Persuasions (Day 1130)
I spent most of the day being a tourist in Tublier. Tublier with an ignorant white cat for providing local color is not as much fun as Dorday with an expert native guide for local color, but we managed. The Alberhominie Civic Museum provided us with much more entertainment than we had expected of it, in the form of a special exhibition on zeppelins. Nrararn did have to turn into a hoven to come in; they don’t allow pets. Everyone thought we were twins. Next time I shall have to tell him to look like some other no-hoven-in-particular.
“Sorry, miss, but the armchair in 21G needs to be re-finished,” lied the superintendant as I walked in.
“No hurry”, I didn’t lie.
“Oh, and there’s a note for you called in,” he said. “Sounds like you might be dating someone important soon, if you play your cards right.”
«You are dating someone important,» wrote my small white cat.
«Really? Csirnis will barely talk to me anymore,» I wrote back, to annoy him.
“Miss, oh heavens! I’ll get you a bandage straightaway!” said the superintendant, and rummaged in his desk drawers. “But you should get rid of that cat, if he bites so much.”
“No, this is quite unusual for him.” (Usually he breathes lightning.) I bandaged my cat-bite, renewed the Hoplonton on both of us. «Wait until we’re in private to bite me!»
“And here’s your message, miss,” said the superintendant, after I was bandaged. “You should tell him your room number. We’ve got three Joffees living here. I had to make him tell me fur color, and lucky we don’t have another dark grey or you might be missing a date.”
Sporthen wanted to meet me for a discussion at the Laich Street Cafe in mid-afternoon.
“You think it’s a date?” I asked the superintendant.
“Young woman new in town, older important man? How badly do you need work?”
“Not that badly, yet,” I said. In part because my cat was glaring at me. I scooped him up and went back to my apartment, to tend my wounds properly (the Arcane Anodyne, though nearly anything would have worked), and to scold him properly (a Caramelle in the bathtub, with both of us as small as possible, which he won by one touch.)
Not a Date
“I’m very sorry if I kept you waiting,” I told Sporthen, when the waiter in the red flannel hat took me to his table.
“Hardly a concern these days,” he said, setting aside a bowl of cream-of-oyster soup. “Government business does not proceed with breakneck speed under the dragons. An hour or two off in the afternoon to tend to other important matters is not a matter worth troubling over. And if it is delayed, what then? The legal problems concerning the Tublier-North punishment camp may not be resolved for a bit longer. Certain contractors may spend an afternoon cooling their hooves in a lobby. Fortunately the dragons pay them by the day, not by the project, so complaints are few. Such things happen now and then, under the dragons. Do you not approve?”
I just laughed. “RARU is quite clever.” I don’t actually approve of hovens cheating my best friend in order to delay quarantining a very unpleasant menace away.
He smiled, and indicated a red-cushioned chair. “We do our best. Please, sit, choose a mid-afternoon snack if you wish, as my treat.” He looked a bit more closely, and grinned. “Does your cat need anything?”
«Tell him to perform our marriage straightaway!» said my cat, hopping into another chair and curling up.
“My cat will be ridiculously demanding given the slightest encouragement. So let’s not, just yet.” I ordered a smoked fish omelette, with sour sauce and a mug of cocoa.
“Very well. You bring your cat everywhere?”
“He’s very well behaved, with one or two notable exceptions,” I said. «And we’re on duty now, so no exceptions please.»
«I am very helpful! If he attacks you, I will kill him!» Nrararn answered.
«I think I can defend myself against one unarmed hoven.»
«Well, if a grand of warriors with mystic lances leap out of the woodwork, I’ll be invaluable. For one example. Not that the hovens are able to make mystic lances.»
I petted Nrararn, and smiled at Sporthen. “What did you want to talk about today?”
“Simply this: you wished to join RARU. We would happily accept you — as we would any true-spirited Trestean, make no mistake. But all of our members have sworn a promise to oppose the dragons. So, we were wondering if you would like any further discussion or information that might make you more comfortable joining us.”
«He’s asking us to spy on him!» wrote Nrararn.