Mirrored from Sythyry.
Clue 1: Alzagonde
Alzagonde got beaten up again. This time she was being careful about who she talked to: a Rassimel family who were quite emphatic that they would never, ever take a different-species tofyof, and how they would be furious if their children ever did either. The conversation was quite friendly, and the family gave a number of anecdotes in which transaffection was averted by this or that measure — or sometimes not. (Their best friend is no longer on speaking terms with a daughter, due to the daughter’s Orren tofyof.)
The conversation was also rather loud, and, of course, took place in a dining establishment suitable to the budget of a graduate student.
Afterwards, a half-dozen tofyofs (four cis, two tranff, for those who care about such details) who had been dining together at the next table — the “Peace and Grace Tofyof Club of Hei-Bogom Island” at its monthly meeting — seriously whomped Alzagonde, cracking her skull, and tossing her into the canal.
Our friend Zineng the Guard-Mage apologized considerably, but of course the the legal repercussions upon the Peace and Grace Tofyof Club were going to be of the most limited sort imaginable. A certain Supreme Lieutenant of the Hanija City Guard did call the Peace-and-Gracers to a guard station, whereupon he scolded them for four sentences, thanked them for their treatment of one of those troublesome foreign complicationists for nine minutes, shared brandy with them, and let them go. The Supreme Lieutenant was one of the many Hanijans caught in the blackmail-storm we unleashed.
Phaniet: “OK, boss. I know you’re not going to listen to me, but I gotta say this. We need to get out of here before something worse happens.”
Me: “Well, we can’t leave yet, not until the Prince is disenchanted, and that’s going to take a lot of work on Saza’s part. Many weeks, at least.”
Clue 2: Wingsa
Zi Ri conversations take place in the fireplace, as often as not. Cuddling is often socially appropriate, though, in this case, we were not. Wingsa does not approve of my social status. (Annoying, that: zie doesn’t care a bit that I’m traff, but zie’s in a frenzy of arrogance that I’m the tofyof and not the keeper.)
Wingsa: “When do you expect that the disenchantment will be finished?”
Saza: “Unfortunately, I have never grafted a body-switching ritual.”
Wingsa: “Then it will be a long time…?”
Saza: “Fortunately, Nanggi-Zi left extensive notes.”
Wingsa: “Then it will be a short time…?”
Saza: “Unfortunately, those notes were in a private cypher.”
Wingsa: “And that delays matters…?”
Saza: “Oh, foh! A cypher. Fortunately, I have already broken it.”
Wingsa: “So it will be soon, then?”
Saza: “Unfortunately, the notes are not so helpful. They refer, after all, to a different ritual. I do not wish to swap my own body with anyone’s.”
Wingsa: “So, not very soon, if you must invent a whole new ritual?”
Saza: “Fortunately, the ritual I wish is a routine variation on the one described in the notes.”
Wingsa: “Fortunate indeed, and, I fear to say, one part of the good fortune therein is that you will be able to depart soon.”
Saza: “Unfortunately, I need to do the work, routine or not.”
Me: “Wait … you wish us to depart soon?”
Wingsa: “I merely note that you should depart soon. Hanija does not approve of your antics.”
Saza: “My antics? The disenchantment of the local nobility? The breaking of vast and evil mind-magics? Or, perhaps, my chaste and dignified relationship with my cousin?”
Wingsa: “Not those precise antics.” Zie glared at me a moment. “People — which is to say, citizens — are uncertain about whether you flout or flaunt our tofyof customs, or, perhaps, both at once.”
Me: “Actually, we got a great many people blackmailed, and some fraction involved in that are unhappy with us for it.”
Wingsa: “Nothing of the sort! Indeed my own involvement was only of the most innocent and tangential sort!”
Saza put zir wing over my shoulder preemptively. I wasn’t going to insult Wingsa, really!
Saza: “Fortunately, that saves us any obligation to investigate the matter further.”
Wingsa: “And the unfortunately?”
Saza: “I wasn’t going to add one.”
Wingsa: “Then I shall: though you will not investigate further, a number of other people will surely do so. I may have to leave the city myself for a decade or two, until certain lies and one-seventh-truths are forgotten.”
Me: “You have my most sincere apologies.”
Wingsa: “Not everything in that mind-lout’s notes was true, I tell you!”
Me: “Of course not. Nanggi-Zi’s point was to harm people. Where truth is not useful, falsehood will serve her just as well.”
Wingsa: [almost smiling] “A useful epigram. I might have it painted over my mansion door, instead of leaving town.”
I dipped my head.
Wingsa: “In any case, you should probably leave, as quickly as may be.”
Clue the Third: Saza
After a suitable while, we said goodbye to Wingsa.
Saza: “You know, it’s not so much that we can’t take Rastomil away from Nanggi-Zi’s tower as that we can’t take him away from her corpse. Well, all four of them need to stay near-together until they’re disentangled. So…”
Within the hour of Wingsa’s departure, we had our Expert Moving Crew — mostly Feralan and hCevian, though most of the Strayway crew got involved — stripping everything valuable or magically significant out of Nanggi-Zi’s tower. Starting with the corpse (magically significant). I’m sure that’s legal. Either Saza owns it (as zir fee for zir wizardry), or some or all of Nanggi-Zi, Kethji, Noshi, and Rastomil do (and they’re all coming with us, some of them voluntarily.)
Would you like to buy some of the evil devices of a horrible mind-wizard, cheap?