sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Unlike Quendry and the others, I had not been in a battle and used up all my bound spells, much less the various other defenses I have learned that I should wear most of the time. I didn’t even get fully dead before Heal the Awful Wound and some prepackaged healing spells had me alive and uninjured.

Dizzy and nauseous though, more than simply dying once would usually cause. I think that the Jinteros weapon had some side effects or aftereffects or something to make returning to life miserable — figuring that the people it killed would be returning to life instantly enough, so it should trouble and torment them some anyhow. Nasty weapon. I made mental notes for possible future enchantments.

Phaniet was howling at me not to put myself in danger for her sake, like a good little subordinate Cani. I ignored her. Vae was chasing the weapon around with a many-fanged net of Mutoc Magiador. I ignored her too. My stomach was trying to escape my belly through every available opening and maybe even making a new one. I ignored it too.

Breath of Life is a rather substantial spell designed for just this situation. It simultaneously heals the body sufficiently to support life, and gently reattaches the spirit to it as it does so. I didn’t know about Vae’s spirit tethers, and I didn’t know how much time I had, so Dancing in the Garden of Statues to snag most of a minute of time for me to work without any time passing for anyone else. Brandy-boiled useful spell, that; the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, I believe, but worth every thousand lozens. Though I will say I’ve never used half the time it gave me to puke into a heavily-consecrated and violently purified (up until that instant) silver bowl before.

With my patients out of crisis, and several days of work on my big important enchantment project thoroughly ruined, it was time to try to sort things out.

Me: “Welcome back, everyone.”

Vae: “The Conversation I deserve now, Sythyry, ten million times or more.”

Me: “You may be right about that, Vae.”

I looked at my patients. Usually Breath of Life wakes the dead up instantly, when it works at all. The situation was more complicated here, and I stopped The Conversation and did lots more healer sorts of things.

Windigar

Me: “Windigar? Windigar? Can you hear me?”

Windigar: moan

Me: “Glad to hear it, Windigar. Don’t worry. This is Sythyry; you’re back on Strayway. Just rest. I know you feel awful from dying a few times. Just rest. You’ll get better in a few weeks.”

Windigar: moan

Which is to say, he’s feeling simply terrible, hurting everywhere and utterly drained and utterly miserable, and there’s not really anything I can do about it. This is perfectly normal for someone in his situation.

I know exactly what to do with Windigar. Bed rest. Lots of food. Lots of wine. Some light entertainment, like peaceful music or someone reading to him. Good artwork and flowers and incense and such. When he’s got enough energy for it, hire an Orren masseuse / prostitute. The goal here is to remind him that life is actually pretty fun, and has appeals that his creator god does not, so he should stay here.

Prognosis: Complete recovery plus a substantial gain in vitality. After such an experience, one’s spirit becomes quite good at holding on to the body.

Ochirion

Me: “Ochirion? Can you hear me?”

Ochirion:(labored breathing)

Me: “Ochirion?”

Ochirion: “Mommy?”

Me: “She’ll be here in a minute. This is Sythyry, you’re on the Strayway, everything will be OK.”

Well, that is somewhat worse. Ochirion didn’t die as often as Windigar; he had fewer bound spells saving him. He was probably dead for longer. He is far younger and less resilient. So, unsurprisingly, he’s in somewhat worse shape.

I know exactly what to do with Ochirion too. More or less the same as for Windigar, except that the masseuse / prostitute will have instructions suitable for a child. It’ll take less time for him to recover because he didn’t die as often, except it’ll take more because he’s so young, so I don’t quite know which one will recover faster.

Prognosis: Complete recovery plus a massive gain in vitality. Children learn faster than adults. If Ochirion wants to become a warrior or adventurer, he’ll have quite a head start. This is important to know now. His parents will have a head start trying to talk him out of it.

I’m not worried about either one of them. Those are standard cases, textbook cases of repeated death.

Quendry

Me: “Quendry? Quendry?”

Quendry: (no response but slow, shallow, agonized breathing)

Me: “Quendry?”

Quendry: (no response)

Quendry was not waking up. His body and spirit were as healthy as a half-dozen cley and several useful tools from a master-healer could make them. But he was young and fragile, he had been dead for many minutes, he had been shaken around in the rush to get him to me … he was unluckier than Ochirion, ultimately, is what counts. He was in a coma and wouldn’t wake up.

I was worried that it was because of me being fuzzy and distracted from recently dying myself. So I got a skilled master-healer from Eigrach over. He inspected my work in considerable detail and offered me a job.

I know exactly what to do about Quendry too. I’m even sufficiently skilled to be able to do it, which, say, the master-healers of Eigrach are not.

Arfaen: “So, he’ll be better soon, from your healings?”

Me: “No, I’m afraid not. He’ll need more healing, and there’s the problem. I know what to do. I don’t have the supplies to do it, though.”

Phaniet: “I am sorry! I am in charge of supplies, and I have failed you! What are we lacking, though? I have been careful to keep the long list of Things That Must Be On Hand At All Times, on hand at all times, and they were as of yesterday evening.”

Me: “Not on our standard list. A Grace of Mircannis.” Which is to say, a bit of the favor of the goddess of Healoc, made manifest in physical form, and very useful for advanced magic of all sorts. And none too common.

Phaniet: [tucking her tail between her legs] “I see the problem. No, we don’t have one of those.”

Me: “And thirty years ago I had two of them on hand. Curse that Pleensy a dozen ways! He stole them to pay a karcist so that he and Targeenniss could bear poor pain-wracked Lithia, and here I don’t have them to heal your son.”

Arfaen: “I’ll buy one!”

Me: “No. You haven’t the money. You haven’t a thousandth part of the money.”

Arfaen: “I’ll … I’ll sell myself if I need to, and everything I have…”

Phaniet: “Don’t you already belong to Sythyry?” (Arfaen doesn’t.)

Me: “The actual problem is that they’re not commonly for sale. You can’t walk into a shop and buy a Grace, not even one of the more common sorts of Graces.” (Which Graces of Mircannis are, I would say, but some people would disagree with me.)

Arfaen: “What can I dooooooo?” The word came out as a howl of pain and woe. “I’ll do anything!”

Me: “Your job on this ship is cooking.” I’m sure that stung a bit; she has not been all that diligent about it, and nearly everyone aboard has complained about her scarcity in the kitchen. “My job on this ship is wizardry, and I’ll take care of it.”

Arfaen: (The biggest blush that ever Cani blushed, and her tail a hundred million miles between her legs.) “How can I pay you for the Grace?”

Me: “You can’t.”

Arfaen: “What can I doooooo? I must save my son!”

Me: “Really, do the cooking. I’ll track down a Grace of Mircannis, and figure out how to buy it, and pay for it. As best I can.”

Phaniet: “Boss, buying a Grace in an emergency like this isn’t gonna be cheap.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “If we can get one at all.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “And you just got killed.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “Saving my life.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “OK. You find the cursed and/or blessed thing. I’ll go out and get it.”

Me: “With my money, mind.” Phaniet probably can’t afford one either, though she might be able to pay for it. “And take Inconnu to help. I don’t feel at all good, and I don’t want him crawling on me trying to ‘comfort’ me.”

Phaniet: “A mild day in Oix, when Sythyry doesn’t want a cute and sexy Orren crawling on zir!”

I scowled. I was feeling rather post-dead, and that is not a pleasant feeling.

Phaniet: “Oh. Arfane? If we ever need someone to offer seven years’ service to Kvarse for some big healing sometime, you might consider being the one. ’cause that’s how this sort of problem is usually dealt with.”

Me: “Phaniet!”

Arfaen: “I’ll do that!”

Me: “After Quendry’s grown up, maybe.”

So that is that. Except for a massive amount of work and danger. At least we’re entirely on known, standard medical technology there.

Prognosis: If I can get the proper treatment, complete recovery and a lot of extra vitality. If I can’t, I suppose we rush him to Ketheria, back up the tree past the pirate city that totally hates us, and (if we survive) someone volunteers to serve the goddess Kvarse for her healing him. We’ve got … maybe two weeks.

Feralan

Me: “Fera…”

Feralan: “Hi! Hi Sythyry! I’m back home!” He sounded cheerful and energetic.

Me: “How do you feel?”

Feralan: “I feel great!

Which is very, very worrisome. Nobody should ever feel great after dying repeatedly and starting to wander off to their creator god. By standard medical science, he should be in far worse shape than Ochirion, probably about like Quendry except (in the best case) able to recover naturally.

Feeling great is prima facie evidence that we’re far, far outside anything that’s in the textbooks or Healer’s Guild common wisdom. We’re into the area of exciting and exotic medical case studies. This is not where I like to be, when I am doing medical treatment.

Feralan hopped off the gurney, and ran over to his mother Zascalle to hug her.

Zascalle: “Oh, horrid staring gods! What happened to your eyes?”

Feralan’s eyes were full of short black spikes. His ears and mouth too. They stuck out a half-inch past his pupils. When he blinked, his eyelids went through them as though they weren’t there. They were made of pure, elemental Locador.

Thiane: “Sythyry! Do something!”

Me: “I need to understand what’s happened before I can do anything, Thiane. This will take a little time. Please don’t shout at me while I’m doing it.” I had rather a headache, and really would have liked to go off and while away a few languid and delightful hours puking.

Zascalle: “Does it hurt, Feralan?”

Feralan: “It doesn’t really hurt, exactly.”

Thiane: “But what? But what, Feralan?”

Feralan: “Everything sort of looks funny. Sounds funny too. Echoey, sort of. Stripey, too.”

So we investigated as best we could. Our best guess is that that Locador demon that Vae turned into a sticky spirit web got stuck very deeply in Feralan’s soul. Or maybe merged with it; we can’t tell. The spiky black stuff is live Locador demon, or, maybe demon/Rassimel. We can’t exactly tell that either.

Zascalle: “Unstick him at once!”

Vae: “Fortunately I have my days-abandoned earmuffs back on, and need not recognize that Zascalle may want help with something.” (Not her exact words — actually, she didn’t notice.)

Me: “Not really. I don’t know how.”

Zascalle: “You’re a wizard! Do something!”

Me: “Do you really want me whacking around and doing surgery on Feralan’s soul with a burning, poisoned machete?”

Zascalle: “What good are you, so-called wizard? All I ever see you do is hump Orrens!”

(Not true. I haven’t done that since before she was born.)

Me: “I need to know what’s happened to Feralan, before I can try to undo it. Also I’d like to know if it’s happened to anyone else ever, so maybe I can get some extra clues about it. I haven’t heard of it before… but maybe nobody’s ever turned a Locador demon into a spirit spiderweb and snagged a nearly-dead spirit back to a body and then fed it with massive urgent teleport spells.”

Vae: “The best thing to do it was that I could think of. Not much time did I have to contemplate the sorceries! Not a bit would I let Feralan die!”

Me: “I will try to figure it out and heal it.”

Zascalle: “How long will it take?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

Zascalle: “How much time will you need?”

Me: “I still have no idea.”

Zascalle: “He’s my son! I demand to know!”

Me: “He’s my responsibility, and I have no idea.”

Zascalle: “What sort of duration of this curse are we talking here? Minutes? Hours? It had better not be more.”

Me: “I need a bowl.”

Zascalle: “A bowl?”

Phaniet brought me one, and a non-consecrated one, bless her tail. It is generally considered bad form for a healer to vomit in front of clients. I did not manage that grace.

Zascalle: “He’s my responsibility, mine and Thiane’s! I have a right to the information!”

Me: “You know everything I know”

Thiane: “You cannot lie to a Cani!”

Me: “I really don’t know how long before I have any useful clues. It doesn’t matter how you ask the question, I still won’t know the answer until I know the answer.”

Phaniet: [After looking at my expression and using Cani non-Mentador-telepathy on me.] “Out of the lab! Now, now!”

Which is not the correct and good and kind way to treat the parents of two exceedingly sick or doomed patients, not in the slightest. I was glad she did, though.

Feralan: “Can I go too?”

Me: “Yes. Keep track of any unusual sensations or feelings or thoughts or anything, though. Write them down if you can.”

Feralan: “OK!”

Thiane: “Come along.”

After they were gone, Phaniet took me to a particularly scrying-proof corner.

Phaniet: “Why were you lying to them?”

Me: “I wasn’t exactly.”

Phaniet: “Lying by omission, maybe? You didn’t tell them everything.”

Me: “No. I have an awful suspicion that Vae did merge Feralan’s spirit with a Locador demon in an extremely intimate way. That would explain how he recovered so fast, for one. But it means two bad things, at least, if it’s true.”

Phaniet: “Must I guess them?”

Me: “First of all, he’d be a monster, in a practical if not technically-correct sense. I don’t imagine that many prime cities will let him in, say.”

Phaniet: “That’s bad.”

Me: “And it’s not at all obvious that the two spirits will separate after death. So he might be stuck with that blending, not just in this life, but in all his lives, until someone does something about it.”

Phaniet: “That’s very bad.”

And it is. We’re used to thinking of death and rebirth as the Grand Cleansing. Very few sorts of unpleasantness follow us from one life to the next — except for the personal displeasure of a god, of course. It is extremely upsetting to think that this spirit-blend, which is far worse than mere divine disfavor, might be perpetual even after rebirth.

Phaniet: “Couldn’t Mircannis fix him, after he dies?”

Me: “Presumably. But would she? She might. She might also destroy him completely, disposing of a ruined spirit; she did that to that mentavore that one time.” I hope Phaniet knew what I was talking about; I barely did. “Or she might send him off to be a Locador demon — to avoid annoying ‘Here’. The elemental Vae caught might be one of ‘Here’s children, which could take precedence over Feralan just being one of Mircannis’ prime spirits.”

Which is to say that the situation could well be worse than if the four primes had just stayed dead. That way we’d just have four people who’d get reincarnated in the usual way eventually. (Well, we wouldn’t have them, we’d have a time of considerable mourning. But the world would have them.) As it is … Feralan is at risk of something far worse than simply being dead. Unless I can manage to fix it.

Me: “Don’t tell Zascalle and Thiane, please. I don’t know it for certain.”

Phaniet: “I won’t.”

Me: “The rest of it is true. I’m not an expert on spirits, or elementals either. When you have some free time, look in some registries for wizards who are, and make a few guesses who would be good to ask for help.”

Phaniet: “Best we can do. How long do you think it’ll take?”

Me: “Get the skyboat fixed, fly back to Ketheria or somewhere, consult with wizard, make enchantments for fixing it and more enchantments to pay for the consultation. A few months if we’re lucky.”

Phaniet: “Zascalle will not be happy.”

Prognosis: agnosis.

Me and Vae

Well, what do you say when your oldest friend has kidnapped several other friends, mostly children, and zoomed them all around the universe, gotten them into various forms of trouble, and, in the end, gotten them killed and cursed?

In the case of Vae, I look for a few positive things to say, first. She knows quite well the evil she did, by now. And it is important to me that she be encouraged to think that she can, with effort and care, improve herself. I don’t actually know that she can, or not past a certain point, but, if she believes that she has some chance of self-improvement, she will continue to try to behave well.

I want her to try to behave well.

It should be obvious, at this point, what would happen if she stopped trying to behave well.

“I am glad that you managed to stop fighting and bring the primes back here to get healed, Vae,” I said.

“The though not well-done was that, for it worked the great woe on Feralan. The even Quendry, who is gravely hurt,” said Vae. She created a row of eyes on her left flank, all of them weeping glass daggers.

“I will get to that,” I said, “But I will give you a review of your full set of deeds, and some parts of it exhibited more self-control and rationality than you sometimes manage.”

One of the eyes on her flank stopped crying.

The Conversation took approximately forevery and a half, and might have done a dry leaf’s weight of good, or might not. In the long term, enough dry leaves can weigh a ton, though the long term may be long indeed.

Long-Term Plans

  1. Heal Quendry
  2. Offer everyone a chance to leave and avoid further nendrai-doom
  3. Figure out what to do about Thenel
  4. Fix Strayway
  5. Go back to Ketheria and try to figure out anything to help Feralan.
  6. Figure out what to do about Jinteros.
  7. Declare victory in vacationing, go home, and not leave Vheshrame Mene for a few centuries.

Short-Term Plans

  1. Puke some more.
  2. Figure out how to evict this nausea curse.
  3. Sleep a lot
  4. Get to work on long-term plans.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Unlike Quendry and the others, I had not been in a battle and used up all my bound spells, much less the various other defenses I have learned that I should wear most of the time. I didn’t even get fully dead before Heal the Awful Wound and some prepackaged healing spells had me alive and uninjured.

Dizzy and nauseous though, more than simply dying once would usually cause. I think that the Jinteros weapon had some side effects or aftereffects or something to make returning to life miserable — figuring that the people it killed would be returning to life instantly enough, so it should trouble and torment them some anyhow. Nasty weapon. I made mental notes for possible future enchantments.

Phaniet was howling at me not to put myself in danger for her sake, like a good little subordinate Cani. I ignored her. Vae was chasing the weapon around with a many-fanged net of Mutoc Magiador. I ignored her too. My stomach was trying to escape my belly through every available opening and maybe even making a new one. I ignored it too.

Breath of Life is a rather substantial spell designed for just this situation. It simultaneously heals the body sufficiently to support life, and gently reattaches the spirit to it as it does so. I didn’t know about Vae’s spirit tethers, and I didn’t know how much time I had, so Dancing in the Garden of Statues to snag most of a minute of time for me to work without any time passing for anyone else. Brandy-boiled useful spell, that; the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, I believe, but worth every thousand lozens. Though I will say I’ve never used half the time it gave me to puke into a heavily-consecrated and violently purified (up until that instant) silver bowl before.

With my patients out of crisis, and several days of work on my big important enchantment project thoroughly ruined, it was time to try to sort things out.

Me: “Welcome back, everyone.”

Vae: “The Conversation I deserve now, Sythyry, ten million times or more.”

Me: “You may be right about that, Vae.”

