“Right. Well, I’m here cutting flowers.” The kysp turned the eyes on her tentatails away from her. “For my fiancée. Who does not want me staring at naked people in the side-bushes.” She waited and said in a pleading, embarrassed voice, “Won’t you please put your clothes on?”
“I don’t have any clothes,” said Roroku.
«Roroku, don’t you remember how to shapeshift to clothed?» I wrote, when she told me.
«In theory but I’ve never done it,» she wrote back. «I never played at being a mhelvul schoolgirl like you did.»
«Well, practice before your next trip. It’s very useful when you’re spying. Saves immensely on laundry, and you don’t have to figure out how to tie a tippet or twist a toga.»
“It would be un-Kogoan to leave you out here alone, naked and dizzy. But it’s sinful to even be with you naked. Bother and botherly!” The kysp pulled a rolled-up cloth bag out of its saddlebag. “Here. I can slit the sides of this and you can wear it as a bandarella.”
«…Does that count as tribute?» asked Roroku.
«It counts as the kysp doing its best to help a stranger. Take it. You’re going to want to know how to wear a bandarella anyways.»
“Thank you,” said Roroku in a somewhat quavery and uncertain voice. The kysp took her tone as a sign of weakness and need, and cut the bag into a long strip with her shears and handed or tentatailed it to her. It is hard to avert your eyes when you have eleven of them, one on the limb that you are using, and all of them together giving you full-sphere vision, but the kysp tried.
Roroku took the cloth. It is far harder than it seems to twist a haphazard strip of cloth into a lemniscate around a squirming weasel body using only a pair of tentatails, even if that body is temporarily your own and nominally ought to be cooperative. Several difficult eternities later, Roroku said, “I think I have it.”
The kysp, who had been cutting a few more flowers, looked at her with a hand-eye. “Would you like a bit of help, miss…? I don’t recall your name.”
“I’m Roroku, and yes, do help,” said Roroku.
“Well, Ro-Ro-Ku, I’m going to need to reach near there to adjust the cloth. You mustn’t take that as any impropriety on my part, nor as an offer of anything that Dwwir or my my fiancée would disapprove of,” said the kysp, and tugged nervously at the shaggy edges of the bag. “There, now you can climb back to town and not show off your bribbly bits to everyone. I’m Dze-Ts-Kwy of Nwa-Bher, myself. Where did you say you were from?”
“I didn’t say…” said Roroku, or, as I shall call her when she’s pretending to be a kysp, Ro-Ro-Ku.
“Well, of course you didn’t,” said Dze-Ts-Kwy, perhaps a bit irritated. ”Would you say, please?”
“I can’t remember ever being in a single town in all of Kyspert, nor any scoral but this one” said Ro-Ro-Ku. (This is a tricky point. No dragon likes to lie. Those who do lie, experience unpleasant vericeptive sensations which I transcribe as vile smells when writing in languages used by people without veriception. So we generally phrase things in truthful but misleading ways, like this.)
“Have you been taking mind-scrambling compounds?” asked Dze-Ts-Kwy. “Or suffered a sharp blow about the braincase?”
«What should I say?”»
«Play amnesiac! Get sympathy! Get charity! Look around from the convenient spying position of not having to explain anything and having the perfect excuse to ask every question about everything!» I advised.
“I don’t think so … I don’t remember anything on Kyspert from before an hour ago,” said Ro-Ro-Ku.
“Bother and botherly! I don’t know what to do here. Still, Fra-Dwa has delivered you to my tentatails… I’d best take you back to Nwa-Bher. What’s the last thing you do remember?”
“I … I thought I was in the shape of a sky-eel, swimming from another scoral to this one. Can that possibly be true?” asked Ro-Ro-Ku.
“Perhaps a hallucinogenic concoction? Or a bad fever? May I lay a tent-pad on your central body, again without the slightest erotic intent?” Ro-Ro-Ku agreed, and Dze-Ts-Kwy palpitated her upper body. “No fever or chill. Does this hurt? Does this? No? Well, I don’t think you’re diseased or brain-injured, and I don’t smell shpe-der on your breath or mpwa-ko smoke on your clothes. H’m. Did you abandon your clothes because they smelled too much of mpwa-ko?”
“I don’t remember any such thing. I’ve never taken mpwa-ko, or shpe-der either,” said Ro-Ro-Ku.
“I’m glad you remember your name,” said Dze-Ts-Kwy. “Assuming that is actually your name and not three random syllables strung together; it’s outlandish. I think you need to get to a physician.”Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.