Two days ago for the Herethroy protector-adventurer I finish the talisman of immortality.

She is the useful enough bug, the longtime companion, the quite reliable Herethroy that mostly I do not mind doing some favours for, such as the very long time doing no other enchantments. It is her share from the time we adventure together that pays for this talisman. Partly it is the carved statuette of ivory, the very detailed robed Cani forever leafing through a book with lifelike animation, the glory of Kvarse, that pays for the talisman. The work is long and difficult with many setbacks, but mostly I do not mind.

Today the krango-striped Rassimel says that he does not want such a talisman, not even if only my stash of wealth pays for it.

He is not so much the young Rassimel now – his children have their own children. He does not want to stay vigorous through the years and centuries while his descendants age and die, he tells me.

I do not think of such things so much. Possibly some of my kittens’ kittens have kittens of their own. Very possibly Rrasha who bears the first of my kittens is dead now – she is older than I am, and though magic protects me from time I grow quite old for a Sleeth. But all those others are Sleeth and do not need me watching and fretting for them.

Mostly the watching and fretting I do is of the Rassimel who is not so vigorous anymore. He is not infirm yet, or not beyond his wife’s skill to mend, but his fur has some grey in it now and is not so glossy as when he is my lover. More is the harder thing to know. He is glad to host me if I visit, and sometimes he finds me with gifts or commissions, but that is only rarely. Always he is cordial, but mostly he is distant.

He has other friends, now, and family, and contacts, and many demands on a Count’s time. He does not count a Sleeth as his lover anymore and he has much less time for me than I have for him. Possibly he is so busy he does not see his own age advancing. But I watch closely and see it, for I still remember him as the first good close friend I have, and good friends are not a thing I have so many of, so I do not forget them easily.

I do not watch him always, for he takes care of himself well. I am strong and independent, and it would be the strange thing if he gave me gifts always, as though I could not find good things myself. His pleasant company now and then is gift enough.

But I am not the normal Sleeth who lives always in now, and as the years stretch ahead it is the strange thing to know that this good friend that I have for so many years is not in many more of them.

Even for me these are strange thoughts. Perhaps they are not so strange for Zi Ri, who live so long always without needing mighty talismans and who make so many friends that time then takes from them. Perhaps I should ask a Zi Ri, when I am next home with zir, how and when to let go.