Topol is a Toad in a Toque with a Temper!
I had used my Mysterious Draconic Wiles to lure a cluster of badger tourists into Topol's Tavern, tempting them with the promise of terrapin in treacle. "Come in to Topol's Tavern!" I would cry. "Tear into a tower of treats!" And they did.
Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ came to stand next to me and stare. (As you can plainly see, Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ and his family are Bun̮phíd͖a̦la̯̽. If the ridiculous accents on the name aren't enough of a clue, just look at the purple-striped quilted forearm-warmers, the tiny conical leather cap trailing ribbons, and the gigantic Holy Sign of Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum worn on a chain around his neck.) He shoved Isabill out of the way, Isabill being a shy human boy in a red burqa who had been watching for most of an hour. Isabill didn't seem to mind too much.
This is quite ordinary and nothing to be worried about — tourist children of every species stand next to me and stare every day. It is why I work in the window, after all. But Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ took an unusual approach to matters of cleanliness, safety, and etiquette.
"I need to blow my nose!" he said.
"That's very nice, Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋," said P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕, who ought to have been Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋'s mother, but wasn't.
"My nostrils are full of wretched blue snot and I am going to squirt it out!" proclaimed Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋.
"You're very talented, Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋," said P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕.
"Some people just snuffle into a stupid tissue when they blow their nose!" said Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋. "Some people have a stupid hankie! Not me! Those are too stupid and lame for someone as magnificent and glorious as me!"
"Of course, Blessed Child of Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum," said P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕. A casual observer might say that he was sounding a touch put-upon and annoyed with the child. A casual observer would be wrong. An expert observer (Topol, not me) would say that he was a touch put-upon and annoyed with the religious requirements that insisted he spoil the child.
"Any minute now, P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕. Any minute now!" He reached into my shelf and snagged one of the wide dumpling wrappers.
"That's kind of disgusting," said Isabill quietly.
"Disgusting? Did you hear that P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕? This stupid human wearing gender-inappropriate clothing called me disgusting! He said that the blue secretions of the Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum-blessed nostrils are vile and insipid! He said that I — Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ — am the bastard child of diseased sheep and a putrid bowl of rotten moldy oatmeal! He said that he'd go piss on the altar of Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum straightaway!"
"He certainly did, Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋," said Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum, keeping all expression out of his voice.
"What are you going to do about it P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕?" demanded Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋.
"He should be beaten with willow switches, have his eyes scratched with freeze-dried spiders, and get thrown off the balcony over the Room of Pointy Spikes On The Floor of Punishment," said P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕ meditatively. "Of course, we're not on the bridge U̔d̒urs̏h̫ar̭k̕, and people here aren't as careful about the proprieties, so we'll have to settle for a scolding and maybe a bit of a wallop on his shoulder."
"That's not what I said! I don't deserve a scolding!" said Isabill, his eyes leaking a bit.
"Yes it is! How can you disagree with me — Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ — child of Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum — whose every word breathes truthity and whose every drop carries a mighty blessing!"
"It's just the truth. Anyone watching knows what I said," said Isabill.
"You defiled the Doctrine of the Utter M͉ôrg͈a͔l-He̓spo̥͊d̫ŭm̒́! You proclaimed the non-divinity of H̓e̞e͖b̐o͖! You said that the Temple of S͔ḩúgm̭ar̆th should be burnt down and the ashes cast into the swamp beneath Greatbridge!" cried Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋.
"I didn't! I don't even know what those things are!" wailed Isabill. "I can't even pronounce them!"
Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ sneezed into the dumpling wrapper, as blue and unpleasant as can be imagined. He tossed it to me, saying "Deep-fry this and make it crispy! I will ram it up this human's rectum, punishing him and purifying him in a single act!"
I swatted the nasty thing out of the air with my mono-horn. "I'm actually not allowed to cook bits of customers," I pointed out.
"What? Double-defiance of Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum!" snarled Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋.
