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Dusting Off the Green Speech (Part 1) (1520.08.21): Unafari helps plan the costumes for a Trefoil Dance performance.
~ 5292 words, Created by: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer), Ellen Million (Illustration), Posted: 07/03/12  

Author's Foreword: Torn Tongue pronouns do not indicate social gender. The impersonal pronouns reflect the three noun classes of this language: Natural/Living, Technological/Concrete, and Abstract/Miscellaneous. A separate set of (Natural/Living) pronouns apply only for people and mean "he/she" etc. Normally, the personal pronouns are used for all people regardless of gender. Ranathera is no-gender physically and legally, but leans toward a feminine presentation; so the personal pronoun ard (nominative) is translated as "she."

In most cases, Torn World stories use standard English pronouns, since character gender is usually known, and English requires that pronouns specify gender. In this story, the no-gender character Omorth is very attached to that physical and social category. Therefore, the story retains the use of the Torn Tongue Natural/Living impersonal pronouns: al (nominative), la (objective), and lai (genitive/possessive). This set of pronouns implies: "I am alive, but I am neither male nor female, so I'm using something other than personal pronouns to signify my nonstandard physiology."


Unafari sat at her desk, putting away the last of the day's work. It was almost time to go home. Nearby, Malem cleaned up her own desk while Ranathera straightened the rest of the Upstairs Records Room.

"I hope you two don't mind," said Ranathera. The no-gender clerk smiled nervously at her coworkers. "I asked a friend to meet us here at closing time."

"Who, your boyfriend Jetraal?" asked Malem.

"No, someone else, a dancer --" Ranathera's reply was interrupted by a knock at the door. She pulled the door open and beckoned the visitor inside. "Ladies, I'd like you to meet my friend Omorth. I met la at The One in the Middle, you know, the no-gender club. Omorth, these are my coworkers Unafari and Malem."

"I'm honored to meet you," Omorth said with an elegant little bow.

Unafari admired Omorth's classic Glifai looks: brown eyes, light brown hair falling straight past the shoulders, and pale delicate skin. A lovely smoke-colored robe clung to the angular figure, accented with a lizard brooch. The dancer's graceful body moved with a precision that reminded Unafari of shorebirds. Like most no-gender people, Omorth had an androgynous appearance. That made Unafari's fingers itch for her sketch pencils.

"Welcome to our humble office," Unafari said. "Ranathera said that you dance -- what style do you favor?"

"I dance the Trefoil. My female partner is Tremarda and my male partner is Darthein," said Omorth. "Indeed, it is the dance which brings me here today."

"How so?" asked Unafari.

"My partners and I wish to recreate a historic version of the Trefoil Dance for our troupe, to show how it evolved during the Rainbow Period," Omorth explained with a supple wave of lai hand. "We have the dance moves all worked out, but the costumes -- alas!"

Unafari laughed. "I can well imagine! You must be going mad, trying to pin down all the details." When word of the Rainbow Rainforest had reached the Glifai, who never met a color they didn't like, they had spent nearly a century playing with an expanded palette of dyes, paints, and decorations. Previously simple designs of leaf and flower on various dance costumes had grown more ornate, giving rise to "the green speech" of artistic symbolism. Even today it lingered in such customs as giving red-hot poker plants at a hearthwarming, or printing golden trumpet flowers on concert tickets.

"Precisely. We have searched through the popular and theatrical books, but they only give examples, not a detailed analysis," said Omorth.

"You'd need a scholar for that. The details haven't been published in a market edition, as far as I know," said Unafari.

Omorth threw up lai hands. "The scholars have no passion for the dance! I tried consulting them, but they bored me to sleep," al said. "When I complained to Ranathera, she suggested that I talk with people who love Glifai history and fashions, and invited me here to meet the two of you."

Malem turned to Unafari. "How fancy a costume are we talking about?" she asked. "I've done my daughters' costumes for school plays ..."

"Imagine a garden brought to life," Unafari said with a grin. She plucked a pencil from her cup and began sketching on a scrap of paper. "Start with a kind of body-stocking in green, with cut and pieced layers over that, then a lot of embroidery. Oh, and they used thread-of-gold for the stamens; that's one of the official examples listed in Authentication Marks of Glifai Costumes."

Omorth raised lai eyebrows. "You know all that off the top of your head? It took us days to piece together that much!"

"I love fashion history. Trouble is, I don't have access to all the specific details. You really will need to consult a scholar for some of that, especially a transcript of the green speech meanings," said Unafari.

