Mirrored from Sythyry.
It’s hard to precisely specify who, exactly, our first tourist was. The distinguished Herethroy gentleman who showed up while we were building the outer framework, who joined us in the galley of Strayway but never said a word, and who seemed endlessly interested in watching sweaty, half-naked Cani and Rassimel carpenters as they built the outer hull? The charming Orren and Herethroy couple who stayed with us for a month, mostly as guests of Umbers and Tingula? The two assorted professional gamblers who helped us design the games in our casino, and showed us for a high fee how they would cheat us?
But I think I’ll count the first tourist as Lord Senneth, two years and some ago. Lord Senneth is a large and slightly albino Sleeth, tawny-furred and pointy-eared. He is a baron of Vheshrame. He has not always been a baron of Vheshrame, and it is not common to have a Sleeth be any sort of nobility. He started his career as a hunter and adventurer in the Verticals and wild lands. His star-serpent slithered up the dome of Vheshrame’s heaven when he helped out in a few of Vheshrame’s more foolish duel-wars, being the only one left standing in three of them. His title was a grant from a grateful Legeriat — or, if I understand the details, a Legeriat which was not so much ‘grateful’ as ‘responding to his threat of moving to Daukrhame and being on their side in the next duel-war’.
“I am here! The nobility of Vheshrame charges me with the exploring, with the spying and the scouting, with the peeking here and there, with the mission of investigative discovery of this new city on the World Tree!” proclaimed Senneth, as he prowled off of Windigar’s yacht. Kismirth, of course, is not technically on the World Tree. It was at the time a six-sevenths-built confection of wood and glass and gleaming metal plating, twinkling and dancing in the sky not ridiculously far from Vheshrame.
“Well, it’s not finished being built yet. And we’re still working on hiring all the dancers and chefs and whatnot,” said Phaniet, who knew him from before.
“These are not the questions asked by the nobility of Vheshrame! The Count of Does-Not-Want-Me-To-Say-Where asks about the availability of prostitutes, courtesans, hookers, sluts, wenches, toss-tails, and flibbertigibbets. I do not think he uses that last word right, but he is a count, so the people understand what he means. The Baroness of Somewhere-Else-Private asks about whether a Rassimel can have her secret Orren and the news of this will not reach her husband back in Vheshrame. I do not know how I am supposed to discover this! My husband back in Vheshrame is the very clever husband, and is discovering all such things before they happen,” said Lord Senneth.
“How did Brickrrang do that?” asked Feralan.
“He puts down bones from our dinner on the carpet! He says, ‘This femur of guntry is for the three Cani that you mount on your visit. This shell of mussel is for the Herethroy. This fur of rabbit is for the Orren and the Rassimel, the seven or eight Orren I think you are getting. This cupcake of squid is for the Khtsoyis.’ So that is my budget. Perhaps I do not use the whole of my budget.”
“Do the nobility of Vheshrame really consider Kismirth to be one big brothel?” asked Phaniet.
“Why, no, they do not! Some of them are far more enlightened. They recognize that Kismirth is a congeries of many brothels, some of them quite small and exclusive!” said the exceedingly innocent Sleeth.
Senneth sat on his haunches. “Kismirth is made from Castle Wrong. Kismirth is the tourist spot. The thought in Vheshrame is: what should one visit Kismirth for, but to play a little at being from Castle Wrong?”
Phaniet sighed. “We are going to have to advertise a lot more: advertise the gambling and the time distortion.” (She left out the museums and restaurants and cultural attractions, probably because they existed mainly in the future.)
The Sleeth flicked his pointy ears. “What is this? You do not wish to be the everyone knows of you as the Brothel in the Sky? How can this be?”
“We’re hoping for a bit more dignity than that,” said Phaniet.
“Dignity is a silliness!” said Senneth. “Except for the Sleeth. We have importantly of the dignity. Now! I wish to see the gambling and the time distortion! These are the things I investigate for my own interests!”
“Ah, of course!” said Phaniet.
Senneth did wind up hiring three prostitutes of three different species from our none-too-large collection over the course of his three-day visit. Then he had a particular sort of conversation with each of them.
Senneth: “I have a requirement!”
Prostitute: “My willing and supple body, well-equipped with sparkling genitalia appropriate to my gender and species, is at your disposal!”
Senneth: “I have a requirement concerning your mouth!”
Prostitute: “I have, in two out of three cases, not yet essayed such a requirement from a tom-Sleeth with my mouth, but in all three cases I should be glad to try and will exert myself quite heartily to provide satisfaction!”
Seneth: “No exertion is called for. I require the opposite!”
Prostitute: “I shall lie most passively upon this divan and present my mouth to your hopefully-not-overly-barbed member, following your quite clear wishes!”
Senneth: “Yes to the lying passively. No to the member, which will remain sheathed.”
Prostitute: “Have you been taking speech lessons from that wretched Zi Ri, or what?”
Senneth: “Here is what I require! You must not tell anyone what we have done here today.”
Prostitute: “Nothing could be easier! For, as of now, I have no idea what we will have done here today.”
Senneth: “I wish for nothing more elaborate or dubious than a thorough and proper fur-brushing. But news of this must not come to Vheshrame!”
Prostitute: “There is nothing tighter than the silence of a whore of Kismirth — save certain of the whore’s orifices! Which may be rented for a moderate and respectable fee.”
Senneth: “I require no such orifices! Furthermore I do not pay you anything but your moderate and respectable fee.”
Prostitute: “Alas, for a poor tipper!”
Senneth: “Neither one tip nor the other! But now, O hired one, service me as promised according to the terms of our agreement!”
Prostitute: “Very well. With a professional attitude, albeit a lack of enthusiasm induced by your promise of poor tipping, I do so.”
The next day, the actual research started.