Forgileill is informed that her elder sister, Belannia is in the Royal Palace at Diaton. She is on her way to Dalla Tyrl to meet Kuvan in advance of their impending wedding. Belannia, as a Princess on High Clan business, has an entourage, mostly Gwaithor; a dozen handmaidens and dressers as well as half a dozen ilin from Hisra, a Red Priest and a Fallia Knight. It is likely that she will remain in Dalla Tyrl for at least another week.
Belannia had been granted a suite of rooms overlooking the funduq. There is a steady level of background noise, although not intrusive, coming up from the nearby market. The rooms are open and spacious, the windows covered only by gauzy white curtains, stirring softly in the sea breeze. Ilin are stationed on the veranda, shaded by the overhanging portico.
Half a dozen of her Gwaithor maids-in-waiting are in the room, relaxing, reading, strumming stringed instruments and giggling at the Fallia Knight who stands, unmoving, by the door. A colour-matched steely-eyed dealer of death in a large room of soft furnishings and fruit bowls.
As Forgileill enters the chamber, her sister rises and rushes to embrace her. They have not seen each other for over a decade. Belannia takes Forgileillís arm and leads her back to her couch, where they sit and talk for hours.
Belannia tells her younger sister that Arutha has indeed been to Veluna and was recognised by the emperor as Glordinís heir and therefore sovereign ruler of Alcant. Thus acknowledged, he returned to Alcant and handed over the realm and its goods and chattels to Kuvan Irien, as his father had intended. Arutha is in Dalla Tyrl now, assisting the new Lord settle in. It was something that Glordin believed was important, and though it chokes Arutha, he is not going to defy their fatherís memory.
Forgileill asks about the marriage. An arranged marriage, whilst expected for Gwenn of their status, doesnít leave much room for Thiramin (true love). Hence this meeting, replies Belannia. She will meet her betrothed and his two existing wives and possibly any number of children and new relatives. It is not this that she is expecting to find difficult. What will be strange will be visiting her childhood home and it belonging to someone else. When she is married, it is certain that for at least some of the time, she will also be resident there, with her new Clan. A very strange situation. Belannia intends to negotiate with Kuvan, to be allowed to complete her studies in Saironost. The lure of actually being allowed to wear the coveted Blackrobe is strong and she does not want to miss out. Belannia intends to one day be her husbands Visir Arcana.
It transpires that the Irien, with or without Aruthaís guidance, have been busy. They have adopted a new symbol and new banner to commemorate their ascension in the Great Game. They have chosen the Phoenix, a creature from Mura mythology (apparently worshipped as divine by the Moche).
At some point within the next year, Arutha and Kuvan will travel to Veluna. There, before the Emperor, Arutha will formally hand possession of the realm over to Kuvan. Kuvan will then marry Belannia in Veluna before they depart, he back to Alcant and she either back to Saironost to finish her training or to Alcant with her new husband. Either way, there will be a glittering imperial social occasion very soon.
Forgileill quizzes her sister about life as a Greyrobe. On the subject of the Assembly, they talk of Kcasamenzay, but Belannia has not seen her since Glordinís JukpŻdhar. Belannia had thought that she might be in Teddin. It was long presumed by the rest of the Clan that she would not actually leave Teddin for good. Her brother Tylain is Lord of the Impassode Isles and her other brothers remains are still lost on the Plateau. Forgileill noted that their family did appear to be forsaking Teddin. Arutha would not remain to serve Kuvan any longer than propriety demanded and she herself was headed for Hisra.
Belannia points out that they have brothers, Aratan in Eagleís Reach and Belothar in North Rythym as well as their uncle Tylain in the Impassode isles. Besides which, Belannia expects to find friends amongst the Irien.
Talk turns to Forgileillís journey to Hisra. Forgileill admits to not having too much of an idea what she is going to do there. They both know that Kcasamenzay will one day take Forgileill to Saironost and place her with a tutor, just as she did with Belannia. At least Hisra is full of Clan members and allies. There is Asion in the North and Jadhrim in the south and a contact, if not a friend, in every Wilya in between. Belannia says that she has seen Jadhrim. She tells of how Jadhrim used to care for Forgileill when she was an infant. She is sure that a place can be found for Forgileill and her entourage.
