Mirrored from Sythyry.
Finally, back to the original problem from Oorah Thrassen’s point of view. We decided that Feralan is allowed in Oorah Thrassen (on the grounds that he is two entities, neither of which is excluded), but that he would in fact not go into Oorah Thrassen unless he had some specific and crucial matter that had to be attended to inside the city. For example, he might need treatment best performed at the Temple of the Dark Trinity, in which case we would take him there. But for ordinary life in the next while — where by “ordinary life” I mean “life that in no way resembles any life he has lived up to this point” — he will dwell in Quartersky Points Saza’s manor house, outside of the walls of Oorah Thrassen, but on the skybridge. I vaguely remember the manor house before it was Saza’s, from when Vae and I arranged for a pastry breakfast for non-urban Oorah Thrassen Mene.
Saza introduced me to Cluthe Arnwickette, an old and grey and poodlesome Cani woman who has volunteered to take Ochirion and Feralan under her capable and capacious care. She has been a nursemaid to several generations of Rassimel boys and girls, the sons and daughters of Saza’s assistants and tenants and whatnots.
Cluthe: “I had thought to retire last year, but if Saza needs me, I’ll lift up my tired old bones once again for some new children.”
I am unclear on just how tired her tired old bones may be. Perhaps the bones are tired but the muscles are not, for she was dancing with some teenaged Rassimel when I arrived. Just a sort of pavane, nothing too energetic or vigorous, but she was hardly sitting around waiting to die of time.
Saza: “I would take that as a considerable kindness. The situation is complicated; someone less expert than you might find it daunting. They are not orphans; their parents will be working in … I’m not exactly sure, but probably Dark Thorpsey. They will be yours halfway as a punishment for their parents, and halfway to give them a decent growing-up. Anyhow, the young one is rather shaken, and the older one has been the subject of awful magics, and is not precisely sane.”
Cluthe: “Like poor young Feriamoon so long ago?”
Saza: “Exactly somewhat vaguely similar!”
Cluthe: “A sad matter, that. Well, let me meet them and we’ll see.”
I wasn’t sure if I should go with the children or not. Would they hate me for what I had done to their mothers? Would they trust me as their doctor and the most familiar face around? I fretted about it for approximately several years, and flipped a coin.
Me: “Ochirion and Feralan, hello.”
Ochirion: “Are you going to kill us?”
Me: “No. I’m going to introduce you to a very nice Cani who will take care of you for a while.”
Ochirion: “Mommy Z said you would kill us if you found us.”
Me: “Mommy Z was wrong about a lot of things, I’m afraid. I found you and I didn’t kill you. I had to punish her, but I did as little a punishment as I could.” Which might even be true.
Ochirion: “Is she going to bleed and die?”
Me: “No. She’ll be fine — they’ll both be fine. They won’t have ears for a while, so they’ll look funny. And they’ll sort of be in prison, because they stole a lot and people who steal a lot go to prison.”
Feralan: “Why don’t they just walk on a dotted line all straight and around and get out that way?”
Me: “I don’t think they can see those dotted lines, or follow them if they can, Feralan.” I think he’s talking about a Locador thing.
Ochirion: “Can we visit them? Nangbang said we could visit them.”
Me: “You will visit with them several times a week.” With a chaperone sort of person, but no need to mention that. “You’re not being punished; we’re trying to take care of you as best we can under the circumstances.”
Feralan: “Zascalle said we had stolen a million lozens each and we’d all get killed if you caught us. Are you going to kill us?” (That sounded like a very ordinary Feralan sort of thing to say. He’s not all lost in space.)
Me: “Nobody is going to hurt you. We’ll take care of you as well as we can.”
Repeat a few more times until they either believe me or think I’ve got my story straight. Zascalle scared them a lot with me over the last few days! But they know me reasonably well — Ochirion especially from all the doctoring I did at him. Zascalle also scared them, especially Ochirion, when I confronted her earlier today They got a lot less scared as we talked.
Me: “I’d like to introduce you to Cluthe, who will be your nursemaid and caretaker for a while.”
Cluthe: “Hello!” With much wagging of her agèd and nominally weary tail.
Ochirion and Feralan: “Hi!”
Cluthe: “What are you interested in, little Rassimel boys?”
Ochirion: “I like books!” Using the Rassimel inflection of ‘like’ that conveys obsession.
Cluthe: “I’d love to read some books with you. The longhouse has a nice library room full of them.”
Feralan: “I want to escape! I’m all tied up with myself, and can’t get loose!” That’s not so good. Or maybe it’s good, if at least one of the Rassimel and the demon wants to get free of the situation. I imagine it’d be harder to separate them if neither wanted to be separate.
Cluthe gave me a worried look.
Me: “Saza and I will try to help you escape. We don’t know how to untangle you; we’ll have to figure it out. Saza will want to look at you a lot.”
Feralan: “Please, please, Sythyry. I keep forgetting whether I’m supposed to have hands or spikes.”
Me: “As quick as we can, Feralan. A few weeks if we’re very lucky.”
Cluthe: “And I’ll take good care of you until then. You should have hands, the way you do.”
Cluthe laced her fingers with Feralan’s, and took him in her arms, and he nuzzled against her fluffy belly. In a minute, Ochirion joined them. Cluthe’s powers of nursemaiding are mighty and supreme, and I honor them greatly! When I left them, about an hour later, they were playing Serpent of the Vortex, and giggling.
[Serpent of the Vortex is one of those very annoying children's games where you mostly just roll dice and move your pawns around a board. It's much more interesting than some of those games, because you have two pawns and you can choose which one to move. This opens up vast vistas of tactical pastabilities [sic] that can paralyze the mind and soul of a five-year-old for minutes at a time.]
It looks as if the children will get along with their new caretaker, and are less devastated by the last vast bowl of doom than, oh, I probably would have been. I am going to count that as a victory: my first unambiguous victory in this whole mess.