I looked at my patients. Usually Breath of Life wakes the dead up instantly, when it works at all. The situation was more complicated here, and I stopped The Conversation and did lots more healer sorts of things.

Windigar

Me: “Windigar? Windigar? Can you hear me?”

Windigar: moan

Me: “Glad to hear it, Windigar. Don’t worry. This is Sythyry; you’re back on Strayway. Just rest. I know you feel awful from dying a few times. Just rest. You’ll get better in a few weeks.”

Windigar: moan

Which is to say, he’s feeling simply terrible, hurting everywhere and utterly drained and utterly miserable, and there’s not really anything I can do about it. This is perfectly normal for someone in his situation.

I know exactly what to do with Windigar. Bed rest. Lots of food. Lots of wine. Some light entertainment, like peaceful music or someone reading to him. Good artwork and flowers and incense and such. When he’s got enough energy for it, hire an Orren masseuse / prostitute. The goal here is to remind him that life is actually pretty fun, and has appeals that his creator god does not, so he should stay here.

Prognosis: Complete recovery plus a substantial gain in vitality. After such an experience, one’s spirit becomes quite good at holding on to the body.

Ochirion

Me: “Ochirion? Can you hear me?”

Ochirion:(labored breathing)

Me: “Ochirion?”

Ochirion: “Mommy?”

Me: “She’ll be here in a minute. This is Sythyry, you’re on the Strayway, everything will be OK.”

Well, that is somewhat worse. Ochirion didn’t die as often as Windigar; he had fewer bound spells saving him. He was probably dead for longer. He is far younger and less resilient. So, unsurprisingly, he’s in somewhat worse shape.

I know exactly what to do with Ochirion too. More or less the same as for Windigar, except that the masseuse / prostitute will have instructions suitable for a child. It’ll take less time for him to recover because he didn’t die as often, except it’ll take more because he’s so young, so I don’t quite know which one will recover faster.

Prognosis: Complete recovery plus a massive gain in vitality. Children learn faster than adults. If Ochirion wants to become a warrior or adventurer, he’ll have quite a head start. This is important to know now. His parents will have a head start trying to talk him out of it.

I’m not worried about either one of them. Those are standard cases, textbook cases of repeated death.

Quendry

Me: “Quendry? Quendry?”

Quendry: (no response but slow, shallow, agonized breathing)

Me: “Quendry?”

Quendry: (no response)

Quendry was not waking up. His body and spirit were as healthy as a half-dozen cley and several useful tools from a master-healer could make them. But he was young and fragile, he had been dead for many minutes, he had been shaken around in the rush to get him to me … he was unluckier than Ochirion, ultimately, is what counts. He was in a coma and wouldn’t wake up.

I was worried that it was because of me being fuzzy and distracted from recently dying myself. So I got a skilled master-healer from Eigrach over. He inspected my work in considerable detail and offered me a job.

I know exactly what to do about Quendry too. I’m even sufficiently skilled to be able to do it, which, say, the master-healers of Eigrach are not.

Arfaen: “So, he’ll be better soon, from your healings?”

Me: “No, I’m afraid not. He’ll need more healing, and there’s the problem. I know what to do. I don’t have the supplies to do it, though.”

Phaniet: “I am sorry! I am in charge of supplies, and I have failed you! What are we lacking, though? I have been careful to keep the long list of Things That Must Be On Hand At All Times, on hand at all times, and they were as of yesterday evening.”

Me: “Not on our standard list. A Grace of Mircannis.” Which is to say, a bit of the favor of the goddess of Healoc, made manifest in physical form, and very useful for advanced magic of all sorts. And none too common.

Phaniet: [tucking her tail between her legs] “I see the problem. No, we don’t have one of those.”

Me: “And thirty years ago I had two of them on hand. Curse that Pleensy a dozen ways! He stole them to pay a karcist so that he and Targeenniss could bear poor pain-wracked Lithia, and here I don’t have them to heal your son.”

Arfaen: “I’ll buy one!”

Me: “No. You haven’t the money. You haven’t a thousandth part of the money.”

Arfaen: “I’ll … I’ll sell myself if I need to, and everything I have…”

Phaniet: “Don’t you already belong to Sythyry?” (Arfaen doesn’t.)

Me: “The actual problem is that they’re not commonly for sale. You can’t walk into a shop and buy a Grace, not even one of the more common sorts of Graces.” (Which Graces of Mircannis are, I would say, but some people would disagree with me.)

Arfaen: “What can I dooooooo?” The word came out as a howl of pain and woe. “I’ll do anything!”

Me: “Your job on this ship is cooking.” I’m sure that stung a bit; she has not been all that diligent about it, and nearly everyone aboard has complained about her scarcity in the kitchen. “My job on this ship is wizardry, and I’ll take care of it.”

Arfaen: (The biggest blush that ever Cani blushed, and her tail a hundred million miles between her legs.) “How can I pay you for the Grace?”

Me: “You can’t.”

Arfaen: “What can I doooooo? I must save my son!”

Me: “Really, do the cooking. I’ll track down a Grace of Mircannis, and figure out how to buy it, and pay for it. As best I can.”

Phaniet: “Boss, buying a Grace in an emergency like this isn’t gonna be cheap.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “If we can get one at all.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “And you just got killed.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “Saving my life.”

Me: “I know.”

Phaniet: “OK. You find the cursed and/or blessed thing. I’ll go out and get it.”

Me: “With my money, mind.” Phaniet probably can’t afford one either, though she might be able to pay for it. “And take Inconnu to help. I don’t feel at all good, and I don’t want him crawling on me trying to ‘comfort’ me.”

Phaniet: “A mild day in Oix, when Sythyry doesn’t want a cute and sexy Orren crawling on zir!”

I scowled. I was feeling rather post-dead, and that is not a pleasant feeling.

Phaniet: “Oh. Arfane? If we ever need someone to offer seven years’ service to Kvarse for some big healing sometime, you might consider being the one. ’cause that’s how this sort of problem is usually dealt with.”

Me: “Phaniet!”

Arfaen: “I’ll do that!”

Me: “After Quendry’s grown up, maybe.”

So that is that. Except for a massive amount of work and danger. At least we’re entirely on known, standard medical technology there.

Prognosis: If I can get the proper treatment, complete recovery and a lot of extra vitality. If I can’t, I suppose we rush him to Ketheria, back up the tree past the pirate city that totally hates us, and (if we survive) someone volunteers to serve the goddess Kvarse for her healing him. We’ve got … maybe two weeks.

Feralan

Me: “Fera…”

Feralan: “Hi! Hi Sythyry! I’m back home!” He sounded cheerful and energetic.

Me: “How do you feel?”

Feralan: “I feel great!

Which is very, very worrisome. Nobody should ever feel great after dying repeatedly and starting to wander off to their creator god. By standard medical science, he should be in far worse shape than Ochirion, probably about like Quendry except (in the best case) able to recover naturally.

Feeling great is prima facie evidence that we’re far, far outside anything that’s in the textbooks or Healer’s Guild common wisdom. We’re into the area of exciting and exotic medical case studies. This is not where I like to be, when I am doing medical treatment.

Feralan hopped off the gurney, and ran over to his mother Zascalle to hug her.

Zascalle: “Oh, horrid staring gods! What happened to your eyes?”

Feralan’s eyes were full of short black spikes. His ears and mouth too. They stuck out a half-inch past his pupils. When he blinked, his eyelids went through them as though they weren’t there. They were made of pure, elemental Locador.

Thiane: “Sythyry! Do something!”

Me: “I need to understand what’s happened before I can do anything, Thiane. This will take a little time. Please don’t shout at me while I’m doing it.” I had rather a headache, and really would have liked to go off and while away a few languid and delightful hours puking.

Zascalle: “Does it hurt, Feralan?”

Feralan: “It doesn’t really hurt, exactly.”

Thiane: “But what? But what, Feralan?”

Feralan: “Everything sort of looks funny. Sounds funny too. Echoey, sort of. Stripey, too.”

So we investigated as best we could. Our best guess is that that Locador demon that Vae turned into a sticky spirit web got stuck very deeply in Feralan’s soul. Or maybe merged with it; we can’t tell. The spiky black stuff is live Locador demon, or, maybe demon/Rassimel. We can’t exactly tell that either.

Zascalle: “Unstick him at once!”

Vae: “Fortunately I have my days-abandoned earmuffs back on, and need not recognize that Zascalle may want help with something.” (Not her exact words — actually, she didn’t notice.)

Me: “Not really. I don’t know how.”

Zascalle: “You’re a wizard! Do something!”

Me: “Do you really want me whacking around and doing surgery on Feralan’s soul with a burning, poisoned machete?”

Zascalle: “What good are you, so-called wizard? All I ever see you do is hump Orrens!”

(Not true. I haven’t done that since before she was born.)

Me: “I need to know what’s happened to Feralan, before I can try to undo it. Also I’d like to know if it’s happened to anyone else ever, so maybe I can get some extra clues about it. I haven’t heard of it before… but maybe nobody’s ever turned a Locador demon into a spirit spiderweb and snagged a nearly-dead spirit back to a body and then fed it with massive urgent teleport spells.”

Vae: “The best thing to do it was that I could think of. Not much time did I have to contemplate the sorceries! Not a bit would I let Feralan die!”

Me: “I will try to figure it out and heal it.”

Zascalle: “How long will it take?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

Zascalle: “How much time will you need?”

Me: “I still have no idea.”

Zascalle: “He’s my son! I demand to know!”

Me: “He’s my responsibility, and I have no idea.”

Zascalle: “What sort of duration of this curse are we talking here? Minutes? Hours? It had better not be more.”

Me: “I need a bowl.”

Zascalle: “A bowl?”

Phaniet brought me one, and a non-consecrated one, bless her tail. It is generally considered bad form for a healer to vomit in front of clients. I did not manage that grace.

Zascalle: “He’s my responsibility, mine and Thiane’s! I have a right to the information!”

Me: “You know everything I know”

Thiane: “You cannot lie to a Cani!”

Me: “I really don’t know how long before I have any useful clues. It doesn’t matter how you ask the question, I still won’t know the answer until I know the answer.”

Phaniet: [After looking at my expression and using Cani non-Mentador-telepathy on me.] “Out of the lab! Now, now!”

Which is not the correct and good and kind way to treat the parents of two exceedingly sick or doomed patients, not in the slightest. I was glad she did, though.

Feralan: “Can I go too?”

Me: “Yes. Keep track of any unusual sensations or feelings or thoughts or anything, though. Write them down if you can.”

Feralan: “OK!”

Thiane: “Come along.”

After they were gone, Phaniet took me to a particularly scrying-proof corner.

Phaniet: “Why were you lying to them?”

Me: “I wasn’t exactly.”

Phaniet: “Lying by omission, maybe? You didn’t tell them everything.”

Me: “No. I have an awful suspicion that Vae did merge Feralan’s spirit with a Locador demon in an extremely intimate way. That would explain how he recovered so fast, for one. But it means two bad things, at least, if it’s true.”

Phaniet: “Must I guess them?”

Me: “First of all, he’d be a monster, in a practical if not technically-correct sense. I don’t imagine that many prime cities will let him in, say.”

Phaniet: “That’s bad.”

Me: “And it’s not at all obvious that the two spirits will separate after death. So he might be stuck with that blending, not just in this life, but in all his lives, until someone does something about it.”

Phaniet: “That’s very bad.”

And it is. We’re used to thinking of death and rebirth as the Grand Cleansing. Very few sorts of unpleasantness follow us from one life to the next — except for the personal displeasure of a god, of course. It is extremely upsetting to think that this spirit-blend, which is far worse than mere divine disfavor, might be perpetual even after rebirth.

Phaniet: “Couldn’t Mircannis fix him, after he dies?”

Me: “Presumably. But would she? She might. She might also destroy him completely, disposing of a ruined spirit; she did that to that mentavore that one time.” I hope Phaniet knew what I was talking about; I barely did. “Or she might send him off to be a Locador demon — to avoid annoying ‘Here’. The elemental Vae caught might be one of ‘Here’s children, which could take precedence over Feralan just being one of Mircannis’ prime spirits.”

Which is to say that the situation could well be worse than if the four primes had just stayed dead. That way we’d just have four people who’d get reincarnated in the usual way eventually. (Well, we wouldn’t have them, we’d have a time of considerable mourning. But the world would have them.) As it is … Feralan is at risk of something far worse than simply being dead. Unless I can manage to fix it.

Me: “Don’t tell Zascalle and Thiane, please. I don’t know it for certain.”

Phaniet: “I won’t.”

Me: “The rest of it is true. I’m not an expert on spirits, or elementals either. When you have some free time, look in some registries for wizards who are, and make a few guesses who would be good to ask for help.”

Phaniet: “Best we can do. How long do you think it’ll take?”

Me: “Get the skyboat fixed, fly back to Ketheria or somewhere, consult with wizard, make enchantments for fixing it and more enchantments to pay for the consultation. A few months if we’re lucky.”

Phaniet: “Zascalle will not be happy.”

Prognosis: agnosis.

Me and Vae

Well, what do you say when your oldest friend has kidnapped several other friends, mostly children, and zoomed them all around the universe, gotten them into various forms of trouble, and, in the end, gotten them killed and cursed?

In the case of Vae, I look for a few positive things to say, first. She knows quite well the evil she did, by now. And it is important to me that she be encouraged to think that she can, with effort and care, improve herself. I don’t actually know that she can, or not past a certain point, but, if she believes that she has some chance of self-improvement, she will continue to try to behave well.

I want her to try to behave well.

It should be obvious, at this point, what would happen if she stopped trying to behave well.

“I am glad that you managed to stop fighting and bring the primes back here to get healed, Vae,” I said.

“The though not well-done was that, for it worked the great woe on Feralan. The even Quendry, who is gravely hurt,” said Vae. She created a row of eyes on her left flank, all of them weeping glass daggers.

“I will get to that,” I said, “But I will give you a review of your full set of deeds, and some parts of it exhibited more self-control and rationality than you sometimes manage.”

One of the eyes on her flank stopped crying.

The Conversation took approximately forevery and a half, and might have done a dry leaf’s weight of good, or might not. In the long term, enough dry leaves can weigh a ton, though the long term may be long indeed.

Long-Term Plans

  1. Heal Quendry
  2. Offer everyone a chance to leave and avoid further nendrai-doom
  3. Figure out what to do about Thenel
  4. Fix Strayway
  5. Go back to Ketheria and try to figure out anything to help Feralan.
  6. Figure out what to do about Jinteros.
  7. Declare victory in vacationing, go home, and not leave Vheshrame Mene for a few centuries.

Short-Term Plans

  1. Puke some more.
  2. Figure out how to evict this nausea curse.
  3. Sleep a lot
  4. Get to work on long-term plans.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Once in a while, I do have to give Vae credit for doing the Right Thing.

As soon as she noticed that her captives friends had died, she stopped fighting Warrior and all the other heroes and weapons of Jinteros, and teleported herself (and a few attacking weapons that were close enough to her to count as her possessions) over to the mountaintop, and tried to figure out what she could do and if it was actually too late or not.

Digression into Biology

Death by violence occurs when the body is sufficiently battered so that the spirit can no longer hold on to it. After death, the spirit sort of wobbles around in the area for a few minutes, as if hoping that someone will fix the body so it can get back. (Spirits technically have personality but no actual mind, so it’s not literally hoping, but that’s the impression one gets.) And, if the body is healed quickly enough, the spirit happily glomps back onto it. Semi-happily — it still feels awful to have been dead for any length of time.

Incidentally, proper healing magic — with Healoc — lets spirits come back. Improper healing magic — with Mutoc — generally does not. (As I remember the reason from classes a century ago, Healoc restores the body to a prior, healthier state, which the severed spirit finds comforting and comfortable, and will rejoin with. Mutoc-based healing changes the body to a new, but viable, state, which the severed spirit finds alien and upsetting. That’s related to why it hurts so much in ways that numbing-spells don’t help much with, too. (That may not be true but it makes sense to me now. I don’t feel like looking it up.) Anyhow, Vae herself can’t put spirits back in bodies … or rather, she can do it in a bad and approximate way, but she knows better than to do so.

Spirits are very hard to observe for primes, though Kennoc Spiridor spells can manage it. Either Vae can sense them (I don’t know) or she knows enough to give herself that sense at need.

After a while — a few minutes, but the time is variable — the spirit gives up and retreats to the comfort and company of its creator god, who (in some more or less metaphorical sense, and usually by means of servitors rather than in person) cleans it up, pets it, and puts it in storage pending later reuse and reincarnation. At this point, mere healing spells applied to the body don’t restore life: the spirit is far away, and no longer interested in that body. Far mightier spells can reach into the god’s private domain and yoink a spirit back, but that is Serious Magic Indeed and generally not worth the effort for the decedent’s sake.

So, that is the reason that healing spells don’t restore life after a while. There are, of course, other things you can do. Spells like Spirit Tether tie the spirit up and don’t let it go back to the creator god for a few hours. (Permanent versions are available, but that’s a bad idea.) Which prolongs the time that healing spells work for resurrection, though they do tend to leave the decedent rather spiritually battered, more than simply being dead.

(If you wait until the spirit has been reincarnated, it is still possible to grab them back and stuff them into their prior body. That is exceedingly hard for magical reasons — the spirit has to be reincarnated within the few-hundred-mile range of your spell, and you probably want to get the mind back, too. Also for moral reasons — it is, arguably, murder of a newborn child.)

Generally, on the World Tree, we do not approve of the murder of prime children. Fortunately — or somewhat fortunately — we have inculcated this attitude into Vae.

Back to the Battle

So, upon arriving at the corpses of my friends, Vae stared around to see if their spirits were still there and if healing them back together was any possibility.

Yes, yes, no, yes.