"We borrowed copies of several monographs," said Omorth. "We're just having a hard time making everything fit together. The crafters say they need patterns to work from, or at least good clear concept sketches. But the monographs aren't illustrated, the popular books aren't perfectly accurate, and the theatrical guidebooks aren't annotated for meanings."

"Don't worry, it sounds like you have almost everything you need. You just have to cross-reference it," said Unafari.

Omorth gave her a pleading look. "... Help?"

"I'd be glad to help," Unafari said.

"I could help too," said Malem. "I'll just borrow a fashion doll from my girls. If Unafari can draw us a picture, then I can make a small-scale model to test out pattern ideas."

"Sure, we experiment with stuff all the time," said Ranathera. "I'd love to try my hand at that kind of embroidery. I can't get thread-of-gold, though."

"I can," Omorth said firmly. "We're an established troupe; I've been with my dance partners for almost four years now. We have nine triads in the troupe, although not every dance involves all of them at once, so our budget is respectable. The costuming department tends to be generous, and attractive model sheets will definitely help loosen the purse strings."

"Is the troupe allowed to bring in people who don't belong to the Entertainment Guild, though?" asked Malem.

Omorth rolled lai eyes. "Yes, yes, there are provisions for hiring expert consultants from other fields. Since you all work at the museum, you technically qualify. It's a fiddly bit of licensing, but I can get someone to take care of that."

"So we all get together and go over your notes. Unafari does the collation and sketching. Malem figures out a pattern, then she and I make a sample costume for the doll. We hit the troupe's costuming reckoner with all those examples, and then money rains from the clouds," Ranathera suggested.

Omorth laughed. "Well then, allow me to invite you all to an evening at Everybody's Favorite Bar. It's a public club just across the street from the three genderspace clubs. My dance partners are waiting there; you're welcome to join us if you're available. We were hoping to add your observations to our current materials, but a personal conversation would be even better. Today is our day off. What about you?"

"I have no plans for the evening," Unafari said.

Malem tilted her head. "Hmm ... I have no outside engagements, but I'll need to hire a messenger so my family won't worry about me staying out late."

"We can probably find one at the cablecar stop," said Ranathera.

So they all made the short walk to the loop of street where the cablecars and other conveyances picked up passengers. Malem sent a messenger to tell her family not to wait supper on her. When the cablecar pulled up, though, it startled Omorth's brooch -- the lizard turned out to be alive, and skittered around Omorth's shoulder, tethered by a fine silver chain on a simple pin.

"What is that thing?" Unafari exclaimed as they boarded the cablecar.

Omorth petted the lizard to calm it. "Wisp is an iridescent anole; they come from the Rainbow Rainforest," said Omorth. "They change color to match their surroundings, and they can become quite fond of people."

"Omorth loves exotic pets," said Ranathera. "This one is fairly new. Last year it was a mango slug. Next will probably be a Squiggle Mouse -- Omorth has been going on and on about those."

"You kept a slug as a pet?" Unafari said, her eyes wide.

"Mango slugs are beautiful, with a bright orange body speckled with yellow and turquoise," said Omorth. "The real appeal is the fragrance, though -- they smell like fresh fruit and flowers. There's actually a service in the city that installs the slugs in offices and takes care of them, for a small fee; mango slugs make wonderful air fresheners."

"How remarkable," said Unafari. "I'd like to sketch your lizard, if you don't mind."

"Of course you may," said Omorth. "We're quite accustomed to posing. The promotional poster for our summer dance actually had Wisp in it."

"Omorth has posters and broadsides all over the wall of lai apartment," said Ranathera. "You should just see the place."

"I would love to," said Unafari. "The museum doesn't display much of its ephemera collection -- most items stay safe in storage -- but I really enjoy looking at old entertainment posters. They usually show off the fashions well. As a little girl, I used to practice my art skills by trying to copy advertisements for the latest plays and dances."

"I still think you're wasted as a clerk, Unafari," said Malem. "You should have gone into fashion drafting or promotional art."

Unafari shrugged. "I love drawing, but I love history too. Those don't really go together in school," she said. "Besides, I didn't score quite well enough to advance at government expense. I save what I can, but tuition isn't cheap..."

"Theatrical support staff need to know all kinds of different things," said Omorth. "We just didn't have anyone with the right mix of skills for this particular project. My mother designs backdrops and posters for the Theatre Guild -- she's consulting on this dance too. My father works in a propaganda office doing displays and slogans. So I have seen how much work goes into making a good ad. Why not try your hand at it while you're working with us? Perhaps the promotional department will use some of your ideas."

