The last few days of late summer/early autumn before Opilio and Vesper leave Cinquedea.
Suitors: Following the processional feast, both Turavo Avicca and Giacador Andredi contact Opilio to state their interest in Ambira. Giacador seems a little disappointed when declined, but at least puts on a show of understanding. The Avicca gentleman is less sanguine, and his letter of response is faintly venomous.
The Apples: With the ledger in her hand, Captain Quincerra begins investigation of those city residents implicated with purchasing plague-apples. The duelist Palisax Redhand and the merchant Lossifo Bandicca are arrested quickly. The Phouthite priest Calcarro is brought in for questioning, but after some uproar among the religious sector, he is released. The priest of the Higher Nine, Ortifo, is publicly defrocked. Paretta Avicca and Gocho Pulsciri are not mentioned as brought in for questioning or arrest.
Fair Clyressa vanishes, and is rumored to have fled the city. The Golden Orchid is closed to await investigation and potential reopening under new management.
Dinner with Owls: Vesper and Opilio pay a call on the Tyliel estate, in part to thank the Tyliels for their role in the processional feast and in part to pursue the possibility of Alesci and Ambira becoming betrothed. Alesci formally requests permission to become better acquainted with Ambira; he confesses he finds her charming and quite unlike the girls he knows in Cinquedea, but has not really had much of a chance to get to know her well enough to feel comfortable requesting permission to marry.
At the dinner, Opilio meets Alesci’s immediate family as well. His father Cabo is a slightly heavy-set gentleman who is very humble and gracious; his mother Pirisina has a sense of humor that borders on the rustic; and his younger brother Vilo is immediately taken with Ambira, and complains to Alesci that he is probably closer to Ambira’s age than Alesci is.
Viriscia Tyliel shows some interest in the story of the Chapelwood lands, and offers to send her apprentice Floressa with Alesci to study the more unusual aspects of the land. For her part Floressa is gracious and charming, not quite the studied diplomat that Virillin Iluni is, but with a level of naturally (or unnaturally) bewitching charm. Her poise is put to the test as she chats with Vesper, though, as the Sespech teases her lightly about the processional feast and her apparent interest in Kosvach Vargari.
“I confess I had imagined the Vargari to be a little… rough around the edges for a Tyliel,” says Vesper coolly.
“I can’t speak to him being ‘for’ me or any other Tyliel. But even though the House reputation is daunting, he seems to possess a certain forthright honesty that speaks well for him. And I understand the Vargari believe in loyalty. That is… admirable.”
The two sorceresses seem to get along well, though Chiro and Floressa’s ermine Saltarello apparently spend part of the meal fussing at one another in indecipherable familiar-speak.
“Blaggard! Poltroon! Reprobate! Come up here and say that!”
Dinner with Wolves: Vesper and Alesci have dinner at the Vargari tower. Alesci picks up Vesper at the dock in a carriage, and rides with her there; along the way, he confesses that he’s a little nervous about possibly marrying so soon. He has (perhaps unfairly) looked at his friend as a possible model, and expected he would at least reach Kosvach’s age before marrying, rather than being betrothed at eighteen. He asks Vesper’s opinion on Ambira, as Ambira’s friend. Vesper tells Alesci not to let Opilio pressure him into anything – the marriage will be worthwhile only if he and Ambira are sure they want it.
The evening’s host is Grimant, local head of the Vargari and Rodivar’s older brother. Vesper meets him and his wife Forsa, their son Caineros and Grimant’s adopted student/inductee Ravian. Kosvach’s older sister Tarvana is also in attendance, having returned from her bounty-work upon hearing of the assassins sent against the family. The dinner is interesting — in some ways, the Vargari are every inch the barbarians she expected, but she learns quite a bit about their House’s history. She offers to look into the state of former Vargari holdings in Maviolo, and to see if Prince Lazzaretta would be amenable to the House reclaiming them if they are so inclined.
Alesci Is Perceptive: Alesci offers Vesper a carriage ride back to the dock after dinner with the Vargari. They idly chat about the evening, and Alesci is struck with an insight into Vesper’s heart — one that she herself is not quite privy to. The Tyliel is quite delighted at the prospect of his two friends perhaps courting one another, but governed by with the wisdom his House instilled in him, he keeps his sudden insight entirely to himself.
The Rovinos: With Bravadi gone, there is some dissent in the Rovino house as to who should be the new local head. Scorpis puts his name forward, and has some support, but the majority feel that his actions as Bravadi’s blade are too visible for him to be a good choice if the Prince is still paying attention. Rasselo and Bessari are the most obvious candidates, and with news that Ettorio is planning to court Bessari, the Rovinos shift majority support behind Rasselo.
Rasselo seems to still not like Ettorio all that much, but he apparently appreciates the positive effect Ettorio has on his sister. He also is reluctantly grateful that the courtship appears to be painting a sort of romantic legitimacy on the whole affair. It’s one of the first times this branch of the House has had to deal with romantic legitimacy, and they’re trying it on for size.
Marvino’s Problems: The money problems plaguing Ettorio’s brother are fairly dire. The shipbuilder’s bill coming due is likely to run about twenty thousand reganti. While most of this burden lies on the shoulders of his father-in-law, Marvino is no longer able to draw wages from the Batholus shipping company, and fears for his family’s future: there’s no way the Iluni will be able to spare that kind of money to save his father-in-law’s business.
Departure: Opilio and his family return to their estate to begin governing it in earnest. Vesper rides with them as far as Canteria, and then departs for Ladona — but not before sharing a few private words with Ambira.