The primes left Lavagrave, with rather a lot of reluctance on Windigar’s part. Vae was a vast limbless serpent, red-eyed and more morose than usual, and much of her face was covered with blood from where she had been crying. Feralan looked grim. The younger boys were scampering, because they generally do.
So the party teleported off, Vae’s tail piercing the essential universe in a stitched line zigging up to inner Hybraeia. Or maybe outer Hybraeia. I’m not quite sure where the division is. (There’s only one branch of Ketheria where the division is clear — Aradrueia, where the cities inward of the goddess Lenhirrik are Inner Aradrueia and the ones outward are Outer — but that makes Inner Aradrueia smaller than any other Inner part of Ketheria. (And I am trying to avoid writing down the rest of this, aren’t I? Understandably.))
The space-stitching ended up at Jinteros, to be specific. I was barely aware of Jinteros before today; I do not do much with watches and clocks. Jinteros is, actually, a large and powerful Inner (or Outer?) Ketherian city, with a city wall made of red-ribboned fanged spears, and vast tracts of melon fields. They also have several famous horologists, one of whom is some kind of half-great-half-uncle of mine about three thousand years my senior.
(It is, I think, somewhere between Rude and Arrogant for a Zi Ri to specialize in making timepieces. Thazavirza is, in effect, saying to everyone else, “You will die and I will not; but you may measure the scant hours available to you on one of my fine watches. If, somehow, you can afford one.”)
(Though I’m a Tempador mage, so I’m hardly in a position to criticize zir.)
In any event, Windigar had extracted the clue that fine watches were made in Jinteros from someone in Lavagrave, so that is where they went. Vae coiled around a flowering arken tree not far from the outward gate, and made passers-by feel some combination of fear and sadness. (Without using magic, I mean. She wasn’t actually doing anything until somewhat later. She was just sitting there, albeit wrapped in spells you could magic-sense from two branches away.)
So, three rather bedraggled Rassimel and Cani boys and one rather sleepy Orren wearing some imperfectly-fitting spare garments from a count of a very distant branch, came to Thazavirza’s Horologie of Time. Thazavirza zirself was not there, or didn’t come out to meet them. Instead, they were confronted by the Dread Rassimel Clerk, who spoke to them in tones that suggested that he was mainly conversing with them to (a) pass the time, (b) amuse himself, and (c) keep them from somehow running off with a valuable timepiece.
Clerk: “Ah, gentlefolk of an assorted party wearing garments so unlike those of our usual customers — surely you are people of much wealth and note, going incongnito as street urchins and rogues! How may I assist you on this fine day?”
Feralan: “We’ve come from Srineia to buy your finest watch.”
Clerk: “All the way from Srineia? A notable journey! Your arms must be tired from so much climbing.”
Ochirion: “Our nendrai teleported us.”
Clerk: “Ah! Of course! Your nendrai! How could I ever imagine that a party of such people as yourselves could travel by anything but nendrai-drawn carriage!”
Ochirion: “She just teleported us. Sometimes she made us a kite.”
Clerk: “Ah! Of course! An incognito nendrai, attempting to be inobtrusive! I should have instantly guessed it.”
Windigar: “Well, that actually is true, but we’re here for shopping, not conversation.” He sounded doomed. He knew what trouble they were in — or thought he did. He underestimated considerably.
Clerk: “Shopping! I should hope so! A gaggle of wealthy gunsels such as yourselves, of course you must flop into the first shop you see and pick out a watch instantly!”
Quendry: “Which watch is your best watch? Which watch! Which watch!”
Clerk: “That would be, in the general opinion, the Esclario Soufflarde Transisse Sprecque, which you may observe in that exceedingly magical display case. The protective enchantments on the glass, alone, took four weeks of work by a mighty sorcerer. You may guess somewhat of how we value the watch itself.”
(Afterwards, I tried to get any impressions of what the watch looked like, but none of the survivors had actually looked at it very much. It was mostly made of metal, and had some hands, and some dials, and some magic.)
