I do enjoy my consulting work, and not just because it gets me out of the house once in a while. Generally, I get to help smooth the interactions between humans and other races, and I almost always get a good story out of it in the process.
Like the situation just last week. I got a call from the City Planning and Zoning board, asking me to come help with a building that a non-human consortium had purchased. It seemed that they weren’t keeping the streetfront up to code.
Because some of the races have strange opinions about aesthetics, it’s generally a good idea to bring in a translator. The City has run into problems before – things like the ogres who used to live next door to us, for example. So now they call me in at the first sign of trouble.
This one, I knew what was going on before I even read the paperwork. There are tell-tale signs that most humans don’t think to look for, and, really, how many humans really study the walls at ankle level that closely, anyway?
The consortium is a business partnership started way back in the ways of the founding of Smokey Knoll to give non-humans a human-looking face for their business interests and, sometimes, to allow them to buy through a front when prejudice rears its ugly head. Their purchases, often through fronts and shell companies, ranged all over the city, suburbs, and surrounding farmland, and were a bureaucratic nightmare to track down, as they’d intended. This time, however, they’d been rather direct.
They’d purchased a parking garage in a part of town that had seen better days, and had then, to common view, let it simply sit there and fester. Since the City offered very generous tax breaks to those who bought land in these neighborhoods, expecting that they would beautify and prettify the area, the Planning Board was understandably a little vexed.
As I said, however, I knew what was going on the moment I stepped onto the property. The bottom foot of the wall was very nicely painted, you see, and someone had installed tiny doors, including a tiny parking gate, into most of the larger doors. They had also, because all the races at some point have to deal with one another, left the large car entryway and the human door to the office intact – so I knocked.
I was unsurprised to not see the person who answered the door, or rather, to see her only when I crouched down. The place had all the classic signs of Tiny habitation.
The Mayor, whose secretary had answered the door, was happy enough to talk to me, once I explained who I was, and, what’s more, she gave me a tour. It was amazing, what they were doing with the place – an entire city within a city was going up on the top floor of the garage, complete with small skyscrapers and lush little parks. They had left a few human-sized walkways, and were in the process of refurbishing the middle layers to allow them to communicate with the larger races.
“This way,” the Mayor of Tiny-ville told me, “we can have sunshine without being overshadowed by the Big People. We’ve lived in the walls for so long, and it’s beginning to be unhealthy for us as a people. We have our own roads, our own police… what could a Biggie policeman do for us, anyway? Or to us?”
There was a lot someone fifty times larger than one could do to them, but that wouldn’t be polite. I praised their growing city – it really was beautiful – stepped carefully into their largest park – there’s nothing to make you feel gangley and clumsy like a Tiny park – and admired their bonsai maples – and then, once I had done the proper things, sat down to talk to the Mayor about hiring a painter.
In the end, it took doing something you only ever due to a small or tiny person with their permission – holding her up at my eye level – to explain the problem, but once I had, she agreed to hire some day labor to paint the place.
And, in addition to my fee, I had the delicious privilege of having been the first Middle Races person to have seen the first Tiny city in over a thousand years.
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