Before long, the cablecar reached the stop nearest to their destination, and they broke off the rambling conversation to disembark. Everybody's Favorite Bar turned out to be as much of a club as the genderspace establishments across the street, with a room for socializing on one side, a room for gaming on the other, and the bar in the middle. Unafari noticed that the various bottles of alcohol represented a considerable portion of the Empire's available flavors and brands, organized neatly with the most esoteric on the top and the more commonplace within easy reach, augmented by several large barrels underneath the background mirror. No wonder the place proved so popular.

Omorth led them to the social room. Various large and small tables filled the center of the room. Booths of dark wood upholstered in smooth leather lined the walls. The little party wound up in a round corner booth. Omorth made the introductions and then cuddled between lai two dance partners, the lovely brunette Tremarda and the handsome blond Darthein.

"Are you three ... together?" Unafari asked, watching Omorth melt into the contact.

"We don't share a bed, but we are a steady threesome socially as well as professionally," said Tremarda. "Omorth's passion is all for the dance. Darthein and I prefer to hire our bedmates, rather than go to all the trouble of courtship and such."

Darthein nodded. "The troupe is our family, for many of us."

"That sounds sweet," said Unafari. It looked adorable. Omorth was halfway draped over both of them, lithe dancer's body so unlike Ranathera's softer form. Wisp had wandered onto Tremarda's scarlet dress, turning a sort of glossy peach color to blend with it. The imagery plucked at Unafari's attention. She pulled out her sketch kit and began roughing out the lines.

"Well, that didn't take long!" Ranathera said with a laugh. "I knew you wouldn't be able to resist drawing dancers."

A waiter came and brought menus. "Omorth, would you just order for all of us?" said Unafari. "It's not like we're here for the food tonight, no offense to the cooks."

"Of course," said Omorth, turning to the waiter. "Let us simplify: please bring us a Feast for Six and a pitcher of tea." The waiter nodded agreeably and scurried away.

Meanwhile Tremarda had brought out a large portfolio. Malem leaned close to pore over the gathered materials, which included reproductions of antique posters, playbills, and assorted notes. There were also two monographs, one on symbolism in Trefoil Dance and the other on costuming designs.

"Oh, I recognize this one!" said Malem, pointing to one picture. "My girls did a flower dance one year in school, and I sewed something very like this. I wonder if the Trefoil version is the original or the borrowing?"

"Both, probably," said Unafari, without looking up from her sketch. "Historically, the Glifai imported a lot of ideas from other cultures, then used those to enhance traditional dances and other entertainments. From the major forms such as Trefoil, those innovations trickled down to the children's dances and other folk practices." A few more strokes and she pushed the sketch aside, satisfied that that it was far enough along to finish later without forgetting what she wanted it to look like. "All right, now show me that costume."

Malem passed her the picture. "Look at the one in the upper left corner."

"I see what you mean," said Unafari. "That divided petal-like skirt came into fashion at the very beginning of the Rainbow Period and persisted in various forms throughout. Today it appears in children's dances, but also in costumes for romantic plays -- and every few years it sees a revival in young women's ball gowns."

"I bet that's why the school had a pattern!" said Malem. "Look here, though." She pointed to the shoulders. "It's not just the skirt; these are petal sleeves too. Those things are a nightmare to sew."

Unafari peered at the illustration. "Sorry, I can't make it out. They just look like ordinary short sleeves to me."

"They're really not." Malem grabbed a napkin and rolled it to demonstrate. "They look sort of like this, but of course, you can't have that much overlap in the sleeve or it would feel too bulky. The pattern has to compensate to achieve the same effect without the bulk, and it makes the shaping downright bizarre. But it's lovely to look at, and there's nothing else like it."

"Well, I'm sure our sewing crew can handle a difficult pattern," said Tremarda. "Who might have patterns or designs we could use for inspiration? A theatrical troupe specializing in romances? A ladies' modiste used to doing petal gowns for balls? A school that would have materials for children's plays?"

"Try all of those," said Malem. "My daughters' school had a big book with hundreds of patterns laid out on grid paper. It was a nuisance to trace them over to full size, but it had just about anything you could imagine. If we're trying to construct multiple costumes, that might serve better than a single full-size pattern from a romantic troupe or a modiste."

