[OOC: Sorry for the surprise hiatus. I got surprisingly hiatized. I hope I'm back to ... not quite normal, but close enough so I can see it from here. -bb]
Back on the Strayway, Vae animated Mr. Snootloose and sent him to tell Quendry all about the Zonsmi Oak. Grinwipey and Yerenthax trotted off for a drinking contest. Jyondre went for a swim, Phaniet went for something that might or might not have involved water, Este, brandy, or loose ends of something in the laboratory.
Rehit excused himself to visit the privy, which was a more involved journey than it ought to have been, and required asking questions of the furniture. This was not quite his first time on Strayway, but it was his first time on this floor, unaccompanied.
I blinked at my secret lover, or, according to our current strategy, my primary client. Thenel blinked back at me, flickered his eyes to the corridor where his fiance had gone, back to me.
Thenel:“Ten lozens is not so hard to come by, in fact.” This is relevant because of our ethically dubious arrangement. Thenel is allowed to hire prostitutes to indulge certain despicable amatory tastes — needs, even — that Rehit is unwilling or unable to perform himself. (I must say, Rehit is being a rather generous fiance there; many would not condone such things at all.) Thenel and I have stretched the definition of this to include transaffection, which Rehit is clearly unable to provide himself and Thenel clearly needs just as much. So, I am moonlighting as a non-guild prostitute, and charging Thenel ten lozens a toss. Which is rather cheap, but, as I said, I am non-guild; also non-expert, and perhaps a bit tawdry.
Me:“I’m glad to hear that it poses no great hardship for you. I suppose that other arrangements could be made if it did prove troublesome.”
Thenel:“The main trouble involved is that Bluelark is a bit scarce. Ordinarily those who hire their services for that sort of price are easy to hire; they practically throw themselves on you.” (Bluelark, you must remember, is my name when I am in Orren shape.)
Me:“I imagine that, if Bluelark were here, she would practically throw herself on you. And be rather embarrassed when your husband came back.”
Thenel:“My fiance, not yet my husband. He shall take at least six minutes, perhaps nine; I know him well. And who knows how long that six or nine minutes could be?”
Me:“In the arms of a skilled lover, an hour can seem like a minute. In the arms of Bluelark, perhaps the reverse is true? While I have often slept with her, I have never once spent a minute in her arms.”
Thenel:“I have endured embraces that seemed endless, embraces best ended by a knee to the crotch of the embracer. Yet Bluelark was not that sort. I quite enjoyed them, feeling pinioned or cradled by massive spells.”
Me:“You do get your ten lozens’ worth, don’t you?”
Thenel:“I do indeed. Still, signs indicate that Bluelark was physically exalted as well, unless I am sorely mistaken.”
Me:“She was. Or so I am informed by reliable sources.”
Thenel:“Such as Bluelark herself?”
Me:“For one instance.”
Boots thumped on the parquet floor of the corridor, approaching us.
Thenel:“I’m quite sorry about the slow pace of the rebuilding work on your skyboat. I understand that you, as I, appreciate perfection in your surroundings. It must be rather upsetting to be forced to dwell in a skyboat which still bears broken towers and walls from that sky-pirate’s attack.”
Me:“What? Oh, yes, indeed it does.” I am not quite so used to cheating; the sudden change of conversational topic perplexed me for a moment.
Rehit came around the corner, boots clomping, magic sword gleaming at his hip, and took Thenel’s hand possessively. He looked rather grim.
Rehit:“Pardon me, Sythyry. A matter of some small personal concern of mine and of yours has arisen. May I tie a bit of conversation to your tail, with privacy?”