>The leaders of House R'yuu-z-ky regarded L'yynr'd as little worse
>than eccentric. He was a grown man, after all, and not one whose
>birth placed him high on the list of people who might one day have
>a prominent role to play in the future of the clan, so if what he
>wanted to do was run off to New Avalon and pretend to be human,
>well, so be it.
One does wonder if, given it's fallen circumstances, a few members of House Mr'kreth'yyr thought to make some lemonande out of the lemons of Leonard and Embelinda and see if there might be at least some diplomatic advantage in her in unforseen and unwelcome union with House R'yuu-z-ky.
M'belyyn'da probably put the kibosh on that, tho.
>Duchess Mr'kreth'yyr (now sometimes called
>M'belyyn'da the Elder) had gone to great trouble to secure an heir
>despite the difficulties imposed on doing so by an accident of biology.
>So often had she tried and failed that, rumor had it, she had become
>quite deranged about the matter.
The fact that this whole scheme seems very ill thought out and short-sighted would seem to confirm those rumors, although I personally am not so sure.
>prospects Mr'kreth'yyr had now were Umi's aunt and uncle, the offspring
>of the Duchess's much-harassed younger brother Ryk'art, and they -
>thanks to the dilatory fashion in which he had secured his posterity -
>were mere children, much younger than Umi, who was now just past eighty
>herself. As such, the old woman was deeply embittered. She hadn't
>spoken directly to her daughter in more than a century, or her son-in-
>law ever, as far as anyone knew.
I am deeply interested in the politics of the situation. (Quelle surprise, I know.) Does the Duchess actually have the power to disinherit Embelinda, pass the title and with it leadership of the House over to Umi's aunt or uncle? That would probably greatly increase the potential value of any match she can make the two of them? I'm guessing "no" given all the trouble she's going to to forcibly make at least one of her wandering descendants toe in line, but...
>The next part, she had to admit, was her own stupid fault.
Aww, Umi. No it's not. This is the familial equivalent of a mugging. It's the fault of the mugger, not yours. :)
>It only occurred to her that this had been a rookie mistake when
>she emerged from the bathroom twenty minutes later, wrapped in one towel
>and scrubbing at her hair with another, to find her Lens gone, her
>grandmother standing by the door, and an unmistakably purposeful garment
>laid out on the bed.
Someone needs to give Umi a little card with whatever the Experts of Justice equivalent to the Rifleman's Creed is with regard to her Lens.
"This is my Lens. There are many like it, but this one is mine..."
Also, my respect for the Duchess has just gone up a lot. There are plenty of two-bit villains who wouldn't have thought of something simple like "wait for your mark to get in the shower, then take all their ultimate cool stuff." Good on her.
>"Get dressed, Uum'y," her grandmother replied briskly.
I love this.
Five'll get you ten the Duchess pronounces Umi's name in such a way as to leave no doubt in any listeners mind, even non-speakers of Hyelian, that she's saying "Uum'y" and NOT (certainly not!) "Umi."
>She folded her arms across her towel-wrapped chest. "I'm
>sorry, did it mysteriously become the 14th century while I was asleep?"
One day, someone is gonna say this, and the Ponds are going to pop out from behind some trees, Amy looking deeply sheepish, and say "Well, actually..."
>The twist in
>that was that Umi was using the least formal of High Alvish's several
>second persons into the bargain. She was being excruciatingly formal
>-and- insultingly familiar -at the same time,- a spectacular peak of
>sarcasm that wouldn't have been attainable in many other tongues. It
>was like being verbally abused by an angry angel.
The language nerd in me can only bow and say "bravo" to you, gentlemen. This? Was well-executed.
>She made a dismissive
>gesture. <... -children.- That boy you argue with so much? He's just
>a breeze through your hair. He'll wither and die before you even reach
>your third century.
The Duchess' ignorance isn't precisely her fault, but you can't really help but laugh...
Well, it's a little bit her fault, I guess. Nall's known associates include a shit-ton of immortal people who are known for extending that benefit to others, and the Duchess is plugged in enough that she ought to have some idea as to just what Nall's good buddy Corwin really is. Do your research! Or at least hire some decent PIs. You're playing in the big leagues now. You just lost of of the villain points you gained with this elegant little ambush.
><With whom I do or do not grow old is my business, thou wicked
>crone,> Umi spat back. This was not entirely fair - though aged,
>Duchess M'belyyn'da the Elder was still a tall, slim, elegant woman -
Crone, like maiden and mother, can function well as a state of mind, not a literal description. :) Just off the top of my head, Clarissa Broadbank is basically nine-tenths of the way to crone and she's not even twenty yet.
