At Table with the Sleeth [25 Trandary 4260]
There are better ways to share a table with a Sleeth, and
there are worse ways. Sharing a worktable with Rhedwy is,
alarmingly, one of the better ways.
For those of you unfamiliar with Great Enchantment -- which,
I should imagine, includes most primes and all monsters --
an enchantment starts with a longish ritual. For a small
working, such as we are doing in class, the ritual has many
short pieces with breaks between them. One may leave the
classroom to get lunch, and one need not be extraordinarily
anxious about getting back within the third-of-an-hour.
Still, we did choose Candledance, from which one can escape
Inevitably this means that the Enchantment students go out
all together. Inevitably this means that tablemates are
seated next together. Inevitably this exposes me to one of
the worse ways of sharing a table with a Sleeth.
There is, of course, at least one still worse way: when one
is on the table as a dish, instead of simply a dining companion.
Zi Ri can levitate themselves. Sleeth can, without spending
any Corpador material, up to a few pounds in weight
-- meat and bone, leather, ivory, beeswax, parchment, and,
especially, meat and bone. This is crucial for them, as
their forepaws are weapons rather than organs of
Even so, they are not particularly neat eaters. Rhedwy
would choose a skewer of grilled wudgeon in parsley sauce --
carefully avoiding the hot and sour bitter melon sauce, for
Sleeth noses are as subtle and interrogative as Cani noses,
and not nearly so well constrained by manners. The waiter
would squirt the wudgeon with a bit more melted butter, and
nervously set it in front of Rhedwy, not getting any closer
to her than zie had to.
Rhedwy:"I never eat a waiter at Candledance!
It takes too long and the charge is too high. Also I do not
think I can finish a whole Herethroy, so there is the
surcharge for leftovers."
The waiter was not greatly comforted. Zie stopped bringing
us wine, even. I tried to complain about that, but Esory
reminded me that one should not drink much in the middle of
a Greater Enchantment ritual.
Also, Sleeth cannot easily pay for their own lunches.
Rhedwy can well and away afford lunch, but actually
paying is a difficult matter for her. Coins are, of
course, amber, and amber is, of course, not Corpador. A
leather purse with coins in it is too much Herbador for a
Sleeth's meagre instinctive Corpador magic to do much with.
So this is what she did. She turned her head and reached
into a saddlebag, and fished out her purse with her fangs,
and a smooth, slightly curved broken bone about a foot long
with her RuCo. She tugged the purse-laces to open it, and
carefully set it on the table.
Thelvion offered to help at
this point, and she said, "I have prets and I have fiaps.
Perhaps back in class you take a cork out of a winebottle
I don't know whether the curved broken bone is a pret or a
fiap. But evidently such a bone can be used to poke an amber
triangle out of a purse using only RuCo. She held the
purse open with her mouth and pushed the lozen coin that had
come out at the same time back in with a paw, and then
tugged the strings to close the purse.
If I ever get crippled that way -- e.g., if a Sleeth eats my
fingers off in a fit of jealousy or evenness-making -- I
will do what Rhedwy is doing in class, and make a single
talisman that can rule Corpador and Herbador, and Aquador as
well. Durudor would be useful too, but that would not be a
one-week working, nor do I have Caathestaa's power with it.
Well, "rule" is overstated. When she finishes, she
will be able to pick up a log or a tray or a purse, but she
will not have such fine control as to, say, pick a single
third-lozen coin out of a purse. Neither will it be
particularly mighty: I daresay it could carry some twenty or
thirty pounds. And of course it will only be usable three
times a day: we are still doing enchantments that fit into a
single week, and we have not learned techniques for doing
extra enchantment in a single week yet. I helpfully
pointed this out to Rhedwy.
Rhedwy:"The Spreen Rassimel also agrees with
you on this. Still ... two years ago Paarhan and Kaim-Su
and I are limping away from an angry this and an angry that,
through tunnels which a very large worm burrows through the
Verticals soil. Upon us falls suddenly a great heap of
stinking half-rotten taupe fungus! Kaim-Su is immediately
unconscious from being struck. Paarhan is largely buried,
and he does not have any spare cley to escape. So I am the
one who must dig and dig in half-rotten taupe cave fungus,
and I who must tug logs of fungus off of Rassimel and Orren
until they can squirm out. It is not the delicious taste!
Gladly would I bite three fewer logs of it! Even the memory
of it is not so delicious ... O Herethroy waiter whom I do
not wish to pay for eating, now you must give me the sausage
with blue curry sauce. No weaker dish burns the memory of
that flavor away."
She does talk that way. And that long, too.
Back in class, of course, I stared at her ritual tools. An
istricary or a ogomtacus can be made of ivory as easily as
wood, of course. An isednat cannot be; she held it very
clumsily in a loop of tail, and she dropped it and spoiled
that half-hour of ritual.
She caught me looking, then. "Sleeth are very patient.
Probably because we do not live as long as other primes."
And she did it again, holding the isednat in her tail, and
got it right.
(Which they don't. Most primes can expect to live a hundred
years [70 terrestrial], more or less. Sleeth are
shorter-lived than that, even. Though I doubt that so many
die of old age.)