"Oh! That must be A Theatre Teacher's Guide to Timely Costumes!" exclaimed Unafari. "I just about wore out my school's copy. It was another of my favorite sources for sketch ideas, when I was taking art classes."

"Yes, we need different costumes. The dance consists of five acts, each with its own costume; the designs also vary for the different genders. With nine triads, that adds up to a lot of sewing," said Darthein. He tapped one picture that showed a full ensemble of dancers onstage, grouped in their triads.

Unafari rustled through a few of the posters, then flipped through the monographs. "Hm, yes, I think this will work. That book doesn't have the fine details, but it does have quite usable patterns. Your sewers should be able to refine as needed."

"Why didn't we find that book in our research?" Darthein grumbled.

"You said that you looked in theatrical, popular, and scholarly resources. That one is an educational resource, from the kind of publisher who puts out textbooks and school library books," Unafari said absently, trying to match up a page of embroidery with the costumes. "If I remember right, though, there's supposed to be a supplement that was published by some theatrical press. I never saw it. Apparently the school book takes some shortcuts in the costumes, and the supplement was supposed to have the corrections and the footnotes. Check the Guild library. It could save us a trip through the dissection files."

"The what?" said Tremarda.

"Dissection files -- pattern maps of historic garments that were too damaged for salvage, so they were taken apart very carefully to determine how they were made. The drawings from those can be used to reconstruct patterns," said Unafari.

"Right, I remember; the museum hosted a dissection of an evening coat last year, and those of us on staff got to watch from the back of the room if we wanted. It was quite fascinating," said Ranathera.

"Hmm, you dancers have some decisions to make," Unafari said as she looked through the pictures. "Do you want costumes that lots of people will recognize, like the petal skirt? Or would you rather show them something they probably haven't seen before, like this?" She held out a playbill whose cover showed a costume that seemed to be made from vines.

The three dancers murmured together for a tick. Then Omorth said, "We'd like to balance the two. Try to combine things that have faded out of sight with things that have remained popular." Tremarda jotted down notes accordingly.

"Another thing to consider is the timing," said Unafari. "You mentioned that you had the dance moves worked out, and you wanted to show versions of the Trefoil from different times. What do you have laid out so far?"

"This is my part," Darthein said happily. "I worked with the choreographer on the dance design. This dance has five acts, spaced about twenty-five years apart, from the beginning to the end of the Rainbow Period. Some of the movements focus on one triad, with others as backup; some combine all the triads in ensemble work. We're also showing the introduction of genderlines, breaking up the triads to group dancers by gender."

"Well, then the first and last will be easy. That period had a very clear beginning and end, so it should be easy to find specific costumes for those," said Unafari. She riffled through the materials and found an example of each, then started sketching, with room left for the other three acts. "It's the ones in the middle that pose more of a challenge to assemble accurately."

"We have every confidence in your enthusiasm and attention to detail. Ranathera has been singing your praises for days," said Darthein.

Omorth and Ranathera were grumbling over a monograph and a playbill. "Unafari, can you help us with this? We're trying to match the symbolism stuff to the costumes and it's just not making much sense," said Ranathera.

Unafari looked at the offending references. The problem quickly became clear. "All right, first of all you need to figure out what you want to say in the dance. Then you need to compare that to similar presentations from the Rainbow Period. Next, make a list of the relevant flower and leaf designs. Start with this bit," she said, handing over what looked like a florist's flyer advertising different blossoms for a romantic bouquet and their supposed messages.

"All right," Ranathera said as she began copying the information.

"You will just have to go back to one of the scholars for help in double-checking the accuracy of your choices," said Unafari.

"I really do not wish to deal with the scholars again," said Omorth.

"I'll do that part," said Darthein. "You and Unafari just write down what we need for them to do. Let's see, the first act has a theme of innovation, the second is about mind and body, the third explores passions, the fouth balances unity and diversity, then the fifth act sums up with continuity. That should provide a good start for meanings."

"Also, come to the museum and look at all the relevant costumes we have," said Unafari. "We can apply for some time in the ephemera room to look at things not on display, too, and there's a scrapbook on display that we might convince an archivist to let us view page-by-page. Those aren't regularly available so you'll have to pay extra, but I assume you have a research budget and leverage to get access. Use as much as possible from those museum examples." Then she turned to her coworker. "Ranathera, you're having trouble making out the details of the embroidery, am I right?"

"Yes, exactly," said Ranathera.

Unafari shrugged. "I suggest you take a detour. For anything you can't document precisely enough with historical costumes, use a different source. Look at illustrations in a good field guide to plants, or better yet, visit the arboretum on License Waival Day."