><Or what?> the Duchess interrupted her. <You have an
>obligation. The banns have been published, the dowry paid. You -will-
>marry Prince B'ghanna'vel of the House of Tel'vyyra'gath today, and by
>doing so you will save your mother's house from the extinction to which
>she assumed she had consigned it.>
Ah. This would seem to answer my previous question, wouldn't it? It would appear that the Duchess doesn't have an easy way to just cut Embelinda out of the line of succession and be done with the whole thing. Although I'm not 100% inclined to take her at her word; she might just be stubborn. And crazy.
><I have an obligation? -I- have an OBLIGATION?> Umi raged. <It
>will be interesting to see thee defend that premise in court,
>particularly as this is the very first that I have ever HEARD of it! I
>am a citizen of the Republic of Zeta Cygni, not thy ducal subject, and I
>do NOT, I will NEVER, agree to this.>
YES. First of all, Umi? You have my undying love for being smart enough to threaten your grandmother with the LAW. A lot of Lensmen would already have started with the violence. Good for you. At least attempting to defuse things peacefully is a sign of maturity.
Sidebar: back when Try, Try Again came out, I spent a few days reading up on how international (and, within the US, interstate) law with regards to unconventional and/or "legal in one jurisdiction, illegal in another" marriages work out.
Umi would of course be capable of beating this relatively quickly in court given who she is; she knows people who have judges in Zeta Cygni and, indeed, on the Federation Courts that no doubt adjudicate this kind of thing on speed-dial. But if she were just J. Random Hyelian... assuming that Zeta Cygni's laws are at all like the US's, the whole process might drag out long enough to be very... troublesome.
Here in the real world, as an adult, if Umi were to enter a marriage in another jurisdiction that would also be legal in the US, the US would recognize the union as legitimate, especially since Umi has dual citizenship. The burden would be on her to prove that she was coerced into it (or otherwise not able to give meaningful consent) in order to have it dissolved; otherwise, she'd have to settle for suing for divorce.
(Laws are structured this way under the assumption that most countries won't be stupid enough to countenance their citizens entering into against-their-will marriages to citizens of other sovereign nations, and because, historically, most of the time people looking to bail out of a marriage by declaring jurisdictional irregularities have been men who are seeking to avoid supporting kids.)
This may be more information than anyone wants or needs. :)
>Umi laughed mirthlessly at that. <Oh ho ho, I sincerely doubt
>that. My parents fled this world to -escape- such 'arrangements,'> she
>said. <They married for love, not political convenience. As will I,
>should I ever choose to do so at all!>
There was an interesting and kind of sad story I read about arranged marriages within the Indian cultural context on Slate just last Friday. It kind of resonates with the interplay between Umi and the Duchess here, at least to me.
>The Duchess snorted. <Love. Pfeh. You young people and your
>absurd fixation on -love.- Romantic love is a passing storm, nothing
>more. It will not move mountains, nor will it save the world. Love
>will not blaze a trail to victory.> Raising long, slim fingers with
>elegantly manicured nails that put her granddaughter in mind of talons,
>she enumerated each of the following alternatives as she named it:
><Forethought, planning and cunning will accomplish all that love cannot.
Y'know... part of me is thinking that the Duchess has a point.
Romantic love is a pretty powerful thing, but a lot of people fixate on it as some sort of magical fix-it, where all you need is both love and willpower and you can accomplish damn near anything.
That's an attitude that gets people killed. The Duchess is right about one thing and only one thing; forethought, planning, and cunning are powerful tools in their own right and they can and will accomplish things that fuzzy thinking cannot.
A pity she doesn't realize that without something like love to work around, all that having a surfeit of forethought, planning, and cunning will do is make you into a particularly effective sociopath.
(I also detect a bit of sublimation going on in here. One wonders just how happy her marriage to the late Duke was. Or how happy she CONVINCED herself it was.)
It's an effective and powerful speech regardless.
><Thou art making a terrible mistake, Grandmother. Thou may'st
>force the issue for the moment, but know thee this: thou hast bought
>more trouble than doth EXIST in thy philosophy. Thou shalt not save
>House Mr'kreth'yyr this way.> Fixing the old woman with the most
>venomous glare she could muster - which was of such intensity it
>actually caused the Duchess to take a half-step back - she finished,
><Thou wilt find instead that thou hast guaranteed its destruction.>
Hmm. If I were Umi, once I got home, I'd do a lot of digging into what's about to happen here.
The Duchess is... I don't even want to say ill-informed, as that implies a deficiency on her part; she's just straight-up ignorant about a lot of the aspects surrounding her granddaughters various extracurricular activities. But she isn't dumb; or rather, people who get to where she's gotten in life may do dumb things, but usually competently.
