Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,
Sythyry
sythyry

On the Kind and Delicate Application of Thumbscrews [26 Lage 4385]

Mirrored from Sythyry.

I picked the scene with a certain amount of care. It is a room on Strayway which used to be a parlor, before a pirate’s ballista ruined its roof and one of its walls. Two months of summer rain and summer sun have not improved the quality of its furnishings, and two months of summer birds and summer beetles have made their homes within. Ordinarily I like to appear powerful and wealthy when I present valued clients with mighty magic items, but not this time.

My victims were mostly friends. Lord Bwipin, who is one of my heartiest allies inside Eigrach and one of the deepest conspirators against me. Honest Rehit and his dishonest (if delicious) fiancé Thenel. Mayor Mmixamk had been prevailed upon to attend, though his choice of time made it impossible for Aiziju to be there. And Shejanp, a tall and mantissy and shiny-purple Herethroy woman. Shejanp is known as the Tumbling Tree: she is a ferocious warrior, using a three-handed sword and a dagger; but she is notoriously easy to kill.

This time, I did not bother with elaborate refreshments. A bottle of an adequate but uninspired Ulmarnian berry-wine; a pot of kathia; a pot of tisane of linden and calcined fishbones and honey.

The weather had not been cooperating with me. At dawn, the day had been summer-hot, with the sun peeking through the loose trelliswork formed the eleven superior branches of the World Tree overhead. It is generally impolite to do too much weather manipulation, since a single rainstorm will dampen people for miles around; but I had found it advisable to arrange — or, strictly, rearrange — for a slow dismal drizzle of rain to come. Aiziju would have known it was magical instantly. I presume Thenel figured it out as well, but Thenel does not reveal my secrets; nor do I reveal his.

Of course I wasn’t there when my guests arrived. Kantele and Yerenthax and Jyondre entertained them with casual conversation for a carefully-calculated third of an hour before I flew through the missing roof — just in case its lack had somehow not been noticed. Phaniet was specifically and voluntarily excluded from this meeting, to avoid conflicts of loyalty.

Me: “Good day, honored Eigrachters and dear friends.” The two categories are not exclusive, even when I am rather annoyed with Eigrach as a polity.

Everyone: An assortment of countergreetings and pleasantries.

Me: “Kantele, would you do me the honor of pouring for me a chalice of kathia?”

Kantele: “But of course, Lady Sythyry.” Kantele never, ever uses a title for me in ordinary life.

Me: [after accepting my chalice and lapping at it] “H’m. It tastes a bit watery, even rainy … Almost as if it were raining in here, somehow. Impossible, of course, as we are indoors, protected from the elements by mighty beams of wood.” Various Eigrachters stirred variously, and looked uncomfortable and even bedraggled. “No matter. I have invited you here today to demonstrate the Ring of the Deglassing of the Jaw, and the Echo of the Salvation of Pwishka, the second and third of several mystic weapons I have prepared and will, presumably, prepare.”

Mayor Mmixamk: “Genuine demons.”

Bwipin: “The honored Mayor explains that it is truly a pleasure to observe a master at zir work, and he awaits the demonstration eagerly.”

Me: “There is less to see than one might think. Still … Shejanp, would you be so kind as to place this ring upon your finger?” The Ring of the Deglassing of the Jaw is mostly bone, carved with symbols of strength, with a glass bezel.

Shejanp: “Great Staring Gods Copulating with Great Staring Mushrooms!”

Her exclamation was entirely understandable. I don’t, myself, know the sensation of having my carapace turn entirely into gleaming steel, but I daresay it is somewhat notable. (Yes, I sometimes have a carapace — though much less often since Mynthë died — but I never tried transmuting it.)

Me: “Effect the first: the wearer’s carapace becomes thick, shiny steel. This conveys a certain degree of resistance to blows of most sorts, beyond the usual strength of the carapace. It also conveys a certain aura of heavy impressiveness: few enough people wear this much steel; fewer still are made of it.”

Shejanp beat her upper arms against her lowers, to hear them clang. They did not clang very loudly.

Me: “Second, which Shejanp has just demonstrated: the air provides an extra, invisible layer of protection. Not so great as the steel of course, but between the two, and whatever other armor the Herethroy chooses to wear, she should be fairly tough. Shejanp, I understand that this is not in our original specification, but I had wizardly energies to spare. Now, Rehit, would you be so good as to shake Shejanp’s hand? Oh, any hand will do.”

Rehit: “I shall … wait, what witchcraft is this? Her hand is intangible — transparent to the sensation of touch, even as air is transparent thereto!”

Me: “Actually, Shejanp is several feet off to her own right. Another form of defense: it can make her awfully hard to hit at first.”

Rehit: “I should say so!”

Me: “Now, pick up a chair and strike her with it, knowing where she is.”

Rehit: “Ah, I have done so … and — what witchy witchery is this? The chair, which I wield so nimbly as a weapon, became wrapped in soft quilty bandages for an instant, just as I struck her!”

Me: “It is stitchy witchery! Also known as Sheath in Linen.”

Shejanp: “A redoubtable collection of defenses.”

Me: “Yes, I daresay it would keep you quite safe, if you wore it into battle. And next … this is harder to demonstrate. It was not commissioned; rather, it was inspired by the deed of Jyondre and Yerenthax. Indeed, they contributed somewhat to the construction as well. Jyondre, would you do the honors?”

Jyondre: “This is the fun part!”

The Echo of the Salvation of Pwishka is a sash, embroidered with scenes of Jyondre and Yerenthax fighting the scagganerax in that poor village. Jyondre, who had practiced with the sash already, leapt up and into a whirl of air, which swept him in a rush out the hole in the roof.

Bwipin: “A flying-belt?”

Me: “Rather more. Come back, Jyondre!”

Jyondre materialized in the room, bouncing on his toes.

Me: “Flight and teleportation are both useful. Less obvious is mastery over time and flesh. He can, a dozen times, acquire a few extra seconds with which to act. He can, thrice, endure wounds that would kill his body, yet he can act for some more moments, as a Gormoror could. I think we won’t be demonstrating that.”

Shejanp: “It sounds like a proper wonder of a belt.”

Me: “It is. Whoever wears it in a duel-war can be anywhere they wish, and have time to do whatever they need to do; nor will death quickly cut short their time. The tactical possibilities are endless.”

Bwipin: “A blasted nice piece of work! It even looks pretty. How much will it cost us?”

Me: “Now we come to the regrettable part of the conversation.”

It was time for the thumbscrews to come out.

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