Mirrored from Sythyry.
Frippin was scrambling around her cabin, stuffing clothes and books into suitcases and canvas bags in a wild rush. “Oh no we’re nearly in port I need to get off the boat in three minutes and I’ll have to leave all my clothes behind or I’ll get swooped off to Vheshrame and …”
“We’ll be in port for a day or two …”, said Invincible Fire Demon. He stopped in mid-sentence when Arfaen cuffed his shoulder, and said, “Frippin, we’ll help you pack, but you have to tell us a few things afterwards.”
“OK yes please help help!” said Frippin, and the next third of an hour was a three-way festival of packing.
“So, why did Alzagonde want us to talk to you about … whatever happened with Inconnu?” asked Arfaen, hoisting a clothes-bag on her back.
“Oh no I’m so sorry!” whined Frippin. “I didn’t mean you to get beaten up Invie!”
“I will forgive you, but please tell me how you happened to get me beaten up?”
“I needed a term paper story so I thought I would watch Inconnu do stuff and I would find something to write about like about social interactions and whether he thinks it’s cissy or traff with two people of the same species but a different one than him, it’s not a great topic but I was really running out of time and I don’t want to flunk out and I had to do something. So I was going to hire two Rassimel girls, only when the first one heard I wanted to watch her with an Orren she was going to charge me a lot, I mean a huge lot way more than I could afford, I couldn’t hire another one I didn’t have the money, then I thought, well, I can save some money and I don’t have to go hide in the closet and watch through a keyhole if I’m there in the room helping out, you know? And it’s not traff if I’m really an Orren myself and Inconnu is too, even if I’m looked like a Rassimel … I mean, it’s not as if I were sleeping with my professor to get a passing grade, that would be traff and pretty disgusting too, this is just sleeping with a cute guy for the sake of science, that’s OK, right? But I don’t have a crush on him or anything. I mean he is really good and all, but but, look, could you tell him an apology from me after you leave Barency? I didn’t mean to cause him any trouble, I just had to show Alzagonde my paper so she could help me with it, I didn’t mean that he should find out, I would have given him two Rassimel if I had had the money, and I’m so sorry how it all turned out!”
(Or, rather, that is an approximate condensate of what she said. I believe that she repeated it approximately six hundred and eleven times over the course of a third of an hour, and that intermixed with interrogations and confirmatory questions. Frippin seemed as malice-free as possible.)
Arfaen hugged her — Frippin cringed a bit — and said, “I’ll make sure everyone gets the full story when we’re safely away. I hope that’ll comb down some of the ruffled fur.”
Certain of us held a Secret Council of Justice And Retaliation. It wasn’t particularly secret from Alzagonde, though of course she wasn’t there. It was secret from Vae, who might well have done something very drastic about it, like destroy Barency.
Me: “It’s all Alzagonde’s fault?”
Arfaen: “Alzagonde was the spark, Frippin the flash, Inconnu and Grinwipey were the tinder, eager to burn, and Invincible Fire Demon played the unenviable role of the fireplace.”
Me: “And where is Alzagonde now? Has she disembarked?”
Arfaen: “With her family in Barency.”
Me: “That makes revenge a bit more difficult.”
Arfaen: “You were planning to take revenge?”
Me: “Well, I was planning to call it “justice” or at least “the proper punishment for crimes committed on my airboat”. Not nearly as convenient or legitimate if she is now off the airboat.”
Kantele: “I shouldn’t advise doing what you are starting to think of, Sythyry.”
Me: “Why not?”
Jyondre: “For those of us who are not so telepathic, what is zie thinking of that zie should not do?”
Me: “I haven’t the slightest idea.”
Kantele: “I’m not quite sure — probably either ‘flying off and ignoring the situation’ or ‘challenging her to a duel’. Unwise, in either case.”
So we argued for the better part of an hour — and, as better parts of an hour go, this was far and away the worse part — and decided that the better part of convenience, if not of justice, could be served by hiring Prof. Mump to be vicious to Alzagonde.
So, the next day, Kantele and Mump had a nice conversation about how terrible Alzagonde had been and how much she deserved a future of academic misfortune, and then a nice conversation about how Mump’s research program could be strengthened by a few thousand lozens, and, hopefully, the deal was done. It is notably easy to hire professors to do nearly anything, provided that one phrases it as ‘giving them a grant.’
Not that I’m terribly happy with Mump either.
I think I’m done with this vacation. I am tired of getting in trouble with foreigners in foreign lands. I think I would like to go home, where I can get in trouble with fellow citizens in the convenience of my own house.