Me by Djinni

26 Hivvem 4385: Post-Adventure

Outcast picked some of the last ripe berries from the babyberry bush and Lady Inithia started the enchantment for him. Mirhandrax's arm was successfully re-attached but he's still recuperating because that was a lot of punishment he took. We went to visit him today at the Nastrothon Memorial Sanctuary where he's convalescing.

"Now that you've got the berries, we should look into a buyer for that bush," Mirhandrax said, after we exchanged greetings and updates. The healers had given Mirhandrax his own room in part because they needed to group three beds together in order to have something big enough for him to lie on. I was perched at the foot of the bed-conglomeration with my broad purple tail curled around my legs, and Outcast sat on a stool next to it. "We'll still need many more lozens to find Elisia."

Outcast laced his fingers together, looking down at his brown-furred hands. "About that."

"Mm?" I looked inquisitively between them.

"I was thinking. We should give the bush back to the crefians."

Mirhanrax raised his whiskery eyebrows. "The crefians?"

"It was their bush to start with. The thunglaze essentially stole it from them."

"True, but it's not as if they're primes. There's no law or tradition that says we owe it to them. And I assume Summer Sun is expecting a share in the bounty, after all he went through. And you, of course, Delight," Mirhandrax said.

I put my chin against my hands. "I don't know about Summer Sun but I agree with Outcast," I said. He jerked his head up, looking at me. "It belongs to Refia and her people. They should get it back. Or decide what to do with it."

Outcast smiled at me. "Also, I don't know how the bush will fare in the Flats. I'm sure there's a reason why they're virtually unknown in Ketheria. I wouldn't want to sell it to someone only to have it die by the spring."

Mirhandrax wrinkled his muzzle. "Hmm. If that's what you want, well enough." He tried to shrug, and grimaced at the pain in his arm. "You'll need to settle terms with Summer Sun, of course."

"Of course."

Later that day we met Summer Sun at a traveler's shelter outside the city gates to talk about it. He was disappointed at the idea of getting nothing from the adventure so I offered to pay him on my own. He asked if he could get lifetime free featherstyling instead and I agreed. "As long as I'm around in Vheshrame sure do you want me to touch up your featherstyle now?" It was kind of messed up from the fight with the airsharks and the healing had grown his feathers back in their original blues instead of the flames-on-black colors of his current featherstyle.

Summer Sun preened. He stretched out his long graceful neck, folded his eight legs beneath him, and spread his wings for me. "That'd be great, thanks. Actually ... do you mind doing a different design right now?"

"No I don't mind what do you want?"

"I don't know. Something wintery, maybe like blues and whites and sparkling icicles or something? It's more -- well, don't get me wrong, the fire on black looks incredible. But I don't think that 'dark, dangerous, and scary' is really me, you know?"

I nodded and did a pattern on him as if the shafts of his feathers had been rimed in ice with the sun shining through it, the calamus and rachis dark and the barbs glittery and slightly distorted and sky-blue. He was super-happy with it. Outcast stuck around while I worked on the design and we chatted. We're going to take the babyberry bush back to the crefians once Mirhandrax is fully recovered as long as the winter's not too cold for travel.

Afterwards as we were walking back from the city gates, Outcast tried to pay me back for bribing Summer Sun. I waved him off. "Don't be silly the crefians are my friends and besides I like featherstyling. And you need the money for your ... project. Thingie."

Outcast looked away at that, pulling his hat down against the cold fall breeze. The wind tugged at the strands of his short dark ponytail, whipping them around the collar of his cloak. "You're a good prime, Delight."

I hugged my cloak closed. "So are you," I said, awkwardly.

He gave me a funny half-smile. "You don't have to pretend. I know how you feel about me."

"I don't dislike you," I said. Outcast didn't say anything in exactly that way that people who are too polite to say 'you're lying' don't say anything. I jammed my hands in my pockets and repeated, "I don't. All right yes I think your relationship with your mewellicapfriend was disgusting and wrong and that both of you are better off apart -- " he set his mouth in a grim line, short muzzle in profile as he glanced sidelong at me, and I continued " -- BUT that doesn't mean you're a bad PERSON. You're brave and resourceful and smart and loyal and you try to do the right thing and even if I don't always agree with you about what that is well I can respect that you're trying. You're a good person and I like having you around."

I think saying that is the first time I realized it was true. As long as I don't think about the whole icky nonprime-lover thing, Outcast is pretty nice to have around.

We'd stopped walking. Outcast stared at me, blinking, surprised and embarrassed and pleased and overcome all at once. "I ... I didn't think ... that is ... thank you," he finished, lamely.

I looked away and started walking again, embarrassed now too. "It's not that importantl."

"Yes it is," he said, softly enough that I could pretend I hadn't heard. Outcast cleared his throat. "Do you think we should bring some more fruit with us when we visit the crefians? Not that we need to pay them for giving them back their plant, but ... they were so pleased with it, and it seems like a small enough thing."

"Uh-huh I was thinking maybe just a basketful or two."

Outcast nodded. "Why do they like citrus so much, anyway?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. They just do."
Me by Djinni

24 Hivvem 4385: It's Never the Stuff You Plan On

Hey I'm alive to write this! So you know it didn't go tooooo badly.

Stealing the bush went EXACTLY the way we planned actually. Which NEVER happens.

Getting the Bush: According to Plan

The weather had turned nasty: dark, cold, windy and drizzling. This was unpleasant but probably good for us overall, because it made visibility even worse. Mirhandrax and Outcast distracted the village guards by doing a deliberately bad job of sneaking into the village from the rimwards side. They were scaling towards that one gilded thunglaze dollhouse. The idea was to make the locals think they were going to steal it. As soon as a lookout spotted them, all of the lookouts rushed over there with weapons in hand, shouting and waking the village. Summer Sun and I were hanging back, waiting: once the alarm went up, Summer Sun swooped in close to the babyberry bush enclosure. I popped into the enclosure, the bush popped onto his back, and then I popped back out, all in less time than it took you to read this sentence. I accidentally knocked the bush off Summer Sun's back when I reappeared, but he caught it in his mid-talons and flew us back out before anyone even noticed us. So that part went great!

As we swooped out, Summer Sun gave a loud screech to signal Outcast and Mirhandrax that we had what we came for and they could retreat now.
The Distraction: Kind of According to Plan

One of the thunglaze had gotten them partially tangled up in a network of vines and they were trading blows with a half-dozen furomi. When they heard the screech, they used the bound Change Places spells I'd given them to teleport out of the vines and started Flying Like a Bird into the wind and rain to escape.

A thunglaze must have given some of the furomi their own version of Fly Like a Bird because they started flying after Outcast and Mirhandrax. But another of the little guys yelled, "Don't let them draw you away from the village! It could be a trap!" and the furomi drew back. One furomi screamed after Mirhandrax and Outcast, "Go on, run, you gods-cursed cowards!"

