Mirrored from Sythyry.
I wouldn’t say that I am in love with Arfaen, not exactly. I wouldn’t say I am in love with anyone just now, not exactly, and Arfaen might or might not be on the top of my list if I were. I know for a fact that Arfaen’s not in love with me either. She’s got about four lovers on board whom she asks for various moods — I am the one she for when she is feeling serious and somewhat needing to be protected, or, of course, when she is or I seem miserable in a way that a bit of body-play could help with. Last night was all of those. It is a sad thing to finally be in a place where traff-folk could get married, or sort of, and not have anyone to marry.
So we woke up at four hours after dawn (I did slip out for a bit at dawn, for work), comforted and distracted each other for a while, and sprawled together in her bed chatting.
Arfaen: “I need to find a good place to buy snails in Hanija. Vae really loves them pickled, and I’m almost out.”
Me: “Actually, I think Vae rather overdid it on the pickled snails. You might try something else, like onions or those tiny eggplants.” More to the point, Vae actually doesn’t like pickled snails at all, but Arfaen thinks she does, and Vae asked my aid in stopping her from making them without telling her that Vae thinks they’re disgusting and always has, and just only been eating them and praising them out of politeness.
Arfaen: “I smell that.” Which I suppose means that she deduced the whole thing from my facial expressions. “Pickled onions it will be. They’ve got five different kinds of scallions here, did you know that? I like the chive-scallions best, but they’re so leafy, I don’t think they’ll pickle right, do you?”
Windigar: [speaking to me through the ship's devices] “Sythyry? I’m sorry to bother you, but there are some constables from Hanija here to talk to you.”
Me: “Oh, dear. I’ll be right out.”
Windigar: “In the Parlor of the Seven Batik Crabs. Oh, and is Arfaen with you? They’d like to talk to her too.”
Me: “She is, in fact.”
So Arfaen and I blinked nervously at each other a bit (“I wonder what Grinwipey’s done now?”), and got dressed and washed in a time-bubble, and trotted out to the Parlor of the Seven Batik Crabs.
The tall brown-and-white-splotched Cani man greeted me first. “Lord Sythyry, we thank you for your prompt attention to this hopefully-minor matter. I am Inspector Hajang-Guyof. This is Rassimel Constable Napamdo, and this Herethroy Constable Hasathyo.” So we greeted them right back, and introduced ourselves, and I promptly forgot Napamdo’s and Hasathyo’s names.
“And what can we do for you today, O officers of the law of Hanija?” I asked them.
Hajang-Guyof flattened his ears. “We are here on a rather delicate matter. We recognize that you are a mighty wizard, here in a warship of unknown potencies, with a terrible nendrai and a subtle demon and many strong warriors. Still, there has been a violation of the law of Hanija. We wish to attend to the needs of the law, but we must clearly do so in a way that does not lead to any sort of war or battle.”
“We certainly don’t intend to battle Hanija, or wreck the city-state, or do any other injury. We don’t intend to break the laws, either. I give you my word that we will settle the matter peacefully if at all possible,” I said. Leaving myself the option of, say, peacefully taking all my crew and passengers on board and peacefully getting a long way off so that Hanijan law does not apply and Hanijan law enforcement has nothing to say. That would be peaceful, right?
“Very good. We appreciate this attention to larger matters. Your prompt and cooperative assistance will be a mitigating factor should punishment become a necessity.”
I ruffled my feathers. “Wait, I’m the criminal you seek?”
Hajang-Guyof nodded. “With many apologies, we do indeed have the honor of investigating you for certain activities that, while they may be legal in many other city-states, do in fact violate the laws of Hanija. And there are circumstances which make this violation all the more pungent.”
I asked, “May I be permitted to learn of these activites?”
“Certain evidence has come to us that you are breaking the tofyof laws — indeed, that you are knowingly stinking upon them and scorning them. We wish to ascertain the truth in this matter and apply certain correctives.”
I curled my tail. “Well, I must say that I am not scorning them. I admire these laws; I wish that more places had them. For one example, many of my closest friends entered keeper-tofyof relationships last night, a circumstance which I gave my most enthusiastic approval and assistance.”
“Yes, yes, this is quite true. The reports of this matter came from the officials performing the ceremony last night. So you know of the tofyof laws? Your solicitor says that you, personally, listened closely to his exegesis thereof,” said Hajang-Guyof.
“I am hardly a solicitor myself, but I listened to one with some interest, and I read my passengers’ papers on the topic. I would say I know something about them — though I could easily be wrong about important points,” I confessed.
Hajang-Guyof looked to Arfaen. “And, Miss Arfaen, did you and Sythyry perform bodily conjunctions last night, or any other time while you were within Hanija Mene?”
Arfaen snarled at him. “That is none of your business.”
Hajang-Guyof tucked his tail between his legs. “With many regrets, is currently my business.”
I said to her, “Let us tell the truth, with scrupulous accuracy, Arfaen. It is safer and more gracious that way.”
Arfaen tucked her tail. “Then yes, we did.”
Hajang-Guyof asked us, “And is there any formal and legal arrangement of relationship between the two of you, either marriage or tofitude, or some other legal status from another city-state that has analogous stature?”
“Yes — I am Sythyry’s client,” said Arfaen.
“Is that a formal and legal arrangement?” asked Hajang-Guyof. “I know something about the laws and customs of Inner Ketheria, which gives me cause to wonder.”
“It is an informal and extralegal arrangement, though one which we both take quite seriously,” I said.
“Then, O Sythyry… You have been treating this woman as a tofyof, but you have not formalized her tofitude, nor have you provided her with the protections and fees suitable to a tofyof of one with your status. It is clear that you know perfectly well which relationships are legal in Hanija Mene, and that you have had the opportunity to make it properly legal, as many of your shipmates have done. You chose not to. Thus I must arrest you.”
Arfaen howled, “It was voluntary! I invited zir to my bed willingly — eagerly! I am the one who is breaking the tofyof laws — I am the one you should charge!”
Hajang-Guyof said gently, “Are you the wizard, or the cook? In any reasonable estimation, Sythyry would be the keeper, and you the tofyof. If you had wished the reverse situation, you should have arranged the matter yesterday when so many of your friends did. By Hanijan law, is it Sythyry who bears the responsibility, and, should the court so decide, should be punished.”
I flapped my wings. “This is embarrassing!”
“Being arrested for sex crimes against your friends is often found so, O Zi Ri.”