Mirrored from Sythyry.
I could have put off the punishment by making various appeals. However, (1) the lawyer’s fees would cost as much as the likely reduction in fines, (2) I plan to stay longer than the appeals would go on, and (3) I plan to spend my vacation — this is a vacation, remember? — doing more amusing things than bickering in court. (Such as getting married.)
Shirahung was quite impressively unimpressed with me, and Khohu rather less impressed with Arfaen. It may be years before either of them dares take another foreign client. They did accept their fees without any great difficulty, though.
I didn’t mind one bit giving Arfaen her — loosely speaking — back wages. Which are triple what a person of my stature should be paying a tofyof for seven years.
Arfaen: “This makes me the highest-paid courtesan I know of! Twenty-one years’ wages for, what? A half-dozen nights together? Or maybe only the one night in Hanija counts?”
Sekhidi: “You are not a courtesan. You are a tofyof, or you should have been, which is an entirely different matter altogether!”
Arfaen: “Well, starting today, Sythyry’s the tofyof and I’m the keeper!”
Sekhidi: “The lizard clearly does not understand social ranks! Or, perhaps, zie is attempting to avoid zir beating by accepting an extravagant loss of status, in a misguided hope to awaken sympathy within my breast. But it fails! Sympathy has been awake in my breast for the whole trial. Nonetheless, even sympathy must be subservient to the law.”
I didn’t much like paying the other fines, though. They were expensive.
The corporal punishments were administered in a small room with a tile floor — practical, in case of blood flow! — and with only a few court officials and a healer around. And Arfaen, as part of her punishment — or, if she had been coerced into the relationship, as part of her revenge. I could have insisted that my barrister Shirahung attend too, but I didn’t see the point.
The officials had a bit of a problem with me anyhow. The whipping-stock is a padded log with an assortment of leather restraints and cuffs, the right size for anyone but a Zi Ri … or a Khtsoyis, I suppose, though I don’t exactly know how to restrain a Khtsoyis. They had to call in a leatherworker to adjust them so they could fit me, and as it was, I wound up in an unusually awkward position.
I didn’t much like the knout. The club was worse though, hearing my wingbones cracking and all. Next time I do this I will arrange for an undetectable pain-suppression spell on myself.
I won’t make any particular claims of bravery or stoic-ness for this part of the day. I just don’t want to talk too much about the details. Except that Arfaen claims that she was wailing less than I was, and I don’t believe her.
Afterwards: I wound up doing the spellwork on the healing of my wings. The Guild healer did put on the splints and immobilizations, which I should wear for a week or two, to avoid any long-term problems.
Anyhow, that was not the best morning I have spent in Hanija, and now I will try to forget it.
Since we were already on the Island of Official Buildings, Arfaen took me as tofyof that afternoon — after a fairly long lunch where we discussed our own private terms.
Arfaen: “I hope you’re not expecting me to be faithful to you. I couldn’t do that, not even to Mellilot.” (And yes, I count less to her than Mellilot did.)
Me: “Of course not. Honestly, that was one of my top reasons for not asking you to be my tofyof earlier, that chastity clause.”
Arfaen: “I’m not going to hold you to it either. I’ve seen how you look at Invincible Fire Demon.”
Me: “I do?”
Arfaen: “Oh, you do, you very very do.”
Me: “Oh dearie … um … does he look back like that?”
Arfaen: “Nobody could possibly look back like that!”
Me: “Ahem! Anyhow, I think I will follow Hanijan law on Hanijan territory. My wings hurt enough as it is … No, no. Please stop crying, Arfaen. They don’t hurt a bit any more.”
Arfaen: “You’d better! I expect you to perform your certain customary duties, which the law is quite coy about, just as soon as you are healthy enough!”
I flapped my wrapped-up wings (which do hurt a bit), and grinned at her.
Then, back to the civic administration buildings, to register my tofitude. Arfaen is about as low-status a person as can take a tofyof, so the recommended celebration — and the wages she pays me in escrow — are rather small. We did have a bit of an audience, mostly gigging at how the lovesick high-status Zi Ri was becoming the tofyof of zir own low-status chef.
Fortunately, I have no actual sense of shame. At least as far as foreigners are concerned. Arfaen was rather whining, though.
I rode back to Strayway on Arfaen’s shoulder, with my tail looped comfortably around her other arm. I am oddly proud of being in a legally-recognized relationship; I thought it would never happen. A pity I got into it in such a ridiculous way, though.
Maybe I will start my own city-state, where traff marriages are allowed.