Vae, in a rush, with the mighty weapons of Jinteros buzzing around her, put together Spirit Tether variants for Windigar, Ochirion, and Quendry. Now, Spirit Tether is a Ruloc Spiridor spell, and Vae used a Mutoc variant, essentially making the spirits unable to leave the body for a time. This is quite rough on the spirit, especially when it is in an unusually delicate state from having been killed repeatedly — of course the adventurers had Heal the Awful Wound spells, so in fact they had been slain more than once. That’s very bad for the spirit.

Vae is often hard to turn aside when she is motivated. And I cannot really fault her for working hard to save her friends as a general rule; I do it myself, and I should hope that most decent people do. She could see Feralan’s spirit, wobbling off in a preposterous direction towards Mircannis. She decided not to permit him to die.

She tried by two or three means to snag his spirit directly. The more straightforward approaches did no good. So, she took a more drastic approach. She noted a Locador demon in the middle distance: one of the spawn, servitors, or friends of the terrible god “Here”. A Locador demon who had the misfortune to be composed largely of space and spirit. Vae’s space-manipulation powers are her greatest strength. So, she grabbed the demon and mutated it into a sort of vast spiritual spiderweb, and flung it at Feralan.

It caught him.

Vae pulled him back to his body with it. His spirit was thrashing around wildly, getting more and more stuck in the strands that had been Locador demon, trying to escape. But Vae is a cruel monster, and would not allow him to leave to death.

So, that’s what an upset Locador-aspected N. lachrymosa does in place of a Spirit Tether.

Return to Strayway

Vae then teleported in a rushing terrible hurry back to Strayway. She could see the bruises and lesions her tethers were inflicting on the primes’ spirits, and suspected (correctly) that the longer they were dead, the worse off they’d be. So she took the shortest route she could, using very long-range spells indeed, which are none too safe, while a few leftover Jinteros weapons buzzed around her trying to find a chink in her defenses. She ignored them.

She and her cargo flickered from not too far under Ketheria to a parlor in Strayway next to one of my laboratory doors. She paused a moment to pacify my guardians and wards, which she is allowed to do in an emergency (and can do with just a word, as can Phaniet and Kantele and a few others not present).

And then she burst in, carrying four corpses. “Sythyry, Sythyry! Quick must be the healing, the need is great and greater!”

I dropped my istricary in surprise. “Vae! With dead friends of mine!” Or something equally inane. Phaniet, working by my side, barked at her.

The leftover Jinteros weapons, seeing that their main victim was too well-defended for them to touch, pounced on the softest living target in the area, which was poor Phaniet.

Rather unwisely, I leapt in front of her and spread my wings, relying on my own magical defenses to block or blunt their attack, and started casting Bite the Spell’s Head Off, which probably would have dealt with the spare attack.

The Jinteros weapon was faster than I was, though, and superb at getting throough standard Prime-style magical defenses. (Which is why Vae wears so many eccentric ones: not that they work better than the standard ones in general, for they don’t, but they can stop things which know how to penetrate the standard ones.) It killed me before I managed to bite its head off.

I hate when that happens.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Once in a while, I do have to give Vae credit for doing the Right Thing.

As soon as she noticed that her captives friends had died, she stopped fighting Warrior and all the other heroes and weapons of Jinteros, and teleported herself (and a few attacking weapons that were close enough to her to count as her possessions) over to the mountaintop, and tried to figure out what she could do and if it was actually too late or not.

Digression into Biology

Death by violence occurs when the body is sufficiently battered so that the spirit can no longer hold on to it. After death, the spirit sort of wobbles around in the area for a few minutes, as if hoping that someone will fix the body so it can get back. (Spirits technically have personality but no actual mind, so it’s not literally hoping, but that’s the impression one gets.) And, if the body is healed quickly enough, the spirit happily glomps back onto it. Semi-happily — it still feels awful to have been dead for any length of time.

Incidentally, proper healing magic — with Healoc — lets spirits come back. Improper healing magic — with Mutoc — generally does not. (As I remember the reason from classes a century ago, Healoc restores the body to a prior, healthier state, which the severed spirit finds comforting and comfortable, and will rejoin with. Mutoc-based healing changes the body to a new, but viable, state, which the severed spirit finds alien and upsetting. That’s related to why it hurts so much in ways that numbing-spells don’t help much with, too. (That may not be true but it makes sense to me now. I don’t feel like looking it up.) Anyhow, Vae herself can’t put spirits back in bodies … or rather, she can do it in a bad and approximate way, but she knows better than to do so.

Spirits are very hard to observe for primes, though Kennoc Spiridor spells can manage it. Either Vae can sense them (I don’t know) or she knows enough to give herself that sense at need.

After a while — a few minutes, but the time is variable — the spirit gives up and retreats to the comfort and company of its creator god, who (in some more or less metaphorical sense, and usually by means of servitors rather than in person) cleans it up, pets it, and puts it in storage pending later reuse and reincarnation. At this point, mere healing spells applied to the body don’t restore life: the spirit is far away, and no longer interested in that body. Far mightier spells can reach into the god’s private domain and yoink a spirit back, but that is Serious Magic Indeed and generally not worth the effort for the decedent’s sake.

So, that is the reason that healing spells don’t restore life after a while. There are, of course, other things you can do. Spells like Spirit Tether tie the spirit up and don’t let it go back to the creator god for a few hours. (Permanent versions are available, but that’s a bad idea.) Which prolongs the time that healing spells work for resurrection, though they do tend to leave the decedent rather spiritually battered, more than simply being dead.

(If you wait until the spirit has been reincarnated, it is still possible to grab them back and stuff them into their prior body. That is exceedingly hard for magical reasons — the spirit has to be reincarnated within the few-hundred-mile range of your spell, and you probably want to get the mind back, too. Also for moral reasons — it is, arguably, murder of a newborn child.)

Generally, on the World Tree, we do not approve of the murder of prime children. Fortunately — or somewhat fortunately — we have inculcated this attitude into Vae.

Back to the Battle

So, upon arriving at the corpses of my friends, Vae stared around to see if their spirits were still there and if healing them back together was any possibility.

Yes, yes, no, yes.

Vae, in a rush, with the mighty weapons of Jinteros buzzing around her, put together Spirit Tether variants for Windigar, Ochirion, and Quendry. Now, Spirit Tether is a Ruloc Spiridor spell, and Vae used a Mutoc variant, essentially making the spirits unable to leave the body for a time. This is quite rough on the spirit, especially when it is in an unusually delicate state from having been killed repeatedly — of course the adventurers had Heal the Awful Wound spells, so in fact they had been slain more than once. That’s very bad for the spirit.

Vae is often hard to turn aside when she is motivated. And I cannot really fault her for working hard to save her friends as a general rule; I do it myself, and I should hope that most decent people do. She could see Feralan’s spirit, wobbling off in a preposterous direction towards Mircannis. She decided not to permit him to die.

She tried by two or three means to snag his spirit directly. The more straightforward approaches did no good. So, she took a more drastic approach. She noted a Locador demon in the middle distance: one of the spawn, servitors, or friends of the terrible god “Here”. A Locador demon who had the misfortune to be composed largely of space and spirit. Vae’s space-manipulation powers are her greatest strength. So, she grabbed the demon and mutated it into a sort of vast spiritual spiderweb, and flung it at Feralan.

It caught him.

Vae pulled him back to his body with it. His spirit was thrashing around wildly, getting more and more stuck in the strands that had been Locador demon, trying to escape. But Vae is a cruel monster, and would not allow him to leave to death.

So, that’s what an upset Locador-aspected N. lachrymosa does in place of a Spirit Tether.

Return to Strayway

Vae then teleported in a rushing terrible hurry back to Strayway. She could see the bruises and lesions her tethers were inflicting on the primes’ spirits, and suspected (correctly) that the longer they were dead, the worse off they’d be. So she took the shortest route she could, using very long-range spells indeed, which are none too safe, while a few leftover Jinteros weapons buzzed around her trying to find a chink in her defenses. She ignored them.

She and her cargo flickered from not too far under Ketheria to a parlor in Strayway next to one of my laboratory doors. She paused a moment to pacify my guardians and wards, which she is allowed to do in an emergency (and can do with just a word, as can Phaniet and Kantele and a few others not present).

And then she burst in, carrying four corpses. “Sythyry, Sythyry! Quick must be the healing, the need is great and greater!”

I dropped my istricary in surprise. “Vae! With dead friends of mine!” Or something equally inane. Phaniet, working by my side, barked at her.

The leftover Jinteros weapons, seeing that their main victim was too well-defended for them to touch, pounced on the softest living target in the area, which was poor Phaniet.

Rather unwisely, I leapt in front of her and spread my wings, relying on my own magical defenses to block or blunt their attack, and started casting Bite the Spell’s Head Off, which probably would have dealt with the spare attack.

The Jinteros weapon was faster than I was, though, and superb at getting throough standard Prime-style magical defenses. (Which is why Vae wears so many eccentric ones: not that they work better than the standard ones in general, for they don’t, but they can stop things which know how to penetrate the standard ones.) It killed me before I managed to bite its head off.

I hate when that happens.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

If you are a sensible city-state, and have decided to launch a preemptive strike against a nendrai at your gate (whom you have on the exceedingly reliable information (of a young boy chatting with a watch-shop clerk) (but supported by the news from down-trunk and a variety of other physical evidences) is planning to assault you to get a very expensive watch) … why, of course you will bring out all the most terrific thunders in your armory of wonders.

There was fire, of course, for Flokin is the most aggressive of the Noun Gods, and Its material is the excellent material for causing injuries and widespread woe. Jinteros, at various times in the battle — I am not going to describe the battle linearly, but subjectively — provided both simple but quite sharp explosions of fire, and terrible salamanders of living flame who raised steel spears against Vae, as well as their own actinic radiance.

There was lightning. Lightning is a traditional accompaniment to fire. Not because it is as dangerous — it is not. But fire is well-known to be the most dangerous of the Nouns. So any sensible wizard or nendrai will protect zirself thoroughly from fire, taking extra precautions. Lightning, being less dangerous, is less the subject of careful attention and safety measures. So, perhaps, it will injure where fire will fail.

There were needles of metal. The salamanders had some of these — which is an exotic variation — but some of them were animated on their own, and perhaps some were the weapons of other creatures. This aspect of the battle, I suspect, was the work of my half-great-half-uncle Thazavirza. If zie can make watches out of metal, zie is a far better smith than I am, and even I could arrange for animate metal needles to poke the eyes of enemies, and pry their scales off, and generally provide them with smallish but very achey and hard-to-block wounds.

There was a veritable tsunami of animals. Bears and krango, giant mosquitoes and elephants, jacks o’hooks and ferrets. All created especially for the occasion. So many of them that quite a large army — two or three dozen soldiers, say — would have had to pay some attention. Or, should the tsunami be uncorked inside a city’s walls, so many that the populace and even the buildings of the city should suffer greatly and many of them die.

The vegetable part of the attack was the opposite. The vegetable materials that the attacking army (viz. Vae, Windigar, Quendry, Ochirion, and Feralan) used failed them, or turned against them. Puffs of pepper were blasted into their eyes, and the grasses became vines that entangled their legs, and everything vegetable in nature was generally fairly awkward in ways that are actually not very impressive considering the fury of the rest of the attack.

And a pile of well-armed and well-armored prime warriors teleported out to confront the invaders with sword and quarterstaff and shield and rapier and bow and trireme and arrow and clubs and all manner of pointy and blunt weaponry and general ferocious fightiness.

Other substances were brought into play here and there, in lesser degrees that need no introduction.

Vae was totally in her element.

Vae’s Retaliation

The broadsheets from Jinteros doesn’t exactly agree with Vae on what she did in retaliation. Broadsheets are broadsheets (and hence generally marginally accurate and heavily biased towards their city). Vae is Vae, the same creature who lied to me about Brondigance, and when she is inaccurate she is usually biased against herself (for good reasons). I will cite my sources. You will figure out what is true, so I do not have to.

The one thing that both sources agree on is that, somewhere early in the battle, Vae transformed the wind in the area to a gigantic floating banner reading “The I beg your pardon; I am simply trying to buy a watch for a friend.” I don’t think that the boardsheet could stretch that truth too much; the sign was legible from hundreds of miles off.

Vae says that she first put a few of her own defenses on her prime companions, and then teleported them to a convenient spot sixteen miles off where they could watch the battle in safety. The broadsheet omits the first but includes the second. A bit of magic analysis confirms Vae’s side, where her concept of “a few defenses” should have been enough to get them through a whole duel-war or a month-long stroll in the Verticals without any trouble whatever.

Vae says that she turned a mighty Herethroy warrior inside-out, taking her out of the battle and tormenting her. The broadsheet says that she ripped the lower right arm off of one (later regrown by the Jinteros healers).

Vae says that she stunned a Cani wizard who kept casting very aggressive fire spells at her, by means of thumping his head with a log. The broadsheet says that she disembowelled him. In either case he was quickly removed from the battle.

Vae says that she turned the wizard’s liver into a terrible wind that blew away most of the animals. The broadsheet doesn’t particularly know what she transformed into what — it just says that she produced a terrible wind etc. (But: “How did you get his liver without disembowelling him?” asked Phaniet. “The perhaps I extracted it from his unconscious body by means of claws?” said Vae uncertainly.)

Vae says that she trapped three of the warriors in a pocket universe, in which mitred daemon mandrills harangued them with an extensive discourse upon Vae’s insidious plans (viz. buying a watch) while the warriors hewed them to bits. The broadsheet describes it as imprisonment in a dimension of torment and agony.

Vae says that she spent a long time trying to simply talk to her enemies, mostly complaining that she hadn’t attacked them yet and they weren’t behaving nearly as politely as her friends in Vheshrame or even Eigrach. The broadsheet lists a vast range of ferocious fire elementals, rampaging walls of serpents, silver haloes of spirit stealing, voracious giant iguanas, excellent prismatic sprays, and other traditional ferocities from the nendrai. I suspect that both are right, and that Vae was tossing traditional attack spells around, barely realizing she was doing so, while she was trying to have a calm conversation.

In any case, Vae and the broadsheet agree that the actual injuries inflicted on the Jinterans were few and easily healed.

If Jinteros inflicted any significant injuries on Vae, neither side noticed them. Though they did chew through the greater fraction of her protections.

The End of the Battle

Warrior: “Have at you, foul beast! We shall spend our lives and sorceries to the last drop of blood and cley before you shall have the tiniest timepiece!”

Vae: “And if I bring the lozens to buy it, shall I not be allowed to purchase it?”

Warrior: “Your illusionary lozens shall never cozen us, insidious monster!”

Vae: “Not illusions, but real lozens … or trade goods, for I’ve more of them than lozens.”

Warrior: “Never shall you breach our city walls!”

Vae: “Not a bit was I trying to! The my prime companions and friends were going to do the actual shopping.”

Warrior: “None of us shall in the least amount fall for your trickery!”

Vae: “And how fare my prime companions, anyhow?” She scried on the mountaintop.

Windigar, Ochirion, Feralan, and Quendry were all dead. Jinteros had, of course, noticed the teleport spell. Some fraction of Jinteros’ weaponry was redirected to point at them. The protectives Vae had put on them, while sufficient for any purpose I have ever experienced (say), were not capable of withstanding Jinteros’ best weapons. The children had used up all their bound healing spells in a few instants. They had been dead for nearly the whole battle: some minutes.

Healing spells can only restore life for a few minutes after death.

Not that Vae actually has healing spells.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

If you are a sensible city-state, and have decided to launch a preemptive strike against a nendrai at your gate (whom you have on the exceedingly reliable information (of a young boy chatting with a watch-shop clerk) (but supported by the news from down-trunk and a variety of other physical evidences) is planning to assault you to get a very expensive watch) … why, of course you will bring out all the most terrific thunders in your armory of wonders.

There was fire, of course, for Flokin is the most aggressive of the Noun Gods, and Its material is the excellent material for causing injuries and widespread woe. Jinteros, at various times in the battle — I am not going to describe the battle linearly, but subjectively — provided both simple but quite sharp explosions of fire, and terrible salamanders of living flame who raised steel spears against Vae, as well as their own actinic radiance.

There was lightning. Lightning is a traditional accompaniment to fire. Not because it is as dangerous — it is not. But fire is well-known to be the most dangerous of the Nouns. So any sensible wizard or nendrai will protect zirself thoroughly from fire, taking extra precautions. Lightning, being less dangerous, is less the subject of careful attention and safety measures. So, perhaps, it will injure where fire will fail.

There were needles of metal. The salamanders had some of these — which is an exotic variation — but some of them were animated on their own, and perhaps some were the weapons of other creatures. This aspect of the battle, I suspect, was the work of my half-great-half-uncle Thazavirza. If zie can make watches out of metal, zie is a far better smith than I am, and even I could arrange for animate metal needles to poke the eyes of enemies, and pry their scales off, and generally provide them with smallish but very achey and hard-to-block wounds.

There was a veritable tsunami of animals. Bears and krango, giant mosquitoes and elephants, jacks o’hooks and ferrets. All created especially for the occasion. So many of them that quite a large army — two or three dozen soldiers, say — would have had to pay some attention. Or, should the tsunami be uncorked inside a city’s walls, so many that the populace and even the buildings of the city should suffer greatly and many of them die.

The vegetable part of the attack was the opposite. The vegetable materials that the attacking army (viz. Vae, Windigar, Quendry, Ochirion, and Feralan) used failed them, or turned against them. Puffs of pepper were blasted into their eyes, and the grasses became vines that entangled their legs, and everything vegetable in nature was generally fairly awkward in ways that are actually not very impressive considering the fury of the rest of the attack.

And a pile of well-armed and well-armored prime warriors teleported out to confront the invaders with sword and quarterstaff and shield and rapier and bow and trireme and arrow and clubs and all manner of pointy and blunt weaponry and general ferocious fightiness.

Other substances were brought into play here and there, in lesser degrees that need no introduction.

Vae was totally in her element.