Umi is a Lensbearer, which means she's in the direct chain-of-command of Gryphon, widely acknowledged as being on the shortlist for "most powerful person in the galaxy." His political stances and proclivities are well-known, and one of those is that he doesn't put up with this sort of shit when directed against his friends and relations. Even without him in the equation, the Republic of Zeta Cygni looks after it's citizens, and Umi's co-workers are no slouches.
This suggests one of three things:
1) The Duchess thinks she has the juice to tell the collected personages and institutions above to go stick it and have them back down. That's a terrifying and dangerous possibility even if she's wrong; it could mean that this isn't just internal family strife within Umi's clan, but that one of the many powerful organizations they've made an enemy of over the years is taking another poke at the Experts of Justice. That's something you want to keep a weather eye on.
2) The Duchess is pretty sure that people will come, rescue Umi, declare the marriage null and void in the eyes of the galaxy, and fly away home. She just doesn't care, which would imply another agenda at work. Umi probably would like to know what that is and if she'll be dodging kidnappers from now on.
3) A powerful Hyelian noblewoman has lost her marbles and is just straight-up doing desperate, crazy shit. This is something that those above the Duchess in the Hyelian power structure might want to look into.
This is a mystery that needs some solving. Solving Umi and Nall Style!
>All but one. Lan'yehra, the chambermaid under whose purview the
>young Countess's bedchamber fell,
Hmm. Given Ben's professed unfamiliarity with Zelda, I can't help but wonder if the name choice here is deliberate or not.
It's very, very close to "Lanayru," one of the three Dragon Gods from Skyward Sword. There are certain similarities between them and their elemental affinities and the Rune Gods. (Not an exact mapping, but... similarities.)
>"Umi's dual citizenship... complicates things," Nall said.
>"We'll have to get Umi's parents to file a protest with the Foreign
>Office - they'll probably turn it over to an IPO arbiter. If they push
>hard enough, it'll probably be annulled and - "
Nall is going to be one heck of a diplomat one day.
No snark, I mean that. It takes a level head and a phlegmatic temperament to approach a situation like this in a calm and straightforward way, and to seek to use existing methods of nonviolent dispute resolution. Despite his mercurial nature this isn't the first time, either. Kid has a bright future in arranging for angry people to not instantly reach for their revolvers.
>"For the King's sake, yo, sack up an' HANDLE this!" she snapped,
>her usually suppressed native dialect resurfacing in full force. Then
>she leaned forward like a baseball manager arguing with an umpire and
>shouted into his face, "IS YOU _IS_ OR IS YOU _AIN'T_ A _DRAGON?!_"
... and then Fuu comes along.
One day, someone is actually going to make use of all those lovely international institutions that Megazone, Jeremy Feeple, and the other fine people of the Babylon Foundation and various diplomatic services have poured blood, sweat, and tears into establishing.
That day? Is not today.
Strap in, ladies and gentlemen. Time to ride this one all the way home.
>Umi waited through Hei'glynn's interminable spiel about the
>ancient sanctity of the ceremony they were about to perform. The man
>seemed blissfully unconscious of the irony of his position. She
>wondered idly whether he knew she was there under protest, or had been
>told she was a willing participant, or simply didn't care.
You know, I don't know if the Priest is a reference of an expy, but I was really expecting the easy Princess Bride joke or the slightly less easy Prince of Thieves joke. :)
>The priest finished his speech, then made another, shorter one
>to Prince B'ghanna'vel about the duties (Hah! thought Umi scornfully)
>and privileges (Double hah!) he was about to assume, to the Countess
>Uum'y of the House of Mr'kreth'yyr (which wasn't even her -name, that
>would probably foul the legal waters right there)
Maybe gran-gran managed to arrange to have local authorities dissolve your parents marriage ab initio, Umi. :) That would, I speculate, make you part of House Mr'kreth'yyr, rather than House R'yuu-z-ky.
><Look out, milady!> Prince B'ghanna'vel cried, throwing himself
>between his intended bride and the oncoming dragon, his dress sword
Points for valor, and your heart is in the right place, but that Lawful Stupid alignment of yours is gonna get you killed one day. :)
>Satisfied, the dragon collected his prize, turned (laying waste to
>another of the walls with a lashing sweep of his tail that sent the
>guardsmen scattering for cover), and unfurled his great feathered wings.
It took a lot of effort on my part to not make a World of Warcraft joke right here.
>"You there, adventurers! You saw what happened? You must help
>me! I am Prince B'ghana'vel of Tel'vyyra'gath. That dragon has taken
>Countess Uum'y, my betrothed!"
Okay, the Prince is officially awesome, but geeeeez. Kid is badly in need of seasoning. Don't just ask the first band of
murder hobos adventurers who show up after a dragon attack to help you! I mean, you're a Prince. You have ARMSMEN. Hopefully some of them even have Class Levels!
>"If you won't help me, I shall go alone."
It's dangerous to go alone...