Mirhandrax spun about in the air, his great axe raised. He charged at the furomi, roaring "What was did you say?" as he swung. The furomi threw up his meng sword in an attempt to block. Mirhandrax shifted his aim lower and chopped through the nonprime's leg.

"Help?" the furomi whimpered. His fellows swarmed in around our Gormorror, hacking and tearing at him. A thunglaze healed the furomi's stump so it stopped bleeding.

Outcast swooped back and with a stroke of his sword swept the thunglaze healer clear off the fungal shelf. The thunglaze yelped and started to cast Fly Like a Bird on himself, but continued to fall as it waited for the spell to take effect. "Mirhandrax, time to go."

Mirhandrax ignored a stab from a furomi that would have killed me to concentrate on his current target, who lay propped one one arm and desperately raising his sword to block. Mirhandrax brought down the axe down hard enough to drive past the blocking sword and slice open the furomi's leather cuirass. Blood welled from the long gash in the nonprime's chest. "No one calls a Gormorror a coward!"

A different furomi clanged his sword off of Mirhandrax's shinguard. Another one stabbed him in the arm. Mirhandrax continued to ignore them, raising his great axe again.

The focus of his attention squeaked. "I didn't mean you! I meant, uh, him!" He motioned vaguely in Outcast's direction. "You're very brave oh gods please don't kill me I don't want to die."

"You dare call my friend a coward?" Mirhandrax shouted.

"He can call me whatever he likes." Outcast fended off a strike from one of the furomi that was probably hoping Outcast was less impervious to pain than Mirhandrax. Some of the furomi villagers who'd been asleep at the start of the ambush were emerging from their homes, armed with clubs and hatchets. "Let's GO, Mirhandrax." The thunglaze healer was flying back up to the ledge now. Vines from another spell formed around Mirhandrax's legs.

Mirhandrax paused. "Well. All right, then." Bleeding alarmingly, Mirhandrax used another bound teleport to escape the vines. As he and Outcast retreated to the rendezvous point to meet with Summer Sun and me, Mirhandrax asked Outcast, "You're really going to let him call you a coward?"

"I have been called much worse things," Outcast said, flying as fast as the spell would allow away from the hostile nonprimes.

This derailed the Gormorror. "... what could be worse than being called a coward?"

Outcast sighed. "Let's just stick with the plan, shall we?" Since they weren't being pursued he wiped his blade and sheathed it so he could bundle up more warmly in his cloak.

Mirhandrax shook his head. "Nothing against the rest of you prime races, but I'll never understand non-Gormorror."

We all met up back at the cleft where Summer Sun and I had collected some dirt to put in canvas that we wrapped around the babyberry bush's roots. Outcast explained their side of events while Mirhandrax bled and shivered involuntarily from the cold and blood loss as we tried to patch him up. Outcast did a little basic healing on him, but he's no healer so it didn't help a whole lot. We figured the best thing we could do was get him back to Vheshrame and real healers as quickly as possible, so we wrapped a blanket around him in addition to his cloak and then all of us flew off.

Maybe We Should Have Planned for the Trip Back Some

About two-thirds of an hour later we were attacked by a swarm of airsharks, probably attracted by the blood-scent from Mirhandrax. Like airsharks usually do, the swarm focused on trying to kill the most badly wounded among us. Normally having all the enemies trying to kill Mirhandrax works out pretty well because he's the toughest one of us and it meant that Outcast and Summer Sun could concentrate on offense and I could cast spells uninterrupted.

In this case, however, it did not work out so well because Mirhandrax was already in such bad shape that they were able to bite off one of his arms and kill him.

Mirhandrax's bound Heal the Awful Wound brought him back to life and then his bound Temporary Health healed him completely (well except for the severed arm which was still severed). He roared and started whacking apart airsharks with his one-handed axe (because he couldn't wield his great axe with one arm) while airsharks attempted to kill him a second time. Summer Sun retrieved Mirhandrax's arm from the airshark that bit it off after Outcast killed it and then I managed to spont Fresh Meat to keep it from decaying in the hopes that we could get it re-attached by a healer in Vheshrame. The airsharks did not quite manage to kill Mirhandrax a second time before we took them all down.

But this was still very bad because Temporary Health is like you've probably guessed from the name only temporary and since he was mostly-dead again after its healing, that meant he was going to die again when it wore off. And Temporary Health only works once a day.

The rest of us were not in the best shape either; Summer Sun's black-and-flame featherstyling pattern was spattered with blood and his left flank was torn open and he was missing a bunch of feathers from his left wing. The babyberry bush was a little worse for wear but the airsharks hadn't been trying to destroy it so it was more-or-less intact. We hovered in the shelter of a scrubby Verticals tree while I bandaged Summer Sun as best I could. "I think I've seen enough adventuring," Summer Sun said. "I'm ready to be back at a nice safe nest."

"Yeah I'm kind of remembering why I retired," I said to him.

"How long is that Temporary Health going to last?" Outcast asked Mirhandrax.

"It'll start wearing off in three and two-thirds hours," the Gormorror answered.

"It's going to take us another five or six hours to get to Vheshrame at the rate you two fly." Summer Sun flapped his wings nervously. I wondered if he was thinking about how much better time he could make if he abandoned us and flew back on his own. And really hoping he wouldn't, because he's good at navigating at night in the rain while flying and the rest of us would have trouble telling up from down at this point.

Outcast shook his head. "No help for it. Let's move." As we flew, Outcast said, "When the Temporary Health wears off, the wounds are going to come back in bits; unless we're unlucky, a little damage every few minutes. Delight and I both know Remedy for Corpador." Remedy for Corpador is a very simple healing spell that only works right after a wound is taken, and only on wounds inflicted by Corpador, and it doesn't heal very much unless you're a good healer. But at least it's true healing that can be used more than once per day, and it works on all wounds returning from a temporary healing spell wearing off. "If we both cast Remedy as soon as a wound returns, we can probably keep up with the returning damage. How much cley do you have left, Delight?"

"Six." I said.

"And I've got eight. That's ... probably enough to last until dawn." Cley refreshes for everyone at dawn.

"I'll be fine," Mirhandrax insisted.

"Shut up. We need you to not be stupid and stoic about this, Mirhandrax. When the wounds come back, tell us. You know how short the window of opportunity is on Remedy."

Mirhandrax started to say something about being a big strong Gormorror warrior and unconcerned about a little returning damage. Outcast turned in the air, looking ready to hit him. "I want your word on this, Mirhandrax. Promise that as long as you're physically able to, you'll tell us when you feel the spell wearing off." Mirhandrax started to protest again. "Your word, or so help me I'm going to ask Summer Sun to fly Delight and me back and leave your giant corpse here right now, because that's all you'll be in four hours. A giant corpse that we can not carry."

Mirhandrax scowled. "You have my word."

"Thank you."

