“So… how’s Sigma?” asked Palamedes Woodash casually, as he walked down the hallway.
“Squire Sigma is much improved,” replied Balthazar Subtle. “Though I fear a full recovery may elude our Milesian friend in the immediate future.” The Goblin chirurgeon glanced at the Erl. “Well, my Milesian friend at least…”
Palamedes shook his head. “I like Sigma just fine.” He cleared his throat. “It is all part of my ongoing effort to be ‘the better man’.”
Subtle chuckled. “That’s admirably mature of you, Woodash.”
“Why thank you,” said Palamedes. He turned to Subtle suddenly, eyes full of hope. “Do you think Eurydice will notice that?”
“Let me put it this way, Woodash,” said Balthazar, grinning. “Sigma’s extraordinary good looks have not been harmed a pennyworth by his ordeal.”
Palamedes frowned bitterly. “Should have expected that from you. My old man was right. Never ask a Goblin for relationship advice.”
Subtle rolled his eyes. “Thank you for demonstrating to this poor soul that a centuries-old prejudice still exists among you Erls.” He sighed. “Frankly I’ve never understood your distaste for the ‘cut-sleeve’ persuasion…”
“I don’t have any ‘distaste’ for it,” snapped Palamedes. “I just find it weird, all right?”
“And what is so odd about it?” asked Subtle. “Does the idea of people looking to each other for deep companionship strike you as so very odd? Do you not understand that love between… comrades may satisfy certain needs that the affection that exists between a man and his wife may not?”
Palamedes shut his eyes. “I’m--just not going to respond to any of that. All right?”
The chirurgeon sighed. “I am simply trying to broaden your horizons, dear boy,” he declared.
“Right, right,” muttered Palamedes. “That’s one way of putting it…”
“You two lovebirds done fighting?” asked Sacripant, leaning against a nearby wall.
Palamedes twirled himself around, and waved his fist irately. “We are not--I am not--you… you…” He took a deep breath. “I hate you guys, you know that?”
“We only mock you, Woodash, because we love you,” said Sacripant. “Well, and because you’re an easy target.”
“Right, right,” mumbled Palamedes. “Every loves to take a shot at the fat guy.” He pointed at Sacripant. “If Hagen were still here, you wouldn’t DARE do this to me!”
Sacripant stared at the chubby Erl in puzzlement, as he stepped before him and Balthazar. “Hagen would be joining in. He loved ribbing you. Remember?” He shook his head. “Anyway--Grizzel’s having a Guard meeting. Wants us all there.”
Palamedes sighed. “Fine. Fine.” He fell behind Sacripant as the Marsh Erl started to lead them to the Serjeant-at-Arms. “Let’s see what new indignity is planned for me…”
“Nobody plans these things, Woodash,” explained Sacripant. “You just hand us the opportunities, and we take them.”
Subtle nodded. “Succinctly put, Fenswater.”