Grinwipey:“One day Flokin ‘n Tenmen were churfing their scruffles with a pratch, and along came Lenhirrik singing the play-day roundelay, and next thing you know everything’s all over the elmies, and out pops that oak thing.”
Thenel:“I’m quite sorry, but I didn’t quite follow that. I don’t speak Ketherian very well.”
Jyondre:“That’s OK, neither does Grinwipey.”
Grinwipey:“I know every word you do, and I can baroque up a twining paradiddle with nothin’ more than m’linguistic competence ‘n Mr. Snootloose there!”
Yerenthax:“If you are threatening my fiance, I shall warn you, I will defend him most severely!”
Grinwipey:“Who’s threatening who, now? I didn’t say a fighty word — not a single fighty word!”
Yerenthax:“That is true…”
Me:“No, it’s not true. ‘Paradiddle’ is a drumming phrase, and usually when you talk about drumming, it’s with maces on skulls.”
Grinwipey:“Fair wholty, boss. Fair wholty all here and there with the bear in its hair.”
Me:“… and I think that’s my full ‘understand Wipey’ budget for the day.”
Grinwipey:“Y’ain’t here t’listen to m’talkyburps, Boss Feathers. Sightseeing’s the name of the game, if the game ain’t blame’n’shame.”
So we stopped listening to him, and looked at the Zonsmi Oak. We were still a quarter-mile off, and behind a heavy invisible fireproofed wooden wall, and it still looked rather intimidating. It’s a tall forky fiery shape, its seven upper limbs heavy with blazing acorns, its eleven or twelve lower limbs writhing slowly against the scorched soil. I looked away and closed my eyes, and the afterimage of the Oak glared at me from behind my eyelids, and made threatening gestures.
Phaniet:“And that’s what you’re fighting over? I would think you’d be fighting to not have to deal with it — or fighting it, more likely.”
Rehit:“We’re more fighting over the land. Especially the land where the Zonsmi Oak once stood.”
Me:“Why that, especially?”
Grinwipey:“’cause it was Tenmen waddling around with his wimple around his ankles, y’biffy whiffy smith.”
Thenel:“Precisely. The Zonsmi Oak melts the soil beneath it to stone. Thousands and thousands of pounds of stone.”
Rehit:“Imagine what we could do with that much stone!”
Thenel:“Though it is not the most beautiful stone. It is glossy, but it is an uncertain black-brown color.”
Rehit:“Still, a city gate armored with stone, or a fortress wearing stone armor!”
Thenel:“Such as Helleshario already enjoys.”
Grinwipey:“Figures you yanciboos weren’t off narshing your narpers ‘n slapping down flap for that yappy zap over just a wee tippy slip of Ain’t-The-Best Forest ‘n the civic honor.” (In retrospect, I believe that “civic honor” was the most obscene bit of that, in Wipey’s mind.)
Me:“Shall we approach more closely?”
Rehit:“Not too close. It can lash about quite dangerously with those branches. A few hundred feet is generally safe.”
Me:“Why all the precautions, the flying barrel and such?”
Rehit:“Sometimes it leaps.”
Phaniet:“Frantic oak, that.”
So we flew closer. Not that much closer: I swear it was no closer than a thousand feet.
Vae, who had been quietly studying the Oak, squeaked in alarm and did something ridiculous with Locador and Pyrador and things. The oak reared up — there is no better word for it — and flung a cluster of blazing acorns at us. Vae’s spell sent the acorns whirling in blazing wheels off the edge of the branch.
Vae:“The much further should we go now. Not so much does the oak like my presence so close!”
We watched the acorns whirl, easily visible from thirty miles off. The much further we went, and quickly, too.