Dubaille returned today with a smallish wooden box, which he presented to Dustweed and Tethezai with great ceremony and thorough dignity. Inside the box there was much straw, and a small brown clay teapot. "I may not be a man of great means," said he, "but I do repay my debts."
Tethezai took one look at the teapot, and I thought for a moment that Dubaille would soon be wearing it. She curled her tail, and said "Very well, then." and took Dustweed's mid-hand and lead zir out of the apartment.
Dubaille turned to me, and expressed frustration at Tethezai's apparant refusal to forgive him a minor and swiftly-corrected mistake -- and Havune's clear refusal to accept that he, Dubaille, was keeping strictly to the letter of their agreement. "Fortunately, you are my friend and have no mysterious and unfounded hatred for me, Sythyry, or else I should be quite alone among the residents of this place," he said.
I did not argue with him on that, but he is not entirely right. What does one do with such as Dubaille? He is in every way but title inferior to Thery, or indeed to anyone living here now, but his situation is unfortunate. Not the sort of thorough, divinely ordained unfortunity -- unfortunateness? -- that is Dustweed's; the very common and easy unfortunateness that could come to anyone. Etiquette and common sense says to tolerate and encourage him and shun Dustweed, but, privately, I would rather share a room with Dustweed for another year than share an apartment with Dubaille for another month.
I got to see the teapot later. It is small, and brown, and made of clay. It was clearly intended to be symmetrical, but just as clearly the potter's thumb interfered with that, so there is an odd flattish bit on the left side with a distinct smoothed-out clawprint in it. The handle is of cane, and already starting to splinter. The spout was also intended to be symmetrical by design, but without any great diligence of execution; I daresay the potter did not want to waste an actually-symmetrical spout on an already-botched teapot. Underneath, the pot is hastily trimmed, and still has scratchy bits. There is a date and a number, in a careful Rassimel-looking hand, but no potter's mark: whoever made this piece did not care to claim it.
Under the circumstances, it seemed advisable to remember a strong social obligation elsewhere. I hunted down Spirshash, who was reading on the roof of his building. (And therein lies a minor complaint: I had carefully chosen to fly along the streets so I would have a better chance of finding him, rather than above the houses where I would actually have seen him in an instant.)
I sat on his book and demanded his attention. This was less rude than it might sound, for he was reading in the sense of "staring at Accanax' celestial eidolon as if hoping for a prophecy of destruction, with occasional glances at the book." [Accanax, and the other six creator gods of the World Tree can be seen in the sky; Accanax is the most wantonly destructive of the seven, and known for creating many monsters. -bb]
"Spirshash!" said I, "You do not read! Come away with me: it shall not help your studying, but it may help your mood."
"Well, Sythyry, and I shall come away with you, but let it be to the streets of shops, for I wish to give my wife and husband a peace offering."
"If you get them a teapot, let it be an excellent one indeed," I said, and distracted him with mockeries of Dubaille for a block and a half.
We browsed among shops for an hour and a third, and in the end Spirshash bought a small squat bottle of alarmingly crimson Gnessoise, and three small elegant glass tasting-chalices with serpents' servants on the sides [a small, elegant carnivorous insect -bb].
I had never tasted Gnessoise. Of course I did not have Spirshash open his new bottle -- the symbolism there is a bit insidious, and entirely not true, no matter how fun it sounds. But the shopkeeper had an open bottle, and I tasted a drop. It is crimson with the juice of hirexberries, and zaxasandra petals, and cochineal, and the tiny scarlet fish whose names I have forgotten, and the blood of chargers. It is every bit as complicated as it sounds, and absolutely not to my taste. Orren and Cani generally like it, though. And I rather hope Tillissa and Oostmarine are among those who do.