Quendry: “I have seven lozens and twenty-two terch…”
Clerk: “Ah, excellent! A mere one million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-two lozens more, and the Esclario Soufflarde Transisse Sprecque can be yours! Note that we will spot you the five terch as a special Ragamuffin Discount.”
Ochirion: “I’ve got five lozens more.”
Clerk: “Better and better! Accumulate some two hundred thousand more such friends, and we shall be delighted to do business with you.”
Feralan: “We’d better go back to Vae. Maybe she’s got something in mind for how to pay for it.”
Quendry: “Right! Or maybe she’ll come in here and take it!”
Ochirion: “She can’t come into the city, silly! But I’ll bet she threatens to wreck the countryside and bury the city unless they give her the watch.”
Quendry: “That’s right! She did that to that pirate city, Dossimar was it?”
Windigar: “Children, let’s go have some lunch and talk about our options here.”
Quendry: “OK! Don’t let anybody else buy that Scary-o Souffle Transaffectionate Speech while we’re out!”
Clerk: “It has sat in its case waiting and ticking away for longer than I have been working here. Nonetheless I expect a stampede of buyers this afternoon! So take not overlong getting your two million lozens together.” He smirked.
The wrongfolk (honorary) bought flatbreads with fish spread and tomatoes at a nearby cafe, and discussed their options. Which mostly seemed to be: get the nendrai to take them back home, see if I can afford two million lozens (To which the answer would have been be: “um … not for a watch”), and come back here and buy it.
The clerk, too, went out for his lunch, where he chatted with his neighbors. “Can you imagine who came to my shop today? Four tatty wanderers, looking for our most expensive watch. They said a nendrai brought them! And that the nendrai would destroy the city to get the watch! What silliness, what foolishness, what an amusing arrogance these would-be scammers have!”
The clerk’s neighbors looked at each other nervously. One of them, a captain in the city guard (let us imagine — actually this whole conversation is entirely conjectural) “For a fact, a mighty nendrai did teleport here from very far off. It is curled up around a tree by the outward gate, scaring travellers with the weight of its magic and the heaviness of its sorrow.”
“Oh, no! They were not scammers, but instead they were raiders! We must protect ourselves most mightily against it!” proclaimed the clerk.
“Right you are, clerk!” agreed the Duke of Jinteros, who happened to be sitting next to the clerk at lunch. (Actually I do not know if Jinteros even has a duke, much less where zie happened to be. But for the sake of dramatic consistency, let there be a duke, and let her happen to be having lunch with the clerk and be in an agreeable and city-protective mood.)
And, all unaware of this conversation, Windigar and the children departed from the outward gate, and sat by Vae.
Ochirion: “They have the best watch in the world in there. It’s called the Excelsior Supreme Transgressor Screetch.”
Vae: “Oh, the wonderful! And shall we bring it straightaway to the Strayway, from which we have been too long absent?”
Quendry: “It costed two million lozens.”
Vae: “The worth it as a present I hope it shall be!”
Quendry: “We didn’t have two million lozens.”
Vae: “And how, then, did you get it?”
Quendry: “We didn’t get it.”
Vae: “Not get it?”
Vae: “And what shall we do to get it?”
Quendry: “Go home and get the money!”
Vae: “The that we could easily do…”
Ochirion: “I think you should just say, ‘give it to me or I’ll treat you the way I treated Dossimar and destroy up your whole city’ What’s the point of being a scary big nendrai if you can’t just do that?”
Vae: “The that we could easily do too. But …” She told me she was going to finish the sentence with “they are not pirates who attacked us, so it would be a wicked thing to do, and I do so much wickedness that I cannot help doing that I prefer not to do any when I can help it.”
Someone in Jinteros had been scrying on her. (What? Wouldn’t you scry and spy on a terrible city-smashing monster at your gates?)
Nonetheless, it is considered polite (in some circles) to let the terrible city-smashing monster finish her sentence explaining her plans before you get out your Holocaust War weaponry for a preemptive strike.
Jinteros was, regrettably, unaware of this fine point of etiquette.