Mirrored from Sythyry.
Sazandigraa had taken the precaution of scrying and otherwise spying on zir new indentured servants. Zie did not trust them much.
Saza: “Would you like to see what your embezzlers have been up to lately?”
Me: “I suppose I should.”
Saza: “There is no obligation! You are paying me to take care of such details. I simply present you with an opportunity which you may find anywhere from as delicious as honeyed hummingbird eggs to as distasteful as dilled dingo dung.”
Me: “I suppose I should. Everyone will ask me about it when I get back to Strayway.”
So we called on the Mayor of Dark Thorpsey. Dark Thorpsey is one of the little towns near Oorah Thrassen. It is called “dark” because it is all underground — or more properly below-decks — out of the sunlight. Oorah Thrassen is entirely on the skybridge around the main trunk, and so are its town. The city is mainly on the top deck of the skybridge; its towns are on lower decks. This is convenient, for Dark Thorpsey manages to stack seven square miles of fields in one square mile of skybridge. It also means that Dark Thorpsey is very dark, and dank, and basementsome, or that is how it sounds at least.
Me: “How do they get light to grow crops? Or do they only grow such crops as prosper in darkness?”
Saza: “Ritual magic does have its place, coz. I took care of sunlight for all those fields in a week, what? Four centuries ago, now. When I first acquired the place.”
Zascalle and Thiane were put at the disposal of Dark Thorpsey, to do whatever the villagers needed done — with a careful description of the felons’ moral deficiencies. Some large coins were given to the villagers as well, for it was suspected that the felons would be a great deal of trouble at first.
Me: “And have they been so troublesome as we thought?”
Mayor: “Yes and no. Yes being Zascalle. She complains terribly; she will not carry food to the guntries. When we asked her to wash dishes, she cast seven ceramic salad bowls upon the floor, so that they cracked and shattered and became useless things. She resents her current circumstances, or I am a pig and a poltergeist.”
Me: “My apologies.”
Mayor: “Sazandigraa had foretold some such acts of petty viciousness. We have locked our most beloved china in cabinets behind sacks of grain. Yet too, we have brought further punishments upon Zascalle! She was locked in a spare storeroom, with only bland salad and plain porridge to eat, and to drink, nothing but diluted milk. After eighteen hours of this treatment, we permitted her to emerge, and she was somewhat chastened, and washed dishes with weeping rather than violence.”
Sazandigraa: “That’s the spirit, Mayor!”
Me: “I don’t really want her tortured.”
Sazandigraa: “Shall I have ‘em feed her on the caviare and the flesh of the toast-badger, and let her drink Callisteau Mizarde-Ygrec 4001, coz?”
Me: “What’s a toast-badger?”
Sazandigraa: “I don’t think they hurt her — did you hurt her, Mayor? — they just gave her a while of quiet undistracted time to think about her crimes. Knowing her sort a little, she probably thought more about the wrongs done to her, but at least she calmed down.”
Me: “I suppose I appreciate this report … rather, I appreciate knowing what’s going on.” I wondered what I would need to do if the punishment got too cruel — could I snag her out of there? Would she hate me more if I did?
Saza: “Coz, I know that hesitation in your voice! I use it too, y’know. If you plan on rescuing her, I insist that you (1) ask me for help, or at least (2) do it without me knowing! Also you might want to check to make sure that you are allowed to do the rescue. She might resent you a bit.”
Me: “I was thinking about that, wasn’t I?”
Saza: “You had that odd hopeless look on your face. I see it in the mirror sometimes.”
Me: “Well, I suppose that a day in a closet being fed adequately isn’t the worst that happens to either her or me. How is Thiane?”
Mayor: “Thiane is keeping her tail tucked between her legs. She is very quiet, but she does whatever anyone asks without hesitation or complaint. Even the pushing a wheelbarrow full of manure, which must surely be more pungent to a Cani than it is to those of us blessed with less sensitive senses.”
Me: “I am glad she is not being any more trouble than that.”
Mayor: “You had mentioned that she is a fair hand at sorcery. Is there anything we should know about that?”
Me: “Yes — don’t ask her to do any. Magical misfortunes follow her the way social ones do me.”
Mayor: “I am ignorant of your full history.”
Me: “That’s all for the best! Thiane’s magic is unduly risky. She may use it in emergencies, but it is too dangerous for everyday use anymore.”
Mayor: “We shall note this and keep this information close to our hearts.”