Deep in the corridors and passageways of Strayway, unknown to me, is the Solarium of the Geese and Pines. (Technically it is known to me. I didn’t know about it yesterday, and I still haven’t seen it.) The geese (of which there are four) are made of oak and feathers, and stuffed with wool. They are broad and flat of back. They paddle around in a shallow pool of steaming water scented with balsam. The balsam comes from the trees, which are seven in number, and living, and not much bigger than me, and planted in oversized oak chalices. And rather drippy, I think, if they are making the pool balsamic. The solarium, water, geese, trees, and all formed near the edge of one of the larger and earlier crystals I used to build the interior of Strayway. Some century I hope I understand how that worked. Vae has been exploring Strayway lately. I’m afraid she is bored.
Into this solarium teleported Vae (who did the actual teleporting), Arfaen, Quendry, and Lithia in Orren phase. I shall make up their dialog, for they did not record everything they said, and I wasn’t spying on them despite three of them wearing scrying insignia.
Quendry:“It’s swans in the water! They are couches and chairs! They are floating and floating!” He climbed onto the nearest swan and kicked it away from the shore with his foot.
Arfaen:“Be careful, Quendry! Don’t fall in!”
Lithia: “It’s not very deep, is it? Under three feet.” (Lithia was in Orren phase.)
Arfaen:“A child can drown in that shallow a pool, or less. If his heavy towelcloth bathrobe which he insisted on wearing to the picnic gets waterlogged and heavy.”
Quendry:“I can’t drown in a pool! I am on a swan! The swan can drown in a pool! I am not in a pool!”
Arfaen:“You’re on a swan in a pool. Stay on the swan please, Quendry.”
Vae:“And how can the swan drown? The head of the swan is not in the water!”
Arfaen:“Don’t say that, Vae!”
Vae:“And why not? The saying is true. The head is not in any water.”
Arfaen:“Watch. Just watch.”
And indeed, Quendry grabbed the swan next to his by the neck, and attempted to push its head into the water. This involved leaning most of the way off of his swan, and wrestling with another swan larger than he was, with three-quarters of his body arching over the water, and the flaps of his bathrobe getting soaked.
Arfaen:“Quendry! Stop that!”
Quendry: wrestle wrestle wrestle
Arfaen:“Quendry, stop that at once!”
Quendry: wrestle wrestle wrestle
Arfaen:“Quendry! Do I need to come there and pull your tail?”
Quendry: [still wrestling the swan] “I was stopping! I was stopping and stopping and stopping!”
Arfaen:“Stopping means stopping. It does not mean continuing to wrestle the swan.”
Quendry:“I was very very stopping!”
So Arfaen growled at Quendry, and he growled back, and that made a little choof.
Arfaen:“Throwing sticks at the nendrai. Safe or not safe?”
Quendry:“Safe! Vae will catch them and turn them into meat candies and throw them back!”
Arfaen:“Not safe. You might catch her unawares, and she might do something devastating and magical in alarm.”
Vae:“Not that! The I try to be a careful and good monster to my friends!”
Arfaen:“And you often succeed, Vae. We wouldn’t bring you to a picnic otherwise. But always, if someone sneaks up on you and surprises you?”
Arfaen:“Thank you. Next question. Jumping off a chair: safe or not safe?”
Quendry:“Safe! I can hop and jump off a chair!”
Arfaen:“Lithia, care to judge that one? Jumping off a chair — even the back of a tall chair?”
Lithia:“Well, not safe, for the back of tall chair.”
Quendry:“Oh! It is the back of a tall chair? That is sneaky!”
Arfaen:“And that’s two out of three, so I have affain.”
Quendry:“Yay, mommy’s got affan in safety!” He pounced into her arms, wagging his tail, and getting greatly licked.
While they were cuddling, Lithia curled up and mewled in pain.
Quendry:“Lithia, are you all right?”
Lithia:“Fine! Just my hourlies.”
Quendry:“Are you sure?”
Lithia:“Well, yes. I’ve been doing it all my life, I know how it goes.”
Quendry:“But you’re still Orren! How can you still be Orren if you turned into a Rassimel when you were Orren?”
Vae:“Not so Orren is she, and very Rassimel.”
Quendry:“No! She is Orren! She always is Orren these days! I think she got better maybe!”
Vae:“Not so Orren does she look, save to the sight and the feel and the scent and the sounding of her voice.”
Lithia:“Which is all of Quendry’s senses, more or less.”
Vae:“… the yes …”
Lithia:“I didn’t get better. It’s not something anyone can get better from. I’m just wearing a disguise.”
Quendry:“Oh, a disguise? Are you sneaking and spying on the Mayor? Are you sneaking and sneaking?”
Lithia:“Well, I suppose so, sort of. Not really spying though. I’m just trying to look always the same species. It’s easier not to have to explain my hourlies to all sorts of people in Eigrach.”
Vae:“And you started before we got to Eigrach, did you not, Lithia?”
Lithia:“I didn’t want to explain my hourlies to Eager-Eyes and Dorze, either.”
Arfaen:“You’ve been spending a lot of time with Eager-Eyes.”
(I am not particularly happy that she is spending a lot of time with Eager-Eyes. This is not because I think that Lithia should be traff. (I don’t think anyone needs to be traff — it’s not actually valuable or even convenient — though of course my closest friends are all traff.) It’s because I wish Lithia had better prospects than being the spare sweetie of a former stowaway. But she does not; and she only has those prospects due to being disguised, I think.)
Lithia:“Oh, right. Quendry, do you know that nobody’s supposed to talk about my problem? Especially not to Eager-Eyes … or Dorze … or anyone who didn’t come from Vheshrame with us?”
Quendry:“I’ll be quiet! I’ll be quiet and quiet and quiet!”
Lithia:“Better than you were stopping and stopping and stopping, before?”
Quendry had the grace to tuck his tail between his legs, at least. I hope he remembers.
The actual picnic was eaten on the backs of floating swans. I believe that the menu was: mutton sandwiches with sweet pickles and lots of butter; applesauce in little crocks; steamed carrots with offirrah (a pungent and spicy condiment made from fermented chilis, garlic, and snakes); cold wheat tea sweetened with sugar and honey. Which probably doesn’t sound terribly sophisticated given that it’s our best chef making it, but she made it to meet Quendry’s tastes more than anything else.