1779 Morganthaler Street West
I have seen prettier cities than Tublier. Greater Naspen (the district) is generally a beautiful place, with its own distinctive architectural style dating back several gross years, all wide arches and big plazas and low domes with oblate stones on the top, pink and sparkly grey brick. Tublier is a new city, though, which grew up from a small town because of the zeppelin business, and such as that. So it’s all quick blocky rectangular apartment buildings, hung about with drying laundry on lines on every balcony. I rented Apartment 28J at 1779 Morganthaler Street West, furnished. I paid an extra month’s rent in cash, in advance, as a deposit in case my cat
took his true form and destroyed the whole miserable building peed on the carpet or brought new insects to join the large and vibrant colony that already lived in the mattress.
“I’m sorry, the furniture isn’t in the best shape, it’s a bit uncomfortable,” said the superintendant apologetically. “I’ll bring you a better bed when one frees up, and there’s a nice armchair in 21G when that comes open you can have.” His lies were rotting fish to my veriception, but I had to ignore them.
“I’ve slept on worse and not felt it,” I said, truthfully. I don’t generally like lying — my own lies are no more pleasant to veriception than anyone else’s — and I seemed to want to see how truthful I could be and still fool everyone. If I were alone I wouldn’t fuss quite so much, but with Nrararn watching I wanted to be punctilious. Or at least look brilliantly clever. For once.
“Well then, it might be two or three days ‘til the new one comes, and I hope you can wait,” he said, lying. “The last tenant left some food, pasta and olive oil and stuff, you can use that. There’s a convenience store in the first floor across the street, too.” He showed me the security features, which weren’t very, told me that as a special favor (lie) I could use the freight elevator if the people elevators were full or broken (true), and accepted my money (happily).
«Are you actually going to sleep on that bed?» Nrararn asked.
«I don’t see why not.»
Nrararn, who was a small and very white tomcat distinctly lacking in horns, spikes, rainbows, or lightning braids, leapt onto the bed and lashed it with his hukuchô. A grand of bugs fled or died. He gathered them in a whirlwind and threw them out the window.
«That should do ‘til the next generation hatches,» I wrote to him. I’m not sure why I was writing rather than talking; good practice perhaps. «But you’d better not do any of that when there are hovens around. Hove’s cats generally are more circumspect with their astral sorcery.»
«I am merely looking out for your dignity. It would be unseemly if welts were showing under your beautiful yet short hoven fur.»
«Really. I don’t want to disappoint Ythac. I do owe him.»
«Really on my part too.» He smelled a bit eager, and it was late in the day, and the bed was clean. So I turned into a cat myself, then back into a hoven to get the olive oil, and thanked Nrararn for whatever. Or just for being Nrararn and putting up with me, which not many people do anymore. He was unusually vigorous and enthusiastic, so we had a long talk afterwards about how he likes being small harmless animals sometimes and I like being small people sometimes and how we shouldn’t be quite so embarrassed about that in front of Llredh and Ythac and Arilash and Boruu and Psilia and Kuro and Osoth and all, because their tastes are far more questionable than anything either of us would do. I don’t know what Osoth did to get on that list, aside from being a pretty good friend of ours, and I hope I never find out.