I winked my right head at Isabill, who fled back to a scowling older human at a table. I peered with my left head at Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋. "Nothing about Da͔n͋da͉tḧ́rum here. I'm just to fry dumplings with fillings made of chicken, of shrimp, of tofu, of greens. If it's not from the kitchen, I'm not to cook it. Very simple."
"Oh, sacrilege upon sacrilege! This lizard calls me a fool, a dolt, a very simple! It scorns my sacred sneezings! What blasphemy is this? What punishment should be exacted upon it, P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕?"
"I believe that live scorpions should be introduced into three of its orifices, and it should be held under ice-water for eleven periods, in between which flagellations should be applied with chili-coated cords," said P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕. "But of course we are far from U̔d̒urs̏h̫ar̭k̕, and the proper punishment here is probably little more than having lose its job and get cast out upon the bridges to starve."
"Well, if that is all, let us be about it straightaway!" cried Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋.
Topol showed up at about that time. "Tllith! You are being terribly rude to my customers!"
"Actually no..." I started.
"Actually yes! This is Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋! Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋, do you hear? You have insulted his feet — you have proclaimed ruin upon his pinecone salad!"
"What?" I mumbled.
Topol proceeded to ignore me, and to insult me. "You are a piffikin, a sluggery briasmus! Your scales are full of lorkies! You're so draggy, your mother can't carry the rice! You've spilled all the parrot dressing, and dipped your feet in it!"
I stared at him. "... no? ..."
Topol hopped around toadily. "Don't argue me, you little dissip! You're in no position to spank the shark! You've dooped all the cuppers, Tllith, and now you're about to pay the packer! I can't remember why I even hired a little snub shack like you — you salad of a shit-take! Get off that clean towel, you're coming with me!"
He grabbed me by the tail, and dragged me off to the pantry. Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ danced around cheering in triumph. P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕ took Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ to his table.
"You're a pie-eyed pinker, and you wank your wings in the whiskey, you dratted..." Topol pulled me into the pantry, and cut off his stream of insults in mid-epithet as the door slammed. "Hêsh, some days I hate the customers. Then there's days like today, where I despise them with a virulent fury beyond all words."
"... what? ..." I said for precisely the seventeenth time.
"Oh, the one is so important in some stupid Bunfi cult that nobody can say 'piffle' to him. The other is Isobill, he's the eromenos of the mayor's lawyer, he's in here a lot. I don't want to say 'piffle' to him either. So I wind up saying 'piffle' to you. Here, you like jerked guinea pig, don't you?" He picked a package off the top shelf — the good kind — and tossed it to me.
"A minute ago you were yelling at me. Now you're giving me expensive meat. What's going on?"
Topol sighed. "Tllith, you're going to have to stay in the pantry for a couple hours. Those stupid badgers ought to think I fired you. I need to make good with both sets of customers — they're assholes but so's everyone who comes in here — they're assholes who pay and pay good. But I am ain't angry at you, so you get a treat while you're in here. Curl up on a shelf and take a nap or something."
"I'm not fired, right? You're not angry at me?"
"What I am angry about is paying you good wages to sleep in the pantry and eat my best jerkey instead of shilling tourists into the restaurant! Ain't your fault though. Now I gotta go back and kiss Bunfi bum. Lucky lizard, you get to take a break," said Topol. He headed for the pantry door. "Oh, one more thing. Start crying."
"... what?..." It was getting monotonous, but I didn't have much else to say.
"Crying. Weeping and wailing. You need to be doing that when the door is open and I go out."
I don't cry that way, but I buried my heads in my wings and shook a bit for the benefit of anyone watching.
Aftermath: I did take that nap. Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋ gloated all afternoon about how he had defeated the dragon. P͔eͅng̢i̡fĺa̎s͓h͕ ordered the most expensive meal possible, and seven extras, and took most of it home. Topol said that was an apology for Bu̼r̕l̋ash͋'s behavior. Isobill asked for and received permission to make sure I was all right, which was sweet of him.