Forgileill is unsure, her cousin has already done so much for her, any more would be an imposition. She doesnít want to be a burden on her closest relatives. Belannia does not believe that this is the case. There are few enough SindaliŽ in the Empire, and even fewer relatives, she is sure than any SindaliŽ Forgileill presented herself to would be glad for the company. This is encouraging to Forgileill, who comments that since Arutha took charge, she has felt that she has the most support from Jadhrim. Exploring her feelings (possibly only something she would share only with her closest sister) she notes that Jadhrim always seems calm, and never demanding or harsh (like Kcasamenzay could be). Itís as if she has an aura of peacefulness and purity of spirit.
Belannia laughs. Her mentor in Saironost is Scack Oroed, another cousin. His forte appears to be divination and the uncovering of hidden things. Including secrets. And although it is not an area where Belannia is particularly proficient herself, she has found out that Jadhrim is a (Sister of the) Silver Heart. Worshippers of Celene and Veluna, in ancient legends these unicorn cultists inspired fierce loyalty. And they were always to be found striving against evil. Belannia suggested that as Feanor had led the unicorn jihad, perhaps Jadhrim being a Silver Heart was some form of karmic reward for their Clan. Regardless of this, it went some way to explaining why she led soldiers into battle against the Hurgilin and their diabolic allies at such a young age.
Unicorns are scared to the elves, hence their once going to war when an ancient Baklunish king decided to hunt them. They represent an irrepressibility about life that the elves love. The idea of the forest as eternal (for the unicorns of the world can be much older than the elves). They represent magic as a primal force, as a part of nature itself. And a certain purity and childlike innocence that seemed almost impossible to find away from the wild places.
Belannia declared that Jadhrim had apparently given up her chance to find Thiramin in order to devote herself to being a Silver Heart. They both felt a little sad for their cousin, to miss out on soul bound romance for all eternity. They agreed that despite their Clanís reputation for skulduggery, it was good to know that more often than not, they really were a force for good in the world. They sat and talked for a the rest of the day, until the time came for Forgileill to retire to her own chambers and find her yicduroh for dinner with Benťs Lůmin, the Lord of Diaton and his court.
After dinner Forgileill was mixing with the other members of the court. The Red Priest who was part of her sisterís entourage made it clear that he wanted to speak with her alone in the garden. Intrigued, she followed him behind screening fruit trees. They were alone together. When challenged he told her that his name was Dryeal Lominlindi. And that more importantly he was an agent of Ancarvin, hence his travelling with Belannia, it gave him adequate cover for a clandestine mission. He told her of Darsil Tharil, another agent of the Gwathlů and his mission to find out what Kelkess Racoba was up to. Dryeal noted that Forgileill had the skills to pursue such a mission and due to her travelling incognito, was not being watched by such spies as regularly followed the nobility of the empire around as they conducted their business.
He comes straight out and asks Forgileill to investigate what Kelkess Racoba is up to. He has some equipment that might help in an intrusion mission and offers to delay Belanniaís party here until Forgileill is back from the Plateau. Then Forgileill and her ilin can travel to Kamveluna as part of Belanniaís caravan, in disguise if necessary, before breaking into Kelkessís mansion. There is the sound of someone approaching and Dryeal is quickly on his knees with his arms around her legs, breathlessly confessing undying love and begging for more as the serving girl walks through the garden. The serving girl pretends not to see as Dryeal waxes lyrical about Forgileillís prowess as a seductress. Heís very funny she has to stifle giggles as he weeps real tears for his imaginary broken heart.
With the maid gone, Dryeal warns that although the nostir in Belanniaís party are not under suspicion, that it is possible that anyone else they meet might sell information about their intent to break into Kelkessís house to Kelkessís friends. Which would endanger many people. He makes a point of re-iterating that Darsil, the missing agent, is (was ?) a very accomplished spy.