So in three and two-thirds hours, Mirhandrax grunted out, "Wound back." We were all flying tired at this point because even with a nap it'd been a really long day and the cold wet dark made it feel like we'd been going forever without getting anywhere. Still Outcast and I had been waiting nervously for this moment for like an hour. We were flying slower now, because both of us were keeping in contact with Mirhandrax so we'd be sure not to be too far away to cast the spell when we needed to. We each got a Remedy into him. For another hour this continued, every handful of minutes. We were mostly keeping up with the returning damage.

Then we got unlucky. Mirhandrax passed out from a returning wound and started to fall from the sky. Outcast, Summer Sun and I all grabbed him as us Orren cast Remedy. Mirhandrax's second bound Heal the Awful Wound revived him a moment later and he re-cast Fly Like a Bird. Shaken but intact, we flew on for a few minutes, until the next returning wound knocked Mirhandrax out again. Our Remedies failed to revive him and while we all three grabbed him again, we were not strong enough to fly with him. I reached for my own Heal the Awful Wound to revive him with it, but Outcast stopped me. "Wait."

"Why we have to get him conscious he can't fly like this?"

"He'll just pass out again with the next wound returning. We don't have enough bound spells to keep doing that to him; we need to preserve them in case he dies. Let's get him over to the Verticals and set him down." We managed to half-glide, half-fall with him over to a cleft in the Verticals and set him down.

Outcast and I panted, staring at the Gormorror's body as he breathed in shallow, uneven gasps, blood bubbling out of his nose and oozing from the stump of his arm. Summer Sun hung back, scanning the skies and the Verticals nervously. A wound reappeared on Mirhandrax's neck; reflexively, we healed him. "Right. New plan," Outcast said. "Summer Sun goes back to Vheshrame and brings a healer to us."

"How?" Summer Sun asked. "They won't let me in the city."

"... right. Take Delight with you."

"And then you and Mirhandrax can both get eaten by the next monster to attack?" Summer Sun looked skeptical.

"No no no no." I felt for the cord of the Little Bird of Many Wings talisman around Mirhandrax's neck and pulled it off, while Outcast and Summer Sun looked on, perplexed. I used it to cast Fly Like a Bird on Mirhandrax again. His body rose from the cleft. "Fly Like a Bird is controlled by the caster not the subject," I said. "We can still fly him back."

Outcast blinked at me a few times. "I'm an idiot. Of course. Thank you, Delight."

I gave him a tired smile. "You're welcome. Let's go home."

As dawn finally came and refreshed our cley, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. We did meet one more group of nonprimes before we got back to the city but that was a handful of ulgrane from Summer Sun's nest. Yay! They flew escort with us the last several miles to the city. I told Summer Sun I'd bring Trust or another healer out to treat him as soon as we got help for Mirhandrax and then we primes swooped through the city gates under Fly Like a Bird power. Because as long as we have the talisman anyway it does beat walking.

We left Mirhandrax and his severed arm at the Healer's Guild with a swarm of healers and assistants attending him. I manged to convince Trust to come out and see to Summer Sun, and he put Healing Sleep spells on all of us.

Then I went home and collapsed for the rest of the day.

I am totally retiring from adventuring again now.
Me by Djinni

23 Hivvem 4385: Planning

Planning

During the rest of 21 Hivvem, the crefian told Mirhandrax and Outcast everything they knew about Armenswall. Armenswall is the leader of a village of thunglaze and furomi. The thunglaze are generally in charge and use the furomi for muscle and brute force while the thunglaze come up with the plans and provide magical backup. The thunglaze (those are the tiny ones) are good with Herbador, Corpador, and Spirador and know all the Verbs, while the furomi (those are the giant ones) aren't much good with magic. There's a lot more furomi than thunglaze, too. So if it comes to a confrontation Mirhandrax figures it'll be mainly straight-up melee but we should be prepared for support spells like Thorn Walls and Pepper Strike, and healing spells for their side, and maybe Painted Eyes That See spying on us. The crefian had more information that that but I wasn't paying that close attention. Flitlegs and Redspots were bored and wanted me to play with them while we were still in the village and also PLANNING = NOT MY JOB so I played Chase the Feather and quarter-catch with them and some of the little crefian caterkids.

If planning were my job every plan would be "you distract them and I'll teleport in, grab it, and teleport out."

Before sunout Refia made up little nests for us (well in Mirhandrax's case a BIG nest) to sleep in. Crefian nests are a lot more comfortable than that sounds! They make them out of wrapped leaves stuffed with moss and you crawl into it sort of like a sleeping bag or a tiny tent. Then the crefian closes it over you to keep the rain out. Very cozy!

Glory Blaze and Intoxicating Sky didn't come to see Armenswall's village with us because they did not come along for Adventure. Neither did I or Summer Sun for that matter but we're going along anyway because we're stupid that way Summer Sun is curious about adventuring and I thought Mirhandrax could use more backup than just Outcast and one young ulgrane who might change his mind any time.

So 22 Hivvem was another long boring flight and then an even longer and boringer reconnaissance because recon is Mirhandrax's FAVORITE THING EVER.

Yet More Planning

We spent most of 23 Hivvem on reconnaissance but that was ALL because FOUR DAYS LEFT until winter and we still have to fly home afterwards.

The thunglaze and furomi village is on a series of giant fungal shelves growing out of the side of the world-branch. The thunglaze (those are the tiny ones) lived in these doll-house-like palaces carved out of wood and set among teeny yards and gardens on the mushroom-shelves. Some of the teeny thunglaze palaces are amazing! One of them was even gilded in real gold with stained-glass-style windows made of glirries and jewels. The big shaggy furomi lived in shabby huts that were backed against the branch, usually two or three to a shelf, with one thunglaze dollhouse in front of it. The furomi lived in families of several individuals, but every thunglaze seemed to get its own dollhouse. Except for a few extra-tiny thunglaze who lived with furomi for some reason.

The babyberry bush is being cultivated on a shelf in the middle of the village. It's inside a small invisible enclosure of thick wood -- thick to deter the crefians from stealing it back, we assume, and invisible so it can get sunlight. They're keeping it harvested: Mirhandrax spotted some underripe berries but no ripe ones. It's entrapped with bound spells: if anyone who isn't a thunglaze or a furomi enters the enclosure, it'll fill with wickedly thorny vines. They didn't have any one specifically guarding the bush, but it was in the middle of the village. They're crepuscular -- most of their activity is around dawn and twilight -- but have lookouts posted at all hours around their village, to watch for angry monsters and hostile nonprimes generally. Because the Verticals are not especially safe places for anyone, not even the nonprimes who live there.

There's dozens of them, probably over a hundred. We're not sure how many would be willing to put up a fight over the bush, but flying in and taking it by force would not work if even a fraction of them resisted.

"I think we'd better take the whole bush," Outcast said, while we were talking over what we'd learned scouting. We were skulking in a little cleft in the Verticals about half a mile from the nonprime village.

Mirhandrax wrinkled his broad brown muzzle, thinking. "Getting a few berries would be easier."

