Mirrored from Sythyry.
Having no real idea how to take care of Elfimel outside of their native environment, we put them in a stateroom. Several wrongfolk came to chat with them. The only one I made any attempt to eavesdrop on was when Feralan and hCevian talked to them. (By which point we were back on the World Tree, etc. etc.)
Feralan introduced himself, and they chatted about Ketherian — the Elfimel are doing their best to learn it. Folded said, in Common, “This confuses me: when should I use the conditional, and when the subjunctive?”
Feralan said, “I don’t know. We don’t study grammar that much, not for another grade or two. And I’ve been switching teachers so much that I think I’m a bit behind in everything.”
“Did you forget it when you died last?” asked Namie.
“I didn’t forget anything when I died last!” exclaimed Feralan. “I remember all of it. Vae squidged me up with hCevian. Have you met hCevian? He’s very nice. I think.”
“hCevian killed all of us several times!” wailed Namie.
“Oh, are you scared of him?” asked Feralan. “What do you do when you are scared?”
“We flee to the room of Lights and Daggers! We strike the demon with weapons! He strikes us with spikes! We fight and fight, but he has magic and we do not and we die!” exclaimed Namie.
“I mean, how do you look when you are scared? Ears down, tail low…?” asked Feralan, and got ignored.
hCevian became present in the room, on Feralan’s shoulder. “You took a long time to die.”
“No, no! The spiked killer is back, it will be to murder us!” wailed Namie.
“Actually, he’s protecting me from you,” said Feralan. “I’m not quite sure what he expects you to do to me, though.”
hCevian spun around. “I worry that they will persuade you that you wish to live forever in Heaven. That they will speak seductive words to you of the pleasures of the flesh, and you will listen to them, and wish to dwell in that place. That you will forsake knowledge and skill, mathematics and magic. For an eternity of broccoli sandwiches and big-breasted girls!”
“No, no, you must not do that!” proclaimed Octagons. She took Feralan’s other arm. “Do not go back to Heaven! A thousand cycles in Heaven is too much! A hundred thousand will wear your personality and originality down to a needled nut! It is such a bland place.”
Feralan wagged his tail. “I don’t think they’re trying to talk me to going back to Heaven!” He suddenly got worried. “Are you? I just had all my ability to understand what people really mean surgically cut off. Are you being sarcastic”
Which inspired a round of questions and explanations. Which in turn inspired a round of terror. “When we are out of Heaven, our very spirits are at risk for being grabbed by a monster and merged with another person’s?” moaned Namie.
“It happened to everyone but you in this parlor,” said hCevian softly. This was true, for only Feralan and hCevian and the Elfimel were in the parlor. “You may estimate the odds from that.” Feralan poked hCevian with a clawtip. (I don’t at all know how Feralan understand the emotions of ordinary people anymore. I am quite sure he understands hCevian’s feelings completely.)
“Have we leapt out of the top ring of the bathtub, thinking it was too hot, only to fall and pash our heads upon the edge of the third ring?” asked Namie.
“It could be worse than that,” whispered hCevian. “Outside the protection of Heaven, you are most vulnerable. Any evil thing could happen to you, you know.”
Feralan looked at Namie. “Are you worried and scared? hCevian is trying to make you worried and scared.” Namie nodded. “OK, that’s how you look when you’re worried and scared. I’ll remember that. hCevian, could you try to make them happy and relaxed now? I want to see how they look that way.”
hCevian spun and danced around Feralan, sending showers of swiftly-vanishing spikes in all directions. “You want me to leave? My apparent presence disturbs them more than anything I say! Few indeed are the people who are comfortable in the presence of one who has killed them several times already, for fun.”
Namie nodded. “Please go, please go away now!”
“Are you tired of us here, or are you scared of us, or are you angry with us, or is it something else?” asked Feralan.
“We’re scared! Please go now!” cried Namie.
Octagons stood up. “I’d like to come with you, at least to meet Grinwipey. I see that everyone on Strayway wears clothes, and I would like to wear clothes too. And Phaniet told me that Grinwipey is the maker of clothes.”
“We’ll take you to Grinwipey!” said Feralan, wriggling his tail. And they did — by walking, even.