The $35-level continuation story from the November Giraffe Call.
This is in the Reiassan Setting, which has a landing page here (and on LJ). It comes after everything else I’ve written in timeline for Rin & Girey, and directly after/during Mother Knows… (LJ) and Encountering Dad (LJ)
“Are you going to marry him?”
Rin blinked at her mother for a moment, and then shook her head, laughing at herself. She’d been out of Lannamer too long, away from politics, intrigue, away from watching what you said. Away from schooling your face and voice.
“Well?” Her mother was smirking faintly, suggesting she’d read every thought as it moved across Rin’s mind. “Are you going to marry your nice young man? Keep him as a bedwarmer? Use him as a clerk?”
“That’s quite a lot of questions for someone you’ve only met in passing, Ina.”
“You’ve had him in the palace complex for three days, Arinyanca. That’s enough for the word to get out. He’s quiet, but he speaks Callanthe very well, and when he shifts into Bitrani, his accent is crisp and upper-class. He’s a Duke’s son, well-bred, and the people who notice such things think he’s clever. You’ve got him dolled up like a court-dancer, and he fits it very well, but his hands have sword-callouses and his shoulders and arms are very broad.”
“They speak quite a bit about him, the gossips,” she answered mildly, worrying at the stab of jealousy like a loose cuticle.
“There’s quite a bit of speculation. That kiss had people talking within moments.”
“It was a very nice kiss,” she smiled. “He has nice lips.”
“And are you going to marry him? With Elen’s wedding today, it becomes more a more and urgent question.”
“I know,” she nodded, “and I don’t know.”
Arinya’s father pulled the scroll out of its case and rolled it out on the table. “She can be a wild one, my Rinnie,” he confided, “although I’m betting you’ve found that out already. Where was it she captured you?”
Girey colored uncomfortably, and stared at the scroll rather than look the older man in the face. “On the front. Just outside of Ouyknan. I was riding the line in the evening, and she was, too, both looking for wounded.”
“She got the drop on you?” The man sounded sympathetic. “Well, there are a lot worse things that can happen, coming out of a war like that one.”
Girey nodded slowly, more than a little reluctantly. “I suppose you’re right, sir.”
“It’s Egarengar. You can call me Gar. We’re practically family, after all.” He looked up with a very sharp glance at Girey. “Aren’t we, Girey of… Tugia?”
He didn’t like that hesitation. “So your daughter tells me, sir,” he answered evenly. “And she’s in charge.” He fingered the plaque bracelet around his wrist uncomfortably.
Egarengar glanced at the bracelet. “Ah, that,” he smiled. “I wondered if she’d taken it with her. I carved it for her, you know.”
“You did?” He looked at the bracelet again, wondering if he’d ever understand these people. “Why?”
“There’s old superstitions around these things. That if you want to bring home certain qualities, you ask someone with those traits to carve the band.”
“Well,” Inatalana offered, leaning forward, “what will it take for you to be certain? He’s a handsome man, Arinya. And he seems fond of you.”
“He does,” she admitted. “That’s new. He started out hating me, which is to be expected. If our quitari had been on backwards, if I had been the one being captured, I think I would have hated him, too.”
“Marriages have started from shakier foundation than that,” her mother offered. “Arinya, I know I’m sounding pushy, but there have not been all that many men that you’ve expressed an interest in. There was that nice scholar, when you were at University, but that didn’t seem to go anywhere. And then you joined the army.”
“And then I joined the army,” she agreed. It covered all of it, after all: the time away from Lannamer and the palace, the men around her who were not, for the most part, royal, the lack of time for the games of spouse-hunting. “And with Elen’s marriage…” Damn Elen, anyway, for her bad timing. “I’d hoped to have more time to see how he fit in here.”
“So it was part of your plan, then, the possibility of marrying him?” That seemed to reassure Ina.
“It’s been on my mind. He was young and cocky when I captured him, not really what I was looking for. But he seems to have mellowed out over the trip, and I think I’m starting to like him.”
“And it’s clear he comes from a good bloodline.”
Girey stared at the bracelet for a few minutes, and then looked back up at Egarengar. There was a lump of something like hope and something like horror in his throat, but he didn’t want to admit to this stranger any of that. “So you were hoping she’d capture someone?” he asked instead.
“Or find someone. That doesn’t mean quite what I think you think it does, that band.”
“I’m starting to see that. What – what qualities…” he stumbled in his Callenian for the first time in months, and frowned, frustrated, spitting out a few muttered complaints in Bitrani.
“Yes, it is a tongue-twisting language when you get into the interpersonal stuff. I’ve found that Bitrani is much cleaner for that, but it has much less opportunity for nuance.” He still sounded sympathetic, and a little bit amused. “I can’t speak as to what qualities I have, but I can tell you what she said she was looking for. If you think it will help.”
He tugged angrily at the sleeves of his strange, foreign tunic. “Nothing is going to help. She caught me.”
“And you followed her into Lannamer. That’s loyalty.”
“Nowhere else to go.”
“Pragmaticism is not the worst of motives by far.” He pointed at the scroll again. “If I read this correctly, this tells of how a Bitrani King wooed his captive Callanthe wife.”
Girey read the phrase in question. “I am not sure about the word ‘woo,’” he offered cautiously.
“Much like she ‘wooed’ you, mmm?”
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