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Journal (pp 11, 12)

15 Mardal (pp 11, 12)

In the morning I did some walking and buying of drinks down near the docks. Needless to say, I did not bother to shave before this excursion, nor did I wear my best. Wore the tunic I was about to throw away, and my old boots. There was no work to be found near the docks, at least none that “I” was willing to take, but there was a lot of talk about the Grand Ball and about the ruling noble families. Everyone seems to know that Phillip is planning to leave his fortune to Andrew and there is much speculation, and not a little betting, on whether or not he will survive, and if not, who will inherit. There was much speculation about the children of the Landause family as well, as the current Lord is ailing.

There are only a few major social events each year. The Grand Ball is one of them. All of them seem to have a relatively high mortality rate.

A few “innocent” questions gave me some additional information. Andrew is right to fear poison. To directly attack someone is a crime. To have an enemy drop dead from a surfeit of eels or a previously unremarked “allergy to almonds” may be seen as “convenient,” but if it can’t be proved to be an attack, the person who it benefits will walk free. On the other hand, self-defense is not only legal, but encouraged, since it saves the expense of trials and lawyers. It is suddenly less amazing that the poison detection amulet works.

It appears that the Lords (or Ladies) who rule the Great Houses tend to live for quite a while, since they can openly hire guards, employ mages and safeguard their health. (The killing of a young child is investigated and prosecuted vigorously.) The children, once they reach the age of majority, are expected to compete, since in that way they can show their fitness to rule. They are expected to cultivate friends rather than hiring assistance, though all admit that some friends are better than others, and those often have purses which are conveniently fuller than those of their companions.

I returned to the Crown and Anchor a little after lunchtime, and found Andrew “holding court” in the main room of the bar. A troubadour was singing some of his compositions and the entire crowd was enjoying itself enough that I was able to sneak up to my rooms without being noticed. A quick bath, shave and change of clothes and I was able to saunter down, to jeers about my “sleeping in,” which I took in good nature. Andrew reminded me that I am to attend upon him at dinner. He will be at home, so he gave me an invitation which I am to present to the gate guards when I arrive. He emphasized that I am to arrive no earlier than six of the clock and no later than half an hour later.

The weather has been wonderful these last few days, clear and warm but not overly hot. That will come in good time, I am told. More after this evening’s meetings.
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