Vae’s second stop, when the children protested that they were hungry, was on the prime skyship Ulcelarde, out of … we’re not sure where. Vae spotted it in the open air between two side-branches of some world-branch seven rings down from Ketheria.
Thus it was that three children, Windigar, and Vae — in the form of a sea urchin, whose spikes were tiny serpents — appeared on the deck of the skyship in a clawsome coil of Locador magic.
Count Rassimel:“Oh, gracious of my goodness! Whoever and whatever have just appeared upon our deck?” He was a tall and fluffy Rassimel man wearing a many-pocketed leather kirtle sort of thing, a bright red hat with a complicated feathery crest on it, and heavy silver earrings. From the latter we deduce that he was greater nobility.
(None of the survivors actually remember any of the names of people, so we are identifying them by role and species.)
Major Cani:“It appears to be a puny congeries of savage children, doubtless a pack of benighted savages from some distant and caustically uncivilized region of the World Tree. They have brought along some sort of demon steed, though not one I should be delighted to mount!” She was a tall and brawny Cani woman wearing an elaborate uniform, and carrying an enchanted metal sword and an enchanted glass bow. We give her a high military title.
Quendry:” Excuse me, but we’ve been traveling for hours and we’re quite hungry. Do you suppose you could spare us a meal?”
Count Rassimel:” Ah! How quaint! One of them appears to be making some pathetic mewling noises vaguely reminiscent of the sounds of actual language. Do you suppose they’ve actually got a crumb of education about them?”
Major Cani: “That strikes me as an unrealistically optimistic attitude, old chap.”
(Back home, afterwards, Phaniet had to ask, “Were they really being that callous?” To which the answer was “No.” Vae did learn the language herself, by her usual wicked and highly illegal method, on about the word “congeries”, so she understood what they were saying. The skyboaters couldn’t understand the wrongfolk, nor vice versa, at this point in the conversation. The actual last two lines were closer to “I wonder what language it is they’re speaking?” and “I don’t recognize a word of it. It sounds wild and barbarous to me, old chap.”)
(So you must understand the sky-passengers as being people who are so far removed, physically and intellectually, from true civilization — viz. Ketheria — that they don’t even recognize spoken Ketherian. The language of high culture and science everywhere! So I shall continue to slightly misrepresent them as brutish people of no good character.)
Count Rassimel: “Well, they must have stolen some sort of teleportation device, or they wouldn’t be turning up on my skyboat like so many rotten livers in a bowl of soup.”
Major Cani: “Quite so, old chap, quite so.” She drew her sword and waved it casually at the children. (This sort of behavior is why (1) I am slightly misrepresenting them, and (2) it is only a slight misrepresentation.) “Be off with you, you disgusting street urchins, and take your disgusting sea urchin with you too.”
Count Orren: “Splendid line, Major Cani, simply splendid. A shame they can’t speak any reasonable tongue, or they’d be driven off simply by the overwhelming pungency of your wordplay.” He was a shortish person lying curled up on a green leather an ottoman, entirely naked except for gigantic silver earrings even larger than Count Rassimel’s.
Windigar: [Speaking in Common, which the foreigners -- and every halfway-intelligent creature on the World Tree -- necessarily understand. Though not very well, because it is a very minimal language, and most elaborate concepts must be expressed by complex phrases.] “Hello. I’m sorry to drop in on you like this. We are hungry, and would like some food, if you have any to spare.”
Count Rassimel: “I don’t wish to chat with a pack of thieves when we’re here to work, and I shall not make the effort to decypher someone babbling in the common tongue, instinctual though it may be. I don’t know which is worse, the underage ones or the adult one who appears somehow to be the ringleader. Would you be an absolute twinking sapphire of a chap, Major Cani, and run them off?”
Major Cani: “I should be delighted, Count Rassimel; I have been craving nothing else for the last seven or eight hours.” She put the tip of her sword at Windigar’s throat. “We are trying to prevent a hate-war here. It’s quite important and quite urgent. We don’t allow barbarians to interrupt our delicate negotiations. Go away, you, or we’ll take certain actions designed to drive you away.”
Which would probably have worked if they had been four random primes.
Vae: [In their language] “Not often do I allow primes to threaten my friends!”
Major Cani: “I am a tall and brawny Cani woman wearing an elaborate uniform, using an enchanted metal sword. You are a tiny liminal crustacean whom I could crush with one foot. It is I, not you, who is in a position to allow or disallow things here!”
Vae: “But the hunger is on these children, and you shall give them food now and without any more threatening!”
Major Cani: “I believe you misunderstand the balance of power in the situation.”
So Vae transformed the top deck of the skyboat into a battalion of scorpion-tailed wooden Sleeth.
So everyone — primes, nendrai, and battalion of scorpion-tailed wooden Sleeth — fell into the uppermost floor that had been below-deck when there was a deck above it. This was not exactly what Vae had intended. She had not realized that there was but a single layer of wood that served as floor and ceiling both.
Feralan screamed in considerable pain.
So Vae teleported her friends away.
(Phaniet asked, “And what of the elementals?” We have no certain idea, but they most likely disrupted the delicate negotiations even more, if not actually slaughtering all the negotiators and launching that hate-war.)
Feralan had broken his leg in the fall. Everyprime else was rather shaken and bruised and bumped, and, of course, still hungry.
Vae: “The vast sorrow is on me, that a simple begging for dinner has become a caustic green slime and slipped through my claws!”
Feralan: “My leg, my leg, my leg!”
Vae: “The bone-fixing I can put in it.”"
Windigar: “Sythyry says that your healing spells hurt a lot. Let’s see if we can’t get to a proper city with a proper Healer’s Guild on it and get a proper bone-setting spell put on it? Feralan’s miserable enough as it is; let’s at least give him a chance to avoid further torture.”
Vae: (expressed considerable and extensive apologies and sorries; she’s pretty sure she’s being awful, but she can’t help it.)
Feralan: “Never mind that, please, Vae. Please just take us somewhere I can get healed up and get our watch and go home, so you can stop being so awful any more today.”
Vae: “The swiftness shall I bring us there with!”
I’m afraid Feralan growing up to be an adventurer, if he’s already diplomacying at the nendrai so thoroughly — when he’s in pain, and scared half out of his mind for good reasons.