A [Business] Meeting with Monsters [21 Lage 4261]
We’re trying to look innocuous and unconcerned, of course.
Nonchalant. Not a single chalan here! Nope, nope!
So, I flew casually through the city gate. Not the main
gate, the Halflight Gate, which is much smaller and on the other side of the city. Vae wasn’t there
of course, and, officially, nobody else from Vheshrame was
around or even interested.
Which is utterly false. Kaim-Su, Seeks-Balance, Paarhan,
Rhedwy, and two dozen equally imposing people were lurking
casually in the two towers that flank the gate — towers
heavy with Illusidor enchantments, which we’re fairly sure
Vae can’t see through.
Inside the city, lesser guards were standing two or three
blocks from the gate, informing everyone that it was closed
for another hour or two at best. There was much grumbling.
There was even more grumbling when I flew overhead — “Why
does the Zi Ri get to go through?”
Get to go through? The hardly!
Outside the Halflight Gate is a small stand of arken trees,
which is specifically where we agreed to meet. I had almost
landed on a branch when I noticed the whole grove was all
sparky to the magic sense with something unduly complicated
and Mutoc Sustenoc Kennoc Locador Corpador.
I peered at it a bit, then tried to use the Eye of Mirizan
and Melizan to dissect it a bit. Which was not easy, since
it’s not exactly what the Eye is intended for, and I’d never
used the thing before. An embarrassing ninth of an hour
later, I decided it was an overly complicated thing that was
watching for one prime species, and would teleport a
particular far-off person here when such a person came.
Maybe … Glikkonen is traff and waiting for zir Orren lover?
Well, no. Zie wouldn’t use an overly complicated spell like
that, zie’d trim it down to the right size. For one thing.
I couldn’t think of any decent way to procrastinate any
more, so I landed on the branch. Which, of course, brought
Vae there, in her usual spell-display of straight claws and
curved claws opening around her.
It’s easier to deal with Vae when she looks like a big ugly
lizard than when she looks like a standard cute Orren girl.
One’s habits concerning people and monsters are not
confounded. If one is traff, one is less likely to find
one’s interest interested. And so forth.
She does look hideous though. She’s huge and overgrown.
Her scales are big craggy sloppy things. Her face is casual
and blobby. She has no wings, so she looks like a very
chopped-up and crippled lizard.
And she’s got more spells around her than the city wall
does. Defense spells, they looked like at a quick glance.
My pile of rescuers would have to spend a long while
blunting them down before they could do anything much to Vae
herself. I hoped the Eye of Mirizan and Melizan was paying
attention to them.
Vae:“Hiio, Sythyry. It’s glad to me you came.”
She sounded morose.
Me:“You sound morose — is there something
wrong?” Yes, this is technically treason, but I think
this treason is part of my new job responsibilities.
Vae:“Oh, it’s a terrible fear I put on
Greenspikes, and all without meaning to.” She talks
backwards like that.
Me:“How did that happen, if you’d like to
Vae:“From when I protected her, is all of it.
She’s all nervous now, and full of fears.” She sounded
petulant. “And nothing was I doing but keeping her from
getting her beating!”
Me:“Well, I think you made your point on the
thugs. But then you made it a few more times, and quite
hard. We’re fairly gentle people really, and that’s what we
like in our lands.” I doubt that Vheshrame has been
described as “gentle” three times in three thousand years,
and I was quite sure that the hordes of mighty warriors
sitting safely behind the city walls were giggling their
Vae:“It’s not so gentle I was raised, though.
I fear me I’ll cast the quick and regret the slowly.” (I
fear you too, Vae.)
Me:“Well, could you take a shape without a
tail? Zie could be less afraid that way.” In a story I
read as a tiny lizard, a tiny lizard tricks Blue Trumgullion
into taking a tailless shape, and then all heroes come and
kill him. How To Kill Nendrai didn’t mention that,
but it seemed like a good approach.
Vae:“Might could be!” She turned into a
pren tree in a huge glass pot. No tail in sight.
Defeating a nendrai couldn’t possibly be that easy.
Vae:“…” Pren trees in glass pots can’t
Until they do a sloppy Mutoc Sustenoc Airador
Illusidor Spiridor on the air blowing through their
branches, turning some of it into sound. This wasn’t an
insanely complicated spell, either — if it were a pattern
spell, I could cast it. “Is it any safer you’re feeling,
Well, I had been for a few seconds there.
Me:“Well, I rather doubt you’re here to do
anything horrible to me, Vae.”
Vae:“That I am not! It’s trading that I’m here
Me:“Well, how do we do that?”
Vae teleported a small bundle of moss next to me on the
branch. I peered at it. It fell off. I flew down to
look. Each thready leaf of moss had a vein of lead running
down the middle.
For a tailless nendrai, she was certainly casting quite a
lot of spells.
Me:“That’s lead moss!” My powers of
observation and analysis are among the keenest on the
branch. (At least, I’m among them when I’m with certain of
Vae:” It is, truly, and without any spells on
it at that. Can you sell it in the city, think
Me:“I’m sure the guild smiths don’t hide
themselves past all finding! I don’t know how much they’ll
pay — I’ve never sold ‘em lead moss. Or anything
Vae:“I’ve only just begun to know how much
things are costing.”
Me:“And what would you like me to bring you in
Vae:“Oh, anything, I suppose me. A book,
perhaps, for it’s a bit lonely and tedious in the
Underneaths to me.”
I wonder how she’d appreciate a copy of How To Kill Nendrai?
Me:“Ah, I live among many bookstores! I shall
find you … a book of stories? A textbook on legal
philosophy? A book of recipes for cooking birds?”
Vae:“The stories? Easy stories, like? I
haven’t been reading for very long. It’s fighting my mother
taught me first, and only a little of how to live with
myself between fights.”
Which, I suppose, is a reasonable parenting style for a
Me:“I’ll find you a good book of
Vae:“Oh, the thanks!” She hopped up and
down excitedly, using a separate tiny teleport spell for
each hop. That was just plain ostentatious: she would have
wasted fifteen cley on hopping, if she had been using cley.
And then she asked after Strenata, and that was its own
tricky bit of diplomacy to answer — especially since
Strenata herself was listening from inside the gate, as best
she could. And then she teleported away.
I flew back to the Halflight Gate.
I have never, ever been so glad to be back inside city
Except three days ago, and three days from now, and each
three days forever.