"That's a lovely idea! We should all go together. We never have dance practice on Waival Days. We can make a picnic of it," said Tremarda.

At that point, their food arrived. Quickly they cleared off the table, and Tremarda tucked their research materials back into the portfolio. Unafari put away her sketch kit. The waiter stacked the table with two tall towers that rotated to display different dishes. Everyone dug in eagerly, and conversation turned to more casual topics as they ate. It was nice to have normal things to talk about, after half the Empire had seemingly run mad during the recent eclipse. The food proved excellent. Unafari mentally added Everyone's Favorite Bar to her list of eateries worth revisiting.

* * *

Unafari, Malem, and Ranathera visited the dance troupe on the tenends. The workshop had lovely large tables where Unafari could spread out the research materials. Meanwhile Malem tested out possible patterns. She too appreciated the work space, free of curious little girls, although she sometimes bemoaned the amount of time spent away from her family. Ranathera used scraps to experiment with embroidery; she had never worked with thread-of-gold before, and found it challenging to control. The well-trained theatrical crafters proved delightful company, though, and they happily shared their knowledge with the three consultants.

Omorth's mother Meiress took charge of the scenery. At present, she was working on a set of elaborate panels made of painted cloth, sewn together with ropes made to resemble vines. "You can see how much the Jungle Dance influenced the Trefoil Dance during the Rainbow Period," said Meiress. "Of course, the original Jungle props are far more complex."

Unafari looked at the two women painting leaves onto the silk with tiny brushes, and the three men sewing silken leaves onto the green ropes. She shook her head. "I find it hard to imagine anything fancier than this!"

"They construct trees for the dancers to climb upon," said Meiress. "They also use bird feathers in the costuming, which we don't, but the profusion of greenery carries through."

"I'll take your word for it," said Unafari. "It's all I can do to keep up with my share of this project, though. I wouldn't dare try something more complicated."

"Oh, don't be so modest," said Meiress. "You're in a theatre! Entertainers are flamboyant folk. You have talent, girl, brag it up a little."

Unafari blushed and tried to retreat into her research again, but it was too late. The artists were already throwing their support behind Meiress. "Really, you should keep in touch," one said. "Who knows when we could use a good research consultant again? And your design sketches are simply verified! Just keep pursuing your own interests and you'll get the hang of things soon enough."

Darthein and Tremarda nodded their agreement. "The promotions department loves your idea for using Wisp on a leaf as the unifying image for illustrations of all five acts," said Darthein.

"He changes his colors, but he always remains himself," Unafari said. "It just makes sense."

"Well, they want to make a series of five individual posters and then a splash poster combining bits from all five," said Tremarda. "They had me in yesterday posing for the pistil scene in Act Four, along with a bunch of other dancers."

"Now that will be collectible," Unafari declared.

"See, you have good ideas and they inspire other people too," said Darthein. "We'll send over a set of the promotional posters right off the presses, for the museum's ephemera room."

Unafari was rescued from being the center of attention when Malem put Omorth on a fitting pedestal. The dancer wore only an emerald body-stocking that left little to the imagination, thin stretchy fabric clinging to the svelte figure. "I do wish you would hurry up," said Omorth, although al held perfectly still.

"No, you don't," said Malem as she pinned petals around Omorth's waist. "Hurrying would just make me stab you with these pins." Her careful fingers lifted the springy garment away from skin before fastening each petal in place. "Now you just stand there patiently and let me work. Of course, as long as we're here, we can always chat to pass the time."

"Will that not distract you?" Omorth said.

Unafari and Ranathera both laughed. "No, she can file things and gossip at the same time!" said Unafari.

"I heard a rumor that your troupe plans to go on tour to other cities," Malem said. "Is that true?"

"We would certainly like for it to be true," Omorth said.

"I'm sure other people would love seeing you perform," said Unafari. "Based on the little sample you did for us, and the promotional materials I've seen, you must be quite impressive on the stage."

"I can hardly wait to see a whole performance," Ranathera said with a happy sigh. She frowned critically at a piece of palm-sized satin, turning it back and forth to catch the light.

"So far, we have applied for tour licenses, but the process takes ages. We do grow frustrated with the lack of progress," said Omorth.

"Well, perhaps this new dance will inspire faster approval," said Malem. "You must tell me as soon as you have news! I want to hear all about it." Then she patted Omorth on the hip. "Hop down. I want to see you move in that."

