Mirrored from Sythyry.
I set off three small but noisy lightning bolts. “Oyez, oyez, oyez! All shut their muzzles for the honorable Temporary Judge Arfaen!” We do not have a formal judicial system on Strayway. Arfaen had volunteered to mediate, so of course I (1) accepted and (2) provided more pomp than the occasion actually required.
Arfaen waved around a tenderizing mallet, as a symbol of her actual and pretend offices both. “So, I’m here to arrange an arrangement between Inconnu, Grinwipey, and Invincible Fire Demon. Do you all agree to accept my mediation, on pain of being served nothing but pickles and frozen raw sheep entrails for the rest of the journey?” These terms were acceptable to everyone. The journey being almost over, it’s not much of a threat really.
Arfaen continued. “So, as I understand the situation: Inconnu is upset because someone slept with him under false pretenses. He became convinced that it was Invincible Fire Demon. Inconnu considered this to be mockery, and sought to mock Invincible Fire Demon back by plastering the ship with terrible love poetry about Grinwipey, which appeared — even to an educated nose — to be written by Invincible Fire Demon. Grinwipey took exception to this — deciding that it was mockery rather than infatuation — and mocked Invincible Fire Demon back, by forcing him to wear some clothing as hideous as the poetry until Sythyry made Grinwipey stop, and Invie accidentally hurt himself in the process. So far so true?”
Inconnu bounced to his feet. “Not enough! My very purity was assaulted, challenged, shattered! Revenge must and shall be mine!”
“Yeah, yeah, so you slept with a Rassimel. Big deal. You sleep with a lot of Rassimel,” said Grinwipey. “You didn’t sleep with a Khtsoyis. So I kinda don’t see why you have to drag me into this puddle of pig poople.”
“I don’t think that anyone involved behaved terribly civilly,” said Lithia, who was there as the expert witness.
“What did I do?” whined Invincible Fire Demon.
“OK, OK. Inconnu and Grinwipey didn’t. You are just the hapless victim,” snapped Lithia. “You know what I mean.”
“I’m a hapless vapless victim here too!” snarled Grinwipey. “Here I am, floatin’ in my workshop, mindin’ my own business, embroiderin’ phase daisies on a lace mace case, and all of a suddent out of the blue I get whoimped by a bunch of horrible love poems! Mocked! Made a laughing-stocking, and me who doesn’t even have feet!”
“You could have done something that didn’t involve slamming me into a door,” said Invincible Fire Demon. “Maybe write some mocking poems of your own. Even if I had done it, which, um, I hadn’t.”
“I ain’t no aster-basting master poetaster!” shouted Grinwipey. “I’m a coo-turry-urg! So that’s basically what I did, ‘cepting I did it with clothing not poetry!”
“True enough, but you picked the the wrong person about it,” said Arfaen. “And he got hurt in the process.”
Invincible Fire Demon hopped up. “And I was very scared! Suddenly this well-armed and very angry warrior-tailor floats into my room, whomps everything with his clubs a lot, crashes me into an armoire to hurt my arm, and demands I wear a horrible thing! Besides, the poetry was mocking me too.”
“Inconnu and Grinwipey, you’re a pair of dumb-brain squid nipples,” said Arfaen, whose judicial manner is not sufficiently appreciated or imitated in more formal courts.
“Yeah, yeah, I got the wrong guy. So bite my tail and call me Saliet. Least I didn’t actually hurt him, I just made fun of him,” snapped Grinwipey.
“It hurt!” whined Invincible Fire Demon.
“Slamming yourself into furniture ain’t a pillow pie, Invie,” said Grinwipey. “But I didn’t do that bit, and nobody’s even saying I did.”
“And I! I was mislead by Lithia! What can you expect when you take a member of the same species into your confidence?” wailed Inconnu.
Lithia glared at him. “I did not mislead you. I said it might be Invincible Fire Demon because he was grinning about something like that earlier. I said you needed to check on it and talk to him! Not drag him into the gutter for revenge!”
“It wasn’t me! I was talking about a different Orren boy anyways, and I didn’t do anything about that!” protested Invincible Fire Demon.
And everyone but me went around the room saying the same things over and over again for nearly two-thirds of an hour, by which time I was thoroughly bored and feeling like I was wasting my life. I can’t imagine how the mortals endured it.
Finally, Arfaen said, “Right. Inconnu, you owe both Invincible Fire Demon and Grinwipey an apology and thirty-three lozens each. Grinwipey, you owe Invincible Fire Demon an apology and three hundred and thirty-three lozens.
Grinwipey shrugged, flicking its tentacle-tips all around. “Fine, fine. I’ll apologize myself as flat as a flounder.”
Arfaen added, “And you won’t go playing a prank on Inconnu, or taking any further revenge on him. This whole incident is over. Right?”
“Right as a wriggling rhygon, Arfaen,” said Grinwipey, as contritely as he ever is. “I’m a meek little meatball for the rest of the trip, even if everyone calls me a snushmanger right in the dinner hall in front of everyone.”
Inconnu bristled. “What injustice is this? I was wronged in the first place! Nobody even denies this! Yet, somehow, I am apologizing and paying fines! Arfaen! You are a stinking of a judge!”
Arfaen bared her teeth. “You are wronged by getting a night of body-play that you bragged about for days! You then got offended at a fine point, insulted everyone on board, and got revenge on two people who were, in fact, innocent.”
“Or seem to be!” snapped Inconnu.
“Well, no more than one of them is guilty, and probably neither one is,” said Arfaen. “You do have some sort of a legitimate grievance, but not the one you threw at everyone.”
“Well, who did sleep with me?” wailed Inconnu.
“Who didn’t?” snapped Grinwipey. “‘sides me, that is.”
Later on, with Arfaen putting the kitchen in order for the night and me sitting on the stove offering useful advice and minor assistance.
Arfaen: “Is that what you wanted?”
Me: “Well, truth to tell, I was hoping for something harsher and more vindictive about Grinwipey.”
Arfaen:: “Oh! You want revenge for him being so mocky at you, and doing awful things to your cousin, and everything else he’s done?”
Me: “… yes”
Arfaen: “So he’ll never, ever do anything like any of those again?”
Me: “… yes”
Arfaen: “Well, next time, if you want revenge or fierce justice on someone, ask me to take revenge or fierce justice, not to mediate. Though I think there’s been entirely too much revenge in the last couple of days. And now I think you should put your cute little head to your concubine duties, and stop worrying it about the affairs of those greater than you. Which I think is just about everyone on the ship, measured by volume, excluding Saza.”
Which isn’t the absolutely best way to seduce me, really.