I will start from the end this time.
- Lesson 1: Never, ever keep a nendrai around the house.
- Lesson 2: If, for some reason, you are obliged to violate Lesson 1, keep the nendrai out of reach of children and other small fragile beings (viz. everyone).
- Lesson 3: If, for some reason, you cannot manage lesson 2 either, educate your children very well in how to behave around the nendrai.
- Codicil to Lesson 3: Children, even very obedient ones, can be very literal about how you educate them. Beware phrasing like “Never ask Vae to give you anything.”
- Lesson 4: Have a responsible adult around at all times.
- Lesson 5: Be aware that Lesson 4 does not actually help.
- Lesson 6: You really should have stuck with Lesson 1.
Windigar has few actual duties at the moment, since Strayway is not going anywhere. This means that he can give himself useful or amusing alternate duties. This morning, he picked the alternate duty of playing Pong the Wasserflorn (an easy game, suitable for several young players) with the children: Ochirion, Feralan, and Quendry. This is Useful and sometimes even Self-Sacrificing Duty, since relatively few adults play Pong the Wasserflorn voluntarily amongst themselves. This was at one end of the Great Dining Hall.
The topic turned to the upcoming wedding.
Quendry:“Who else is marrying Lithia? Windigar, are you marrying Lithia?”
Windigar:“No, she’s not really my type.” (By which he means that he is cisaffectionate and Lithia is not always the same species, or, perhaps, he is significantly her elder, or, perhaps, he is too sensible to get involved with the boss’s quasi-daughter.)
Quendry:“But only one wife? What if she needs a husband or a mate or a sister-sister?”
Windigar:“Lithia is getting married as an Orren. You’re thinking of a Cani marriage, which has all those things. Orren don’t.”
Quendry:“Oh! I know! That is easier!”
Windigar:“Why is it easier?”
Ochirion:“Because we only have to get two people presents, dummy!”
Windigar:“That is true! Have you thought about what present to give her?”
Ochirion:“Maybe a fish?” He ponged the wasserflorn, grinned, and passed the dice to Feralan.
Windigar:“A live fish?”
Ochirion:“A fried fish! Every Orren likes a fried fish!”
Windigar:“No, a wedding present shouldn’t be food, especially not food that you need to eat right then.”
Feralan:“Maybe a pair of copper drinking chalices?” He rolled the dice, and got only a squince.
Windigar:“Pick something you can afford!”
Quendry:“Could we afford a watch? Lithia would like a watch! She could know when she is about to get all sore every hour!”
Windigar:“I’m not sure she wants to know that much…”
Feralan:“That’s a great idea! I bet we could afford a watch!”
Ochirion:“Windigar, will you help us afford on a watch?”
Windigar:“Let me talk to your parents about that. A nice watch does make a good present, and I think a few families could manage a pair of them, if we pool our money together.” He rolled the dice, and got within one move of ponging the wasserflorn himself.
Quendry:“Yay! I want to get Lithia the bestest watch on the whole World Tree!”
Windigar:“Well, a reasonably nice watch, anyways.”
Ochirion:“No! The bestmost watch is the watch for Lithia!”
Windigar:“You can help pick it out, Ochirion.”
At which point, Feralan noticed that Vae was sitting some ways down the hall from them, and listening in, as she often does. He thought, “I’m not supposed to ask Vae to give me anything. But I’m not asking for me, I’m asking for Lithia.”
Feralan:“Vae? Would you like to help us give the best watch in the World Tree for Lithia?”
Vae:“The yes! The love I have for Lithia is dear, and the good wishes for her Orren marriage I have are vast!”
Windigar:“Vae, could you just put some money into the pool, and we’ll all pay for the watch together?”
Vae:“Not so little will I do for Lithia and Something-Eyes!”
And she scooped up the three boys, Windigar, and herself in a wild whirl of Locador magic, and they were all gone from Strayway, and from all of Srineia.
The Locador blast woke me up, and I came in a hurry to interrogate the witnesses, and try to reassure Zascalle, Thiane, Arfaen, and Mellilot that their children would be safe. I didn’t do a very good job. I wasn’t even able to persuade myself that they would be safe. I myself have been killed vacationing with Vae.