Mirrored from Sythyry.
Nontechnical details: of course the people who chose or were chosen to stay on Kismirth are the sort of people who would choose or would be chosen to stay on Kismirth. I can’t imagine why I was at all surprised about this.
Technical details: I am used to being the most effective person doing an enchantment. The truth of the matter is that I am used to being the only person doing an enchantment, or perhaps working with Feralan or some other trainee. Talujjan, despite being a slinky and slithery Orren, is far and away the best at most of the relevant space magic. Flaenstra, despite being furious at everyone and everything, has a gift at enchantment. Saza is of course my superior at Sustenoc. Feralan, Vae, and hCevian each have their unique insights into Locador. Which leaves me doing the scutwork of the enchantment all day — and for very long days — while everyone else lounges by the pool and sips blompasmics.
(Actually I think that only Talujjan drinks blompasmics. And, if you want to be fussy with the details, Feralan and Flaenstra do their share of the enchantment work too, and Vae and hCevian can’t do anything more than the small but crucial bits that they do. But Talujjan does have a portable swimming pool, complete with a portable miniature sun and a waterslide, which he places in one or another of my parlors. The blompasmics come from the Purple Promenade though.)
Talujjan also has advice. “M’dear Rassimel maiden, you labor and moan, you moan and labor! You must devote some part of your life to amusement, to joy, to recreation!”
Flaenstra scowled at him. “Where you see necessity, I see nullity. Where you see must, I see rust, I see crust, I see fust and bust and cusst.”
“Oh, beautiful maiden! This is Kismirth, the city of all pleasures — and especially for such as you and I! How is it that you entomb yourself in the laboratory?” cried Talujjan.
“You and I are not two of a kind, Talujjan,” said Flaenstra quietly. “And how is it? This is the most convenient laboratory here to entomb myself in, and Glikkonen has bidden me here, so here I am.”
Talujjan waved his hand. “He has not bidden you spend every minute of the day in here — to say nothing of the three or four extra days that Sythyry provides us with! Come with me tonight! We shall dine along the Purple Promenade, we shall rejoice in the light motions of the sweet dancers, we shall — perhaps! — kiss beneath the guttering sun on the pinnacle of Kismirth, the most romantic spot in this most romantic of cities.”
Flaenstra thought about it for half a moment. “This evening, then. But we go to the casino for a little while first.”
* * *
Talujjan, the next day, opened up his pool, stripped off his tunic and flung it under the waterslide. “What sort of a woman is Flaenstra? I do not know! In a thousand years I have not seen the like!”
“Well, a good sort, I trust?” I asked a bit nervously. Flaenstra was busy on the other side of the workroom, but if she had good ears she could probably hear. And by “good” I pretty much mean “actual or possible”.
“Oh, the kegs of eggs, I do not even know that! One sort of woman would simply refuse a date with me: foolish and short-sighted, but simple enough. Another will go on the date, dine and rejoice greatly at my expense, and refuse me any sort of intimacy on the grounds that She Does Not Do That Sort Of Thing! Selfish and inconsiderate, to be sure, but not without a certain degree of cunning. A third sort — a con-sort! — will go on the date, and keep up her own share of the recreations and enjoyments, even if I am the one paying, and we shall have a joyous affair of the heart (or lower down) for days or weeks or months or years. But Flaenstra! She is none of these!”
“She took me by the tail and towed me straight to the Cartesan Casino. We sat at a table, heard the rules, and cast our colored ivory globes in the secret paths under the table. I won! Flaenstra lost! On the platform with her, opening up for some Herethroy man!”
“And when I came back, I told Talujjan that he couldn’t call me sweet maiden any more, for I wasn’t one any more,” said Flaenstra quietly from across the room.
Talujjan snapped his fingers. “Observe! She does Do That Sort Of Thing! But not the the one she goes on a date with!”
“You had your chance,” said Flaenstra. “Same as everyone else at the table — that round and the next ten.”
“Ten!” I said, in about that tone of voice, for ten consecutive rounds is quite a bit.
“I played ten more rounds. I lost seven of them,” said Flaenstra. (Which takes a certain amount of skill or payment, or luck: good or bad depends on your point of view. But recall that, when nine people play a round, only two lose.) “I was getting sore, so I stopped. He didn’t stay to play. He might have gotten a turn with me if he had. If he figured out the strategy, he’d've had good odds.”
Talujjan was aghast. “I? Play Forfeits so much? I am a romantic! I crave the tentative touch of fingers meshing with fingers — the sweet mystery of, will she spurn me or take my hand? I crave kisses stolen on the viewing-walks beneath the light of the guttering sun! I crave the slow revealing and joining of ourselves in an elegant bedchamber, while the ghosts of fireflies serenade us!”
“And I crave someone specific and always will, but I can’t have zir, so it doesn’t much matter who I rut with, or how, or where, or if-at-all. Forfeits is convenient and quick at least. None of the bother of tentative touches and slow reveals. No affirmations or denials.” She shrugged. “Maybe zie’ll hear about it and get jealous, or maybe I shall have no good from it. It matters little.”
“And that! Why must such a person flicker my heart?” cried Talujjan.
“Oh, where in all of Kismirth can I find the feather-candy romance I crave?” cried that Orren.
Why on wood don’t I ever learn?