Mirrored from Sythyry.
Inconnu flounced into my parlor with Arfaen in his wake, and waved the note to me. “Furious! Incensed! Tricked!”
I slithered out of the fireplace, where I had been taking a nap. “Perplexed. Confused. Awake.”
“Someone played a rather mean trick on Inconnu. Or maybe a nice trick, depending on how you count such things,” said Arfaen. “Show Sythyry the note, would you?”
Dear Inconnu my lover,
This may come as a shock, but you and I made love. My friend and I were disguised as Rassimel sluts. I’m really an Orren in real life though. Welcome to the wonderful world of cisaffection!
Here’s hoping to do it again — without a disguise this time!
— Yr Secret Orren Admirer “Plisciné”
I thought a moment. “So, the Rassimel prostitutes you were so proud of getting a free night from were actually Orren Strayway passengers, magically transformed into Rassimel girls, purely for the purpose of seducing you?”
“Not just seducing me! Of breaking my life-long record of pure transaffection! Up until Confisse I had never so much as kissed another Orren! Now — now I have slept with one! With two!” wailed Inconnu. “I have degenerated into the realm of the merely indiscriminate! I am destroyed!”
“You are not, Inconnu. Don’t be ridiculous,” I snapped. I had been traff for far longer than Inconnu had, or even than he had been alive, until a worriesomely-pleasant night with my distant cousin Saza. I am still mostly traff — I am Arfaen’s tofyof, her legally-registered concubine in the laws of the city-state of Hanija — but I am forced to take a broader view of such matters. Well, a more standard view, saying little more than the truism that “people sometimes fornicate with — or love — each other, in a variety of combinations, some of which are socially acceptable and some are not.” Inconnu is one of the few holdouts on my prior and more radical philosophy.
“I am ruined!” wailed Inconnu. “The essence of my character has been shattered!”
“Only if the essence of your character is being the stereotypical traff brought to life,” I said. “And I know you enjoy playing that role, but there’s more to you than that.”
Inconnu threw his head back. “You are ignoring me, Sythyry! You cannot see the depths of my despair, my degradation, my doom!”
“Lots of us have slept with socially-appropriate people,” said Arfaen quietly. “I certainly did. Where do you think my son Quendry came from?” I’m pretty sure she was loyally defending me; Cani are like that.
Inconnu stamped a web-toed foot. “You do not understand! You were not tricked!”
“I was shoved into an arranged marriage over my objections, if that counts,” said Arfaen.
“It was years ago — you have forgotten! You are so used to your impurity and degradation that you cannot remember!” howled Inconnu.
“It was only a few years ago, and I remember perfectly well, and I am less degraded now that I am with my own kind than I ever was when I was married,” snapped Arfaen. She bared her teeth and growled warningly.
Inconnu growled back at her. “Well! If you care nothing for what has become of me — you who are both my lovers! — I shall seek someone aboard who cares to render assistance to a fellow traff in need!” He turned and stomped out of the parlor, his tail lashing back and forth, and knocking a hat-stand over.
Arfaen shrugged to me. “I was going to ask you to use some sort of magic to see who wrote the letter. Or maybe even see if you can figure out if someone borrowed your body-changing devices to switch from Orren to Rassimel.”
“Actually, I’d been leaving the transforming cloak in a parlor for anyone to use,” I said. “I got tired of people asking to borrow it. The students have been wanting to do all sorts of experiments — one married trio of Orren wanted to try their lovemaking as all seven other prime species. Anyways, I left it over there, where … it … is now. Maybe you could sniff it and see who has been using it?”
Arfaen smelled the cloak up and she smelled it down, she smelled it forwards and she smelled it backwards. “Lots of people have been using it, many of them Orren, like you said. I can’t pick out any one of them in particular, not this far after the fact. Not that I really want to do sleuthing on Inconnu’s behalf, not after he insulted both of us like that.”
“Well, as your loyal and obedient concubine, I will forbear from helping him either,” I said. I was a bit annoyed at him as well.