Mirrored from Sythyry.
Some of them were willing to come when we invited them — Glikkonen in particular, who is fond of zir grandchildren, Saza and myself. The rest got a lot more willing to come when we told them what we were building, and when. They knew how dangerous such things had been in previous times, when millions of primes had died from the mistakes of deep-wizards, and Flokin the fire god burnt cities to ash and glass to keep matters from getting any worse.
We were planning to do that sort of thing again.
We had a pretty respectable guest list. Of the dozen most famous experts on Locador magic in Ketheria, we had eight as visitors. These included such dignitaries as Professor 1, Doctor Sh, Wizard α, and others who I will not bore you with even a listing of the lizard-assigned pseudonyms thereof. They all brought between three and a trillion assistants, supporters, hangers-on, same-species spouses, other-species people of suspicious attachment, valets, varlets, duvets, ferrets, merits, demerits, etc, whom I shall also not mention unless they are mentionable. Fortunately we held the seminar in Kismirth, which has plentiful hotels, restaurants, entertainments, and vistas to hold and amuse such people. (Never mind the other things that Kismirth has. (even to hold and amuse such people.))
They also included Glikkonen, a first-generation Zi Ri; the oldest and best wizard on the World Tree. (That’s not just my opinion as zir grandchild. Saza thinks so too. So do many other people.) Being a grandparent as well as a first-generation Zi Ri and a wizard, zie is a manipulative and viciously well-meaning spawn of a god.
For some reason, Glikkonen had, I thought, hired and brought a low-to-medium-priced teenaged Rassimel floozy from our prostitution district. I had no idea why. All the first-generation Zi Ri are utterly cisaffectionate, without the slightest interest in romance or carnal play with anyone but other Zi Ri.
“Sythyry, I would like particularly you to meet my deacon Flaenstra,” zie said with a meaningful flick of zir tail. Meaningful, that is, except that I didn’t understand it, so it was meaningless.
“Of course! Delighted to make your acquaintance, Flaenstra,” I said. She was a short and brawny Rassimel woman of classical styling, with a fine-ringed tail and a pronounced eyemask. She was also wearing a respectable self-sculpting talisman, so the fact that she chose to appear as a low-to-medium-priced teenaged Rassimel floozy was voluntary.
“Likewise delighted, I’m sure,” snapped Flaenstra. Evidently she means something rather different by “delighted” than most people do. I was rather surprised she was talking, given her tone of voice, rather than wringing some scaly neck or other.
“Now, now, Flaenstra,” said Glikkonen. “There’s no sense in being rude to Sythyry. You two have a great deal to talk about, after all, you know!”
“I don’t see that we do,” she said. She turned to me and explained, “With all due respect, I’m primarily a metallurgist. I don’t have a lot to do with Locador magic, and I wouldn’t even have come to this seminar if Zirself there hadn’t insisted.”
I dipped my head. “Well, you’re also an enchanter of no small skill, or so I have heard! And I am a master-smith, with a keen appreciation of metallurgy, though no especial talent therefore. My smithly activities run to the creation of metal, and the making of jewelry — for people or for floating cities.”
She shrugged. “Fine.”
Glikkonen flapped zir wings. “There’s no need to be snippy, Flaenstra! No reason for either brusqueness or rudeness!”
“There’s no reason to shove me around, either,” said Flaenstra. “I pick out my own … friends.”
“I don’t. I have my grandparents to choose them for me,” I said helpfully. “As they do for you, is it not so?” Which got a quarter of a grin from Flaenstra. It got a perplexed look from Glikkonen, too. Glikkonen’s social skills are legendary. When this legend is told, the refrain is, Oh, no! Zie didn’t!. (I understand there is a similar legend about my sexual exploits, with a far less dignified refrain. I have heard several versions of it. 60% of my legendary exploits are serious misunderstandings of the circumstances; 70% of them are invented out of whole cloth; and 80% are quite aspirational for me but unlikely ever to come about.)
Glikkonen snapped, “I am not choosing your friends! However, you have continued to be my deacon, and so I get to choose your professional acquaintances and fellows!”
Flaenstra scowled back at Glikkonen, “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“You are certainly dressed as if you were here,” zie said.
“I’ve got a part to play. I’m dressed for it,” said Flaenstra, in a voice as bitter as overbrewed kathia.
“Grandparent? I don’t think there’s any great need to have me seduced. If you want me to do something, well, I have invited here to ask your advice, so recommend a course of action and I will surely do it,” I said. “And if the course of action is a saddening and disheartening one, even up to abandoning the project, I have a very nice wife and a very nice lizardfriend to comfort me.”
“Ridiculous! I have no secret plans and no ulterior motives!” snapped Glikkonen. “Now I seek out the famous buffet, or perhaps the top of the central spire of Kismirth which I have never seen despite spending some weeks here working on the walls and dining with Sythyry and Saza up there several times, or maybe a museum which has not yet opened!” Zie flew off, spitting sparks.
Flaenstra towered over me, drew a dagger dripping deadly dew, found a fiendishly flaming +1 flail, grasped a glowing +2 glaive glistening with ghastly ginger-ale, hefted a huge +3 hand-axe with a hideous Herethroy head on the handhold, picked a poisoned +4 pike with pungent powers of putrefication, seized a sizzling +5 scimitar smeared with some sanity-sawing secret substance, and threatened me with a +6 trireme of totally turgid terror, and frowned distinctly. “I am not here for any purpose beyond doing my part in analyzing and perhaps performing the enchantments. Not to drop my trousers for anyone of Kismirth, least of all you.”
I fluffed my feathers at her. “I have a wife and plenty of lovers as it is, and no lack of professionals available if, somehow, I want something specific that my friends cannot or will not arrange. My requirements for your body are distinctly limited. Feel free to keep your rump in the comfortable chair we have arranged for you in the conference room; it shall have no place in my bed.”
“I shall insist on nothing less,” said Flaenstra, and stomped out.
Saza gave my a pitying look. “Ooh, poor Sythyry. You and she will be boinking bravely and belligerently in about three days, and have an amazingly melodramatic breakup for about three years. Feel free to come to my bed for occasional moments of sanity.”