"Depends how we're going to do this. Taking some berries means timing the task for when they're ripe enough but not yet picked by the thunglaze, which may be tricky. Take the whole bush, and we can go whenever suits us best. Also, getting the whole bush requires much less precision than picking berries." Outcast turned to give me a speculative look. "Delight, does your trick with Change Places work on inanimate objects?"

"Yep," I said.

Mirhandrax raised a whiskery eyebrow. "You have something in mind to disarm the trap before you send her in?"

Outcast grinned. "Don't need to. Change Places is faster than it is." Teleport spells are instantaneous -- you cast them and they take effect immediately. The thorny-vine trap, like most spells designed to inflict harm, needs a few seconds to build after being triggered.

"You're still counting on her being able to cast before the trap finishes building."

"No, he doesn't have to," I said, catching the idea. "I can make a bound spelll that triggers as soon as I enter the enclosure. It'll go off automatically."

"Ah, true. Still, the spell doesn't have much range and the bound version even less. We'll need a way to get you in close without getting you or the bush re-captured," Mirhandrax said.

"Right. I'd say you and I create a distraction, while Summer Sun flies Delight in close enough that she can teleport the babyberry bush out to him (and herself back to him). They make their escape, we make ours, and rendezvous for the return to Veshrame."

"So I'm just ferrying one Orren and a plant?" Summer Sun said. "I can do that."

Mirhandrax and Outcast talked about the details of the distraction some more before we were ready to go in, but we're basically doing the same plan I would have gone with before we knew anything. Sometimes I really don't know why we have to bother with all the research and reconnaissance stuff.

Anyway, they decided to go in the middle of the night for reduced visibility -- the lookouts probably have Sleeth Eyes cast on them, but at least the rest of the village won't. So I'm going to get some sleep now. I'll let you know tomorrow how it went!
Me by Djinni

21 Hivvem 4385: The Crefian Nest

The flight through the Verticals went great! It would've been faster if Mirhandrax had been able to fly on an ulgrane too instead of Flying Like a Bird. Even so we made pretty good time and didn't get into even one fight flying down past the Verticals. I think Mirhandrax was disappointed. Glory Blaze was super-nice and agreed to carry a couple of the crates for us so we didn't even have any trouble getting the fruit down there.

The crefians were SO HAPPY to see me and Intoxicating Sky again! Refia is just as sweet and kind as I remember although she's not the nest matriarch any more because she passed the role to her sister Inifsi and now mostly Refia plays with the children all day. Which sounds better than being matriarch to me and makes me wonder if Refia had to bribe her sister with something to get her to do the matriarch thing.

I remembered Refia's grandchildren from my last visit of course but I didn't recognize Flitlegs and Redspots at all because they were just caterpillars last time and now they're full-grown with big intangible wings like panes of stained glass. I had to spend a ninth of an hour with each admiring them and telling them how pretty they are. Then we played hide 'n seek because they're not that grown-up yet. All the adults who were in the nest the last time I was here still remember us slaying the jack o' hooks for them -- it turns out that was two years ago and not last year. The crefians wanted to know how everyone else was doing which meant I had to break the news that Lastsplash was dead and Haroof was missing and probably dead. Miskael is fine though he just retired from adventuring after Lastsplash died. Still that was sad.

After that, Inifsi insisted on perching us and the whole nest among the gathering branches and having me tell the story about fighting the jack o' hooks again even though it's not a very good story as adventurer stories go. Ostensibly this was for the nestlings who were too young to remember and for the crefian family who's moved to the nest since then. It turns out either I don't remember the adventure that well or the crefians have embellished it a bunch (or most likely both) because they kept interrupting me to add details. After a while I told Engas to go ahead and tell it for me.

Oh and they LOVED the fruit that we brought and I was TOTALLY right that they would be happy to trade us babyberries for it.

Unfortunately they didn't have the babyberry bush any more.

It turns out that a couple of months ago a thunglaze -- a tiny furred bipedal nonprime not much bigger than my hand, with two long slim ears and a short muzzle -- had come to the crefian nest. It was accompanied by two furomi -- nonprimes that look rather like shaggy Gormorror-sized versions of the thunglaze. The thunglaze was called Armenswall and wanted to trade for not just a few handfuls of fresh babyberries but for the whole berry bush. Armenswall offered in return enough orange trees to make a little grove.

"But orange trees don't grow in the Verticals the soil's not deep enough and you don't get enough consistent sunlight," I said as Refia was explaining.

Refia's orange and red wings drooped through the branch she was perched upon, her antennae kinked unhappily. "I know. But these trees were enchanted. Armenswall swore to us that they'd been growing for years in the Verticals. And you know we've more use for orange trees than the babyberries. So we agreed."

"Of course, the thunglaze was a lying little cheat," Inifsi added. "The magic wore off on the orange trees three days later, and all of them died. Leaving us with nothing for our bargain."

"Oh that's AWFUL," I said. "Do you know where they're from did you already demand your babyberry bush back or at least get new trees?"

Refia bobbed her insectoid head glumly. "They make their home a score of miles from here. We sent a group to complain, but they only laughed at our naïveté in accepting the deal in the first place. We've not the power to confront them with force over it, not in their own lands."

Outcast grimaced, exchanging a look with Mirahndrax. "It's only six days to winter now. There's no way we can go elsewhere for knowledgefruit at this point."

Mirhandrax nodded his great shaggy head. "We will have to get it from this thunglaze, then."

So I guess it's going to be an Adventure after all.
Me by Djinni

20 Hivvem 4385: Citrus

We set out for the crefian nest today! I know it's been over a week since I mentioned it but Outcast had to make sure all the other arrangements were settled and that Lady Inithia would be able to use the babyberries as soon as we got back with them. Since there'd be no point in getting FRESH babyberries if she was waiting on other stuff or didn't want to start until Outcast had the rest of the money or whatever. Fortunately she's willing to let him pay for one week's work at a time. Which is good because second fall is nearly over and babyberries only ripen in fall and second fall so it'd be almost a YEAR before we'd have another chance to get them if she wasn't willing to start now. As it is, it's awfully close to winter. But I'm sure it'll be fine!

The plan is to fly into the Verticals. It turns out that the flying talisman we used on our last adventure, The Little Bird of Many Wings, wasn't one that Purrzhon owned; he'd borrowed it from the Adventurer's Guild. (The Guild has all kinds of nice equipment that members can borrow if they pay the appropriate level of dues, in accordance with a very complicated algorithm that takes into account your standing in the guild, your reliability, the cost of the item, and how long you want to borrow it.) Purrzhon had returned The Little Bird at the guild in Ulmarn and it found its way back to the Vheshrame guildhouse where it belonged. Mirhandrax is going to borrow it so we can fly down.

