Mirrored from Sythyry.
Alzagonde, of course, got into trouble. She could not simply quietly accumulate data about transaffection in Hanija; she felt obliged to do something about it. In certain ways one cannot blame her; a Rassimel cannot easily give up or hide an obsession. In certain other ways, one wishes to blame her quite heartily.
She was hard at work on the thesis that Hanijan-style transaffection is a form of prostitution in which the rich and powerful sexually corrupt the poor and innocent. (Which would seem to be to be pretty much a universal constant — it gives the rich and powerful something to do, after all, and if they weren’t doing that, they’d probably be off doing something much worse, like passing laws regulating other people’s private lives.) Proving this thesis requires interviews with tofyofs and other Hanijan people. Alzagonde has no interest in disproving this thesis; she is not doing that kind of research.
Including, in this case, Guwim Tujawepa. I did not actually meet Guwim, but I imagine her as the brawniest brown beetle that ever braised broccoli. The brawny brown beetle part is attested to by several witnesses, as are her plentiful assortment of shell-markings. The braising broccoli is not. She is a stevedore, not a chef. What she does on her own time may reasonably be imagined as “private”, and may well involve broccoli in ways which I must leave to your imagination.
Alzagonde discovered Guwim’s interesting little family situation by reading the public records of registration of toffitudes. Guwim had three co-daughters, all of them quite handsome. All three of them had, within the last year, become tofyofs. Alzagonde had interviewed Womwo-Nei and Sefhu already, though Ekuna refused to talk to her.
I need a table already:
Alzagonde accosted Guwim at her favorite pub, the Sign of the Crossed Fornacles. She (Rassy) stood her (Hery) to lunch and drinks if She (Rassy) could ask her (Hery) a few questions about herself and her family. “Well, ask away, you foreign complicationist,” said Guwim.
“So, first of all, let me see if I have the right of it,” said Alzagonde, and summarized the table above.
“Yeah — what’s a foreign complicationist want to know about my co-daughters anyhow? Got your snouty-eye out for a pretty little cosi to take away to Foreignland where zie’ll never be seen from again?”
“What? Great Galloping Gods, no, no such thing! I am not the least bit transaffectionate! Any husbands or wives I take will be Rassimel, every last fur-strand of them!” exclaimed Alzagonde.
“What’s that? Herethroy aren’t good enough for you? You damned foreign fluffy-butts are all alike, too stuck-up for a good beetle!”
Alzagonde is somewhat used to this. “I have nothing but the greatest regard and respect for my fellow primes, the Herethroy. I simply have no indecent designs upon you.”
Guwim glared at Alzagonde, waving her antenna. “Are you saying something about what I have indecent designs on me?” She shook a fist in Alzagonde’s face. On her brawny arm was a low-grade dye-inlay or tattoo of a Canimorphic Cani phallus equipped with very a generous Rassimel bosom, squaredancing with a full trio of Heremorphic Herethroy genitalia. Some of her other tattoos are less describable, or, at least, my witnesses refuse to describe them.
Alzagonde did her very best to ignore — nay, even to miss — the indecent designs. “Excuse me, ma’am. I simply mean that I shall not be offending the honor and dignity of your co-daughters.”
Guwim frowned. “Are you saying one of my co-daughters has got something on her?”
“No, just that they’re all three tofyofs, and I want to understand how you taught them and what, if anything, you would have done differently in bringing them up.”
“I brought ‘em up to use anything they got to their best advantage. And what’s that mean but they gonna be tofyofs? They’re co-lovers. They ain’t going to take up a woman’s job on the docks, not my co-daughters. Sure, they could go around sewing cloth or cooking food for a couple lozens a day, there are plenty of bad jobs where they gotta do lots of work for the sake of some fancy fully-folly fumbergines who don’t care a bit about them and will cheat them sure as garlic is in my groin.”
Alzagonde was a determined sort of researcher. “Or, perhaps — did you do something differently for Sefhu, the one who’s a tofyof to a Herethroy, than you did for Womwo-Nei and Ekuna?”
Guwim was a determined sort of fool. “And now are you accusing me of some sort of unfairness? I’ll tell you what, you stripey-wipey foreign complicationist. Have you ever been a mother? Have you ever had three co-daughters all at the same time? What do you know about how to treat your children fairly? I ask you — can you know anything at all about it?”
Alzagonde tried a different tack. “Or did you notice anything different about the three of them? Maybe Womwo-Nei and Ekuna were a bit less moral than Sefhu, or a bit less demure and self-controlled?”
Guwim arose. “I said you could buy me lunch! I didn’t say you could go insulting my co-daughters! They’re all good girls — better than you, you louche foreign complicationist!”
“Yes, but the two that are in transaffectionate tofyof-ships are…”
Guwim silenced Alzagonde with a heavy punch to the muzzle, followed by a double-fisted belly blow, and then, I believe, a kick to the ribs. The two of them, assisted by a mighty Herethroy waiter, agreed that Alzagonde should leave the Sign of the Crossed Fornacles as quickly as possible.
There was some disagreement about whether this departure should be land-based (Alzagonde’s opinion) or aerial (the Herethroy opinion). A compromise was quickly reached, in which Alzagonde flew a short distance, with some assistance from the Herethroy, and then skidded and tumbled for a somewhat longer distance. Unfortunately, a stout-timbered wall disagreed with both horns of the compromise, recommending that Alzagonde prefer commotion to motion.
Guwim clapped the waiter on the back and went back to her lunch, laughing.
I finished binding up Alzagonde’s ribs in herb-rinsed white cloth. “I wish you’d stop offending the natives.”
“You wish I’d stop figuring out how to keep people from turning out like you!” snapped Alzagonde.
“What do you have against wizard-healers who cure their passengers for free?” asked Phaniet curiously.
“You know what I mean!”
“I do. Is it working? Have you figured out how to prevent transaffection, or remove it, or any such thing?” I asked politely.
“I know one thing. I know right from wrong,” snapped Alzagonde. “And I know the gods agree with me!”
“The Creator gods do — or did, at the time of creation, anyhow,” I had to admit. “Probably because they wanted to make sure primes multiplied without distraction — which they did. Some of the Noun Gods are, if anything, traff themselves. And none of the gods are living on the World Tree trying to be people, anyhow, so I don’t see why their opinion matters.”
“It’s a matter of morality and dignity!” proclaimed Alzagonde.
I rather expect I’ll be writing that on her grave, at this rate.