Bad Reception [3 Oix 4261]
At the palace, an hour before sunout, in a little private reception: the Duke, Hezimikkinen, Kaim-Su, a modest sprinkling of counsellors, a very ragged-looking Levande, a serenely smiling and milkily burping Ficina. Seeks-Treason Strenata. Me.
Some snacks that looked like Flooosh's best breakfast box, but were made entirely of liver paste, or marzipan, or painted cheese.
It was a little private reception in order to honor Strenata and Vae for our victory over Oorah Thrassen. Hence the snacks.
Which is to say that the Duke has declared it a victory. He thinks the giant illusion is a juvenile and magically-inferior response, and thus, in the eyes of the world, Vheshrame has proved its might and wit over Oorah Thrassen, and, to some extent, squared accounts from our previous defeat.
Nobody but the Duke gets a vote on this topic, or not inside Vheshrame, at least. It doesn't feel terribly victorious to me. To me it feels that we have an insanely powerful and insanely insane monster lurking around the edges of our country, that we can't evict and can only marginally control, but that she's young enough and inexperienced enough and desparate enough for even a few scraps of kindness that she'll do really ridiculous things for a few marzipan teddy bears and a Zi Ri's smile or something.
The Duke confirmed her title, and mine. This is a sort of odd little ceremony in which he gets to say, in effect, "Glad you have your title, 'cause you deserve it." (But not "I'm so happy about you that I will give you any bigger title or other goodies at the moment", though, since it is an indication of Ducal favor, other goodies are likely to show up from some direction or other.)
It's a very odd ceremony for Strenata, who, as of two months ago, was distinctly opposed to aristocracy. Now she is aristocracy. I haven't asked her opinion of aristocracy now.
It's an even odder ceremony for me, since my rank comes from being a Zi Ri. Which is about equal to being an esquire -- the lowest noble title -- in Vheshrame. (Not that the Duke offered me an esquireship, which he could have done.) Only, well, the ceremony said, in effect, that the Duke admitted that I am, in fact, a Zi Ri. It's not like there's much doubt of that, even if I do scurry to the Daukrhame embassy in Orren shape when my boyfriend deigns to see me.
Oh, and I got a few sharp comments afterwards about having a different-species boyfriend -- the "I hope you're not going to be a degenerate like so many young nobles are nowadays." sort. Also some sharp comments about having a foreign boyfriend.
Eddarna:"Sythyry, just for our records, how much of those fees for the breakfast boxes did you keep for yourself?"
Eddarna:"Well, of course, nothing. Nobody honorable or respectable would dare embezzle a single lozen from the Duke. Nonetheless, well, everyone connected with such a project -- with any project! -- gets remuneration commensurate with their efforts and talents, just as a matter of course. What sort of remuneration did you get?"
Me:"All the breakfast boxes I could eat."
Eddarna:"This is not, actually, a matter for witty epigraphs. Indeed, a clear distinguisher between embezzling and proper remuneration is a clear, if informal, accounting to the Exchequer."
Me:"Witlessly, then: nothing."
Eddarna:"O Zi Ri, know this: that the entire matter of the pastries was very cheap, as these things go, and that even if your share were the whole of the treasury's contribution, it would hardly be exceptional among proper remuneration from this sort of endeavour."
First, I looked stupid for a while as I tried to figure out what he meant. Then I looked stupid for a while as I said, "That's good, but I still didn't keep anything."
Eddarna:"O Zi Ri, know this, as well: the only crime worse than stealing from the Duke is stealing from the Duke and lying about it."
Me:"Doorwaying has been declared no crime then, in Vheshrame? I've a nendrai who'll be glad to hear that." Not a wise response, in retrospect, but (1) I had already told him the answer several times, and (2) I had come to this reception instead of delecting my delectable Orren, and I was not pleased of it.
Eddarna:"Well! I shall be sure to investigate this matter more closely. If you do find that you have something to say on the topic -- politely! -- be sure to report it to the Office of the Exchequer. At your earliest convenience." And he stomped off.
Ficina exploded in a huge Phoenix Egg of wailing, and Levande had to go before I could properly chat with her.
A bit later, Hezimikkinen came and tried to get the same information out of me, but zie did believe that I was too clueless to, um, remunerate myself. "Eitharheinen won't be pleased, that you had the chance to earn some significant money for yourself, but that you chose to rely on zir stipend." I apologized to zir and promised to steal the Duke's jewelled arsewiper at the next chance. After seeing that illusion, it is very challenging not to regard the Duke in a quite scatological light.
The whole thing took about an hour and a half, which is to say, only long enough for me to truly annoy two people.
On the way home...
Strenata:"Well, thank you for all your work in this, Sythyry." I got a nice chaste hug for thanks, which, honestly, pleased me more than the whole reception.
Me:(something or other polite)
Strenata:"I couldn't persuade anyone to hold it outside the city."
Me:"Outside the city?"
Strenata:"So Vae could come."
I had forgotten about my ambassadee.
Miserable sort of honors reception, which the monster being honored isn't even allowed to come to it, isn't it?
The main honors should really go to:
I should dispose of Ilottat because: