Mirrored from Sythyry.
(Or, Why Rassimel Do Not Rule The World Tree)
Eleven days later, Niia stormed into Chiver’s study without warning. (Exactly what warning is required when one occupant of a shared apartment storms into a room thereof is not clear to me. I suspect that we ought to sell official Kismirth Storming Licences, though that might suggest that we allow storming the barricades or some such.)
“Chiver! Now you must decide!” she proclaimed.
Chiver looked up from a student’s incomprehensible abuse of mathematics. “What must I decide?”
“Me — or Arfaen! Loyalty — or betrayal!” said Niia.
“You and loyalty of course,” said Chiver. “But how does this choice manifest in reality? What, specifically, must I do?”
“Arfaen is trying to destroy my restaurant! Guess what she has done? She has hired two new Craitheian chefs, and is offering mushroom tarts a la toissande — offering horns-of-purity — offering chub-beetles en brochette! By the spanglio, what is she not offering — to them or to you?”
“I daresay you proved that Craitheian food is popular,” said Chiver.
“And her waim-fondue! The most expensive dish in the Nook, because it must be prepared from beginning to end after it is ordered, and two cooks must work hard and fast to have it ready in time! But Arfaen! Arfaen and her damnable stasis-table! She makes it in bulk, at leisure, and sells it so cheap!”
“Well, I don’t understand the full intricacies of her pricing scheme for her high-end foods, but doesn’t she have one price for a Herethroy dinner, and another for a mammal’s dinner, and that’s it? So she’s just charging the mammal price for the waim-fondue?” asked Chiver.
“Ridiculous! And the fondue itself! Who ever heard of making waim-fondue with pigeons? Waim-fondue is served with three roast ortolans! That is the tradition! A roast pigeon — oh, much cheaper I’m sure, but not right!”
Chiver cocked his head. “How do they make it in Draffmoug?” He knew the cuisine of the Trough of Kreischan almost as well as she did. (That’s the part of Craitheia which they come from — a big low spot between two mountain ranges, containg Choulano and Draffmoug and other cities.)
Niia snapped her fingers in his face. “That for Draffmoug. The cuisine of Draffmoug is debased — is everyway inferior to that of Choulano!”
“Perhaps so, but I do know that Arfaen has hired a few refugees from Draffmoug. She took them in, much as she took us in. Only they didn’t want to start a separate restaurant.” (Which is true — we’ve had a lot of people from Craitheia move in, mostly trying to escape the Vepri. Arfaen has hired the best of them. Arfaen, incidentally, is not nearly the best chef in her own restaurant. A couple of the newcomers are world-famous, far beyond Arfaen or Niia, but wanted to work with her for a while to get used to the local situation.) )
Niia glared at her lover. “Well, I’ll bet that your dear little Arfaen is having her pick of them in bed, too.”
Chiver flattened his ears. “I don’t know about that.”
“She’s not sharing, then?”
“I wouldn’t know. She and I only copulated the once,” said Chiver softly.
“Perhaps! I have know way of knowing if you’re telling the truth!” said Niia. “You certainly haven’t been a thunder of excitement in mye bed. Who knows where else you’re splashing your seed?”
Chiver tucked his tail between his legs. “I know — in my own hand and nowhere else. And I’m mournful about us being bad in bed. My fault is that, I think. Every time I’m with you anymore, I have the horrible memories of that afternoon of gushflush.”
Niia snarled in a fury. “What? I took care that afternoon, hours and hours of it, with you puking and shitting on me and on my pantry! And now you’re punishing me for it?”
“I’m not trying to punish you. I’d forget that whole afternoon, truly I would.”
Niia glared at him. “You haven’t even tried to get over it.”
Chiver was backed into a corner. There was no answer save the one that would enrage Niia. “It hasn’t been so easy to try. You’ve barely shared my bed since you opened the Nook, and when you do you’re thinking about the Nook more than me anyhow.”
Niia snapped, “And Arfaen’s easier, is she?”
“It was just the once! And we’re both Cani — we could smell the interest — we weren’t even flirting with each other!” protested Chiver.
“So you were fucking the she-dog as a break from her destroying my business,” said Niia. “Some loyal partner you are.” She pushed past Chiver, snatched a pair of suitcases, and teleported off somewhere.
Chiver fell to his knees and howled.