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Chapter 15B: Dirty Squirrels


December 16, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder

“This looks like an averted fight, to be honest.  What is going on here, children?”  House Monitor Libkazaari sounded amused but it hadn’t reached to her eyes.  She was studying them all, looking from one to another.

Darnio cleared his throat.  “We were just having a conversation with Saydrie here.  I’m not sure why this one decided to get involved.”  He tilted his head to indicate Enrie.

“When words like ‘useless little pet’ show up, it doesn’t sound like a friendly conversation anymore,” Enrie pointed out.  “Besides, I wanted to eat breakfast.  I still want to eat breakfast.”

“And yet you took time to call someone, ah, what was it?”  The House Monitor tilted her head as if trying to remember.  “Ah, yes.  The misbegotten son of a tarpani and a squirrel.”

“Rat,” Enrie corrected.  “I do that when people lay hands on me uninvited.”  She looked up at the House Monitor and stood up very straight.  “I showed up to breakfast a little bit late and people were yelling at my friends.  So I tried to get to my friends.”

“She interrupted a conversation. Rudely.”  Darnio stepped forward.  “She stepped in and said we weren’t men.  Piadro was just defending his honor and all of ours.”

Libkazaari frowned sourly.  “And where is Piadro now?”

“He…” Darnio floundered for a moment.  “He had to leave.”

“I saw him, yes.  With Falivia from Medical House?  He appeared to be trying to run away from her scolding, which was unwise as when he gets free of hers, he may be hearing mine.”

“For what? Nothing happened!”  Darnio drew himself up taller.

The House Monitor appeared unworried when he towered over her.  She continued calmly.  “I do see that, unlike the last time someone truly irked this team, nobody has been punched.  My praise to you three for your restraint.”

Enrie was not certain the House Monitor was being serious, but since the woman wasn’t laughing, she decided to take it as spoken.  She bowed low.  “Thank you, House Monitor.  I was trying to make sure this did not have to resort to violence.”

Saydrie pushed forward.  “You mean that you were trying to get them to do violence on you.”

He sounded angry.  Enrie bit her lip.  “Well… yes.  They were giving you and Tairiekie a hard time, and I didn’t want it to be us that threw the first punch this time.”

“I wasn’t going to hit anyone!”  Saydrie’s voice was getting louder and louder.  Enrie wanted to yell back, but not here, not with the huge audience that the entire dining hall gave them.

“I could tell.  It made me worry. That was part of why I tried to get their attention.”  She wasn’t going to apologize, not here.  “You didn’t look happy.  Taikie didn’t look happy.  And they looked violent.”

“What do you mean?”  Darnio’s voice was just as loud as Saydrie’s.  “We looked violent?”

“You had Saydrie and Taikie surrounded.  You were spitting insults that most people would punch you for, if not stab you for.  It did not sound like a friendly conversation.”

“And you’d know what a friendly conversation sounded like?”

“At least the Cālenyen parts, yeah.”  She took a breath. “After all, I’m in Diplomacy House.  I’m studying friendly conversation.”

“Don’t you mean conque-”  Darnio’s retort was cut off as Saydrie slapped a hand over his mouth.  Three of the other Bitrani stepped forward.  Enrie took a step backwards, not sure what was going on.

House Monitor Libkazaari was behind her again.  “They do that, hands all over each other,” she murmured in Enrie’s ear.  “I’ve never been able to figure out why.  Now,” she lifted her voice to carry, “tell me more about this fight I’m supposed to be breaking up?”


  1. tuftears says:

    Obviously a valuable teaching moment, if the Bitrani don’t understand that their idea of a “friendly conversation” doesn’t match how others perceive them Looming Around their friends!

    • Rix Scaedu says:

      I think I hear shades of the good, old, “We didn’t do it and you can’t prove that we did it!” argument here. 🙂

      • Kim says:

        There’s that, true, but I think these obstreperous fools may have accidentally made something into a bit more of a big deal than they intended. It’s easy enough to go “hassle” someone, and forget that if you do it with five of your friends, it’s a mob situation — no longer a conversation of any type.

  2. thnidu says:

    Ahh, more of the differences in personal space & touching. I can easily see LOTS of room for conflict & misunderstandings to arise. Not just here, I mean, but wherever Bs and Cs interact without much previous experience of each other. — And in past times too…. Now, I wonder how much conflict in history has arisen out of such?

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