Vae’s Retaliation

The broadsheets from Jinteros doesn’t exactly agree with Vae on what she did in retaliation. Broadsheets are broadsheets (and hence generally marginally accurate and heavily biased towards their city). Vae is Vae, the same creature who lied to me about Brondigance, and when she is inaccurate she is usually biased against herself (for good reasons). I will cite my sources. You will figure out what is true, so I do not have to.

The one thing that both sources agree on is that, somewhere early in the battle, Vae transformed the wind in the area to a gigantic floating banner reading “The I beg your pardon; I am simply trying to buy a watch for a friend.” I don’t think that the boardsheet could stretch that truth too much; the sign was legible from hundreds of miles off.

Vae says that she first put a few of her own defenses on her prime companions, and then teleported them to a convenient spot sixteen miles off where they could watch the battle in safety. The broadsheet omits the first but includes the second. A bit of magic analysis confirms Vae’s side, where her concept of “a few defenses” should have been enough to get them through a whole duel-war or a month-long stroll in the Verticals without any trouble whatever.

Vae says that she turned a mighty Herethroy warrior inside-out, taking her out of the battle and tormenting her. The broadsheet says that she ripped the lower right arm off of one (later regrown by the Jinteros healers).

Vae says that she stunned a Cani wizard who kept casting very aggressive fire spells at her, by means of thumping his head with a log. The broadsheet says that she disembowelled him. In either case he was quickly removed from the battle.

Vae says that she turned the wizard’s liver into a terrible wind that blew away most of the animals. The broadsheet doesn’t particularly know what she transformed into what — it just says that she produced a terrible wind etc. (But: “How did you get his liver without disembowelling him?” asked Phaniet. “The perhaps I extracted it from his unconscious body by means of claws?” said Vae uncertainly.)

Vae says that she trapped three of the warriors in a pocket universe, in which mitred daemon mandrills harangued them with an extensive discourse upon Vae’s insidious plans (viz. buying a watch) while the warriors hewed them to bits. The broadsheet describes it as imprisonment in a dimension of torment and agony.

Vae says that she spent a long time trying to simply talk to her enemies, mostly complaining that she hadn’t attacked them yet and they weren’t behaving nearly as politely as her friends in Vheshrame or even Eigrach. The broadsheet lists a vast range of ferocious fire elementals, rampaging walls of serpents, silver haloes of spirit stealing, voracious giant iguanas, excellent prismatic sprays, and other traditional ferocities from the nendrai. I suspect that both are right, and that Vae was tossing traditional attack spells around, barely realizing she was doing so, while she was trying to have a calm conversation.

In any case, Vae and the broadsheet agree that the actual injuries inflicted on the Jinterans were few and easily healed.

If Jinteros inflicted any significant injuries on Vae, neither side noticed them. Though they did chew through the greater fraction of her protections.

The End of the Battle

Warrior: “Have at you, foul beast! We shall spend our lives and sorceries to the last drop of blood and cley before you shall have the tiniest timepiece!”

Vae: “And if I bring the lozens to buy it, shall I not be allowed to purchase it?”

Warrior: “Your illusionary lozens shall never cozen us, insidious monster!”

Vae: “Not illusions, but real lozens … or trade goods, for I’ve more of them than lozens.”

Warrior: “Never shall you breach our city walls!”

Vae: “Not a bit was I trying to! The my prime companions and friends were going to do the actual shopping.”

Warrior: “None of us shall in the least amount fall for your trickery!”

Vae: “And how fare my prime companions, anyhow?” She scried on the mountaintop.

Windigar, Ochirion, Feralan, and Quendry were all dead. Jinteros had, of course, noticed the teleport spell. Some fraction of Jinteros’ weaponry was redirected to point at them. The protectives Vae had put on them, while sufficient for any purpose I have ever experienced (say), were not capable of withstanding Jinteros’ best weapons. The children had used up all their bound healing spells in a few instants. They had been dead for nearly the whole battle: some minutes.

Healing spells can only restore life for a few minutes after death.

Not that Vae actually has healing spells.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Back on Strayway, there was a certain amount of consternation, especially during times when I was trying to do something.

Concerned Parent: knock-knock-knock!

Phaniet: (popping her head out from inside the workshop) “Oh, hallo, Concerned Parent. What can I do for you?”

Concerned Parent: “Get Sythyry to scry for my abducted child again! Now!”

Phaniet: “I’m sorry, Concerned Parent, but that didn’t work last time because your child (or children, depending on which Concerned Parent you are) was out of zir range. Zie tried during a break in the enchantment this morning, and I’m very sorry, but he (or they) are still out of range.”

Concerned Parent: “I must come in and speak to Sythyry right now! I am concerned — and even upset! — and my child or children is or are still kidnapped!”

Phaniet: “Sythyry is concerned and even upset too. This fact spurs zir on to greater efforts on zir current project.”

Concerned Parent: “What kind of mere enchantment project could possibly be more important than my child?”

Phaniet: “Not more important than your child! But more important than providing you a moment of comfort now. The enchantment project now, as it has been for five to seven days depending on when this conversation is taking place, is the Accanax-blessed artifact for breaking Vae’s spells.”

Concerned Parent: “I understand and assent to the importance of that, if I am Arfaen! For I remember the effort required the last time Quendry got cursed, and acknowledge the possiblity — nay, the distinct likelihood — that he come home cursed again. Alternatively, I continue to complain and object and demand immediate attention, if I am Zascalle and/or Thiane!”

Phaniet: “I console you as best I can, if you are Arfaen, or increasingly testily demand that you wait for the remaining third of an hour (as you experience time) if you are Zascalle and/or Thiane. In any case you cannot now come in.”

Enchanting a god-blessed artifact feels just like enchanting a regular magic item. Except you know it’s not: whatever it turns out to be, it will be greater and more subtle than anything you could make by yourself, and endowed with a life and a purpose which — if you are quite lucky — may have some vague resemblance to what you actually want or need.

At least I’m not feeling horrible about making an artifact to counter my friend Vae. She is still my friend, but she needs considerably more thwarting than most of my friends.

Even than Inconnu. (Inconnu has been making many passes at me in the last few days. Supposedly with the intent of taking my mind off my problems. While I do not wholly appreciate this attention, and might even take him up on it at sometime, I don’t want to do it now. For one thing — hardly the most important — Phaniet doesn’t guard my bedroom door the way she does my workroom door.)

The Plan (OOC)

Morphicon, in Ohio, will be in a bit under two weeks, and [livejournal.com profile] beetiger and I are Guests of Honor. And I’m running a World Tree game there (Sunday 10-2).

My game will be a Sythyry episode, starring Inconnu, Phaniet, Grinwipey, Rheng, Yerenthax, and Jyondre as player characters. (Sythyry and Vae, as NPCs, will not be at their most effective; the PCs get center stage.) If all goes well, it will be the part in the current story arc right after the journal entry I post mid-next-week.

Oh, and if you’re planning to play please comment and tell me. I’d like to know if I’m running for six people who know more about Sythyry than I do, or six people who have never seen World Tree before, or what. Also, if you tell me who you want to play, I will at least know what the conflicts are. (If several people tell me they want Inconnu here, I’ll roll a die to choose, at the con.)

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Back on Strayway, there was a certain amount of consternation, especially during times when I was trying to do something.

Concerned Parent: knock-knock-knock!

Phaniet: (popping her head out from inside the workshop) “Oh, hallo, Concerned Parent. What can I do for you?”

Concerned Parent: “Get Sythyry to scry for my abducted child again! Now!”

Phaniet: “I’m sorry, Concerned Parent, but that didn’t work last time because your child (or children, depending on which Concerned Parent you are) was out of zir range. Zie tried during a break in the enchantment this morning, and I’m very sorry, but he (or they) are still out of range.”

Concerned Parent: “I must come in and speak to Sythyry right now! I am concerned — and even upset! — and my child or children is or are still kidnapped!”

Phaniet: “Sythyry is concerned and even upset too. This fact spurs zir on to greater efforts on zir current project.”

Concerned Parent: “What kind of mere enchantment project could possibly be more important than my child?”

Phaniet: “Not more important than your child! But more important than providing you a moment of comfort now. The enchantment project now, as it has been for five to seven days depending on when this conversation is taking place, is the Accanax-blessed artifact for breaking Vae’s spells.”

Concerned Parent: “I understand and assent to the importance of that, if I am Arfaen! For I remember the effort required the last time Quendry got cursed, and acknowledge the possiblity — nay, the distinct likelihood — that he come home cursed again. Alternatively, I continue to complain and object and demand immediate attention, if I am Zascalle and/or Thiane!”

Phaniet: “I console you as best I can, if you are Arfaen, or increasingly testily demand that you wait for the remaining third of an hour (as you experience time) if you are Zascalle and/or Thiane. In any case you cannot now come in.”

Enchanting a god-blessed artifact feels just like enchanting a regular magic item. Except you know it’s not: whatever it turns out to be, it will be greater and more subtle than anything you could make by yourself, and endowed with a life and a purpose which — if you are quite lucky — may have some vague resemblance to what you actually want or need.

At least I’m not feeling horrible about making an artifact to counter my friend Vae. She is still my friend, but she needs considerably more thwarting than most of my friends.

Even than Inconnu. (Inconnu has been making many passes at me in the last few days. Supposedly with the intent of taking my mind off my problems. While I do not wholly appreciate this attention, and might even take him up on it at sometime, I don’t want to do it now. For one thing — hardly the most important — Phaniet doesn’t guard my bedroom door the way she does my workroom door.)

The Plan (OOC)

Morphicon, in Ohio, will be in a bit under two weeks, and [livejournal.com profile] beetiger and I are Guests of Honor. And I’m running a World Tree game there (Sunday 10-2).

My game will be a Sythyry episode, starring Inconnu, Phaniet, Grinwipey, Rheng, Yerenthax, and Jyondre as player characters. (Sythyry and Vae, as NPCs, will not be at their most effective; the PCs get center stage.) If all goes well, it will be the part in the current story arc right after the journal entry I post mid-next-week.

Oh, and if you’re planning to play please comment and tell me. I’d like to know if I’m running for six people who know more about Sythyry than I do, or six people who have never seen World Tree before, or what. Also, if you tell me who you want to play, I will at least know what the conflicts are. (If several people tell me they want Inconnu here, I’ll roll a die to choose, at the con.)

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

The primes left Lavagrave, with rather a lot of reluctance on Windigar’s part. Vae was a vast limbless serpent, red-eyed and more morose than usual, and much of her face was covered with blood from where she had been crying. Feralan looked grim. The younger boys were scampering, because they generally do.

So the party teleported off, Vae’s tail piercing the essential universe in a stitched line zigging up to inner Hybraeia. Or maybe outer Hybraeia. I’m not quite sure where the division is. (There’s only one branch of Ketheria where the division is clear — Aradrueia, where the cities inward of the goddess Lenhirrik are Inner Aradrueia and the ones outward are Outer — but that makes Inner Aradrueia smaller than any other Inner part of Ketheria. (And I am trying to avoid writing down the rest of this, aren’t I? Understandably.))

The space-stitching ended up at Jinteros, to be specific. I was barely aware of Jinteros before today; I do not do much with watches and clocks. Jinteros is, actually, a large and powerful Inner (or Outer?) Ketherian city, with a city wall made of red-ribboned fanged spears, and vast tracts of melon fields. They also have several famous horologists, one of whom is some kind of half-great-half-uncle of mine about three thousand years my senior.

(It is, I think, somewhere between Rude and Arrogant for a Zi Ri to specialize in making timepieces. Thazavirza is, in effect, saying to everyone else, “You will die and I will not; but you may measure the scant hours available to you on one of my fine watches. If, somehow, you can afford one.”)

(Though I’m a Tempador mage, so I’m hardly in a position to criticize zir.)

In any event, Windigar had extracted the clue that fine watches were made in Jinteros from someone in Lavagrave, so that is where they went. Vae coiled around a flowering arken tree not far from the outward gate, and made passers-by feel some combination of fear and sadness. (Without using magic, I mean. She wasn’t actually doing anything until somewhat later. She was just sitting there, albeit wrapped in spells you could magic-sense from two branches away.)

So, three rather bedraggled Rassimel and Cani boys and one rather sleepy Orren wearing some imperfectly-fitting spare garments from a count of a very distant branch, came to Thazavirza’s Horologie of Time. Thazavirza zirself was not there, or didn’t come out to meet them. Instead, they were confronted by the Dread Rassimel Clerk, who spoke to them in tones that suggested that he was mainly conversing with them to (a) pass the time, (b) amuse himself, and (c) keep them from somehow running off with a valuable timepiece.

Clerk: “Ah, gentlefolk of an assorted party wearing garments so unlike those of our usual customers — surely you are people of much wealth and note, going incongnito as street urchins and rogues! How may I assist you on this fine day?”

Feralan: “We’ve come from Srineia to buy your finest watch.”

Clerk: “All the way from Srineia? A notable journey! Your arms must be tired from so much climbing.”

Ochirion: “Our nendrai teleported us.”

Clerk: “Ah! Of course! Your nendrai! How could I ever imagine that a party of such people as yourselves could travel by anything but nendrai-drawn carriage!”

Ochirion: “She just teleported us. Sometimes she made us a kite.”

Clerk: “Ah! Of course! An incognito nendrai, attempting to be inobtrusive! I should have instantly guessed it.”

Windigar: “Well, that actually is true, but we’re here for shopping, not conversation.” He sounded doomed. He knew what trouble they were in — or thought he did. He underestimated considerably.

Clerk: “Shopping! I should hope so! A gaggle of wealthy gunsels such as yourselves, of course you must flop into the first shop you see and pick out a watch instantly!”

Quendry: “Which watch is your best watch? Which watch! Which watch!”

Clerk: “That would be, in the general opinion, the Esclario Soufflarde Transisse Sprecque, which you may observe in that exceedingly magical display case. The protective enchantments on the glass, alone, took four weeks of work by a mighty sorcerer. You may guess somewhat of how we value the watch itself.”

(Afterwards, I tried to get any impressions of what the watch looked like, but none of the survivors had actually looked at it very much. It was mostly made of metal, and had some hands, and some dials, and some magic.)

Quendry: “I have seven lozens and twenty-two terch…”

Clerk: “Ah, excellent! A mere one million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-two lozens more, and the Esclario Soufflarde Transisse Sprecque can be yours! Note that we will spot you the five terch as a special Ragamuffin Discount.”

Ochirion: “I’ve got five lozens more.”

Clerk: “Better and better! Accumulate some two hundred thousand more such friends, and we shall be delighted to do business with you.”

Feralan: “We’d better go back to Vae. Maybe she’s got something in mind for how to pay for it.”

Quendry: “Right! Or maybe she’ll come in here and take it!”

Ochirion: “She can’t come into the city, silly! But I’ll bet she threatens to wreck the countryside and bury the city unless they give her the watch.”

Quendry: “That’s right! She did that to that pirate city, Dossimar was it?”

Windigar: “Children, let’s go have some lunch and talk about our options here.”

Quendry: “OK! Don’t let anybody else buy that Scary-o Souffle Transaffectionate Speech while we’re out!”

Clerk: “It has sat in its case waiting and ticking away for longer than I have been working here. Nonetheless I expect a stampede of buyers this afternoon! So take not overlong getting your two million lozens together.” He smirked.

The wrongfolk (honorary) bought flatbreads with fish spread and tomatoes at a nearby cafe, and discussed their options. Which mostly seemed to be: get the nendrai to take them back home, see if I can afford two million lozens (To which the answer would have been be: “um … not for a watch”), and come back here and buy it.

The clerk, too, went out for his lunch, where he chatted with his neighbors. “Can you imagine who came to my shop today? Four tatty wanderers, looking for our most expensive watch. They said a nendrai brought them! And that the nendrai would destroy the city to get the watch! What silliness, what foolishness, what an amusing arrogance these would-be scammers have!”

The clerk’s neighbors looked at each other nervously. One of them, a captain in the city guard (let us imagine — actually this whole conversation is entirely conjectural) “For a fact, a mighty nendrai did teleport here from very far off. It is curled up around a tree by the outward gate, scaring travellers with the weight of its magic and the heaviness of its sorrow.”

“Oh, no! They were not scammers, but instead they were raiders! We must protect ourselves most mightily against it!” proclaimed the clerk.

“Right you are, clerk!” agreed the Duke of Jinteros, who happened to be sitting next to the clerk at lunch. (Actually I do not know if Jinteros even has a duke, much less where zie happened to be. But for the sake of dramatic consistency, let there be a duke, and let her happen to be having lunch with the clerk and be in an agreeable and city-protective mood.)

And, all unaware of this conversation, Windigar and the children departed from the outward gate, and sat by Vae.

Ochirion: “They have the best watch in the world in there. It’s called the Excelsior Supreme Transgressor Screetch.”

Vae: “Oh, the wonderful! And shall we bring it straightaway to the Strayway, from which we have been too long absent?”

Quendry: “It costed two million lozens.”

Vae: “The worth it as a present I hope it shall be!”

Quendry: “We didn’t have two million lozens.”

Vae: “And how, then, did you get it?”

Quendry: “We didn’t get it.”

Vae: “Not get it?”

Quendry: “No…”

Vae: “And what shall we do to get it?”

Quendry: “Go home and get the money!”

Vae: “The that we could easily do…”

Ochirion:I think you should just say, ‘give it to me or I’ll treat you the way I treated Dossimar and destroy up your whole city’ What’s the point of being a scary big nendrai if you can’t just do that?”

Vae: “The that we could easily do too. But …” She told me she was going to finish the sentence with “they are not pirates who attacked us, so it would be a wicked thing to do, and I do so much wickedness that I cannot help doing that I prefer not to do any when I can help it.”

Someone in Jinteros had been scrying on her. (What? Wouldn’t you scry and spy on a terrible city-smashing monster at your gates?)