Actually, Mirhandrax is borrowing it so he can fly down. Outcast and I are going to be riding on ulgrane! I sent a leaf to Intoxicating Sky a few days ago that we were going to visit Resia's family -- she's the crefian matriarch who hosted me last time -- because Intoxicating Sky is friends with them too. Intoxicating Sky sent back that he'd be happy to come with us and visit them too and Summer Sun and Glory Blaze also wanted to go. Then Summer Sun and Intoxicating Sky agreed to carry Outcast and me in return for feather-styling. No one is willing to carry Mirhandrax because he's HUGE.

It'll be nice to have The Little Bird of Many Wings with us anyway as a backup though.

Naefar and Outcast helped me pick up and pack the crates of trade goods this morning. Naefar and I were going through the market selecting lemons while Outcast hauled the cart. "So this is for the host gift?" Outcast asked

"Noooo this is what we'll trade them." I felt some of the lemons while Naefar sniffed at them.

Outcast looked back at the cart he was pulling. "... what else are you getting?"

"Mmm. Papedas if they're any good."

"So ... we're asking them for an extremely rare, hard to find, and valuable magical reagent. And in return we're offering two crates of oranges, one of kinnows, and some number of lemons and papedas."

"Yup!"

"... are you sure this will be sufficient?"

"Oh yes they love citrus! And none of this grows in the Verticals and they don't get much trade," I said. Naefar finished filling the bag with good lemons and I paid the merchant.

Outcast looked dubiously at the cartful of fruit. "It seems dishonest, somehow."

"Why this is delicious fruit and babyberries really aren't that good?" I made a face as I remembered the taste. I lead the way to the farmer stand that usually has the best papedas.

Outcast chuckled. "I don't think taste is the important part."

"It is to them. Last time they didn't charge us anything at all for the berries."

"Nothing?" Naefar asked.

"Well we had killed the jack o' hooks that was bothering them already."

"I guess we'll see if a cartful of fruit is worth as much as a dead monster," Outcast said.

"It will be!"

We packed up all the fruit in nice crates with straw for padding and then discovered there's not enough room in Mirhandrax's pack for them all. Oops. Now we're waiting on the road outside the Vheshrame North Gate to meet the ulgrane and maybe we can bribe Glory Blaze into carrying some crates for us. Wish us luck!
Me by Djinni

9 Hivvem 4385: A New Adventure!

[This is for terrana's tarot story prompt. Since Terrana likes Delight, I decided to make it a delight_in_wt story. Delight is long-winded, so this will take several entries. Cross-posted to rowyn.]

Guess what? I'm going on another adventure! No, not because I need money. I'm still rich from the last adventure! This one is kind of a favor to Mirhandrax. Well, I guess technically to Outcast but I'm not really doing it for him. I should probably start more at the beginning.

Archonandi, Mirhandrax, Outcast and I met up yestereve at the pub in the Vheshrame Adventurer's Guild. (Mirhandrax has managed not to start any brawls in this one so he's still welcome here. Unlike Ulmarn.) We were seated on the second floor's interior balcony, overlooking the main floor where patrons sat on benches before long tables. The balcony seating is big comfy arm chairs and tray tables and I like it lots better. Mirhandrax, being the biggest bear of a Gormorror EVER, had to sit on a bench anyway because chairs big enough to seat two normal primes aren't large enough for him.

Being a smith for months and months and not adventuring has changed Arcsy. His arms and chest muscles are bigger than ever, but his grey-furred body doesn't have quite the same lithe agility he used to. There's something in his eyes too: an ease and affection behind the raccoon mask of black fur, instead of the constant state of wary, alert preparation.

And you know, Outcast looks SO DIFFERENT from the scrawny scraggly brown otter-man we rescued from bandits back in Chirreb. His fur is a glossy mahogany now, paling to soft beige on the underside and he's let his headfur grow out long enough to pull back in a ponytail. He's filled out -- not plump but muscular; his shoulders look twice as broad as they were. I don't think I'd recognize him if I hadn't been seeing him every couple weeks since we met. It's weird to realize that this must be how he's supposed to look and that the way he was when I first saw him was the result of months of imprisonment and abuse. Sometimes I wonder what it was like and mostly I'm glad I don't know. I know he brought it on himself in a way but I still feel sorry for him because NO ONE deserves that.

We'd gotten together just to be sociable since Archonandi's retired from adventuring and I'm rich. There's no reason Mirhandrax shouldn't be rich too, except that he probably gives all his money away because he's that sort of prime. Also he's determined to help Outcast.

Their current plan to find Outcast's really-should-stay-lost-if-you-ask-me-but-no-one-does mewellicapfriend was to have an enchanter make a Tempador-based tracking enchantment. Then they could go to the spot where we'd thrown her off the world-branch (well she was with the other bandits how were we to know she was being blackmailed?) and the enchantment would see into the past to find which way the elements had taken her, and they'd follow the trail from there. Of course they'd be months behind her, but they were hoping this would get them close enough to track her by more immediate means. Outcast had found an enchanter willing to create the enchantment for a payment of more money than he or even I have. Outcast, Mirhandrax and Archonandi were discussing ways either to raise the funds or get the cost down.

"Adventuring is the best way we've got of raising this kind of sum, and we did have a good run for the last couple of tasks." Mirhandrax drummed the claws of one giant paw against his tray table. "But the market of high-paying adventuring work has dried up recently."

Archonandi took a swallow of ale. "I don't hear as much as I used to, but I'll let you know if anything comes my way."

"Lady Inithia gave me the list of reagents she'd need for the enchanment." Outcast laid a short scroll on a tray table and pushed it where the others could reach. "Some of these are irritating to gather but not particularly difficult. Third-minute milkweed blossoms, for example, I can get myself with patience."

I made a face at the idea. Third-minute milkweed blooms for 9 seconds at random intervals between three and nineteen days apart. It is super annoying to harvest and hardly anyone cultivates it because of that. Well, it wasn't me going to do it.

"The most expensive item on the list is fresh knowledgefruit, though." Outcast tapped a blunt claw against the final line.

Mirhandrax wrinkled one side of his broad muzzle. "No wonder. I didn't think that grew anywhere in Ketheria."

"Not in the Flats, no. Lady Inithia has a source in Borenexia. That's six branches down and four thousand miles away. And since it has to be fresh, not preserved ... "

"At that distance, it'd be easier to get Lady Inithia to it than it to her," Mirhandrax said.

Outcast smiled wryly. "True. Unfortunately, she doesn't like to travel and her laboratory isn't mobile. And even setting aside the cost of an express courier, the prices from Borenexia aren't cheap."

"I think there might be knowledgefruit trees closer than that," Archonandi said. "I've heard rumors of it growing in the Underneaths of Dentheia. With the secret of its exact location guarded by an azgrath."

Outcast grimaced. "I don't mind taking risks, but going into the Underneaths to face an azgrath might be more trouble than this one is worth."

"That depends on how old it is. A young azgrath ... " Mirhandrax started.

"That rumor's over a decade old," Archonandi said.

