Meta-Conversation Part Four: Uncomfortable Topics

You, the readers, asked Jaco of Lady Taisiya’s Fourth Husband some questions, and he’s already discussed someand then some moreand then he got upset. Here he is, after having taken a brief break to calm his nerves.

When Jaco returns, he bows deeply to the gathered listeners, then sits down. He looks calmer, and quirks an eyebrow at the group as if sharing a joke.

Sauergeek steps forward. “Jaco, you seem to be upset by being on the spot. Is it rude for me to ask what’s bothering you?”

Jaco leans back, much more comfortable now, and clears his throat.

“You can’t fix everything, you know,” he begins, not looking at the cards yet, not quite looking at the audience, either. “Heck,” he jangles his chains, “I can’t fix much at all. And sometimes, sometimes it gets frustrating. Looking at all the things that can’t be fixed, that nobody fixes.” He takes a breath. “My little brother got married before me, and the woman he married, well, let’s just say from the outside it doesn’t look good, and nobody’s getting in to get a better look.”

He flips through the cards slowly. “Ah.” He bows at Clare. “I missed this one. How I was chosen to be one of Lady Taisiya’s husbands. There was a business deal. There’s often a business deal. Lady Taisiya’s House has some very prime land grants, and my mother’s House wanted access to the fishing rights on her coast. My family’s lands are landlocked — I’m told someone made a very bad deal a few generations back in return for a very handsome husband. To be honest,” he ducks his head and smirks, “my family has a habit of making bad decisions for reasons like that.”

This time, he picks a card at random, and smiles. “Ah, an easy one. Raiders. They are — well, when we were brought here, we weren’t the only people brought. There were five different groups. It’s not a small planet, and we are all over the place; I don’t think any of our people know what happened to the two groups on the other side of the world.” He gestures behind him at a big world map consisting mainly of survey photos from space.

“That leaves three groups we know about — ourselves, the ones who hid, and the raiders. I don’t know much about the ones who hid. But the other ones, the raiders, they didn’t want to play by the rules. They don’t play by the rules. They barely play by the treaties.” He gestures with both hands, although the gesture is completely unclear. “They would rather steal what we’ve worked for than work for their own. Most of the time, they just sneak in and steal things. Sometimes they attack instead.”

He keeps moving through the cards. “The Treaties, those are… well, they’re a set of agreements between our people and other people here. They cover things nobody will do, things nobody ought to do, things everybody ought to do, and so on. But they also cover balances of forces and things like that.” He glowers now. “Like I said, the raiders don’t keep to those very well, and it stinks.”

He looks down at a card scribbled with notes regarding Kelkyag and Rix’s conversation while he was out of the room. He looks up again, not quite looking either of those two notables in the eye but coming as close as he has with any woman here.

“When raiders attack, they’ll take everything, if they can. The nursery is the most secure room in any house, and it can usually hold out against attack. That’s why the kids and the junior husbands get sent there.” He smirks faintly. “To protect us. Wives, women, they’ve learned not to let themselves get taken. Even little girls know the drill. But we’re supposed to keep themselves and us alive long enough for help to come, and — let me tell you, not letting your daughter die or be taken, not letting your sons be taken — if it came down to it, I would fight to death, the Treaty be damned.”

He cleared his throat, looking a little embarrassed. “That is, um. They’ll take the eggs if they can, but nobody knows what they do with them. The kids and the husbands — them they enslave.”

It’s my turn to stand up. “We should be wrapping up, so we’ll take one more round of questions before we let Jaco get back to his house and his chores.”

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