Day 63. 208 pages, 103,022 words. Post #998.
The question of whether they should leave their sacred warehouse unguarded, Massington thought, was one the humans and Ogres took surprisingly lightly.
“Yea, we have a […],” Adithol explained with a careless wave of his hand.
“A lock o’ surety,” Boriel added.
“You … just lock it,” Massington said doubtfully.
“Yea,” Adithol repeated. “This abode is a place of nary a concern for the townsfolk. We receive no visitors.”
“[…] once a month,” Katter Boylson objected.
“Aye, verily the GRT delivery man cometh but a dozen times o’er the year,” Adithol agreed, smiling wistfully, “with his rich bounty of vittles and […] mildly erotic.”
“So apparently we’re the second-most interesting people to show up here this month,” Massington took a studied risk, and was rewarded with laughs and enthusiastic nods from the humans.
“But many is the time we venture forth,” Adithol went on seriously, “with naught but the lock o’ surety and a handful of coin, leaving but a prayer in our wake and-”
“I’m sorry,” Massington raised a hand and glanced at Big Thundering Bjørn, “but all of you go out?”
“Assuredly,” Boriel said. “The Þurs are avid spectators of the […]. ‘Tis a gentleman’s sport.”
“’s funny when they get in fights,” Bjørn opined.
“But…” Massington found he couldn’t actually muster an objection.
“I think Massington is wondering how you manage the secrecy that is so important with the Ogres’ presence on this world,” Mer said, and then lapsed into Gund for a few moments. Adithol nodded, grinned, and looked at Bjørn and Tuesday in their battered suits of refrigerated armour.
“[…],” he said smugly.
“T-shirts,” Mer clarified. “A garment worn over the torso but leaving the lower arms bare.”
“Big Thundering Bjørn tells of a bygone time, many a long age in the misty past,” Adithol explained, “when the Þurs and manifold other […] creatures mystical and diverse […] walked among us. And then, yea, then came the cleansing, and the Þurs are all that remaineth. They hide themselves, at need, in plain sight with the […], the T-shirt.”
Katter had hurried off, and now returned with a great armload of material. Fat Tuesday pulled one of the garments up, fumbled it slightly, and spread it before him. The shirt was bright green and had some markings on it that were obviously stylised Gund text, but Massington couldn’t read it.
“It says ‘Let Mozzle-o Be Your Armour’,” Mer supplied. “I believe Mozzle-o is a sugar-based beverage.”
“Verily,” Boriel said with enthusiasm. “Oftentimes, Big Thundering Bjørn and Fat Tuesday carry great […] containing a multitude of tiny […] containers, and distribute them with a free hand to the admiring crowds.”
“Thus do the Þurs pass all unnoticed e’en unto the Dinkum to enjoy the spirited game of […],” Adithol concluded.
“The Dinkum,” Massington said blankly.
“The Dinkum Fairgo Stadium. A local sporting arena,” Mer explained, “where adult males compete in a ritualised … you know what? It doesn’t matter.”
“There will be no need to hide on this occasion,” Truck said. “We can ascend in my ship, and dock at the aki’Drednanth habitat,” she paused. “I would be happy to take a T-shirt as a keepsake, however.”
The humans and Ogres were only too happy to make a gift of a Mozzle-o T-shirt, and then together they headed towards the entrance to the warehouse.
“I regret that I’m still really at a big disadvantage here,” Massington said to Mer and Adithol. “This whole disaster with the … with our word for the remote-controlled robotic avatar … it has cast into clear relief the fact that I am operating with a catastrophic lack of diplomatic skill and a near-total absence of knowledge.”
“Methinks thou art managing passing well, friend,” Adithol said supportively.
“I appreciate that,” Massington said. “But your history, your prehistory, your mythology … I mean, what you and Big Thundering Bjørn were just saying about the ‘cleansing’, about other sentient beings that lived here … even if it’s being lost in memory-gaps and translation, I know practically none of it. And it is all clearly very important to your daily lives and interactions.”
“I do not follow,” Adithol apologised.
“Some of your knowledge is clearly so integral as to be automatically assumed,” Massington tried again, “and that is going to cause problems for me, as I lack that knowledge. I don’t even know what it is that I don’t know, and it recently became very clear to me that what I don’t know can have a devastating effect on our communication.”
He waited while Mer translated this. Adithol nodded sagely.
“When doubts assail thee,” he said, “there is but one thing I should advise.”
“And what’s that?”
Adithol grinned. “Anger not the Ogres.”