Nonetheless, it is considered polite (in some circles) to let the terrible city-smashing monster finish her sentence explaining her plans before you get out your Holocaust War weaponry for a preemptive strike.

Jinteros was, regrettably, unaware of this fine point of etiquette.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

The primes left Lavagrave, with rather a lot of reluctance on Windigar’s part. Vae was a vast limbless serpent, red-eyed and more morose than usual, and much of her face was covered with blood from where she had been crying. Feralan looked grim. The younger boys were scampering, because they generally do.

So the party teleported off, Vae’s tail piercing the essential universe in a stitched line zigging up to inner Hybraeia. Or maybe outer Hybraeia. I’m not quite sure where the division is. (There’s only one branch of Ketheria where the division is clear — Aradrueia, where the cities inward of the goddess Lenhirrik are Inner Aradrueia and the ones outward are Outer — but that makes Inner Aradrueia smaller than any other Inner part of Ketheria. (And I am trying to avoid writing down the rest of this, aren’t I? Understandably.))

The space-stitching ended up at Jinteros, to be specific. I was barely aware of Jinteros before today; I do not do much with watches and clocks. Jinteros is, actually, a large and powerful Inner (or Outer?) Ketherian city, with a city wall made of red-ribboned fanged spears, and vast tracts of melon fields. They also have several famous horologists, one of whom is some kind of half-great-half-uncle of mine about three thousand years my senior.

(It is, I think, somewhere between Rude and Arrogant for a Zi Ri to specialize in making timepieces. Thazavirza is, in effect, saying to everyone else, “You will die and I will not; but you may measure the scant hours available to you on one of my fine watches. If, somehow, you can afford one.”)

(Though I’m a Tempador mage, so I’m hardly in a position to criticize zir.)

In any event, Windigar had extracted the clue that fine watches were made in Jinteros from someone in Lavagrave, so that is where they went. Vae coiled around a flowering arken tree not far from the outward gate, and made passers-by feel some combination of fear and sadness. (Without using magic, I mean. She wasn’t actually doing anything until somewhat later. She was just sitting there, albeit wrapped in spells you could magic-sense from two branches away.)

So, three rather bedraggled Rassimel and Cani boys and one rather sleepy Orren wearing some imperfectly-fitting spare garments from a count of a very distant branch, came to Thazavirza’s Horologie of Time. Thazavirza zirself was not there, or didn’t come out to meet them. Instead, they were confronted by the Dread Rassimel Clerk, who spoke to them in tones that suggested that he was mainly conversing with them to (a) pass the time, (b) amuse himself, and (c) keep them from somehow running off with a valuable timepiece.

Clerk: “Ah, gentlefolk of an assorted party wearing garments so unlike those of our usual customers — surely you are people of much wealth and note, going incongnito as street urchins and rogues! How may I assist you on this fine day?”

Feralan: “We’ve come from Srineia to buy your finest watch.”

Clerk: “All the way from Srineia? A notable journey! Your arms must be tired from so much climbing.”

Ochirion: “Our nendrai teleported us.”

Clerk: “Ah! Of course! Your nendrai! How could I ever imagine that a party of such people as yourselves could travel by anything but nendrai-drawn carriage!”

Ochirion: “She just teleported us. Sometimes she made us a kite.”

Clerk: “Ah! Of course! An incognito nendrai, attempting to be inobtrusive! I should have instantly guessed it.”

Windigar: “Well, that actually is true, but we’re here for shopping, not conversation.” He sounded doomed. He knew what trouble they were in — or thought he did. He underestimated considerably.

Clerk: “Shopping! I should hope so! A gaggle of wealthy gunsels such as yourselves, of course you must flop into the first shop you see and pick out a watch instantly!”

Quendry: “Which watch is your best watch? Which watch! Which watch!”

Clerk: “That would be, in the general opinion, the Esclario Soufflarde Transisse Sprecque, which you may observe in that exceedingly magical display case. The protective enchantments on the glass, alone, took four weeks of work by a mighty sorcerer. You may guess somewhat of how we value the watch itself.”

(Afterwards, I tried to get any impressions of what the watch looked like, but none of the survivors had actually looked at it very much. It was mostly made of metal, and had some hands, and some dials, and some magic.)

Quendry: “I have seven lozens and twenty-two terch…”

Clerk: “Ah, excellent! A mere one million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-two lozens more, and the Esclario Soufflarde Transisse Sprecque can be yours! Note that we will spot you the five terch as a special Ragamuffin Discount.”

Ochirion: “I’ve got five lozens more.”

Clerk: “Better and better! Accumulate some two hundred thousand more such friends, and we shall be delighted to do business with you.”

Feralan: “We’d better go back to Vae. Maybe she’s got something in mind for how to pay for it.”

Quendry: “Right! Or maybe she’ll come in here and take it!”

Ochirion: “She can’t come into the city, silly! But I’ll bet she threatens to wreck the countryside and bury the city unless they give her the watch.”

Quendry: “That’s right! She did that to that pirate city, Dossimar was it?”

Windigar: “Children, let’s go have some lunch and talk about our options here.”

Quendry: “OK! Don’t let anybody else buy that Scary-o Souffle Transaffectionate Speech while we’re out!”

Clerk: “It has sat in its case waiting and ticking away for longer than I have been working here. Nonetheless I expect a stampede of buyers this afternoon! So take not overlong getting your two million lozens together.” He smirked.

The wrongfolk (honorary) bought flatbreads with fish spread and tomatoes at a nearby cafe, and discussed their options. Which mostly seemed to be: get the nendrai to take them back home, see if I can afford two million lozens (To which the answer would have been be: “um … not for a watch”), and come back here and buy it.

The clerk, too, went out for his lunch, where he chatted with his neighbors. “Can you imagine who came to my shop today? Four tatty wanderers, looking for our most expensive watch. They said a nendrai brought them! And that the nendrai would destroy the city to get the watch! What silliness, what foolishness, what an amusing arrogance these would-be scammers have!”

The clerk’s neighbors looked at each other nervously. One of them, a captain in the city guard (let us imagine — actually this whole conversation is entirely conjectural) “For a fact, a mighty nendrai did teleport here from very far off. It is curled up around a tree by the outward gate, scaring travellers with the weight of its magic and the heaviness of its sorrow.”

“Oh, no! They were not scammers, but instead they were raiders! We must protect ourselves most mightily against it!” proclaimed the clerk.

“Right you are, clerk!” agreed the Duke of Jinteros, who happened to be sitting next to the clerk at lunch. (Actually I do not know if Jinteros even has a duke, much less where zie happened to be. But for the sake of dramatic consistency, let there be a duke, and let her happen to be having lunch with the clerk and be in an agreeable and city-protective mood.)

And, all unaware of this conversation, Windigar and the children departed from the outward gate, and sat by Vae.

Ochirion: “They have the best watch in the world in there. It’s called the Excelsior Supreme Transgressor Screetch.”

Vae: “Oh, the wonderful! And shall we bring it straightaway to the Strayway, from which we have been too long absent?”

Quendry: “It costed two million lozens.”

Vae: “The worth it as a present I hope it shall be!”

Quendry: “We didn’t have two million lozens.”

Vae: “And how, then, did you get it?”

Quendry: “We didn’t get it.”

Vae: “Not get it?”

Quendry: “No…”

Vae: “And what shall we do to get it?”

Quendry: “Go home and get the money!”

Vae: “The that we could easily do…”

Ochirion:I think you should just say, ‘give it to me or I’ll treat you the way I treated Dossimar and destroy up your whole city’ What’s the point of being a scary big nendrai if you can’t just do that?”

Vae: “The that we could easily do too. But …” She told me she was going to finish the sentence with “they are not pirates who attacked us, so it would be a wicked thing to do, and I do so much wickedness that I cannot help doing that I prefer not to do any when I can help it.”

Someone in Jinteros had been scrying on her. (What? Wouldn’t you scry and spy on a terrible city-smashing monster at your gates?)

Nonetheless, it is considered polite (in some circles) to let the terrible city-smashing monster finish her sentence explaining her plans before you get out your Holocaust War weaponry for a preemptive strike.

Jinteros was, regrettably, unaware of this fine point of etiquette.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

The next morning everyprime felt much better, except for the Guard, who inexplicably and irrelevantly had a headache. Everyone else had a late breakfast. (The children had had an early one, I understand, but this cannot be considered truly relevant either.)

Windigar: “How do you like Lavagrave so far, children?”

Ochirion: “It’s pretty nice.”

Quendry: “I have affan in travelling!”

Feralan: “And the food is good. Bland, but good.”

Windigar: “And how do you like adventuring around with Vae?”

Feralan: “I broke my leg yesterday.”

Ochirion: “She’s so scary.”

Quendry: “And sad. All the time she is sad and more sad!”

Windigar: “Because the Lavagrites told me that we could stay here if we wanted.”

Quendry: “Stay here? How long?”

Windigar: “As long as we want.”

Feralan: “Not go home, you mean?”

Windigar: “We could go home. They’re trying to rescue us from Vae, not keep us here.”

Feralan: “Wouldn’t Vae be mad?”

Windigar: “She would. We’d have to stay inside the city walls until she left. She’d really be more sad than mad though.”

Quendry: “What about Mommy?”

Windigar: “Quendry, we’d not be able to get back to see Arfaen very fast. It might take a few years.” He was exaggerating and/or wrong, in my estimate. It would take a few dozen years, most likely.

Quendry: “I want to be back with Mommy!”

Windigar: “I want to be back on the Strayway too. But I’m worried. Vae’s being dangerous and reckless. The only time she seems to be the least bit sensible is when Sythyry is around to keep her in line, and she didn’t bring zir along. So I’m worried. What if she’s just a bit more careless next time, and one of you dies? I want you to be home, but I also want you to live.” Regrettably, Windigar was quite insightful.

Feralan: “She broke my leg. She threw us into the sky without a second thought. She’s keeping that poor shifter hybrid in a torture pen. I’m afraid of Vae. Sythyry’s afraid of Vae.”

Ochirion: “Lavagrave isn’t afraid of Vae. They asked to keep us here. She can’t come inside the city walls.

Windigar: “I’m afraid of Vae too. I don’t want to die by one of her famous mistakes, branches and branches away from everyone I know, and I don’t want to lose any of you that way either.”

Ochirion: “I want to go home though.”

Feralan: “I want to go home too. I don’t know though. Will Vae really get us home?”

Quendry: “Vae wants to get us home. With the present. I want to go home too.”

Feralan: “I don’t want to die.”

Quendry: “I have affan in travel plans among the kids!”

Ochirion: “He does, yes.”

Windigar: “But you Rassimel kids aren’t Cani. Affan doesn’t really matter except to Cani.”

Ochirion: “We’re his friends. He gets to affan on us. We get to neep at him.”

Feralan: “I think that’s right. Quendry, do you understand that you’re asking us to risk maybe getting hurt or cursed, maybe even dying, for the sake of going home?”

Quendry: “Yup. We’ll ask her to be very careful.”

Windigar: “I don’t know if she can do that.”

Feralan: “And home isn’t even home? It’s just Strayway, down in Srineia, and we won’t get back to Vheshrame for a couple years or more?”

Quendry: “Home is with my mommy.”

Feralan: “And you know I really don’t want to go adventuring again with her. I got pretty badly hurt yesterday.”

Quendry: “I know, Feralan. I want us to go home.”

Ochirion: “I am following Quendry! I want us to go home.”

Windigar: “Feralan, I think you’ve got the deciding vote. If you think it’s better to stay, we’ll stay here, where it’s safe.”

Feralan frowned, and rubbed his leg where it had been broken, and peered at Quendry. Quendry wagged his tail. Feralan peered at his younger brother. Ochirion drooped his ears and tail.

Feralan: “Quendry has affan. I’ll do what he says.”

Windigar: “You’re not Cani. You don’t need to follow affan.”

Feralan: “I’m half Cani — Thiane is one of my moms. And I miss her, and my other mom, and everyone.”

Windigar: (Discusses it more, presciently)

Children: (Get more and more united to going)

Windigar: “I will tell the Count that we will not be staying, then. And I hope we don’t regret that decision.”

Afterwards: I asked Vae if the Count was really that impressed with Windigar, or Windigar with the Count. She said she thought not: that the Count simply seemed like a very kind Orren who wanted to do what he could to save some lostlings. Their brief farewell scene was that of friendly acquaintances, not soulmates or beloveds.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

The next morning everyprime felt much better, except for the Guard, who inexplicably and irrelevantly had a headache. Everyone else had a late breakfast. (The children had had an early one, I understand, but this cannot be considered truly relevant either.)

Windigar: “How do you like Lavagrave so far, children?”

Ochirion: “It’s pretty nice.”

Quendry: “I have affan in travelling!”

Feralan: “And the food is good. Bland, but good.”

Windigar: “And how do you like adventuring around with Vae?”

Feralan: “I broke my leg yesterday.”

Ochirion: “She’s so scary.”

Quendry: “And sad. All the time she is sad and more sad!”

Windigar: “Because the Lavagrites told me that we could stay here if we wanted.”

Quendry: “Stay here? How long?”

Windigar: “As long as we want.”

Feralan: “Not go home, you mean?”

Windigar: “We could go home. They’re trying to rescue us from Vae, not keep us here.”

Feralan: “Wouldn’t Vae be mad?”

Windigar: “She would. We’d have to stay inside the city walls until she left. She’d really be more sad than mad though.”

Quendry: “What about Mommy?”

Windigar: “Quendry, we’d not be able to get back to see Arfaen very fast. It might take a few years.” He was exaggerating and/or wrong, in my estimate. It would take a few dozen years, most likely.

Quendry: “I want to be back with Mommy!”

Windigar: “I want to be back on the Strayway too. But I’m worried. Vae’s being dangerous and reckless. The only time she seems to be the least bit sensible is when Sythyry is around to keep her in line, and she didn’t bring zir along. So I’m worried. What if she’s just a bit more careless next time, and one of you dies? I want you to be home, but I also want you to live.” Regrettably, Windigar was quite insightful.

Feralan: “She broke my leg. She threw us into the sky without a second thought. She’s keeping that poor shifter hybrid in a torture pen. I’m afraid of Vae. Sythyry’s afraid of Vae.”

Ochirion: “Lavagrave isn’t afraid of Vae. They asked to keep us here. She can’t come inside the city walls.

Windigar: “I’m afraid of Vae too. I don’t want to die by one of her famous mistakes, branches and branches away from everyone I know, and I don’t want to lose any of you that way either.”

Ochirion: “I want to go home though.”

Feralan: “I want to go home too. I don’t know though. Will Vae really get us home?”

Quendry: “Vae wants to get us home. With the present. I want to go home too.”

Feralan: “I don’t want to die.”

Quendry: “I have affan in travel plans among the kids!”

Ochirion: “He does, yes.”

Windigar: “But you Rassimel kids aren’t Cani. Affan doesn’t really matter except to Cani.”

Ochirion: “We’re his friends. He gets to affan on us. We get to neep at him.”

Feralan: “I think that’s right. Quendry, do you understand that you’re asking us to risk maybe getting hurt or cursed, maybe even dying, for the sake of going home?”

Quendry: “Yup. We’ll ask her to be very careful.”

Windigar: “I don’t know if she can do that.”

Feralan: “And home isn’t even home? It’s just Strayway, down in Srineia, and we won’t get back to Vheshrame for a couple years or more?”

Quendry: “Home is with my mommy.”

Feralan: “And you know I really don’t want to go adventuring again with her. I got pretty badly hurt yesterday.”

Quendry: “I know, Feralan. I want us to go home.”

Ochirion: “I am following Quendry! I want us to go home.”

Windigar: “Feralan, I think you’ve got the deciding vote. If you think it’s better to stay, we’ll stay here, where it’s safe.”

Feralan frowned, and rubbed his leg where it had been broken, and peered at Quendry. Quendry wagged his tail. Feralan peered at his younger brother. Ochirion drooped his ears and tail.

Feralan: “Quendry has affan. I’ll do what he says.”

Windigar: “You’re not Cani. You don’t need to follow affan.”

Feralan: “I’m half Cani — Thiane is one of my moms. And I miss her, and my other mom, and everyone.”

Windigar: (Discusses it more, presciently)

Children: (Get more and more united to going)

Windigar: “I will tell the Count that we will not be staying, then. And I hope we don’t regret that decision.”

Afterwards: I asked Vae if the Count was really that impressed with Windigar, or Windigar with the Count. She said she thought not: that the Count simply seemed like a very kind Orren who wanted to do what he could to save some lostlings. Their brief farewell scene was that of friendly acquaintances, not soulmates or beloveds.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Vae took her captives friends captives on another many teleport leaps. They came, in a frantic skirling of Locador, to the stork-headed gates of the city of Lavagrave on the world-branch Casasneia. No, I have never heard of Casasneia either. There are no branches above it, but it is neither in inner nor outer Ketheria, or I would have heard of it. It must be quite distant indeed.

Vae: “The prime city is this, where the healing and the food you shall find.”

Windigar: “Thank you, Vae. I know you’re trying to be helpful.”

Guard: “Ho, the space-mage and family out there! Who are you, what are you doing in Lavagrave?”

Windigar: “I am Windigar, and these primes are the children of my friends. We have come from Ketheria. This boy, Feralan, has broken his leg; we need healing and food, if at all possible.”

Guard: “That is you, but what is that creature who comes with you, whose tail is so very very long and within whose miserable eyes sadness struggles with madness?” The guard was Cani, in case it is not obvious.

Feralan: “That’s Vae. She’ll wait outside the city. Please, may we come in? My leg hurts very much.”

Guard: “My sympathy for your leg is great, but my need to protect my city is greater. By the ringing of this great gong, I shall call to those who may grant or deny your request.” She thumped on a glass gong with the butt of her flaming spear.

Mage: “I am the wall-mage of city Lavagrave! I shall by means of spells and subtle devices inspect you for signs and significators of the many dangers against which we must guard ourselves. … But what is this? This creature is a terrible, terrible peril!!”

