Mirrored from Sythyry.
Octagons, when nude, is the gaudiest person in Kismirth — or one of three, anyhow. She is brilliantly colored. She is not the only brilliantly-colored person in Kismirth: I am an intense blue, for one, and some Herethroy are shiny metallic greens or crimsons that put every non-insect to shame, even Octagons. Octagons, and her … let’s call them sisters … are the only people in Kismirth who change color without any effort or conscious will on their part. By a divine design (and yes, Octagons, personally and directly, was created by a god), the colors are always quite beautiful. But they are different every hour or two, or, if one is paying attention to detail, every minute or two.
Not that she worked nude in Arfaen’s vast kitchens. Herethroy could in principle, and I suppose that Khtsoyis might if Arfaen ever hires one, which she has not yet done. Some Zi Ri might — not me, for I have feathers that might get into the stew. (And yes, I sometimes work in her kitchen when things are rough.) But Octagons wore the standard garb that Arfaen insists be worn by everyone with loose fur or feathers: a fairly tight white pinafore or jumper sort of a thing with medium sleeves, waterproof tight silk gloves, and a tight cap. And, yes, everyone in the kitchen wears that, even Arfaen, except for one (1) Herethroy woman who loads the finished dinners on carts and hauls them off, who is allowed to work naked by virtue of (1) not coming in contact with the actual food, and (b) having no fur or whatever, and (γ) she hasn’t worn clothes for thirty years and is not about to start now. We get some strange people here.
Simmerene … I have not seen Simmerene nude, nor am I likely to at this rate. She is a youngish Cani woman with spotted dingo styling, and a Craitheian accent. She came to Kismirth with her styling, her accent, an oversized overcoat, and a collection of minor lacerations, contusions, and the occasional burn. Arfaen gave her some spare clothing, a spare room, and a spare job in the kitchen. This is none too unusual.
Their first conversation took place over cream of beetle soup. Lots of cream of beetle soup: a huge leather cauldron, being heated over another cauldron of water as a gigantic and slightly improvised bain-marie. Octagons, as the more experienced cook, got to stir the soup, with a wooden spoon that could have served as a respectable canoe paddle. Simmerene’s job was to spell Octagons if she tired, or to fan the steam away from her. (Not feeding the fire! We do have some wood stoves, but they’re for food that benefits from the smoke.) This left a lot of time for conversation, for it takes most of an hour for that much cream and pureed beetle-flesh and roast garlic and pureed peppers and seven secret spices to come close enough to a boil but not there yet.
“Why’d you come to Kismirth, Octagons?” asked Simmerene, because she was bored after nine minutes of fanning.
“I’m a refugee. The wrongfolk rescued me, and I’ve stayed with them,” said Octagons.
“Oh, that’s so sad. I’m a refugee too sort of. Refugee from what? Were you getting persecuted because you look … I mean, because of how long your neck is, and how big your … um, your ears are, and how you change color?” Simmerene’s eyes were a bit glued to Octagon’s chest, as they had been for a while. Octagon’s chest is, in fact, distinctly worthy of attention by those who attend to Rassimel bosoms, especially those who appreciate monumentality in their mammality. (While I, myself, do appreciate Rassimel bosoms, I find them intimidating when they are larger than my entire body.)
“Well, from a spare heaven that the goddess Mircannis made. It was a place of physical and emotional luxuries, but very bland compared to the World Tree,” said Octagons.
Simmerene wagged her well-wrapped tail. “I haven’t had a bland life so far. I’m hoping for one here.”
“I don’t think it’s bland here! It’s urgent compared with that heaven. I never worked there — never had the challenge of stirring the soup and someone actually caring if I let it burn,” said Octagons.
“I suppose I don’t want to disappoint Arfaen,” said Simmerene. “Getting fired wouldn’t be good for me, if I want to make a living in Kismirth.”
“If you’re desperate, you could always go be a waitress at the Fucked-*p Firefly, or a prostitute,” said Octagons.
Simmerene fanned at Octagons. “I don’t want to be a prostitute.”
“It sounds like an easy job for a prime,” said Octagons.
“You say that like you’re not a prime,” said Simmerene.
Octagons’ huge ears went flat. “I’m not. The wizards and scholars call me a para-prime, like a prime but from another universe. Made by the goddess Mircannis to people her heaven.”
“Our goddess Mircannis?”
“Yes. Ours too, but it’s the same person.”
“That’s a bit scary. I’ve never worked with a monster before.” Simmerene rather shrank back.
“I’m not very dangerous! Arfaen knows — she’s Sythyry’s consort, and she knows.” said Octagons. She applied herself to stirring the soup. She had had this conversation a hundred times. Usually it ended badly, or at least not well: with a hurried nervous departure of the other, and no return.
Which looked like it was happening this time too.