The next bit of conversation went roughly thus:
Rehit and Thenel: We hereby tell you of the plans of the mayor of Eigrach!
Me: I am somewhat confused thereby! In no small part because I was expecting a rather different conversation!
Thenel:It would be far better if no other conversation occurred!
Me:I need a Cani!
So we got Phaniet, who, despite considerable sorcerous skill, understands social matters as well.
Phaniet:“I understand you are about to reveal your city’s Wicked Plans to us?”
Rehit:“Well, just the ones concerning you.”
Phaniet:“Is this going to explain what happened to poor Totalie, and Glynubla House?”
Thenel:“Yes, exactly so.”
Me:“This is why I need a Cani here.”
Phaniet said nothing, but wagged her tail hard enough to knock over the pool table.
Rehit:“Well. To begin with, we need a wizard in Eigrach. Aiziju isn’t bad exactly, but she’s not that impressive really. Cowardly, for one, and badly-connected, and … she’s here because she couldn’t get a good position closer up to Ketheria at the time.”
Thenel:“And she doesn’t do enchantments.”
Rehit:“So when we heard that Sythyry had gotten exiled from Vheshrame…”
Me:“Wait, I got exiled from Vheshrame?”
Rehit:“That’s what we thought. Why else would a known and admitted pervert pack up zir entire household and go off to the edge of the civilized world for a couple years?”
Me:“Ah. Sadness at losing too many friends, and an overwhelming boredom with being stuck in the same city for well more than a century, could not be the reason. I fear that I overpaid my Smiths’ Guild dues if I’m not going back though.”
Rehit:“Well, we might have been wrong, but that’s what we thought. That you were looking for a new place to settle.”
Me:“I am not, and if I were, I’d be seeking in places where transaffection did not carry such a heavy social penalty.”
Thenel:“We thought you were going as far as possible from some enemy, perhaps.”
Me:“Rather the opposite. Jyondre spoke quite fondly of his homeland. I am easily swayed by attractive Orren from time to time, as it happens.”
Rehit: [flattening his tail in embarrassment] “You needn’t speak of such things if you don’t want to.”
Phaniet:“Zie is boasting.”
Rehit:“… I … am not used to such boasts. Jyondre and Yerenthax perplex me; I do not quite know how to treat them.”
Phaniet:“Like any other married couple.”
Rehit: [despairingly] “But of what species?”
Phaniet:“Orren and Gormoror!”
Rehit sighed, and rubbed his eyes.
Thenel:“In any case, the administration determined that they would attempt to induce you to settle here.”
[This refers to these events, and those of several following entries. -bb]
Rehit:“So, the fight at the bridge of frozen kidneys was part of the plan.”
Phaniet:“Please explain why putting three arrows and one sword through Sythyry would induce zir to stay?”
Rehit:“It let us slip you a nice mansion that we just happened to have ready and waiting, and Vae a nice hunting lodge.”
Phaniet:“… And I thought I was just doing a good job shaking them down.”
Rehit:“Not really. Bwipin complained that he had to start out offering ‘concrete apologies’ because you didn’t ask. He was expecting to give you the whole of Totalie’s former estate, but you caved in much sooner than he was expecting. They’re going to contrive some other occasion to give them to you.”
Phaniet:“Insidious of them.”
Rehit:“They didn’t much like Totalie anyways. It was a convenient way to get rid of a political problem. So, when we heard you were coming, Totalie’s lands got confiscated, with the intent of hooking you. If you are a count of Eigrach, presumably you will stay in Eigrach. Or at least exert yourself on its behalf now and then: both to uphold your reputation as a noble, and to protect your interests.”
Phaniet:“Trying to tie a big enough estate around zir neck to hold zir down.
Rehit:“And provide Totalie as your obedient lover.”
Thenel:“Unfortunately — or fortunately! — he was not quite to your taste.”
Me:“He half-strangled me!”
Thenel:“Precisely. I imagine your tastes would be more precise and civilized?” Tactics: taking a risk to flirt with me, I think?
Phaniet:“No, they’re cruder and more disreputable than that, but zie doesn’t like being strangled. I wouldn’t talk about them if I were you.” Tactics: “Shut up, Thenel!”
Thenel:“The other thing to say is, the official decree is that the repairs on your skyboat proceed very slowly.”
Me:“I had noticed the sluggishness. I thought that it was just the shipwrights being unprepared, or incompetent.”
Thenel:“Neither one. Well, we were not prepared, but we are now fully prepared. We are being deliberately slow. The goal being, to keep you here until you are thoroughly entangled — until you have been somehow given Totalie’s estate, found a native lover or six, and otherwise have plentiful reasons for staying indefinitely.”
Me:“And has the city allocated an officially-determined lover for me?”
Thenel:“Yes, in fact: Totalie was to place himself at your service in every way imaginable. I gather that didn’t work. If the city has made alternate official arrangements, I haven’t heard about it.”
(Translation: Thenel is my lover on his own, not out of a sense of civic duty. If he’s telling the truth of course.)
Me:“You do realize that stabbing me and giving me poor service doesn’t make me want to stay around?”
Rehit:“This point was raised early on, and deemed irrelevant. You do not need a good opinion of the Shipwrights’ Guild, or of me, in order to stay here. You merely need to be trapped by the trappings of wealth and power.”
Me:“Well, I have a good opinion of you now.”
Rehit:“And I of you. You have behaved entirely honorably in this situation — entirely blamelessly! I only wish my city had done the same.”
I glanced at Thenel, who is proof to me that Rehit’s opinion of me is based on his ignorance. Thenel smiled blandly back at me. I suppose Thenel is used to keeping secrets from his fiancé. I suppose I’ll have to get used to it, too.
After we saw Rehit and Thenel off the skyboat (a matter of nearly an hour’s conviviality and avoidance of all sensitive topics), I cornered Phaniet and Kantele by the usual means. “So, should you start by advising me on what to do about Eigrach’s insidious ways? Or perhaps on whether I should break up with Thenel?”