A Hideous Plot [10 Trandary 4261]
Jarmiet cooks reasonably well, but you would not call it scanty. Today's lunch was a Daupdree pudding, made properly with powdered dried mushrooms and plenty of onion, but of course without the smoked guntry since Dustweed and Valeriant were to eat it. Jarmiet, being clever and kind, made for it a smoked guntry sauce -- a white sauce, that is, with red wine and chopped smoked guntry and a respectable quantity of pepper.
(Valeriant is one of the other Evil Neighbors. She is very quiet. I am fairly sure she is Yistreian, but her accent is much better than Vingi's or even than Ghirbis' when she talks at all. She will not sit next to Dustweed. Whenever she addresses Dustweed, she speaks as if every word pains her, and never raises her voice above a low whisper. This is because every word she speaks pains her, and she cannot raise her voice above a low whisper. We explained this to Tethezai, who, after Prof. Poenisa's insult, was ready to hire eight Khtsoyis and deal harshly with the next offense to Dustweed; but she will have to wait for that.)
Still, the Daupdree pudding was rather a large one. I knew this to be true in the morning, for of course it takes several hours to be steamed, and when I awoke Jarmeit was just putting the lid on it.
So -- what else could I do? I brought Thery and Yarwain back to help us eat it. "Is the cheese from Oorah Thrassen?" Thery asked, since last week I saw that play with them, and the conversation continued as though Vompadro from the play were sure to drop in at any moment. All very fun. I don't remember a word of it.
Which left our apartment a bit crowded. The four of us (Tethezai is not one of us, nor was she there); the four Evil Neighbors; Thery and Yarwain; Jarmiet; Iska whom we had passed sitting on top of a wall reading a mathematics book and whom Yarwain had invited with only the slightest notice that he was inviting her to an apartment and meal that was not his to invite her to and furthermore which she had been refused once. (Strictly, he looked to me and said, "You had mentioned that it would be an extravagant amount for nine and even for eleven; will it be at least an adequate amount of twelve?" To which the answer had to be "yes".)
And that's not the worst of it. I do believe that Yarwain has acquired some interest in Iska. And here is why:
- He was acting distinctly oddly towards Thery: as though she were a nendrai with a hundred glass teacups stacked on top of her, and at any moment she might explode into a social disaster or a frenzy of terrible violence. Thery is, of course, generally a calm person, so this behavior is quite unprecedented.
- Havune sniffed at all three Rassimel as much as he could without being rude -- even to the point of hugging Thery, which he never did when they shared a room, and surreptitiously sniffing his sleeve afterwards. With a Cani's nose and a Cani's social sensibility, he clearly wondered at something, or knew something. He did not admit to anything beyond wanting to smell her better, but he clearly has his suspicions of something.
- Yarwain did, in fact, flirt slightly with Iska (and Iska with Yarwain) while we were spraddling all night last term. As Thery slept.
This does not seem at all like a good thing, for Yarwain and Thery are supposedly quite an attached couple. A couple consists of two -- not three or four or five!
I do wonder if Yarwain is not being somewhat wicked and plotful here. He is, after all, heir to a good deal in Ulmarn, and Thery, of course, is stuck working with the Countess Gloun for a great long time. Obviously they cannot form a lasting attachment in any convenient way. I suspect Yarwain of intentionally switching his interests to someone more moveable -- Iska has moved from lower world-branches to Ketheria; she can surely move from Vheshrame to Ulmarn.
She may have some practical advantages. She is smarter than Thery. Indeed, she is generally regarded as the most intelligent person in my whole social set. Why else would some city-state on a lower branch sponsor a farmer's daughter -- a Rassimel farmer -- a farmer's daughter to go study in Ketheria? And she has been in several of my classes, and at least once been given the mark of "frighteningly correct". It takes quite a bit of intellect to frighten a professor, I should think.
So: while Iska is hardly a social prize at the moment -- she is more of a social skin infection -- she is quite likely to be one at some point. Thery is acceptable and more than acceptable now, but in a few years will be unavailable. Yarwain is as good a friend as Iska has in Vheshrame; he has the full charm of a Great Baron, and the full prospective income and social advantages as well. Yarwain and Thery have no formal bond, and I daresay that he could break their informal one without any great effort.
And Yarwain is a schemer. Never doubt it.
Still, it's a horrid plan. I quite don't know what to do.