Vae: “The terrible peril am I, and outside of the city gate shall I remain, weeping jagged tears, until my friends and charges are suitably tended.”

Mage: “But what is this? The terrible, terrible peril is not attacking!”

Quendry: “Vae doesn’t attack anybody but pirates!”

Vae: “Not a claw shall I raise against you; not a spell shall I cast to work you woe. If yet the favor you ask me for, the favor I will grant you, and your sorrow at the granting shall be beyond measure.”

Guard: “We are quite grateful for this advice.”

Mage: “Those who appear superficially to be prime, are, in fact, prime, and if there are any hidden perils about them, they are well hidden indeed. Guard, admit them!”

So the wrongfolk primes — a confusing name, since none of this party is actually wrong — came to Lavagrave. Where they were greeted by the Count of Orspigal Park:

Count of Orspigal Park: “Hello, travellers from afar!” A tall and striking Orren man.

Quendry: “Hello! Can you help us please?”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Indeed I shall, little Cani! Indeed I shall!”

And the Chairman of the Guild of Healers:

Chairman of the Guild of Healers: “Now, what seems to be the problem, young and crutch-walking master Rassimel?”

Feralan: “My leg … I think it’s broken.”

Chairman of the Guild of Healers: “It does seem to be … a spot of a compound fracture there. We’ll soon have it right as rassimel. Who did you say was paying the fee for my cley?”

Windigar: “That could be a problem. We have little money…”

Count of Orspigal Park: “For the honor and pleasure of your attendance at a little soirée tonight, Windigar, I shall take care of these petty fees!”

Windigar: “Well, then, I suppose that’s how it shall be done.”

Chairman of the Guild of Healers: “Behold! By the vast greatness of my mighty magic, where with a single cley I have caused the seven shards of your leg to knit into a single and solid piece, hale and sound!”

Feralan: “Oh, that feels much better!”

Ochirion: “Does any grownup need more than one cley to cast a spell?”

Feralan: “No. Hush.”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Until tonight, then, Windigar! Dress well!”

Windigar: “Dress well?”

Mage: “You came with inadequate luggage, as if your travels began by surprise? I shall lend you suitable clothing.”

Windigar:That is suitable?”

Mage: “The tastes of the Count of Orspigal Park are well-known, and he is reputed to be generous.”

Windigar: “He has been generous already, so I daresay I shall wear these garments. Assuming always that I can figure out how to don them in the first place.”

Mage: “Move far more gently! The garments are fragile, and they are mainly held on by the friction of your fur!”

Windigar: “I thought as much.”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Ah, Windigar, our visitor from afar! Come, before we dine but after we have toasted to friendship and far-reaching travel with two mighty chalices of mint arrak, let us dance the tarantella!”

Windigar: “In these garments?”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Behold our leaping and flourishing!”

Windigar: [to himself] “Ah, well, at least it’s not like it would be at Castle Wrong. He’s the right species, and not wholly unappealing.”

Ochirion: “Where are we, while Windigar is at the private soirée with the Count of Orspigal Park?”

Feralan: “We are being entertained at the Guard’s longhouse, with children of the same age as us and the same species as Quendry, and having a grand time and being treated as heroes.”

In the Verticals, not far from the gates of Lavagrave, a terrible beast wailed and cursed herself, and struck again and again at her own flanks with angry fangs. And had The Conversation with herself without respite until the following dawn.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Vae took her captives friends captives on another many teleport leaps. They came, in a frantic skirling of Locador, to the stork-headed gates of the city of Lavagrave on the world-branch Casasneia. No, I have never heard of Casasneia either. There are no branches above it, but it is neither in inner nor outer Ketheria, or I would have heard of it. It must be quite distant indeed.

Vae: “The prime city is this, where the healing and the food you shall find.”

Windigar: “Thank you, Vae. I know you’re trying to be helpful.”

Guard: “Ho, the space-mage and family out there! Who are you, what are you doing in Lavagrave?”

Windigar: “I am Windigar, and these primes are the children of my friends. We have come from Ketheria. This boy, Feralan, has broken his leg; we need healing and food, if at all possible.”

Guard: “That is you, but what is that creature who comes with you, whose tail is so very very long and within whose miserable eyes sadness struggles with madness?” The guard was Cani, in case it is not obvious.

Feralan: “That’s Vae. She’ll wait outside the city. Please, may we come in? My leg hurts very much.”

Guard: “My sympathy for your leg is great, but my need to protect my city is greater. By the ringing of this great gong, I shall call to those who may grant or deny your request.” She thumped on a glass gong with the butt of her flaming spear.

Mage: “I am the wall-mage of city Lavagrave! I shall by means of spells and subtle devices inspect you for signs and significators of the many dangers against which we must guard ourselves. … But what is this? This creature is a terrible, terrible peril!!”

Vae: “The terrible peril am I, and outside of the city gate shall I remain, weeping jagged tears, until my friends and charges are suitably tended.”

Mage: “But what is this? The terrible, terrible peril is not attacking!”

Quendry: “Vae doesn’t attack anybody but pirates!”

Vae: “Not a claw shall I raise against you; not a spell shall I cast to work you woe. If yet the favor you ask me for, the favor I will grant you, and your sorrow at the granting shall be beyond measure.”

Guard: “We are quite grateful for this advice.”

Mage: “Those who appear superficially to be prime, are, in fact, prime, and if there are any hidden perils about them, they are well hidden indeed. Guard, admit them!”

So the wrongfolk primes — a confusing name, since none of this party is actually wrong — came to Lavagrave. Where they were greeted by the Count of Orspigal Park:

Count of Orspigal Park: “Hello, travellers from afar!” A tall and striking Orren man.

Quendry: “Hello! Can you help us please?”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Indeed I shall, little Cani! Indeed I shall!”

And the Chairman of the Guild of Healers:

Chairman of the Guild of Healers: “Now, what seems to be the problem, young and crutch-walking master Rassimel?”

Feralan: “My leg … I think it’s broken.”

Chairman of the Guild of Healers: “It does seem to be … a spot of a compound fracture there. We’ll soon have it right as rassimel. Who did you say was paying the fee for my cley?”

Windigar: “That could be a problem. We have little money…”

Count of Orspigal Park: “For the honor and pleasure of your attendance at a little soirée tonight, Windigar, I shall take care of these petty fees!”

Windigar: “Well, then, I suppose that’s how it shall be done.”

Chairman of the Guild of Healers: “Behold! By the vast greatness of my mighty magic, where with a single cley I have caused the seven shards of your leg to knit into a single and solid piece, hale and sound!”

Feralan: “Oh, that feels much better!”

Ochirion: “Does any grownup need more than one cley to cast a spell?”

Feralan: “No. Hush.”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Until tonight, then, Windigar! Dress well!”

Windigar: “Dress well?”

Mage: “You came with inadequate luggage, as if your travels began by surprise? I shall lend you suitable clothing.”

Windigar:That is suitable?”

Mage: “The tastes of the Count of Orspigal Park are well-known, and he is reputed to be generous.”

Windigar: “He has been generous already, so I daresay I shall wear these garments. Assuming always that I can figure out how to don them in the first place.”

Mage: “Move far more gently! The garments are fragile, and they are mainly held on by the friction of your fur!”

Windigar: “I thought as much.”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Ah, Windigar, our visitor from afar! Come, before we dine but after we have toasted to friendship and far-reaching travel with two mighty chalices of mint arrak, let us dance the tarantella!”

Windigar: “In these garments?”

Count of Orspigal Park: “Behold our leaping and flourishing!”

Windigar: [to himself] “Ah, well, at least it’s not like it would be at Castle Wrong. He’s the right species, and not wholly unappealing.”

Ochirion: “Where are we, while Windigar is at the private soirée with the Count of Orspigal Park?”

Feralan: “We are being entertained at the Guard’s longhouse, with children of the same age as us and the same species as Quendry, and having a grand time and being treated as heroes.”

In the Verticals, not far from the gates of Lavagrave, a terrible beast wailed and cursed herself, and struck again and again at her own flanks with angry fangs. And had The Conversation with herself without respite until the following dawn.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Vae’s second stop, when the children protested that they were hungry, was on the prime skyship Ulcelarde, out of … we’re not sure where. Vae spotted it in the open air between two side-branches of some world-branch seven rings down from Ketheria.

Thus it was that three children, Windigar, and Vae — in the form of a sea urchin, whose spikes were tiny serpents — appeared on the deck of the skyship in a clawsome coil of Locador magic.

Count Rassimel:“Oh, gracious of my goodness! Whoever and whatever have just appeared upon our deck?” He was a tall and fluffy Rassimel man wearing a many-pocketed leather kirtle sort of thing, a bright red hat with a complicated feathery crest on it, and heavy silver earrings. From the latter we deduce that he was greater nobility.

(None of the survivors actually remember any of the names of people, so we are identifying them by role and species.)

Major Cani:“It appears to be a puny congeries of savage children, doubtless a pack of benighted savages from some distant and caustically uncivilized region of the World Tree. They have brought along some sort of demon steed, though not one I should be delighted to mount!” She was a tall and brawny Cani woman wearing an elaborate uniform, and carrying an enchanted metal sword and an enchanted glass bow. We give her a high military title.

Quendry:” Excuse me, but we’ve been traveling for hours and we’re quite hungry. Do you suppose you could spare us a meal?”

Count Rassimel:” Ah! How quaint! One of them appears to be making some pathetic mewling noises vaguely reminiscent of the sounds of actual language. Do you suppose they’ve actually got a crumb of education about them?”

Major Cani: “That strikes me as an unrealistically optimistic attitude, old chap.”

(Back home, afterwards, Phaniet had to ask, “Were they really being that callous?” To which the answer was “No.” Vae did learn the language herself, by her usual wicked and highly illegal method, on about the word “congeries”, so she understood what they were saying. The skyboaters couldn’t understand the wrongfolk, nor vice versa, at this point in the conversation. The actual last two lines were closer to “I wonder what language it is they’re speaking?” and “I don’t recognize a word of it. It sounds wild and barbarous to me, old chap.”)

(So you must understand the sky-passengers as being people who are so far removed, physically and intellectually, from true civilization — viz. Ketheria — that they don’t even recognize spoken Ketherian. The language of high culture and science everywhere! So I shall continue to slightly misrepresent them as brutish people of no good character.)

Count Rassimel: “Well, they must have stolen some sort of teleportation device, or they wouldn’t be turning up on my skyboat like so many rotten livers in a bowl of soup.”

Major Cani: “Quite so, old chap, quite so.” She drew her sword and waved it casually at the children. (This sort of behavior is why (1) I am slightly misrepresenting them, and (2) it is only a slight misrepresentation.) “Be off with you, you disgusting street urchins, and take your disgusting sea urchin with you too.”

Count Orren: “Splendid line, Major Cani, simply splendid. A shame they can’t speak any reasonable tongue, or they’d be driven off simply by the overwhelming pungency of your wordplay.” He was a shortish person lying curled up on a green leather an ottoman, entirely naked except for gigantic silver earrings even larger than Count Rassimel’s.

Windigar: [Speaking in Common, which the foreigners -- and every halfway-intelligent creature on the World Tree -- necessarily understand. Though not very well, because it is a very minimal language, and most elaborate concepts must be expressed by complex phrases.] “Hello. I’m sorry to drop in on you like this. We are hungry, and would like some food, if you have any to spare.”

Count Rassimel: “I don’t wish to chat with a pack of thieves when we’re here to work, and I shall not make the effort to decypher someone babbling in the common tongue, instinctual though it may be. I don’t know which is worse, the underage ones or the adult one who appears somehow to be the ringleader. Would you be an absolute twinking sapphire of a chap, Major Cani, and run them off?”

Major Cani: “I should be delighted, Count Rassimel; I have been craving nothing else for the last seven or eight hours.” She put the tip of her sword at Windigar’s throat. “We are trying to prevent a hate-war here. It’s quite important and quite urgent. We don’t allow barbarians to interrupt our delicate negotiations. Go away, you, or we’ll take certain actions designed to drive you away.”

Which would probably have worked if they had been four random primes.

Vae: [In their language] “Not often do I allow primes to threaten my friends!”

Major Cani:I am a tall and brawny Cani woman wearing an elaborate uniform, using an enchanted metal sword. You are a tiny liminal crustacean whom I could crush with one foot. It is I, not you, who is in a position to allow or disallow things here!”

Vae: “But the hunger is on these children, and you shall give them food now and without any more threatening!”

Major Cani: “I believe you misunderstand the balance of power in the situation.”

So Vae transformed the top deck of the skyboat into a battalion of scorpion-tailed wooden Sleeth.

So everyone — primes, nendrai, and battalion of scorpion-tailed wooden Sleeth — fell into the uppermost floor that had been below-deck when there was a deck above it. This was not exactly what Vae had intended. She had not realized that there was but a single layer of wood that served as floor and ceiling both.

Feralan screamed in considerable pain.

So Vae teleported her friends away.

(Phaniet asked, “And what of the elementals?” We have no certain idea, but they most likely disrupted the delicate negotiations even more, if not actually slaughtering all the negotiators and launching that hate-war.)

Feralan had broken his leg in the fall. Everyprime else was rather shaken and bruised and bumped, and, of course, still hungry.

Vae: “The vast sorrow is on me, that a simple begging for dinner has become a caustic green slime and slipped through my claws!”

Feralan: “My leg, my leg, my leg!”

Vae: “The bone-fixing I can put in it.”"

Windigar: “Sythyry says that your healing spells hurt a lot. Let’s see if we can’t get to a proper city with a proper Healer’s Guild on it and get a proper bone-setting spell put on it? Feralan’s miserable enough as it is; let’s at least give him a chance to avoid further torture.”

Vae: (expressed considerable and extensive apologies and sorries; she’s pretty sure she’s being awful, but she can’t help it.)

Feralan: “Never mind that, please, Vae. Please just take us somewhere I can get healed up and get our watch and go home, so you can stop being so awful any more today.”

Vae: “The swiftness shall I bring us there with!”

I’m afraid Feralan growing up to be an adventurer, if he’s already diplomacying at the nendrai so thoroughly — when he’s in pain, and scared half out of his mind for good reasons.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Vae’s second stop, when the children protested that they were hungry, was on the prime skyship Ulcelarde, out of … we’re not sure where. Vae spotted it in the open air between two side-branches of some world-branch seven rings down from Ketheria.

Thus it was that three children, Windigar, and Vae — in the form of a sea urchin, whose spikes were tiny serpents — appeared on the deck of the skyship in a clawsome coil of Locador magic.

Count Rassimel:“Oh, gracious of my goodness! Whoever and whatever have just appeared upon our deck?” He was a tall and fluffy Rassimel man wearing a many-pocketed leather kirtle sort of thing, a bright red hat with a complicated feathery crest on it, and heavy silver earrings. From the latter we deduce that he was greater nobility.

(None of the survivors actually remember any of the names of people, so we are identifying them by role and species.)

Major Cani:“It appears to be a puny congeries of savage children, doubtless a pack of benighted savages from some distant and caustically uncivilized region of the World Tree. They have brought along some sort of demon steed, though not one I should be delighted to mount!” She was a tall and brawny Cani woman wearing an elaborate uniform, and carrying an enchanted metal sword and an enchanted glass bow. We give her a high military title.

Quendry:” Excuse me, but we’ve been traveling for hours and we’re quite hungry. Do you suppose you could spare us a meal?”

Count Rassimel:” Ah! How quaint! One of them appears to be making some pathetic mewling noises vaguely reminiscent of the sounds of actual language. Do you suppose they’ve actually got a crumb of education about them?”

Major Cani: “That strikes me as an unrealistically optimistic attitude, old chap.”

(Back home, afterwards, Phaniet had to ask, “Were they really being that callous?” To which the answer was “No.” Vae did learn the language herself, by her usual wicked and highly illegal method, on about the word “congeries”, so she understood what they were saying. The skyboaters couldn’t understand the wrongfolk, nor vice versa, at this point in the conversation. The actual last two lines were closer to “I wonder what language it is they’re speaking?” and “I don’t recognize a word of it. It sounds wild and barbarous to me, old chap.”)

(So you must understand the sky-passengers as being people who are so far removed, physically and intellectually, from true civilization — viz. Ketheria — that they don’t even recognize spoken Ketherian. The language of high culture and science everywhere! So I shall continue to slightly misrepresent them as brutish people of no good character.)

Count Rassimel: “Well, they must have stolen some sort of teleportation device, or they wouldn’t be turning up on my skyboat like so many rotten livers in a bowl of soup.”

Major Cani: “Quite so, old chap, quite so.” She drew her sword and waved it casually at the children. (This sort of behavior is why (1) I am slightly misrepresenting them, and (2) it is only a slight misrepresentation.) “Be off with you, you disgusting street urchins, and take your disgusting sea urchin with you too.”

Count Orren: “Splendid line, Major Cani, simply splendid. A shame they can’t speak any reasonable tongue, or they’d be driven off simply by the overwhelming pungency of your wordplay.” He was a shortish person lying curled up on a green leather an ottoman, entirely naked except for gigantic silver earrings even larger than Count Rassimel’s.

Windigar: [Speaking in Common, which the foreigners -- and every halfway-intelligent creature on the World Tree -- necessarily understand. Though not very well, because it is a very minimal language, and most elaborate concepts must be expressed by complex phrases.] “Hello. I’m sorry to drop in on you like this. We are hungry, and would like some food, if you have any to spare.”

Count Rassimel: “I don’t wish to chat with a pack of thieves when we’re here to work, and I shall not make the effort to decypher someone babbling in the common tongue, instinctual though it may be. I don’t know which is worse, the underage ones or the adult one who appears somehow to be the ringleader. Would you be an absolute twinking sapphire of a chap, Major Cani, and run them off?”