><"(You know, he reminds me of someone,)" Tsuwabuki replied,[BR>>angling his eyes at Hikaru. "(Someone really close by.)"
>"(Gee, go figure,)" said Wakaba.
>"(You guys are mean,)" Hikaru grumbled.
You know, the Prince seems more like Tsuwabuki than Hikaru.
Not current Tsuwabuki. Tsuwabuki from SkU, who was always running around trying so damn hard to be a Big Damn Hero and had just an enormous heart, even though he was utterly in over his head.
>dragon went north. He must be the one who lairs on Merciless Peak.
>It's a three-hour walk, and that's if we make good time through the
>Valley of the Orcs - which I wouldn't count on, because, well, orcs."
... seriously? They still have orcs on Hyeruul?
Place really is trapped in the 14th century. What, is that Valley some sort of game preserve? They keep a few thousand orcs around in their natural environment so that noblemen can ride in, pop a few with their blaster rifles and feel like big men, protecting the stead from marauders like their ancestors did in the days when a longsword was a piece of high-tech weaponry?
>"Well, this is it. The Valley of the Orcs," said Prince Bogan
>(unnecessarily, given the giant sign reading VALLEY OF THE ORCS - ENTER
>AT YOUR OWN RISK! next to the trail).
... yeah, I stand by my prior hypothesis.
>Though the Kyoshi Warriors were not, in fact, ninja as such,
>they did receive some training in infiltration and sabotage, and Izumi
>had shown an aptitude for this work from an early age.
Would it be safe to say that Izumi... is an elite warrior who's trained for many years in the art of stealth?
(No I'm not.)
>Some, she knew,
>suspected that this was because of her Fire Nation ancestry; there were
>still those in the Earth Kingdom, and particularly on isolated Kyoshi
>Island, who believed that Fire Nationals were all natural liars and
Huh. Interesting cultural stereotype. I would have figured Fire Nationals would have a reputation as natural thugs and bullies; element of power and all that, plus the Fire Nation during the Hundred Year's War didn't really seem all that... subtle. More "burn down the village to make a point."
>Duchess Mr'kreth'yyr would have put it with her -own- things, her
>jewelry and papers, in her quarters - mistakenly believing, as so many
>people did, that their private places were more secure simple because
>they were so familiar.
That simple should be "simply", should it not?
>He didn't even bother shouting for aid from
>any other guards who might be within nominal earshot.
Dammit, Hyeruul. Learn to train your soldiers!
Hell, putting just ONE guy on a door is a mistake to begin with. At that point you're not a guard; you're a decoration. Your job isn't actually protection, it's to give the hallway a finished look.
>This was the sort of bluff that was -supremely- embarrassing if
>called, but in her training, Izumi had been told: "Think on the lessons
>of Avatar Kyoshi, open youself to her uncompromising spirit, and no one
>will ever dare doubt you."
I like to imagine that there's always at least one smartass in every cadre of Kyoshi Warriors who asks, all wide-eyed innocence, "But sensei, what happens if -both- of us are open to Avatar Kyoshi's uncompromising spirit?"
>"I apologize for this next
>part," she went on, "but I'm afraid I can't have you raising an alarum."
>Then, before he had a chance to wonder what next part, she jabbed him
>sharply in the center of the chest, just above his breastplate, with the
>stiffened first two fingers of her right hand. He gasped, his whole
>body going numb, and sagged to the floor, staring at her with wide eyes,
>his jaw working silently.
What was that you were saying a few weeks ago about chi blocking being cheap, cheap shit, Ben? :)
>"Sort of during. And it wasn't strictly for her own
>advancement. She thinks the survival of House Mr'kreth'yyr itself is at
>stake. There was a... a -desperation- in her when she talked about it
>that I'd never seen in her before. She believes Mother eloping with
>Father doomed the family to extinction."
I bet this makes her just the FAVORITE aunt of her niece and nephew!
>"Listen to me!" Nall said urgently. "Nax is -not- the kind of
>dragon you're used to. He lives in Midgard because he's an exile. A
>war criminal. His Name means 'Cruelty, Never Mercy'. Now go!"
Interesting. I do wonder if that's a formal exile, or a "skipped town before the heat came down" exile. I can see it going either way.
I have to say that the fight with Nax seems a bit... hmm. Perfunctory? I know this is just a short, but it felt really superfluous in a way that nothing else in the story did; it's like "Well, we kind of promised a dragon fight, and Act III needs a big finish to send us offstage on, so... here you go." I wouldn't say it's dull, but it's just kind of... there. Nax swoops down, Nall kicks his ass, they all go watch Corwin and Utena get hitched.
I dunno, it could just be me.
>Then, smiling tiredly, he said, "Your homeworld is terrible,
>Umi. Let's never come back here again."
I'm kinda with Nall on this one.