"Never mind, then. To be honest, I'd rather not kill an azgrath for the sole crime of having a thing that I want, anyway." Outcast exhaled. "I did some research and there are closer known knowledgefruit trees, but not from anyone who will sell the fruit. A nyacanth raider in the Verticals of Mrasteia is said to have one."

"A raider? How many monsters does it lead?" Mirhandrax asked.

"Fifteen or twenty, by most accounts."

Archonandi whistled. "That's a bit much for two adventurers, unless they're all scawn."

Mirhandrax grinned. "Sounds like a worthy challenge to me."

"They're not scawn. I wouldn't want to plan an all-out assault on them," Outcast said, "but a distraction and a snatch-and-grab might be feasible. I'd need more information first, to know what their defenses are like."

All this planning talk was WAY too much like work if you ask me, so I interrupted to say, "What's knowledgefruit anyway?"

"Wrinkly yellow-brown berries." Archonandi held thumb and forefinger a half inch apart. "Some say they look like curled-up infant Orren. If you eat a bunch of them, they'll give extra power to the next Kennoc spell you cast, and -- some say, though I personally doubt this -- improve its accuracy."

"Ohhh babyberries!" I said. "There's a crefian nest in the Verticals below Vheshrame that grows those why don't you just trade with them?" Everyone stared at me. "What?"

"Crefian nest ... ?" Outcast said.

"Yes I met them when I was still an adventurer like a year ago maybe? They're nice they look like gigantic butterflies with intangible wings if you've never met one and they traded us some babyberries so we could boost a tracking spell we needed."

"... yes. That does sound much easier. Thank you."

Then Mirhandrax asked if I'd show them how to get there and I figured I'd just come with them because I'd like to see the crefians again anyway. I don't know if this will really be an Adventure but it's in the Verticals! So probably.
Me by Djinni

18 Consimbs 4385: Zee Ruse of La'Quinitria

We disguised Arcsy as Monsieur Le'Bronde, the Critic of La'Quinitria. The rest of us were his retinue. Arcsy -- or rather, Monsieur Le'Bronde -- went to the Will Call window for his tickets which (of course) weren't there (because he didn't have any).

"What is zees outrage?" Monsieur Le'Bronde cried. "How? How can zees be? I haf come all ze way from La'Qiunitria only for zees day!"

"Evening, sir," Studies-Too-Much amended.

"Evening! For zees evening ven I hear at last ze orchestrations of ze renowed Orchestra of Occlu-ze-on! Vere are my tickets, young prime? VERE?" Monsieur Le'Bronde cried to the boy at the Will Call window.

The Cani checked his book again. "I'm so sorry, sir! I don't have anything under Le'Bronde or Bronde or Monsieur! Is there any other name it might be under?"

"Non! Zere can be no ozer! Oh cruel fate! Oh unkind Accanax that has destroyed mine only chance to complete mine opus, Renowned Orchestras of Inner Ketheria. Is zere nothing anyprime can do?" Le'Bronde wailed.

"Master, master, do not deestress yourself zo!" I cried. "For of a zertainty, ze Orchestra of Occlu-zee-on is no doubt vastly inferior to ze Obses-zee-on Orchestra of Daukhrame, of whoze music you haf already partaken! You may zimply and surely tell all thoz readers and listeners who hang upon your good advize that zey need not vaste zeir time vit ze Orchestra of Occlu-zee-on. As ve travel homewards ve can just tell everyone on the way that they should see the Obses-zee-on Orchestra."

"Indeed!" Outcast backed me up. "In fact, you must tell zem not to vaste zeir time on Vhezrame at all! It iss a city of catastrozes and vailures, vere even ze simplest uff tasks are ill-done."

"Wait here," the Will Call boy begged us. "I'll get the manager."

While we waited in the lobby, I complained, "Ze Obses-zee-on Orchestra had a far more beautiful lobby zen zis ugly place." (Which they do, actually).

"And their arias! So lovely," Paraffa added. "Their arpeggios! Perfecsíon! Why wait we here, in this place so overrated?"

"Because ve must gif zem ze chance to make ze amends! And you, do not mock me vit zat accent! Ve know full vell you are from Daukhrame," Arcsy snapped at her, because her genuine La'Quinitrian accent was making the rest of us look even worse. Paraffa almost lost it there. She had to cover her mouth with both hands and pretend to cry to disguise her choked laughter.

When the manager came, he fretted and frewed and checked his reservation book three times while Arcsy looked aloof and above it all. The manager apologized profusely, but there was nothing he could do.

Arcsy waved his hands magnanimously. "Ah, iff it eez not meant to be, it eez not meant to be. It vill be a great shame, no doubt, to exclude ze Orchestra of Occlu-zee-on from my travel guide to Renowned Orchestras of Inner Ketheria, but zo be it."

The manager blanched. "No, no, that can't be the only solution. Look ... ah ... there are certain unoccupied seats left." He cringed, and finished, "... in the Ducal box. We'll seat you there."

It turns out the Duke has a private box at the theater but he doesn't usually go to see the Orchestra of Occlusion and a lot of the time he doesn't give his box to anyone else, either. The manager warned us that we'd have to be moved (and FAST!) if the Duke showed up unexpectedly, but otherwise it was ours for the evening. I skipped out to escort Fressis inside, since it wouldn't do to have our famed critic running his own errands.

We told Fressis that we got the Ducal Box as an apology because they couldn't find our tickets, which wasn't entirely false. Fressis smiled indulgently at Archonandi and settled in to enjoy the performance.

The Ducal box was posh! It's even more posh than the airship I took to Daukhrame. EVERYTHING has enchantments. Little lights come on along the walkway if you stand up to show you the way out, and go out when you sit down. The chairs conform to your body to be more comfortable. The ducal box has its own watercloset! It even has its own preserving cabinet, stocked with wine and little snack trays of candied beetles and dried chissowary fish and kathia-swirled milk pastries and stuff. Which Archonandi didn't let us eat because (a) we were supposed to be his retinue and (b) he felt guilty about tricking the manager into letting us in at all, and didn't want the orchestra to get in trouble over missing snacks. If anyone even noticed.

Just before the intermission, Arcsy had me sneak into the lobby and teleport lozens into their cashbox for the regular tickets we hadn't been able to buy. Since the plan had been 'convince them to sell us empty seats' not 'convince them to give us the Ducal Box'.

Any road, it turns out the Orchestra of Occlusion actually is excellent! I was impressed. Archonandi made sure to tell the manager how much he'd enjoyed it and that he'd be sure to commend them in his travels.

I didn't like them as much as Don't Go in It's a Tarp! But a quartet's not the same as an orchestra so it's not a fair comparison.

Archonandi told me later that when he took Fressis home, she made him describe the whole escapade to her and laughed herself sick. She said, "I always knew I couldn't get the adventurer all the way out of you." Maybe they're a good match after all.
Me by Djinni

18 Consimbs 4385: Escapade at the Orchestra of Occlusion

After hot hot hot Surprise it's hard to get used to Second Fall!  It's been cooler than usual for Consimbs in Vheshrame. I've hardly been swimming AT ALL if you can imagine that. Like only ONCE this whole last week!  I have to take long hot baths just to keep from drying out and blowing away.  (To all my extradimensional friends: no not really).

