Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Daily Story 160: The Mermaid Problem

The king's face split in an oversized smile, looking nearly human aside from the lack of a nose and green-blue skin. Yarvis knew that smiles meant the same thing to both of them, and looked at the translator on his wrist. He had underestimated - the king was more than just in a good mood after Yarvis' help with the local beasts. He looked at the translation in front of him again, and hesitated. This was the crucial moment of diplomacy. This was something that could cement his status with the F'shirl forever or turn them against humans as a whole. Luckily, they were used to a delay before he answered. Typing quickly, he edited for words that the computer in his arm suggested may not translate well and hit return. The musical sound of F'shirl language played from his suit speakers, hopefully conveying his message accurately: "I am deeply honored by this. To ensure I have no confusion, I would ask to speak with my assistant."

The answer came quickly and Yarvis was please to see his translator had not picked up traces of anger or annoyance. He stepped to the side and his assigned T'kritt approached, rolling forward on a mound of writhing tentacles. In this case, 'assistant' was an inaccurate translation to say the least. Life coach, possibly. Spiritual and moral advisor. Butler, in some senses. The F'shirl had a caste of... monks, essentially, that served only to sort out domestic disputes and give advice. Political leaders were assigned a dedicated T'kritt that was bound by an oath of confidentiality. Yarvis could have told his T'kritt that humans were planning on invading and killing everyone and he would calmly suggest the best way to gloat over the burning corpses of his countryfolk.

This, however, was more difficult than an attack - it was about a marriage. This would make him a part of the western empire's family, which might cause some slight discord with the eastern empire but Yarvis couldn't begin to think of what he would do without his 'assistant'.
"Assistant, I have concerns about this proposal." His text was translated nearly silently, spoken straight into the T'kritt's ear.
"Proceed." he replied.
"I do not wish to offend the king and would accept his daughter as my wife, but I do not understand the responsibilities."
"To care for your wife by supplying fifty percent of the required supplies, including food. To supply up to one hundred percent of supplies in the event that your wife is ill, injured, or otherwise unable to provide for herself. To assume joint responsibility for the maintenance of your living quarters. To impregnate your wife and provide care for your young until they reach the age of independence." Watch that last step, Yarvis thought, it's a doozy.

"I do not think I am physically able to impregnate F'shirl." He hit send and watched the T'kritt puff his cheeks in thought.
"Declaring yourself to be infertile would mark you as ineligible for political post, which would go against your stated goals." There had to be another way. Something he could do. If he offended the king he wouldn't even be able to try again with the eastern F'shirl, because they would either side with their western cousins or their acceptance of him would be taken as an insult and the old conflict would erupt again. Starting a war wasn't exactly on Yarvis' to-do list. Suddenly his T'kritt's history lesson from the previous week floated to the top of his head. He typed frantically and the T'kritt replied, and within minutes they had carefully phrased an acceptance.

"It would be my great privilege to join with your people, but I have sworn a sacred oath to serve both empires. I wish to accept your daughter as my wife, and show there is no bias by allowing the prince of the eastern empire to provide his seed."
There was an endless pause. Yarvis crossed his fingers - this was the way the empires were formed, but it was a tradition that hadn't been observed for three hundred years. Finally the king smiled and threw all four arms into the air. His daughter moved across the room to Yarvis with that strange swaying motion the tentacles caused, and planted a wet kiss on Yarvis' cheek. His translator chirped, and he looked at the text. "I will ship my eggs to the eastern empire for fertilization. Let us go to my room for pleasure bonding." Yarvis looked from the human face down to the mass of tentacles and feelers. The political crisis was averted, but something told him he was in for an awkward night.