After Famous Collections, sitting around a table at Square Nollie's -- oh, very well, I was sitting on the table -- Yarwain complained to Iska, Seeks-Leeks Strenata, and me about his latest difficulty. Yarwain is the heir to a Great Barony in Ulmarn, consisting of the villages of Quistma and Chalarre, and the Ulstramme valley where the finest fig-trees on all Choinxeia grow.
I cannot understand that barony. Quistma and Chalarre are on one side of Ulmarn Mene, and the Ulstramme is on the other. Quistma is a very ordinary-sounding Herethroy village -- so what is it doing being ruled by a Rassimel family who, evidently, lives there? Chalarre is a bigger place, half Rassimel and half Cani, where books are printed and little curled copper wires are harvested from the flowers of creeping vines -- it would seem the natural place for Yarwain's family to live, don't you think? Or even in the Ulstramme, which has a dozen little villages, Herethroy and Rassimel, plus any number of Orren riverbum families? Yarwain's mother is quite a substantial noblewoman, in any case -- comparable to Tethezai's parents. Yarwain and Tethezai are certainly strong contenders for the highest-titled parents of our social circle.
Thery, of course, is not. She is certainly a gentlewoman. She certainly has a title of sorts, though it is some sort of hereditary courtesy esquireship that comes from having an ancestor who was a second child of a second child of a second child of someone very important. Her family has served Countess Gloun for four generations. Not any sort of degrading or low service, this: the oa Vinnesses have been the Glouns' secretaries, their secret-holders, their accountants, their seneschals, their vicars, the ones who manage the Gloun's greatest estate and holding at Vellieu.
So, the oa Vinnesses rely on the support and sponsorship of the Glouns, and the Glouns rely on the faithful and long-term service of the oa Vinnesses. Thery is attending Vheshrame Academy with Countess Gloun's sponsorship and payment. In exchange, Thery will serve the Countess or her heir for thirty years [20 Earth years -bb]. In practice, it is expected that she will serve for life, as her mother and her grandfather and her great-grandfather and her great-great-grandmother did before her, and that her children and grandchildren will do the same.
So the difficulty is obvious. The course of Yarwain's life is charted in tight circles from one end of Ulmarn Mene to the other. The course of Thery's life is charted to follow Countess Gloun in her peregrinations around Vheshrame Mene. These two charts are separated by a skyboat voyage of some days' time, even when ulgrane do not interfere.
This somewhat limits their future together.
Seeks-Leeks looked rather annoyed at the whole story. "Ridiculous nobility capers! If I were you, Yarwain, I'd get Gloun to pay for my education, then toss fish entrails at the countess and fart in her face and run off with you."
Iska said, "That is what you will do if you are Thery, do you mean not?" Iska is very literal, and her conversational Ketherian is still not very good.
Yarwain shrugged. "It is hard to cheat your family's patron."
The two argued for some time. Strenata seems rather willing to do any sort of unpleasantness to any sort of noble, present company excepted. Yarwain is a balanced and reasonable sort. Iska is just plain foreign and probably shouldn't have been there at all.
At one point in the conversation, Yarwain said that Strenata's approach was rather that of a brigand. Strenata said, "And that's why my name is Brigandina." I am beginning to understand matters; while they were arguing, I wrote "Brigandina" on a bit of napkin and stuck it in Brigandina-formerly-Seeks-Leeks' hatband. She gave me a smile better than Spirshash's kiss!
In the end no conclusion was reached.
In other news: at home, well after dinner, Tethezai and Dustweed returned. They had been out walking in the park -- where, I suspect, the word "walking" is to be understood in a very generous sense indeed [not this time. -- bb] -- and came upon a family of respectable Herethroy out to inspect the butterflies in the Spiral Garden. The respectable Herethroy did what is only fitting and proper for respectable Herethroy to do, viz. the co-lover took their youngish children aside, and the man and woman scowled at Dustweed and Tethezai and urged them to depart.
Dustweed, I hear, started to. Tethezai, I hear, did not let zir.
Instead Tethezai created the illusion of a large and ferocious Fire Kitten, and roared it at the Herethroy.
(Aside: Tethezai is a respectable Illusidor mage, so only a very careful observer indeed would be able to tell by inspection of her spell that her Fire Kitten wasn't a real elemental. But anyone who knows the first thing about the spell will realize that it couldn't have been -- Fire Kittens must be conjured from existing fires, not thin air, and if the existing fire is not old enough, the elemental's eyes will not be open. Nobody at that scene seems to have known this important and obvious point, though.)
This, of course, the Herethroy interpreted as an assault with a deadly weapon. A deadly and ill-controlled weapon, as Fire Kittens are not terribly obedient elementals.
City guard were summoned! Dustweed and Tethezai outranked them! The Captain of the City Guard was summoned! Dustweed and Tethezai did not outrank her! Explanations were made! Apologies were made! Tethezai bought bound Remedy for Pyrador spells for each of the Herethroy, as a concrete apology! Dustweed and Tethezai were finally free to come home! Both are shaken, rattled, upset, beturmoiled!
I offered to sleep on the kitchen stove tonight. (Do not mistake this for approval of Dustweed. Tethezai is sufficiently important to be worth giving a favor or two here or there.)
They declined, though, and I slept in my fireplace as usual. I have to admit I am curious, and glanced over at Dustweed and Tethezai in bed several times. Tethezai, being a good deal shorter than Dustweed, is curled up in Dustweed's arms. Tethezai is wearing Dustweed's brown sleeping-robe, which looks quite silly with two empty sleeves. Dustweed is just wrapped a bit in blankets, probably to cushion Tethezai from zir hard and somewhat spiky carapace.
And that will have to do for today.