Instead I've been going out on escapades with friends.  (Escapades are like adventures but without the dangerous-getting-mutilated-by-monsters part).  Some of the escapades have been not very escapade-y, like the one where we went hunting all over Vheshrame for a place that served milk o'quits and never even found one.  Studies-Too-Much ended up buying snails and making his own, but now he's not sure he got the right type of snails.  Another couple were watching performances -- a puppet show and the Orchestra of Occlusion -- and the puppet show shouldn't count as any kind of escapade if you ask me.

Oh but the orchestra does, because they were sold out and none of us had tickets and Archonandi had PROMISED his fiancée Fressis they'd go. So we HAD to get at least the two of them in. 

Archonandi, Fressis, Studies-Too-Much, Paraffa, me, and Outcast that were supposed to go.   Don't ask me why Outcast was there. Oh nevermind I'll explain anyway: see, Mirhandrax and Outcast have kept on adventuring together because they're trying to raise lozens for an expedition to find Outcast's lost mewellicapfriend. For reasons I don't begin to understand Outcast refuses to give up on the relationship despite it being GROSS and WRONG and bad for everyone including Elisia.  And instead of trying to talk him out of it like any sensible prime, Mirhandrax is helping him. So they're still best buddies.  Archonandi is also friends with Mirhandrax and so when Mirhandrax is in town Arcsy invites him to stuff.  And since Outcast is Mirhandrax's friend and Arcsy doesn't want to be rude he always invites Outcast too.Then Mirhandrax doesn't want to come anyway because he doesn't go to puppet shows or musical performances or anything that anyprime might consider fun unless you count pit fighting which I DON'T.  But of course OUTCAST is happy to come and so we're stuck with him. 

I bet you wish I'd stuck with 'Don't ask'.

Fressis had to work until just before the performance started, so the four of us went on ahead to get tickets.

Except, like I said, the show was sold out. Paraffa said, "We go to different show, maybe?"

"No, I swore to Fressis we'd see the Orchestra of Occlusion!" Archonandi protested.  "She's been wanting to see them since Lage. I've already had to back out three times for one reason or another. I can't disappoint her again."

"Perhaps we can buy tickets at a markup from someone who already has them?" Outcast suggested. "For the two of you, at least."

But it turned out that the Orchestra of Occlusion has a really strict policy against reselling -- they put the names of the ticket holders on the tickets at purchase, and if they find out you resold they'll never let you buy again.  Which isn't exactly a foolproof prevention tactic, but it was good enough that we couldn't find any resellers.

"There are always empty seats at this sort of thing," Studies-Too-Much said.  "They're bound to have some people who don't show up.  We just need to find a way to get them to sell us those seats."

Outcast crinkled his muzzle in thought. "Well ... I have one idea."

While he explained, I surreptitiously cast The Raven's Beak because this sounded like it had a good chance of being an Adventure.
Happy!

14 Consimbs 4385: No Surprise Surprise!

I just realized that I got so wrapped up telling you last time about the Inquisitorial Inquisition of Inquisitors that I didn't even tell you: I gave Dad-Dad and Dadsy your present!

About halfway through the evening, I signalled Waterfall and the musicians. Waterfall had hired them and so they knew their cue. Waterfall and I got up on top of the center table, and I yelled, "HOY EVERYBODY! I've got a little SURPRISE here!"

Then I dodged all the things primes pelted in my direction, as they shouted back in ragged chorus, "NO! NO SURPRISES!"

"I know!" I yelled back. Do you know I've gotten better at dodging with the last series of adventures? I could tell. "And I'm Delight-in-No-More-Surprises now so it's extra surprising coming from me!"

Everybody laughed and grinned and threw more stuff at me. "NO! This is a NO SURPRISE party!" They were better at getting it in unison.

"I know! But there's always at least one surprise at every No Surprise party, so it's not REALLY a surprise, right?" I yelled.

Waterfall jerked a thumb at me. "She's got a point, y'know."

Everybody looked to their tables and conversational partners and exchanged feigned grumblings and mumblings, until they finally turned back to me. When everyone was looking at me, I motioned my hand downwards once, twice and then a third time.

On cue, they shouted, "FINE. WHAT SURPRISE?"

"I'm so glad you asked! This is from BOOMSTARTER SEVENDRUMS, for DAD-DAD and QUICKSPLASH!" I used Dadsy's real name since most of the people there weren't his kids. (Dad-Dad goes by Dad-Dad to everyone.) Then I hopped down and Waterfall hopped up, and the performers struck up the instrumentals for the love song you wrote. And Waterfall sang it! I don't know if she's as good a singer as Song-for-Always technically but she was perfect for "No Truer Love". Everybody laughed at the funny bits and sniffled at the sad bits and Dad-Dad and Dadsy held hands for the whole song. I think Dadsy cried through the whole thing.

The crowd made Waterfall sing it a second time ostensibly so that Dadsy could listen to the parts he cried through the first time, although he pretty much cried through the second time too.

He wasn't ACTUALLY sad in case you offworld nonprimes have any funny ideas. Dadsy's very sentimental. He loved the song lots, maybe even better than Dad-Dad.

Everybody else liked it too! I had at least two-thirds fewer Inquistorial Inquisitions afterwards, and a bunch of 'that was a great surprise' instead.

Probably I should have done it earlier in the evening.

You should definitely have Don't Go in It's a Tarp! perform it, Boomsy!
Me by Djinni

14 Consimbs 4385: Relationship Status: It's Not That Complicated

Hiiii Boomsy-kaboomsy-make-me-a-loomsy! I'm really glad your hearing went well and not just because it means I'll get the lozens I lent you back! Well lent Pinsitter after she lent you you know what I mean.

Any road 50 lozens is a nice windfall for you! What are you going to do with it?

We had the annual No Surprise Party five days ago and I just realized I completely forgot to tell you about it. It was wonderful! Everyone was there! All my local sisters and brothers (except Void-Dancer, unfortunately) and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews and cousins and friends of all of the above plus lots of ones that weren't local like Dadsy's parents and Dad-Dad's grandparents on his father's side. The best part was seeing all the people from out of Vheshrame who'd come just for the No Surprise party. That's why it was so late this year: Dadsy wanted to give everyone more time to travel into the city after Surprise was over.

It was also the worst part in a way, because the first thing EVERYONE wanted to catch up on was relationship status. Who's gotten married, divorced, had kids, adopted kids, gave up kids for adoption, added spouses to their family, etc., etc. And I wanted to know all that stuff too! But then eventually everyone's looking at me and asking who I'm dating.