"Certainly." Omorth descended to the floor. "What do you wish of me?"

"Quickly move forward," said Malem. The dancer obliged, and the petals fluttered behind la in the breeze of lai passage. "Nice. Now slowly move backward." Again Omorth moved as directed, petals flowing dreamily in lai wake.

"You have done a remarkable job with this costume, Malem," said Omorth.

"Thank you, dear." Malem turned to Darthein and Tremarda. "Can you two do one of those running lifts in what you're wearing?"

"Sure," said Tremarda, who wore only a green body-stocking with partially constructed petal sleeves.

Darthein looked down at the fringe of vines pinned in place for refitting. "These might snag or tangle," he said.

Lishaalda, one of the troupe seamsters, hurried forward to fasten the vines up out of the way; his skillful fingers made quick work of the task. "All right, that should stay put now," he said, shooing Darthein toward the other dancers.

Together Darthein and Tremarda boosted Omorth through the air, carrying their third in a graceful arc that made la seem weightless. The petals of Omorth's costume flapped around lai waist.

"Hmm," said Malem with a small frown. "Omorth, twirl in place, please." Omorth spun gracefully on the ball of one foot, the opposite foot coming to rest just behind the knee. But the petals, instead of fanning out properly into a circle, fluttered and tangled.

"Drat! That didn't look good at all," Malem said. She reached over to fuss with the petals. "I think they're too light to rise properly. Weighting the ends would solve that problem, but then they wouldn't flow with the other moves ..."

"Use two layers," Lishaalda suggested. "Weight the tips of the bottom layer -- I'd use beads for that -- but leave the upper layer unweighted. The upper layer will flow with the straight motions, and during a spin, the bottom layer should rise and carry the upper layer along. Just make sure the upper layer is short enough not to tangle badly."

"No beads," Unafari said, vetoing that idea. "The Rainbow Period costumes didn't use beadwork, although some other periods have. It would look like a conspicuous error."

"Well, I suppose we could try hidden weights, but silk doesn't offer much concealment," Malem said grudgingly. Lishaalda groaned in agreement.

"What about more embroidery?" asked Ranathera. "Thread-of-gold is heavy. Put a little chevron of that on the point of each petal and it should do what you need. Would that be legitimate?"

"We are not trying to duplicate a specific dance from history, but rather to recreate the sense of what dances from that period were like," said Omorth. "I am content if we use the materials and motifs of Rainbow Period costuming. We need not restrict ourselves to things we know they did, if we can find something they could have done that suits our needs."

Unafari nodded approval. "Records are never complete. The practical problem would have faced costumers of that time, and Ranathera's solution is plausible," she said. "I say try it, and see if the fabric behaves properly."

"If only our licensing woes were so easy to solve!" Omorth said with a laugh.

"They might be," Ranathera said, aiming a sly smile at Unafari. "We all get some free tickets to the premier, as a perk for our assistance. I know Malem is bringing her family, but Unafari hasn't mentioned anyone yet. Unafari, why don't you invite Licensing Inspector Katorsh? Perhaps if he takes a liking to the troupe, he can facilitate their licensing for travel."

Unafari shook her head. "Don't be silly, Ranathera," she said. "Katorsh doesn't approve licenses, he looks into violations."

"Ah, but he must know many other people who work in the licensing offices -- you know how coworkers are," said Ranathera. "Besides, it never hurts to have a friend in the government."

"It sounds quite tacky to me," Omorth said in support of Unafari's reluctance.

Meiress chuckled. "I see that you still haven't quite mastered the fine art of schmoozing," she said.

"This is networking," said Ranathera, "and a bit of flirting. When you want a favor from someone, the best approach is to do something nice for them first. So the real question, Unafari, is this: do you think Katorsh would enjoy the show?"

Unafari looked at Omorth's stately form clad in lai exquisite if incomplete costume, the fine details just beginning to come together. She recalled Katorsh's deft motions and sharp insight. "I think he would love it," she said.

"Then by all means, dear, invite the fellow," said Meiress. "Though I confess myself curious -- how did you come to meet a Licensing Inspector?"

That, of course, led to the three museum workers recounting the scandal that transferred Unafari from the Historic Haberdashery Museum to the Museum of Glifai Artifacts and Fashion.

Author's Notes

This story came out of the April 17, 2011 Muse Fusion. It was inspired by prompts from LiveJournal users Kelkyag, Xjenavivex, and Haunted_blood. Sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

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