Belmarniss shows up early the next morning for her consultancy meeting, munching a pastry from her breakfast spread. "Hey - I was told to meet with a Luay?"
"Haven't got anything better to do. I guess you should feed me."
"What, no hazard pay? You have to look the part, you don't have to get that deep into character."
"Fine, toss me a thousand, but 's not really a lot of hazard. Know a guy who'll raise me."
"You could get captured and sold into actual slavery, if it goes pear shaped enough."
"If this is not an improvement on getting my guy to raise me it seems likely to be possible to turn into that."
"...I mean, you'd probably manage eventually but it the struggle over whether you are permitted to thus ruin your purchaser's investment wouldn't be the most fun time you've ever had. I think I can navigate the situation but unless you have actual practice biting through your tongue as an emergency measure I wouldn't count out some nasty midgames altogether."
"Are you trying to talk me into demanding more money? I will also take two thousand."
"I don't actually have a strong opinion on how much money you should charge but I want us to be mutually clear on what you're charging it for!"
"I do a lot of stupid shit for only moderately good reasons and I don't really have an endgame, now that Fazil and Mahdi are talking about retiring. Can't exactly settle down uptown with a girl, a housekeeper and a cook."
"If you say so.
You ever think about settling down overseas, would that work?"
"Dunno. I'd - I don't know for sure Abadar wouldn't pick my kids."
"You could probably find a way to not have any. I can just see you married to a strix or something wacky like that."
"Maybe? It feels like it'd be a bit of a sham but maybe I'd feel differently about it if I met the perfect strix."
"Why would it be a sham? I mean, assuming for the sake of argument they have acceptable marital practices, I only met one briefly."
"Like - you were talking about how part of what a marriage is, for you, is the buying thing, and it'd just be a bit sad to get married but only a little bit - I think I kinda feel that way about a marriage without my family's permission or any plans to have my own family - it'd be shaped so much by all the things it was dodging being that I don't know if it'd have the things I'd want."
"Oh, I guess that makes sense. Leaves you kind of squished in the negative space."
"Yeah. If I don't have kids for some good reason, that's one thing, if I end up defying my parents, that's one thing, but I don't like having it shaped that much from the get-go."
"I will screen any strixes I meet so they're recommended for more than just laying eggs, then."
"'s not the end of the world. I'll probably run ruins for a while, die eventually, meet someone after that."
"Worse ways to end up."
"So I hear. It's annoying, though, because I think I'd be quite a catch if not for - stuff."
"You, what, no, good looking adventurers with mysterious pasts and senses of humor are a copper for the hundredweight. I pick six of them out of my porridge every morning."
"Adventurers in your porridge? At an upscale place like this?"
"They're an acquired taste. Fancy people like them. Me, I'll take raisins."
"Fancy people have dreadful taste."