Glynubla House [27 Hispis 4385; Eigrach; Srineia]
I avoided everything avoidable for the next two days. That includes you.
When I dared come out for breakfast yesterday, everyone in the skyboat asked me, "What about that wonderful palace in the city full of slinky, slinky, sleek, sleek Orren?"
"I suppose we could go take a look," I mumbled into a chalice of kathia.
"Yay, we're going to have a palace!" cheered everyone, and danced around, in some cases waving bottles of wine. At breakfast time, yet.
"You already have one!" I snapped, and knocked over my kathia by mistake, and slunk back to my workshop and avoided everything avoidable for the rest of the day. Strayway is every bit as palatial as years of lizard-effort and hundreds of thousands of lozens can make it. Admittedly, much of the money was spent on magical experiments that didn't all work very well, and some parts are better described as 'upsetting' rather than 'elegant', but it's not that bad.
The next day we set off to look at Glynubla House. Which, as it turns out, is
on Via Tydirdi, though a bit closer to the main roads than Bwipin's mansion.
It's not quite as huge a mansion as that, though it's a substantial layer-cake
of green and purple wicker, frosted with pale yellow
carved wood. Four stories, sixty windows (invisible wood, not so expensive
The seneschal is an Orren man named Totalie. He's middle-aged and middle-heighted and middle-weighted, and has orange stripes dyed in his cheek-fur, and, today, was wearing a very smart caftan sort of silk thing with an abstract diamond-and-hexagon pattern of crimson and hezarion threads. Good work, too -- as fine as anything I've ever sewn, though of course Grinwipey could do better.
"Good day to you, and welcome to your new home of Glynubla House," said Totalie. He seemed rather bland -- rather carefully bland.
"Hello, and glad to meet you. We haven't exactly decided that we're moving in here; we'd just like to see it," I said. Totalie seemed rather taken aback, as though he couldn't imagine us not moving in.
"Well, then. The Grand Hall is through these doors..." And so it was. Grand, too, by provincial Srineian standards. Not by my standards, which are admittedly rather warped by my own Grand Dining Hall. Admittedly, I don't need a dining room three-quarters of a mile long on my skyboat (I only have one by mistake), and I don't need one that ridiculous in Eigrach either.
We were toured around the bottom two layers of the cake-mansion, all fancy rooms. The decorations were old -- in the sense of "obviously not purchased with me in mind". Lots of portraits of dignified Orren judge-ish personages. Vases of perpetually-frozen flowers. Wooden sculptures of warriors killing monsters -- some of the same Orren who were in the portraits. A rack of glass-edged swords and long spears. Very conquery sort of place.
When the sun burned full, two Orren servants brought out trays of fish sandwiches, boiled peas with butter, chub-beetles marinated in wine.
Phaniet sniffed at the peas, shrugged, and passed the plate to Arfaen without taking any. This is notable, because Phaniet ordinarily likes peas.
"Is something wrong with them, Phaniet?" I asked her. A bit nervously, because, not only had I taken some peas, I had eaten some already. They tasted thoroughly unpoisoned to me, but I am not a Cani.
"No, not really," she said. So I stared at her a while. "The butter's a bit off though."
Totalie curled his tail. "Please excuse, please. We bought supplies when we first heard you were visiting, but that is now a few days past."
"They're not bad really," said Arfaen. "Not quite fresh."
"I shall speak to the kitchen staff about it!" said a very worried Totalie.
"Perhaps I can," said Arfaen. "We've various ways to keep food fresh -- we've got a box of peas from Vheshrame a month ago that's still a bit better than these. I think these got left out on a counter for a couple of days, and the butter, too."
"Well, that must have been an oversight," said Totalie. "We've always had the best food here, and never any trouble with keeping even fish fresh for days."
"The bread's a bit stale too," noted Kantele. "Another three-day-old purchase, I suppose."
"I'm very sorry," said Totalie, and fidgeted in his seat. He did take a large scoop of peas, drizzled sweetened vinegar on them, and gobbled them up ostentatiously.
"Do you have a suite of rooms that I could use for sorcery?" I asked, because it was required and because I had finished my lunch already.
Totalie wagged his tail, which is odd for an Orren. "In fact, we do. Let me show you them." He stood up from the table, leaving a half-plate of peas and beetles. "Shall we see them while the others finish their lunch?"
So we climbed two flights of stairs. "The former owners' children had their chambers up here." It certainly looked like it, with a playroom of toys -- all ages, baby to adolescent -- in one half, and three nice bedrooms in the other half." "There are plenty of stories in these rooms. In that corner, the former baron, as a twenty-one year old [14 Earth years] Orren lad, quite happily made a gift of his virginity to his best friend."
"I suppose it was a convenient place," I said, for want of anything better to say.
"His best friend being a Cani boy," added Totalie.
"Cani certainly make excellent friends," I said, for want of anything better to say.
"And what do you think of that?" he demanded.
I was starting to get irritated. "Yes, the rumors about me are quite true. If that's what you're after. Try to blackmail me with them and I shall laugh in your face: everyone who cares the least bit about my personal life knows that I am traff."
Totalie leap upon me, grabbed my neck in one hand, and jammed his mouth over mine: perhaps the least romantic kiss I have ever had. Certainly the only one where I have ever felt it necessary to breathe fire into my partner's mouth.