The Conversation, Version One

Vingi (my brother Branspash's mother-in-law): "And who's your sweetie now, Joy-of-Sunout?"
ME: "I'm Delight-in-No-More Surprises now, and I don't have one."
Vingi: "Right, of course not! Who are they, then?"
ME: "I don't have any,"
Vingi: "I'm so sorry! I hope the break up wasn't bad."
ME: "... what break up?"
Vingi: "With your sweeties."
ME: "I didn't break up with anyone."
Vingi: "So you're still seeing them, then?"
ME: "No, I've never had a sweetie."
Vingi: "Reeeeeally? Do you know my friend Splashall? She's single too."
ME: "... can we talk about something else now?"
Vingi: "Sure! Perhaps you'd like to meet Ripple? He's also single, and such a cutie! Just about your age ...."
ME: "That's nice oh look my drink I need to go get another one."
Vingi: "... but your glass is full."
ME: "Just the time to get a new backup drink byeeee!"

The Conversation, Version Two

Bubbles (my sister Waterfall's brother-in-law): "So who are you seeing lately, Dee?"
ME: "I just came back from a nice trip visiting Boomstarter and I saw Void-Dancer a couple of days ago and I'm thinking about going to see Mirhandrax and Trust because I haven't seen much of them since we got back from our last adventure."
Bubbles : "No, no, I meant 'who are you dating'?"
ME: "I'm not."
Bubbles: "Really? A pretty, outgoing, friendly Orren like you? Whyever not?"
ME: "I don't know?"
Bubbles : "Surely someone must be interested! Is there a special someone you have your eye on?"
ME: "No?"
Bubbles: "Oh, come on! You know everyone, Dee. There must be somebody ... are you worried because you don't think you'll fit in with their existing family?"
ME: "No."
Bubbles: "Then why? Don't tell me you've found someone you're actually shy around?"
ME: "No I haven't found anyone. I'm not looking for a relationship."
Bubbles: "Oh, had a rough time with your last one, did you?"
ME: "No."
Bubbles: "Just petered out, did it?"
Me: "No, it didn't exist."
Bubbles: "What, you had a crush and never even approached them?"
ME: "... can we talk about something else now?"
Bubbles: (talks about something else for one minutes and thirteen seconds before): "So who was this crush on? You shouldn't let yourself get discouraged too easily, Delight?"
Me: "... kind of like you and this topic?"
Bubbles: "Exactly!"

The Conversation, Version Three

Eelflutter (Dadsy's mom): "How's things with you and Glorious Blue these days, Delight?"
ME: "She's Glorious Cool now and fine we got a new place last year with a front room although it's a bit more expensive."
Eelflutter : "Ah, getting some space to expand your family?"
ME: "... No? We're just roommates. We're not in a relationship."
Eelflutter : "You're not? Really?"
ME: "Really."
Eelflutter : "What's the matter? Her family wouldn't approve?"
ME: "... umm we're not romantically attracted to each other at all?"
Eelflutter : "Why not?"
ME: "I don't know? Just not."
Eelflutter : "Are you sure?"
ME: "I think so?"
Eelflutter : "Maybe you should give it a try."
ME: "Thanks! I don't think I will though."

The Conversation, Version Four

Behind-the-Falls (cousin on Dad-Dad's side): "So I hear you're telling everyone you're single, Dee?"
ME: "Yep! I am."
Behind-the-Falls: (in an undertone) "You know, in modern Vheshrame, especially given your family history, I really don't think you have anything to be ashamed of."
ME: "Me neither!"
Behind-the-Falls: "I'm glad you feel that way! Personally, I think Boomstarter's a splendid fellow."
ME: "Me too he's like my best friend I made an enchanted scroll so we could write to each other all the time! I just came back from visiting him in Daukhrame and we had LOTS of fun."
Behind-the-Falls: "How lovely! You two make such a cute couple."
ME: "... couple?"
Behind-the-Falls: "You see, don't you think it would save time if you just told everyone you and Boomstarter are involved? Keep them from fixing you up with stray friends?"
ME: "... it would? Except that Boomsy and I aren't dating and I try not to lie to my friends and relations?"
Behind-the-Falls: "Oh, come on, Dee. It's a little obvious, don't you think?"
ME: "No? I'm not traff and Boomsy's not traff and also he's practically my BROTHER EWW."
Behind-the-Falls: "Your parents would understand, is all I'm saying."
ME: "I don't think I understand."
Behind-the-Falls: "You just have to accept who you are."
ME: "... I don't mind traff people at all and I'm sure if I were traff and seeing someone I would tell everybody because I am just not that good with secrets. But I am not so I'm not so I can't."
Behind-the-Falls: (sigh of long-suffering)

The Conversation, Version Five

Rankscraffle (family friend): "Hey baby! Heard ya broke up ... with Boomstarter."
ME: "Noooo I was never dating Boomstarter at all."
Rankscraffle: "Ohhhh. But ya do like Khtsoyis, don't ya?"
ME: "Sure doesn't everyone -- wait. You're talking about sex, aren't you."
Rankscraffle: (waggles tentacles suggestively) "'Course, moll-doll. Everyone likes the ol' rope-a-dope under the earth 'n dirt, eh?"
ME: "I don't know what that meant but I'm going to have to go with 'no'."
Rankscraffle: "Aww, c'mon, Dee. All that time ya spent with yer shoggy-coz didn't whet the ol' curiosity? Mebbe wet the kina-finer too?"
ME: "Still going with 'no'."
Rankscraffle: "Awww, don't tell me some Orren-boy scared ya cis?"
ME: "Nooooo I'm just not traff."
Rankscraffle: "How'd'ya know? You ever tried a little spent-pent with a foggy-bog?"
ME: "... no?"
Rankscraffle: (waggles tentacle tips again.) "Tellin' ya, 'til ya've tried seven ya don't know Heaven."
ME: "Can we talk about something else now?"
Rankscraffle: "Sure. How was Daukhrame, anyway? See Whackasmack while ya were there?"
ME: (talks about Daukhrame and other stuff for a while.)

The Conversation, Version Six

Youngwave (Dadsy's grandfather): "So who have you been romancing since I last saw you three years ago?"
ME: "Oh, no one."
Youngwave: "You can tell us!"
ME: "I know! I just did."
Youngwave: "Ohhh you're dating an Orren named No One?"
ME: "Noooo. I'm not dating anyone."
Bubbles: "Whew, that's a relief. I dated her last year and ... trust me, you want to steer clear."
ME: "What?"
Bubbles: "No, Anyone. What's very nice -- do you know him?"
Youngwave: "So how's things going with No One?"
Bubbles: "If you're not satisfied with No One, you should think about asking What out."
ME: "Oops I seem to have accidentally triggered my bound Hiding in Nowhere." (disappears to a pocket universe for several minutes)

*

All right I didn't actually spend the whole party drifting from one group to the next and getting interrogated about my lack-of-love-life. It didn't even really seem like I did at the time. There was an AWFUL LOT of this sort of thing, though.