Major Cani: “I should be delighted, Count Rassimel; I have been craving nothing else for the last seven or eight hours.” She put the tip of her sword at Windigar’s throat. “We are trying to prevent a hate-war here. It’s quite important and quite urgent. We don’t allow barbarians to interrupt our delicate negotiations. Go away, you, or we’ll take certain actions designed to drive you away.”

Which would probably have worked if they had been four random primes.

Vae: [In their language] “Not often do I allow primes to threaten my friends!”

Major Cani:I am a tall and brawny Cani woman wearing an elaborate uniform, using an enchanted metal sword. You are a tiny liminal crustacean whom I could crush with one foot. It is I, not you, who is in a position to allow or disallow things here!”

Vae: “But the hunger is on these children, and you shall give them food now and without any more threatening!”

Major Cani: “I believe you misunderstand the balance of power in the situation.”

So Vae transformed the top deck of the skyboat into a battalion of scorpion-tailed wooden Sleeth.

So everyone — primes, nendrai, and battalion of scorpion-tailed wooden Sleeth — fell into the uppermost floor that had been below-deck when there was a deck above it. This was not exactly what Vae had intended. She had not realized that there was but a single layer of wood that served as floor and ceiling both.

Feralan screamed in considerable pain.

So Vae teleported her friends away.

(Phaniet asked, “And what of the elementals?” We have no certain idea, but they most likely disrupted the delicate negotiations even more, if not actually slaughtering all the negotiators and launching that hate-war.)

Feralan had broken his leg in the fall. Everyprime else was rather shaken and bruised and bumped, and, of course, still hungry.

Vae: “The vast sorrow is on me, that a simple begging for dinner has become a caustic green slime and slipped through my claws!”

Feralan: “My leg, my leg, my leg!”

Vae: “The bone-fixing I can put in it.”"

Windigar: “Sythyry says that your healing spells hurt a lot. Let’s see if we can’t get to a proper city with a proper Healer’s Guild on it and get a proper bone-setting spell put on it? Feralan’s miserable enough as it is; let’s at least give him a chance to avoid further torture.”

Vae: (expressed considerable and extensive apologies and sorries; she’s pretty sure she’s being awful, but she can’t help it.)

Feralan: “Never mind that, please, Vae. Please just take us somewhere I can get healed up and get our watch and go home, so you can stop being so awful any more today.”

Vae: “The swiftness shall I bring us there with!”

I’m afraid Feralan growing up to be an adventurer, if he’s already diplomacying at the nendrai so thoroughly — when he’s in pain, and scared half out of his mind for good reasons.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Vae’s first stop was the home (or hospice, or prison) of an old friend (or client, or victim) of mine. She teleported her kite and its crew to a side-side-twig of a side-side-branch of Mrasteia, where seven winged lions made of ebony wood, with teeth of bronze and spikes of poisoned glass in their lashy tails, flew around ceaselessly. The children whined to see them, but Vae spoke a certain secret word, and they parted to let her pass.

They came to a small ledge in the low part of the Verticals, and there they landed. Poisonous sfthnidia trees were planted on either side of it, and they reared their tendrils back to hurl their deadly needles, but Vae twisted the essential world, and the needles passed them by.

At the back of the ledge was a mighty door of oak, eighteen feet thick and nine feet high, set to fill a small gap in the bare world-wood, and banded about with steel and lightning and the memories of sorrow. Such a door could not, in the ordinary course of events, be opened, but Vae twisted the essential world, and tugged on the door with the full strength of her body, and it crunched open and they could pass.

Deep in the crevice of the world-wood they came to a small chamber. And in this chamber there were certain things:

  1. A large cage of mice.
  2. A fountain of perpetual water and a mound of perpetual wheat, and a zone of perpetual destruction, to provide food and cleanliness for the mice.
  3. A branch of a tree, stuck in the cage by means of an old Locador spell; the rest of the tree grew elsewhere. On this branch there were many small thorns, and on the tips of the thorns, many golden berries.
  4. Outside of the mouse-cage, another, smaller cage, somewhat in the shape of a crown, this one composed of brazinion and gold, with a base of porcelain, and set about with suitable gemstones at its points and at select places around its brim. It appeared to be empty, and, indeed, it has no door, nor any other evident way to be opened and closed. It is reasonably well-made, though much more magic was used in its construction than most jewellers would have done — and yes, it is made with the stylings of jewelry rather than those of cage-making, if, indeed, there are particular stylings of cage-making. That is because the one who made it was trained as a jeweler, and is generally better with magic than with tools, and was in somewhat of a hurry.

From the crown-cage a voice mewled, in pale and bitter tones, “Vae, is that you?”

“The yes, Brondigance, it is me, and with me are four others.” She gave their names. Feralan had the presence of mind to courtsey nicely. The others were too perplexed or scared.

“Are you here to let me go free?” asked Brondigance.

“Not a bit so; instead I shall hold true and fast to the wish you wished twenty-six years ago, even though you seek to depart from it. Not so fickle-minded am I, though even a half a Rassimel may be inconstant!” said Vae.

“What … what did it wish for?” asked Ochirion, in a shaky little whisper.

“It — or ‘he’, you may as well call me, for once I was male — was a shifter hybrid of Rassimel and Sleeth,” said Brondigance. “I was dying, an inevitable consequence of my deformity. A sorcerer and a nendrai offered to try to save my life, without charge to me — for I was quite poor; I was excluded from all honorable professions; I made some little money in vile ways. In a moment of utter foolishness brought about by desparation, I accepted their offer. Now I am trapped in a hideous half-life, imprisoned with only a monster and her mice for company!”

“Was that sorcerer a Zi Ri named Sythyry, of Vheshrame?” asked Windigar. “Was that nendrai Vaisessasilmin?”

“Yes, and yes. You know of me?”

“We are friends and associates of Sythyry, and, of course, of Vae as well. Sythyry occasionally mentions you. Zie speaks of you as of one of the dead, though.”

The cage said, “I might as well be, as far as the world of primes is concerned! To them I vanished years ago: few would have noticed, fewer would have cared, and fewest of all thought it not for the best. But I am not quite dead; I have no such pleasure. Vae is not through with her torturing me.”

Quendry asked, “Vae? Why are you torturing Brondigance?”

Vae lashed her tail. “Not out of cruelty or malice am I torturing the Brondigance! Not in all ways am I a creature of viciousness and torment, but, when I am permitted, I am creature of generosity and kindness! The longer life wished he than his body would allow, and the longer life am I providing him!”

“Not a true life — but a miserable half-life, caged, bodiless, all but alone, and without even the ability to end it!” whined Brondigance.

“He doesn’t seem to want it though,” said Quendry.

“The now, he may not want it. The soon, he may come to be happier not-dead than dead. The hope of that is on me, anyhow, though I had more of a hope of it when I tucked him here than I do today,” said Vae.

“How much longer must I suffer here? How much longer will it be until your vicious cruelty is sated, thou wicked and lying beast?” cried Brondigance.

“The ten years or so,” said Vae sadly.

“What? You do intend to release me? But not yet?” said Brondigance. “Is this simply another one of your lies? Why not allow me to die now, rather than enduring another decade of empty years of pointless months of agonizing days of hideous hours of dreadful minutes of miserable seconds?”

“The experiment that is your current life I shall judge to have failed when I cannot apply its results to Lithia. The while she lives, the hope and prospect remains that it will succeed, and then we shall have some better choice to offer to her than to die of her own body’s reasons, or to die at the hand of a friend,” said Vae.

“Suppose you tell me the whole story,” said Windigar.

Vae did not, so I will.

When Lithia was born, I took it upon myself to see what could be done to tend to a shifter-hybrid. There is a certain body of the magical literature on the topic, though without many successes. There is also a body of speculative theoretical work. We exhausted the most successful of the tested methods, without worthwhile effect. We then turned to the speculative ones. The most promising approach seemed to be to remove the mind and spirit (which were, in principle, intact) from the body (which was definitely malformed). Rather a drastic measure, of course, but one which has occasionally been performed for other reasons with results that were not uniformly disasterous.

Of course, it is a cursed expensive enchantment to perform.

Also of course, we did not want to simply do it to Lithia at that point; she was a little girl, happy for eight-ninths of every hour, and we did not wish to rip her away from that.

So we cast about further. We found several shifter hybrids here and there, mostly victims of the same karcist who had constructed Lithia. Three of them, including Brondigance, were glad to accept offers to be our experimental subjects. We strove mightily to cure them. The results have inspired my current feelings of hopelessness and pessimism about the prospects for doing much for Lithia. (And, indeed, my opinion that the gods do not approve of shifter hybrids. Several things failed that by standard theories should have succeeded, or at least had some respectable chance of success. There are many possible reasons for their failure other than the direct wish of the gods; but eventually the cumulative weight of failure suggest the direct wish of the gods as the simplest and most reasonable common cause.)

Brondigance agreed to be the subject in the mind-preservation experiment. And by “agreed”, I mean, “begged and argued and cajoled and did everything in his power up to and including seducing a certain Sleeth-fancier who had useful influence”. At one point in the dispute about who to try to save, I was ready to toss all three of them out in the street … but Brondigance prevailed.

We put his mind and spirit into the crown.

Within a day, he was crying bitterly with the illusionary voice the crown provided. His half-existence was horrible and loathy to him. His brainless thoughts were drenched in sorrow, his bodiless spirit was soaked in futility. He still felt the itchy need to shift, but now he had no way to do so.

I persuaded him to endure for a full month, while I attempted various adjustments and modifications. There was a slight improvement in some minor details, but the fundamental issues were beyond me.

We held a farewell party for him, though he could not taste the refreshments, nor become intoxicated by the sorrow-toasts we made in his honor. The two other shifters seemed rather relieved that they had lost.

Vae offered to take him to the hills of Mrasteia, where he was born and where he best wished to die. She said she would open the cage and release him. After which, the cage was to become part of her hoard. She deserves a few mighty and valuable magic items, after all, and this one is both of those things — though worthless in any functional sense.

Instead, it seems, Vae temporized. She has not not done what she said she would do; she has simply delayed a bit. Specifically, she held to the faint hope that Brondigance would come to appreciate his state after some time. If he did so, so might Lithia, after enduring a few decades of the same purgatory in a cage of her own. So, Vae reasoned, Brondigance must be compelled to continue until there is no chance of a favorable outcome: viz. until Lithia is too close to death for a cage to save.

(And/or: at one point Brondigance begged to be allowed to live as a mind in a cage. Vae helpfully is carrying out this wish, even though Brondigance has changed his opinion of it. This is Vae’s ordinary style and curse. To this extent, Vae cannot help it; she is just being a bit more devious than usual about matters.)

She tucked him away in a safe place, and set guards around him. She gave him a mara eleni for company — a sentient tree, with the power of observing and casting spells upon anything which eats her berries. The colony of mice are conduits for the mara eleni’s power. It is companion to Brondigance, a servant of sorts, a guardian.

And a source of things to keep his mind occupied. For Vae arranged that Brondigance could scry upon anything which the mara eleni could.

I did not know this until Vae returned, and I cannot say that I am particularly pleased.

Vae lashed her tail once, sending a sheet of jagged noise tumbling through the cave. “The now, Brondigance, it is known that you and the mara eleni have been scrying and spying on primes these twenty-many years. The many things are known to you, and the few things are hidden from you. The well do I know you love watches, for you had one when you had a body; it was your most treasured possession, until you gave it as a bribe to someone to influence Sythyry to your cause. The one of these things you must now tell us: what wristwatch is the best wristwatch in the whole of the world?”

“I don’t know, and I wouldn’t tell you if I did,” said Brondigance.

“It’s not for Vae,” said Quendry. “It’s for Lithia. As a wedding present.”

“Ah, Lithia. This cage was made for her; I am just trying it out to see how well it works. In a more just world, she should be in here, not out enjoying the embraces of some fiancé. In a more just world, I should be dead, well on my way towards reincarnation as a proper Sleeth,” said Brondigance.

“Not so well do I approve of this answer,” said Vae. “The better answer you shall make for me, and soon.”

“Kill me immediately afterwards, and I will tell you all I know,” said Brondigance.

“Not a bit shall you die this decade! The wish on me is, not a bit shall you die for centuries after that — for I wish that you would be happy with such scraps of salvation as we have provided for you!”

“Cruel, cruel monster!” moaned Brondigance. “Always were you the cruel one!”

“The cruelness of mine is this: that you shall have the full measure of opportunity to live well!” hissed Vae, and stomped out of the chamber.

“Wait! Before you go, please do me one favor…” said Brondigance.

“Not shall that favor be to release you before your time!” snapped Vae from afar, and set a wall of serpents to keep Windigar away from him.

“Tell Sythyry about what has become of me — of the perfidy of zir nendrai, and the torments I endure!” cried Brondigance. The wall ate a few mice.

“I will,” said Windigar. And the children echoed him. This promise was kept adequately for me to write this journal entry.

“The now you must come with me! The now is our time to find the best watch!” snapped Vae, and extracted the crew from the cave.

###

“Why did you go visit him? A pickled mind in a cave isn’t the best watchmaker,” said Windigar.

“Ah, the hope was on me that he should have become reconciled to the best we could provide him, and that a wristwatch and an even better gift we could make to Lithia,” said Vae sadly. “The watch alone must suffice now.”

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

Vae’s first stop was the home (or hospice, or prison) of an old friend (or client, or victim) of mine. She teleported her kite and its crew to a side-side-twig of a side-side-branch of Mrasteia, where seven winged lions made of ebony wood, with teeth of bronze and spikes of poisoned glass in their lashy tails, flew around ceaselessly. The children whined to see them, but Vae spoke a certain secret word, and they parted to let her pass.

They came to a small ledge in the low part of the Verticals, and there they landed. Poisonous sfthnidia trees were planted on either side of it, and they reared their tendrils back to hurl their deadly needles, but Vae twisted the essential world, and the needles passed them by.

At the back of the ledge was a mighty door of oak, eighteen feet thick and nine feet high, set to fill a small gap in the bare world-wood, and banded about with steel and lightning and the memories of sorrow. Such a door could not, in the ordinary course of events, be opened, but Vae twisted the essential world, and tugged on the door with the full strength of her body, and it crunched open and they could pass.

Deep in the crevice of the world-wood they came to a small chamber. And in this chamber there were certain things:

  1. A large cage of mice.
  2. A fountain of perpetual water and a mound of perpetual wheat, and a zone of perpetual destruction, to provide food and cleanliness for the mice.
  3. A branch of a tree, stuck in the cage by means of an old Locador spell; the rest of the tree grew elsewhere. On this branch there were many small thorns, and on the tips of the thorns, many golden berries.
  4. Outside of the mouse-cage, another, smaller cage, somewhat in the shape of a crown, this one composed of brazinion and gold, with a base of porcelain, and set about with suitable gemstones at its points and at select places around its brim. It appeared to be empty, and, indeed, it has no door, nor any other evident way to be opened and closed. It is reasonably well-made, though much more magic was used in its construction than most jewellers would have done — and yes, it is made with the stylings of jewelry rather than those of cage-making, if, indeed, there are particular stylings of cage-making. That is because the one who made it was trained as a jeweler, and is generally better with magic than with tools, and was in somewhat of a hurry.

From the crown-cage a voice mewled, in pale and bitter tones, “Vae, is that you?”

“The yes, Brondigance, it is me, and with me are four others.” She gave their names. Feralan had the presence of mind to courtsey nicely. The others were too perplexed or scared.

“Are you here to let me go free?” asked Brondigance.

“Not a bit so; instead I shall hold true and fast to the wish you wished twenty-six years ago, even though you seek to depart from it. Not so fickle-minded am I, though even a half a Rassimel may be inconstant!” said Vae.

“What … what did it wish for?” asked Ochirion, in a shaky little whisper.

“It — or ‘he’, you may as well call me, for once I was male — was a shifter hybrid of Rassimel and Sleeth,” said Brondigance. “I was dying, an inevitable consequence of my deformity. A sorcerer and a nendrai offered to try to save my life, without charge to me — for I was quite poor; I was excluded from all honorable professions; I made some little money in vile ways. In a moment of utter foolishness brought about by desparation, I accepted their offer. Now I am trapped in a hideous half-life, imprisoned with only a monster and her mice for company!”

“Was that sorcerer a Zi Ri named Sythyry, of Vheshrame?” asked Windigar. “Was that nendrai Vaisessasilmin?”

“Yes, and yes. You know of me?”

“We are friends and associates of Sythyry, and, of course, of Vae as well. Sythyry occasionally mentions you. Zie speaks of you as of one of the dead, though.”

The cage said, “I might as well be, as far as the world of primes is concerned! To them I vanished years ago: few would have noticed, fewer would have cared, and fewest of all thought it not for the best. But I am not quite dead; I have no such pleasure. Vae is not through with her torturing me.”

Quendry asked, “Vae? Why are you torturing Brondigance?”

Vae lashed her tail. “Not out of cruelty or malice am I torturing the Brondigance! Not in all ways am I a creature of viciousness and torment, but, when I am permitted, I am creature of generosity and kindness! The longer life wished he than his body would allow, and the longer life am I providing him!”

“Not a true life — but a miserable half-life, caged, bodiless, all but alone, and without even the ability to end it!” whined Brondigance.

“He doesn’t seem to want it though,” said Quendry.

“The now, he may not want it. The soon, he may come to be happier not-dead than dead. The hope of that is on me, anyhow, though I had more of a hope of it when I tucked him here than I do today,” said Vae.

“How much longer must I suffer here? How much longer will it be until your vicious cruelty is sated, thou wicked and lying beast?” cried Brondigance.

“The ten years or so,” said Vae sadly.

“What? You do intend to release me? But not yet?” said Brondigance. “Is this simply another one of your lies? Why not allow me to die now, rather than enduring another decade of empty years of pointless months of agonizing days of hideous hours of dreadful minutes of miserable seconds?”

