Mirrored from Sythyry.
“Sythyry. What was I to discover to make my revenge complete?” demanded Thefefy.
I opened the door to one or another of my ridiculous parlor collection and beckoned her inside. “Well, and what did you discover?”
She clapped her hands once, and it was a regular or garden-variety clap. Twice, and thunders fell upon my parlor, and the glass candle-holder broke. Thrice, and the sound was as of world-branches being torn. My furniture became splinters for three parlors around, and my body was shattered as under a baliff’s mace, and the transformation spell upon the goddess was broken as well.
I came back to life a moment later, from a Heal the Awful Wound, with Thefefy crouched over me, dripping brandy into my muzzle. I glared at her. “If you want to kill me again, you can do it with your hands again. You don’t need to drown me in brandy.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. One does not get an apology from a goddess every day, though arguably one should. “I was simply trying to get my shape back.”
“Ask the person who transformed you!” One does not get to snap at a goddess every day, though arguably one should.
“I didn’t want to bother you!” she whined.
“Well, you did. Now I am going to take a nap in a time bubble. Stay here and muse upon the five days we spent touring hither and yon and interviewing people, a little of which is recorded in my diary for the reading pleasure of extradimensional monsters, and a lot of which is similar to that and not recorded. We will talk more when I return.”
* * * ← those asterisks hide a long nap and a lot of healing spells, and, if you must know, a rather desparate possibly-the-last-time with Arfaen, in case Thefefy got upset or careless again.
“Well, what did you learn?” I demanded of Thefefy. We had moved to a less blasted parlor.
“I am not sure.” She is not a very clever deity, though I suppose if she once got a smart idea, the next one would be smarter, etc.
“What do you think of the World Tree? Nicer than Heaven? Or not as nice?”
“… Not as nice. I can’t see why you want to stay here,” said the goddess, after some of the deepest thought she may ever have subjected herself to.
“Well, I got kicked out of the other universe I got to visit,” I said. Thefefy herself had done the kicking. “But the question is — which universe is better-crafted? The nice one, or the not-as-nice one?”
“The nice one, of course. What a silly question,” said Thefefy. (This is, incidentally, the wrong answer, but I was not going to correct her.)
“So, did Mircannis condemn you to her miserable hell, or her nicest heaven?”
“Heaven, Sythyry. You know that.”
I glared at her. “And she herself is staying in …? Her nicest heaven, or …”
Thefefy scratched her head. “Uh … her miserable hell.”
“So who is getting the better treatment?” I insisted. “The one in heaven, or the one in hell?”
“What a ridiculous question! The one in heaven of course,” snapped Thefefy. “Oh. Wait. That’s me, isn’t it?”
“It certainly is, Thefefy. So why is Mircannis staying in hell?”
Thefefy scratched her head again. Since the second time is much harder than the first, chips of quartz and gold came away under her clawtips. “I don’t know. Why?”
“She our goddess of healing. She fixes things.”
Thefefy scratched her head again, her blunt claws left huge wounds in her scalp, bleeding a peculiar divine ichor. (If I could just puzzle her one more time, she might scratch her own brains out … but that probably would not defeat her.) “What are you getting at, Sythyry?”
“She utterly screwed up her attempt to make the World Tree. So she’s staying here to fix it. It’s not a nice place, you saw that yourself. Why would she want to stay here when she could be in Heaven? But no, she’s here. And if you kill her for good, you’ll be just depriving her of her own idea of hell. The people you’ll really make unhappy are Simmerene and Pirly and Luchitali and everyone you saw — the people she’s fixing the World Tree for,” I said. Rather quickly! There was an error of logic or theology in every sentence, and I didn’t want her thinking too deeply about it.
“So if you go killing her all the way, …” I demanded.
“I’m not getting revenge for an insult, is what you’re saying? She didn’t insult me, and even if she did, she’s torturing herself here,” said Thefefy, sounding a bit baffled.
“Exactly! You understand!” I chirped.
“But don’t worry!” said Flokin, who had taken the form of a quilted bathrobe and manifested in the fireplace. I presume it had been spying on us all along. “One mistake like that, or a thousand, and you’ll still be far smarter than me.”
“I … guess I’ll be on my way then,” said Thefefy, still a bit baffled. She picked Flokin out of the fireplace and put it on, and was gone.
“Well, that was easy. By which I mean ‘apparently possible and it might have worked’,” I said to myself, as a prelude to a much-needed utter physical and emotional collapse.
“Yup!” said the coppery-furred cat with malachite-green eyes, also from the fireplace, which was just a cat. I checked. “Mircannis says ‘Thank you’ and that you can keep the chalices you stole from her.”
“Oh, good,” I said. “Tell her ‘you’re welcome’.”
“Now, if I had any manners, I wouldn’t go rewarding someone by giving them something they already had. Fortunately I don’t have any manners, or I’d wind up giving you this,” said the cat. It batted a little copper hazelnut at me, which hadn’t been there before. One glance revealed it as a mighty Grace of Flokin. “So as it is I’m just going to sit on your tail until you apologize.”
“Apologize?” I had to ask.
“I was so looking forward to having a fight with her. It would have been fun! She’d lose more and more each time! Now I’ll need to find another excuse,” said the god. It closed its eyes and curled up on my tail.
What is one supposed to do under such circumstances? I petted it until it fell asleep, and, between one scritch and the next, it vanished, leaving only a circle of char on my parlor floor.
I took several days off, mostly with Arfaen and Saza, and an afternoon with Pirly, who is worth his price. They all thought it was just a vacation, a celebration that I had outwitted the very dangerous goddess. Not really. I just wanted to get a few more experiences and/or farewells before she figured out the fast talk and came back.
But she didn’t, or hasn’t yet.