Mirrored from Sythyry.
“How is it that so many visitors, wearing expressions both pralient and drufe, come to knock upon the door of this mansion of the greater nobility?” asked Kebu the butler, opening a small shuttered window in the front door. The front door was unusually strong for a Hanijan door, being made of stout arken-wood and well-concealed spells. The mansion’s walls were just as imposing.
Phaniet was our designated liar. “Please announce to Prince Rastomil that Phinniet, chief factotum and accountant to the wizard Sythyry, is here, and is bringing certain valuables which Prince Rastomil will surely wish to keep close at hand, and, in general, to make whatever arrangements the Prince needs in his new life.”
“Your dumphalous and gurrept verbiage will be announced to the Prince as shortly and vulgrantly as may be,” said Kebu, and closed the window.
We waited. I think hCevian was patient, and I’m sure Zineng was. Phaniet and I tapped gently around the edges of the concealment spell. Jyondre and Yerenthax indulged in a public display of smooching which would have caused great trouble for them in nearly any city, but in Hanija they have a certificate which allows them to do it. Jagraton fretted.
Phaniet: “Zineng, tell us of the legalities of knocking this concealment spell down?”
Zineng: ” It is not registered with the city guard, and, thus, officially, does not exist. It extends outside of the nobles’ property. Can you knock it down from the middle of the canal? That would be legally safe. I cannot guarantee what might happen ultimately; it depends somewhat on the status of blackmails and suchlike.”
Me: “Worst comes to worst, we’ll fly away.”
Zineng: “Depending on how worst the worst is, I may ask for a ride.”
In due course and a half, the butler Kebu returned to the door. “My master is both habricious and moorent.”
“Oh, speak Hanijan, can’t you?” snapped Zineng.
“My vocabulary has become both chortulent and polythongrous as my years of service to this noble house have become targnestic and shreen,” said Kebu, as if his tongue were a scorpion’s tail and he were trying to shoo us off with it.
“Will you let us in or won’t you?” snapped Zineng.
“The reasons for granting you admittance are neither soofie nor gomorculous. Retreat from this door!” proclaimed Kebu.
“That’s about as clear an answer as we are going to get,” I said. “Is it time for violence yet?”
Yerenthax grunted. “Are you, perchance, trying to seduce Jyondre by acting like a blood-drunk Gormoror? Please don’t. I think it would violate some tofyof laws, and you look ridiculous enough already with those bandages.”
Zineng shook his head. “Violence is unlikely to be either legal or effective. Another approach may perhaps work better.”
Zineng knocked on the servant’s entrance. Yodathzo-Jam opened the door and peered at him. “I am High Lieutenant Mage Zineng of the city guard. We have reports of a serious situation. Please let me in.”
“Yes, yuss, guard mage, serious situation. Come in. Will you find my heart for me? Lord Kethji has it, under a glass dome in his secret chamber, he does. I can feel it beating for me, of nights.”
“We’re investigating that, among other things, ma’am.” And so we got in, to a crowded pantry sort of place.
“I would like to meet this famous Lord Kethji and Lady Noshi,” said Phaniet. d”Somehow I think that they know more of the answers than Prince Rastomil.”
“I’ll take you up to Lord Kethji,” said Yodathzo-Jam. “He picked my heart out of the fountain, he did. Take care he don’t pick yours out too.”
So we followed her up the servants’ staircase to the top floor, which stank. “My, but it stinks up here,” said Jyondre.
“It does. Of Rassimel wastes, to be specific, including a surprising amount of vomitus. From behind that door,” said Phaniet.
So we threw that door open, and discovered a dirty-linen closet. “Yes, yusss, we change their bedclothes a lot, we do, when they stink them up, they do,” said Yodathzo-Jam.
Then we turned to the three barred doors that weren’t the dirty-linen closet or the clean-linen closet or the special-supplies closet. They were barred from the outside, like prison doors, and had viewing holes in them, also like prison doors. Behind one was Lord Kethji, tied to a bed, and dead asleep, with purple streaks on his muzzle. Behind the next was Lady Noshi, also tied, also asleep; she had evidently vomited a bit of purple medicine up, and her fur and bedding was somewhat fouled form it.
Behind the third was an out-and-out mummy. My best guess is that it was a Rassimel corpse, which had been dessicated, while carefully protected from rotting by means of preservative chemicals and preservative spells. Its sapling-thin limbs were tied to the bed with leather thongs, as if there were a worry that it might somehow arise and escape.
“Well. Lady Noshi seemed the most coherent of the family, at that horrible banquet. I suppose I recommend we start with her.” said Jagraton.
So we unbarred her door. Yodathzo-Jam and Phaniet cleaned her up a bit, on the grounds that few noblewomen like to receive visitors when they are daubed with their own stomach contents. Lady Noshi moaned and stirred in her sleep, but did not wake.
I was going to help, really I was. I have much medical experience, and a bit of puke neither terrifies nor disgusts me — in a medical situation at least. But there was a bottle of that nacreous purple medicine by the side of her bed, which distracted me. I judged it to be a particular narcotic of considerable potency, long duration, wide range of safe dosage, and fairly few long-term side effects, as these things go. Just the sort of thing you’d use to keep a Rassimel asleep for a long time: it is far enough from a poison so their natural healing doesn’t work that well, and it is also far enough from a poison so that you can give them a huge dose and they will eliminate it relatively slowly, as these things go. Still — “How often does the Lord and Lady get dosed with this?”
“Every two hours, yes, yuss,” said Yodathzo-Jam. “But the Lady only started that last night.”
“That’s rather a lot of it,” I said. “And I cannot imagine that it is a healthy regimen.”
“Yes, yuss, healthy don’t enter into it, not with the Lord and Lady are concerned. Healthy is as healthy does,” said Yodathzo-Jam. (Which is not true! Sometimes it seems as if healthy is as healthy doesn’t. Still, don’t take that much of the nacreous purple drug. It’s not a healthy regimen.)
So, by means partly medical, partly magical, and partly waitingical, we woke the Lady Noshi up over the next few minutes.
“Oh, capital!” said Lady Noshi. “Jagraton has come to rescue me, and he has brought the cavalry indeed! Everything but the nendrai, but I wasn’t quite expecting that.”
“We’re here to rescue Prince Rastomil,” said Jagraton, who wasn’t quite as quick on the uptake as he ought to have been, or, perhaps, didn’t want to admit just then quite how royally or which royalty he had failed.
“And I have the honor of being Prince Rastomil,” said Lady Noshi. “And I will say that I have never wished a rescue quite as much as today — and that I apologize for every bit of trouble I have ever given you on this trip here.”
Everyone else gave me significant looks, and most of them started untying her. I sat in the air in front of her face. “I’m afraid you’re going to take an unusual lot of rescuing. Most of you has been stuffed into Lady Noshi’s body.”
Her ears blushed a good deal. “Only under the influence of, I believe, some drugs or perhaps spells!”
“I was more thinking of your psyche — your mind and spirit. I’m not sure of the details, for they’ve got a damnable fog around here, but you’re currently the mind in Noshi’s body.”
Rastomil scowled Noshi’s face. “I thought my voice sounded a bit odd.”