Mirrored from Sythyry.
I was there because the protection and promotion of traff-folk is one of my missions in life. Phaniet was there because I am a fool and she wanted to protect me. Inconnu was there because he thought he could find some new playmates, I suppose. Saza didn’t explain why zie was coming along.
Mump brought us into a large lecture-hall, with a podium and front wall tiled in watery green ceramics. Perhaps seventy students confronted us: fifty from two of Mump’s courses, who were required to attend and pay attention, and another twenty who came of their own free will. Mump’s introduction was straightforward, just our names and professions and cities of origin, and asked us for brief biographies, and an apology that — while this was not the usual socio-prosodical approach — a few guests could sometimes be interesting.
Phaniet said, “I’ve been transaffectionate since I can first remember the least bit of romantic feeling. I like other Cani socially, but I’ve never been the least bit interested in any sort of love with them. I’ve always sought the company of Rassimel — even when I was far too young for that company to be anything but the most innocent. Now, I am, in all but law, married Rassimel-style to a carpenter named Este. It’s all very simple.” (Which left out Mellilot, among other matters. There is nothing actually simple about Phaniet.)
I said, “I grew up with the only same-species people around being (a) relatives and (b) centuries older than me. I kept falling in love with Orren and Herethroy, until, at length, I realized that I was doing that a lot and needed to take it seriously. I was all-but-married to a Herethroy for most of zir life. I also am the patron of Castle Wrong, which protects traff-folk in Vheshrame.” (And brings them into terrible dangers and dooms outside of it, but never mind that for now.)
Saza said, “I am a thousand years old, and in that much time one is likely to try a great many things — or stumble into them. Once, eight centuries or so ago, I found myself in the middle of a great deal of scandal involving some Cani. And again four centuries ago, and, as if to prove that I never learn, a third time about a hundred and fifty years ago. On the whole I prefer my own species though. While I rarely manage to avoid scandals, usually they are less catastrophic.” (I am going to have to learn more about this! Whatever my situation with Saza is and will be. Perhaps I can turn into a Cani now and then to tease or tempt zir? … If I want to do that.)
Inconnu said, “I’m Inconnu! I love everybody — everybody but Orren!” He bounced up and down a few times on his chair. “I’ll show you after class if you like! Unless you’re Orren!”
Me: [silently, to Phaniet] “Bringing Inconnu along may have been a mistake.”
Phaniet:[silently] “His approach may have been a mistake. At least, if anyone is interested, they’re not showing it in any way I can smell.”
And then came the questions.
Student 1 (Cani): “I am writing a term paper considering transaffection as an act of rebellion against societal norms. Would you be as determinedly traff if everyone accepted it as completely normal?”
Inconnu: “Yes! I’m not a rebel — I’m a lover, not a fighter! I will love you with bounce and energy! Eagerly, and the greatest of slink!”
Phaniet:[interrupting] “I also think I would. I’m transaffectionate because I fall in love with Rassimel. I’d happily have an easier time of living after doing so, but I’m not trying to fight society. That’s Sythyry’s job … or quest.”
Me: “What? No, no! I wasn’t Mynthë’s spouse for all those decades as a matter of social protest!”
Phaniet: “But you do maintain Castle Wrong as a form of social protest.”
Me: “I maintain Castle Wrong to protect you. If that’s protest, it’s a particularly soft and quiet sort of protest. A protest against the way that we are treated, perhaps — I don’t much approve of scorn and beatings and other maltreatments.”
Saza: “I have no principles in the matter at all. It has always been accidental for me.”
Mump listened us to dispute the point for a bit, and then picked another student.
Basis of Attraction.
Student 2 (Cani): “What is it about other Prime species that makes them more attractive to you than your own?”
Me: “Well, the fundamental principle of prime civilization is that each species has its own strengths, and that we must all appreciate each other. I am simply taking that principle to an extreme.”
Inconnu: “The lure of the different! I just love variety and exoticism!”
Phaniet: “About Rassimel — the intense focus, the devoted attention. Not having to share, too; I’m a greedy, greedy girl. And the tail. The big, fluffy, ringy tail.”
Saza: “Cani are admirable. There should be no debate about this basic fact — Cani are admirable. In particular I appreciate loyalty. In the regular course of my life I wind up with a certain number of betrayals and unpleasant surprises. I always retreat to Cani friends for comfort and support. Once in a while, the comfort becomes more specific than I had expected.”
And the interrogation continued…
[This scene is based on questions submitted by readers. If you want to toss more questions into it, ask them as OOC comments. Most of it is written, but I could probably use a couple more. -bb]