Party Beneath the Howling Heads #2
Seeks-Hot-Water Strenata:"And how do you know our hosts, O Herethroy?"
Pleasant Blossom:"Oh, just, from here and there, don't you know? " Zir giggle is like the clattering of teak chimes in a lazy breeze. "I've been around a bit, don't you know?"
Me:"Truth to tell, I am not so well informed in all important matters of Vheshrame as perhaps I should be! Where have you been? Have you visited the misty hills of Braxeia, perhaps, or distant broken-off Juneia?"
Pleasant Blossom:"Oh, nothing that far! Is there really a broken world branch?"
Me:"One of the gods evidently snapped the tip off of Juneia, though before primes were around to see it."
Strenata:"Though the broken-off bit is nowhere to be found."
Pleasant Blossom:"Really? I never knew that!" Pleasant Blossom seems to giggle quite frequently.
Me:"But how do you know the hosts?"
Pleasant Blossom:[Curling zir antennae, a bit embarrassedly]"Oh, well, just from the theatre, I suppose."
Me:"You are an actor, then?" Zie didn't look much like a student, nor indeed much like nobility. Zir pale peach carapace was dusted with glitter, and three triangles of dark peach paint, and zie wore a short cape fringed with some cheap fur that I didn't recognize.
Pleasant Blossom:[Nodding a lot]"Yes, yes, an actor. Only little bit parts really so far, don't you know?"
Strenata:"I, myself, have a limited but distinguished theatrical career. A First Day street performance of The Cheeses of Oorah Thrassen -- I was Mircannis!"
Pleasant Blossom:"Oh, that's very nice, don't you know?"
Strenata:"What have you appeared in?"
Pleasant Blossom:"Oh, I'm sure nothing you've heard of. I hardly remember, don't you know?"
Me:"We have been to a severalness of theatrical performances in the last few months! Perhaps two severalnesses, or a severalness and a variety at the very least. We are not so ignorant of theatre and high culture as you might expect to look at us!"
Pleasant Blossom:"Oh ... that's quite all right."
Me:"I sincerely hope so! If it were not all right, fixing it would be a matter of considerable challenge!"
Strenata:"Not so hard as all that. A few Destroc Mentador spells, and we could achieve a quite competitive level of ignorance." She grinned viciously at Pleasant Blossom.
Pleasant Blossom:[squeaking a bit]"Are you sorcery students at the Academy then?"
Me:"Yes, or enough of a yes for me to proffer an affirmative sort of an answer."
Pleasant Blossom:"Does she really do Destroc Mentador?"
Me:"One never knows, with Strenata! Seeks-Hot-Water, I am sure, has never studied Mentador, but she was not always known by that name. She has, I must warn you, had another name ... a darker and more terrible name."
Pleasant Blossom:"Oh my..."
Strenata:"And Sythyry ... Sythyry claims not to be the Wild and Scaly Llezcaryg, who destroyed the city-state of Dumanaat by means of some over-powerful magical weapons. I reiterate -- zie claims not to be Llezcaryg. Yet, who among us has seen both Sythyry and Llezcaryg in the same time? Who among us has beheld the true patterns of their spirits, and determined that they are in fact different people? For Sythyry is known to use devices and sorceries to conceal zir true appearance. And Llezcaryg has not been heard from since Sythyry came to town."
Me:"These are certainly true! I myself have not seen myself and Sythyry ... I mean, of course, myself and Llezcaryg ... at the same time. And what better disguise for the most dangerous and destructive enchanter of all time than as a first-year enchantment student of imperfect skill and thoroughly limited mastery? Who would suspect? Except Seeks-Hot-Water Strenata, from whom few secrets can be hidden."
Pleasant Blossom:"I think I hear Khiriotos looking for me." Zie scrambled off in a panic. Khiriotos fed zir one of the special cookies, and ate another herself, and the two of them slipped away bearing a third.
Strenata:"If zie's an actor, I'm a nendrai."She sounded rather annoyed.
Me:"You don't approve of her?"
Strenata:"It's one thing if the nobility want to boink each other all the time, like they seem to want to. No insult intended, Sythyry, and there's a right gladness on me that you've never really pushed me very hard for anything. But that "Pleasant Blossom" isn't nobility. If anything, zie's lower-born than I am."
Me:"Well, if zie wants to couple -- or triple -- with our hosts, who are we to complain?"
Strenata:"We are the ones who suspect that her 'wanting' is not entirely a matter of personal attraction."
I tried not to think too hard about a time or two when I got kisses from our servant Amberwave, who, I discovered to some distress, didn't really want them nearly as much as I did or as I thought. "Oh? I hadn't really thought of that, Strenata."
Strenata:"I suppose that wenezza cookies could be of value to a proper trio of Herethroy, if they're having a bit of trouble with the physical side of their relationship but the intentions are all there. Still, one might expect them to take more privacy to do it than a party. Pleasant Blossom seems to be more a part of the entertainment for them than someone the particularly care about. For that matter, just zir name -- that can't be a real name, can it?"
Me:"For a fact I know no other Herethroy named it."
Strenata:"At least Rhedwy arranged for her companion of the evening to be someone of some suitable status. Though I wish she were more, well, chaste; but you can't expect a Sleeth to behave at all reasonably."
Me:"No, I should think not. Why are you her friend at all?"
Strenata:"Oh, various reasons: history, mutual assistance, mutual respect. I do not, however, take her for a moral exemplar."
Me:"Perhaps a wise choice."
Strenata:"Yes -- perhaps."