socialize — yes, that
sounds physically impossible for Cani, but whatever — and
nobody challenged me.
Of course, actually swimming in Cani shape is a bit
of a challenge.
Especially with naked cavorting waterform Orren cavorting
nakedly in the water all around.
Fortunately, my Cani shape came out female, or I would have
had even more trouble swimming, especially decently.
Ilottat was no help at all. “Hey, cu-ferch, doggy-girl,
it’s a good thing you didn’t wind up a boy, or you’d have
much more trouble swimming, especially decently,” he said,
more or less.
“That’s a very odd thing to say, Ilottat,” said Anoof. “It’s
also a good thing she didn’t wind up a Khtsoyis, or she’d be
an even worse swimmer.”
“Oh, right. Anghofiais!” he said, and spent the next
fifteen minutes at the bottom of the pond hiding from
everyone. Finally he came up for air, and I did my best to
chase him around the pond. Considering how Cani swim and
how Orren swim, well, there was considerable laughter but
Two-thirds of an hour of swimming left the Cani among us
quite hungry. I didn’t feel like being a Cani on dry land
– much less a naked wet Cani — so I went back to Zi Ri
Ilottat:“I wish you wouldn’t do that sans,
without warning me!”
Me:“It’s my body. I can change it how I
like. Besides, I’m hungry and tired and I don’t know how to
eat properly with a short stiff little neck. Besides
besides, I’m going to have to look myself before my next
class, aren’t I?”
Thuswise beaten into submission, Ilottat bought us
chub-beetles and fried carrot strips and spicy cream from
Darkwad (who is as cheerful as ever, and looking faintly
prosperous), and the four of us sat in a gazebo by the pond
and gobbled them up.
I ogled the naked cavorting waterform Orren. Ilottat
pretended to ogle the naked cavorting waterform Orren.
The Cani laughed at him: “Anyone with a nose can tell that
you’re not interested, Ilottat. You’d be better off
not ogling them.” Having just had a Cani nose, I
have no idea how they can tell that, or even if they can
tell that. Obviously they can smell the peak of
interpersonal excitement — anyone can — and presumably
they can smell lesser degrees. I doubt that they can smell
Ilottat glared at them. “I am trying to look decent.”
Narngi:“Even if you’re not?”
Ilottat:“I’m not not.”
I practiced a hurt expression at him. (It wasn’t entirely fake.)
Ilottat:“… as a general rule.”
Me:“Is that an apology?”
Ilottat:[In a very low voice indeed.]“Please,
love, let’s talk about this later, in private. “
And I tried, later, in private, in his room. He distracted
me very effectively with naked cavorting landform Orren
He’s gotten quite good at that, I must say. Orren
learn fast when they’re passionate about things, and he’s
very passionate about passion today.