“The experiment that is your current life I shall judge to have failed when I cannot apply its results to Lithia. The while she lives, the hope and prospect remains that it will succeed, and then we shall have some better choice to offer to her than to die of her own body’s reasons, or to die at the hand of a friend,” said Vae.

“Suppose you tell me the whole story,” said Windigar.

Vae did not, so I will.

When Lithia was born, I took it upon myself to see what could be done to tend to a shifter-hybrid. There is a certain body of the magical literature on the topic, though without many successes. There is also a body of speculative theoretical work. We exhausted the most successful of the tested methods, without worthwhile effect. We then turned to the speculative ones. The most promising approach seemed to be to remove the mind and spirit (which were, in principle, intact) from the body (which was definitely malformed). Rather a drastic measure, of course, but one which has occasionally been performed for other reasons with results that were not uniformly disasterous.

Of course, it is a cursed expensive enchantment to perform.

Also of course, we did not want to simply do it to Lithia at that point; she was a little girl, happy for eight-ninths of every hour, and we did not wish to rip her away from that.

So we cast about further. We found several shifter hybrids here and there, mostly victims of the same karcist who had constructed Lithia. Three of them, including Brondigance, were glad to accept offers to be our experimental subjects. We strove mightily to cure them. The results have inspired my current feelings of hopelessness and pessimism about the prospects for doing much for Lithia. (And, indeed, my opinion that the gods do not approve of shifter hybrids. Several things failed that by standard theories should have succeeded, or at least had some respectable chance of success. There are many possible reasons for their failure other than the direct wish of the gods; but eventually the cumulative weight of failure suggest the direct wish of the gods as the simplest and most reasonable common cause.)

Brondigance agreed to be the subject in the mind-preservation experiment. And by “agreed”, I mean, “begged and argued and cajoled and did everything in his power up to and including seducing a certain Sleeth-fancier who had useful influence”. At one point in the dispute about who to try to save, I was ready to toss all three of them out in the street … but Brondigance prevailed.

We put his mind and spirit into the crown.

Within a day, he was crying bitterly with the illusionary voice the crown provided. His half-existence was horrible and loathy to him. His brainless thoughts were drenched in sorrow, his bodiless spirit was soaked in futility. He still felt the itchy need to shift, but now he had no way to do so.

I persuaded him to endure for a full month, while I attempted various adjustments and modifications. There was a slight improvement in some minor details, but the fundamental issues were beyond me.

We held a farewell party for him, though he could not taste the refreshments, nor become intoxicated by the sorrow-toasts we made in his honor. The two other shifters seemed rather relieved that they had lost.

Vae offered to take him to the hills of Mrasteia, where he was born and where he best wished to die. She said she would open the cage and release him. After which, the cage was to become part of her hoard. She deserves a few mighty and valuable magic items, after all, and this one is both of those things — though worthless in any functional sense.

Instead, it seems, Vae temporized. She has not not done what she said she would do; she has simply delayed a bit. Specifically, she held to the faint hope that Brondigance would come to appreciate his state after some time. If he did so, so might Lithia, after enduring a few decades of the same purgatory in a cage of her own. So, Vae reasoned, Brondigance must be compelled to continue until there is no chance of a favorable outcome: viz. until Lithia is too close to death for a cage to save.

(And/or: at one point Brondigance begged to be allowed to live as a mind in a cage. Vae helpfully is carrying out this wish, even though Brondigance has changed his opinion of it. This is Vae’s ordinary style and curse. To this extent, Vae cannot help it; she is just being a bit more devious than usual about matters.)

She tucked him away in a safe place, and set guards around him. She gave him a mara eleni for company — a sentient tree, with the power of observing and casting spells upon anything which eats her berries. The colony of mice are conduits for the mara eleni’s power. It is companion to Brondigance, a servant of sorts, a guardian.

And a source of things to keep his mind occupied. For Vae arranged that Brondigance could scry upon anything which the mara eleni could.

I did not know this until Vae returned, and I cannot say that I am particularly pleased.

Vae lashed her tail once, sending a sheet of jagged noise tumbling through the cave. “The now, Brondigance, it is known that you and the mara eleni have been scrying and spying on primes these twenty-many years. The many things are known to you, and the few things are hidden from you. The well do I know you love watches, for you had one when you had a body; it was your most treasured possession, until you gave it as a bribe to someone to influence Sythyry to your cause. The one of these things you must now tell us: what wristwatch is the best wristwatch in the whole of the world?”

“I don’t know, and I wouldn’t tell you if I did,” said Brondigance.

“It’s not for Vae,” said Quendry. “It’s for Lithia. As a wedding present.”

“Ah, Lithia. This cage was made for her; I am just trying it out to see how well it works. In a more just world, she should be in here, not out enjoying the embraces of some fiancé. In a more just world, I should be dead, well on my way towards reincarnation as a proper Sleeth,” said Brondigance.

“Not so well do I approve of this answer,” said Vae. “The better answer you shall make for me, and soon.”

“Kill me immediately afterwards, and I will tell you all I know,” said Brondigance.

“Not a bit shall you die this decade! The wish on me is, not a bit shall you die for centuries after that — for I wish that you would be happy with such scraps of salvation as we have provided for you!”

“Cruel, cruel monster!” moaned Brondigance. “Always were you the cruel one!”

“The cruelness of mine is this: that you shall have the full measure of opportunity to live well!” hissed Vae, and stomped out of the chamber.

“Wait! Before you go, please do me one favor…” said Brondigance.

“Not shall that favor be to release you before your time!” snapped Vae from afar, and set a wall of serpents to keep Windigar away from him.

“Tell Sythyry about what has become of me — of the perfidy of zir nendrai, and the torments I endure!” cried Brondigance. The wall ate a few mice.

“I will,” said Windigar. And the children echoed him. This promise was kept adequately for me to write this journal entry.

“The now you must come with me! The now is our time to find the best watch!” snapped Vae, and extracted the crew from the cave.

###

“Why did you go visit him? A pickled mind in a cave isn’t the best watchmaker,” said Windigar.

“Ah, the hope was on me that he should have become reconciled to the best we could provide him, and that a wristwatch and an even better gift we could make to Lithia,” said Vae sadly. “The watch alone must suffice now.”

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

(My role in this chapter is: I was back on Strayway, running around frantically, trying to contact Vae, find the children, keep Arfaen from exploding in a burst of upset mother energy that would rip the tails from everyone in Srineia, etc. I was not notably successful.)

(Which is to say, we had no idea of any of this at the time. We heard reports from those who survived. I trust it is not too much of a spoiler to hear that not everyone involved died.)

Even Vae can’t teleport all that far at once, though her concept of “all that far” is much farther than mine. So, she does what any sensible person would do. Well, what any insanely powerful and powerfully insane person would do. She teleports into empty air far from anywhere in particular in the general direction of her intended destination, falls a few hundred yards, and teleports again, closer.

I don’t particularly mind, when I’m travelling with her. I have wings, after all, and suddenly finding myself in the middle of the sky is no great fear after I have spread them.

Cani and Rassimel children do not have wings.

Quendry:“Oh, no! We’re falling! We’re up in the sky and falling and falling!”

Ochirion was not nearly so eloquent. He grabbed Vae’s foreleg and started punching and biting her.

Vae is a monster. Which is to say, she cannot trust that the mere constraints of civilization and basic morality — or, more practically, city walls — will keep either primes or other monsters from attacking her at any given time. So, naturally, she wears defensive spells. Layers and layers of defensive spells, some of them decades old. Specific ones and general ones; strong ones and weak ones; simple ones and elaborate ones; purely defensive ones and ones that retaliate. They buzz around her in no particular order or structure. There is no telling which one will first attempt to protect her against any particular attack.

This time, it was specific, weak, simple, and retaliatory. Ochirion’s muzzle became a crude blunt cone of wood, looking more like a beak than a proper muzzle.

Ochirion flailed around frantically. The spell must have hurt him greatly, but with his mouth turned to a lump of wood, he couldn’t talk.

Windigar howled as he fell, “Turn him back! Turn him back, Vae!”

Vae crossed her arms and hissed at Windigar. “Not until he apologizes! Not at all should he be attacking me and striking at me!” Vae is sometimes somewhat fussy about these matters. I don’t think it’s a designed compulsion, the way her opinions of helping primes and getting things from us are. I think she just doesn’t like to be attacked, and can’t distinguish perfectly between microscopic (to her) assaults like a child biting her and a pirate sorcerer blasting away with his best death spells.

Falling out of the sky, thirteen miles over the Dullogmarn, is perhaps not the best place to give a lesson in etiquette to a pack of young boys whom one has just (arguably) kidnapped. A more experienced parent would, perhaps, have realized that a certain amount of time and effort must be expended in calming the children down, or at least bringing them to a place where such calmness was possible, before the lesson would have much chance of success.

Perhaps, after her child hatches, Vae will be able to get such experience. Or perhaps not: I don’t know if Oixe will let Vae participate much in the childrearing. For that matter, I don’t know if nendrai hatchlings find falling out of the sky to be particularly terrifying.

In any case, such experience is decades and decades in Vae’s future. We have, on the whole, kept Vae from taking an active and extensive part in child-care on Strayway, for reasons which, based on the events of the morning were wholly justified and entirely correct.

We have also tried to get Vae to wear those blasted earmuffs all the time, but sometimes she forgets.

Windigar attempted to educate Vae on this point, with words along the lines of, “He is but a child; he is unfamiliar with the ways of the great beasts, and with the ways of proper etiquette. You must grant him a certain amount of leeway in your reprimands.” Windigar, as a sky pilot, is less unused to falling out of the sky than most people.

Vae sounded a bit sulky. “Not a bit of cause has he for going biting at me. The favor am I doing to him! The buying of the wedding present for him is the quest I am coming along on!”

Windigar pointed out, “While this is true, and, indeed, quite kind of you from certain points of view, it is also to be noted that all three children are quite petrified and howling from fear at suddenly finding themselves plummeting towards what, if I am not mistaken, is the Dullogmarn. Perhaps you could bring us to some still and safe place, where, I am certain, the children will be as polite as you could possibly desire — as polite as they are nearly all the time!”

Vae, with less good grace that she sometimes exhibits, transformed something or other into a vast kite sort of thing. The primes and monster were perched on a small and tippy wooden platform. A fringe of long green glowing tentacles lurked around the edge of the platform. The platform was suspended in the sky — not by a levitation spell, such as anyone reasonable would use — but by a vast kite that appeared to be the skin of a flayed and expanded Rassimel, with Ochirion’s own coloration. Its head caught the wind with an expression of comical anguish. Its tail flopped uselessly behind.

“The apology let him make now, and not a bit more shall I remember the incident, nor shall aught keep us from our quest!” proclaimed Vae.

Ochirion said nothing.

Quendry curled up in a ball on the platform. A gust of wind rocked the kite, and he nearly fell off. Two glowing green tentacles grabbed him before he could fall further. He was not greatly comforted by this provision for his safety.

“Ochirion! Not so greatly angry am I at you, for a monster lives for little but to be the biting-ball of primes and I cannot expect much better even from my closest friends. The apology I do wish from you, though, for I do love you and I do feel the disrespect you have presented to me as a sting in my heart.”

Ochirion said nothing.

Windigar said, “He can’t talk. You’ve turned his mouth into a lump of wood.”

“Not I was it who thus transformed him, but merely one of my vast congeries of protective spells!” protested Vae.

Windigar nodded. “An important distinction, surely, and one which eluded me at first. Nonetheless, he cannot speak, so he cannot apologize.”

Vae scowled. “The illusion spell, the mind spell — these things he could do. The writing — this thing, too, he could do! Not every word that is meant needs to be spoken!”

“His magic is neither strong nor reliable. I imagine he started with Healoc Corpador, being Rassimel. I doubt that he has any but the least power at either Illusador or Mentador; we do not generally teach these to such young boys,” noted Windigar.

“Oh, very well,” snapped Vae. She swatted Ochirion’s beak with her tail, moving the spell to one of the tentacles, giving it a vicious wooden tip.

Ochirion apologized profusely, if incoherently.

sythyry: (Default)

Originally published at Sythyry. Please leave any comments there.

(My role in this chapter is: I was back on Strayway, running around frantically, trying to contact Vae, find the children, keep Arfaen from exploding in a burst of upset mother energy that would rip the tails from everyone in Srineia, etc. I was not notably successful.)

(Which is to say, we had no idea of any of this at the time. We heard reports from those who survived. I trust it is not too much of a spoiler to hear that not everyone involved died.)

Even Vae can’t teleport all that far at once, though her concept of “all that far” is much farther than mine. So, she does what any sensible person would do. Well, what any insanely powerful and powerfully insane person would do. She teleports into empty air far from anywhere in particular in the general direction of her intended destination, falls a few hundred yards, and teleports again, closer.

I don’t particularly mind, when I’m travelling with her. I have wings, after all, and suddenly finding myself in the middle of the sky is no great fear after I have spread them.

Cani and Rassimel children do not have wings.

Quendry:“Oh, no! We’re falling! We’re up in the sky and falling and falling!”

Ochirion was not nearly so eloquent. He grabbed Vae’s foreleg and started punching and biting her.

Vae is a monster. Which is to say, she cannot trust that the mere constraints of civilization and basic morality — or, more practically, city walls — will keep either primes or other monsters from attacking her at any given time. So, naturally, she wears defensive spells. Layers and layers of defensive spells, some of them decades old. Specific ones and general ones; strong ones and weak ones; simple ones and elaborate ones; purely defensive ones and ones that retaliate. They buzz around her in no particular order or structure. There is no telling which one will first attempt to protect her against any particular attack.

This time, it was specific, weak, simple, and retaliatory. Ochirion’s muzzle became a crude blunt cone of wood, looking more like a beak than a proper muzzle.

Ochirion flailed around frantically. The spell must have hurt him greatly, but with his mouth turned to a lump of wood, he couldn’t talk.

Windigar howled as he fell, “Turn him back! Turn him back, Vae!”

Vae crossed her arms and hissed at Windigar. “Not until he apologizes! Not at all should he be attacking me and striking at me!” Vae is sometimes somewhat fussy about these matters. I don’t think it’s a designed compulsion, the way her opinions of helping primes and getting things from us are. I think she just doesn’t like to be attacked, and can’t distinguish perfectly between microscopic (to her) assaults like a child biting her and a pirate sorcerer blasting away with his best death spells.

Falling out of the sky, thirteen miles over the Dullogmarn, is perhaps not the best place to give a lesson in etiquette to a pack of young boys whom one has just (arguably) kidnapped. A more experienced parent would, perhaps, have realized that a certain amount of time and effort must be expended in calming the children down, or at least bringing them to a place where such calmness was possible, before the lesson would have much chance of success.

Perhaps, after her child hatches, Vae will be able to get such experience. Or perhaps not: I don’t know if Oixe will let Vae participate much in the childrearing. For that matter, I don’t know if nendrai hatchlings find falling out of the sky to be particularly terrifying.

In any case, such experience is decades and decades in Vae’s future. We have, on the whole, kept Vae from taking an active and extensive part in child-care on Strayway, for reasons which, based on the events of the morning were wholly justified and entirely correct.

We have also tried to get Vae to wear those blasted earmuffs all the time, but sometimes she forgets.

Windigar attempted to educate Vae on this point, with words along the lines of, “He is but a child; he is unfamiliar with the ways of the great beasts, and with the ways of proper etiquette. You must grant him a certain amount of leeway in your reprimands.” Windigar, as a sky pilot, is less unused to falling out of the sky than most people.

Vae sounded a bit sulky. “Not a bit of cause has he for going biting at me. The favor am I doing to him! The buying of the wedding present for him is the quest I am coming along on!”

Windigar pointed out, “While this is true, and, indeed, quite kind of you from certain points of view, it is also to be noted that all three children are quite petrified and howling from fear at suddenly finding themselves plummeting towards what, if I am not mistaken, is the Dullogmarn. Perhaps you could bring us to some still and safe place, where, I am certain, the children will be as polite as you could possibly desire — as polite as they are nearly all the time!”

Vae, with less good grace that she sometimes exhibits, transformed something or other into a vast kite sort of thing. The primes and monster were perched on a small and tippy wooden platform. A fringe of long green glowing tentacles lurked around the edge of the platform. The platform was suspended in the sky — not by a levitation spell, such as anyone reasonable would use — but by a vast kite that appeared to be the skin of a flayed and expanded Rassimel, with Ochirion’s own coloration. Its head caught the wind with an expression of comical anguish. Its tail flopped uselessly behind.

“The apology let him make now, and not a bit more shall I remember the incident, nor shall aught keep us from our quest!” proclaimed Vae.

Ochirion said nothing.

Quendry curled up in a ball on the platform. A gust of wind rocked the kite, and he nearly fell off. Two glowing green tentacles grabbed him before he could fall further. He was not greatly comforted by this provision for his safety.

“Ochirion! Not so greatly angry am I at you, for a monster lives for little but to be the biting-ball of primes and I cannot expect much better even from my closest friends. The apology I do wish from you, though, for I do love you and I do feel the disrespect you have presented to me as a sting in my heart.”

Ochirion said nothing.

Windigar said, “He can’t talk. You’ve turned his mouth into a lump of wood.”

“Not I was it who thus transformed him, but merely one of my vast congeries of protective spells!” protested Vae.

Windigar nodded. “An important distinction, surely, and one which eluded me at first. Nonetheless, he cannot speak, so he cannot apologize.”

Vae scowled. “The illusion spell, the mind spell — these things he could do. The writing — this thing, too, he could do! Not every word that is meant needs to be spoken!”

“His magic is neither strong nor reliable. I imagine he started with Healoc Corpador, being Rassimel. I doubt that he has any but the least power at either Illusador or Mentador; we do not generally teach these to such young boys,” noted Windigar.

“Oh, very well,” snapped Vae. She swatted Ochirion’s beak with her tail, moving the spell to one of the tentacles, giving it a vicious wooden tip.

Ochirion apologized profusely, if incoherently.

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