Tuesday, May 24, 2011

488 - Cast in Glass and Boxed

The door of the reading room opened and I ducked behind the stack of books in front of me, not wanting to be seen by whoever it was coming in.  If they didn’t notice me or what I was studying in a moment they’d be up to their noses in their own research and not paying attention to anyone else. 

There were hundreds of books on wedding etiquette.  Hayel there were hundreds of books for every castes’ weddings, and tens more for mixed caste weddings where the bride was marrying up! Though those were all either old or ancient, and I'd had to go through the Portals of Propriety to get them.

Thank the Ten there were very few men who married up, rather the women marrying down or there would be even more books on that!  And then there were the changes over the years.

I couldn’t ask my mother, nor my grandfather.  Certainly not Ailadas.  It was his wedding after all.  I wasn’t going to ask Sera Eren… perhaps she would just laugh and tell me I already knew what I needed to know to be a good bemas.  And thank goodness they wanted a small wedding.  I’d already inquired about the small Temple in the Marble Palace itself, rather than the High Temple.  They didn’t want hundreds and hundreds witnessing their marriage, that much I knew.  I’d also sent down the request for the men’s wedding party to the Fig.  That much I knew, too.

I just needed to get out of this etiquette maze.  I closed the books and went down to the faib bowl to watch the training for a while.  The High League shared bowl time, since it was the only steel bowl on the earthsphere.  The smooth plaster walls of the training bowls gave people some approximation of the real thing but nothing beat training on the surface itself.  This late in the afternoon it was the Anoseth team.  Mother was telling me that the women were upset that there was no longer a Mahid team.  The Mahid’s banner had been turned to face the wall of the arena.

I settled into a front chair and watched and listened to the barely heard rumble, and click of bearings, the whoops and calls of the players as they practiced, with both the regular weight disk and the overweighted one.  Since I had not declared for a favourite team at all, I could come in and watch, since I was not seen as a possible spy for anyone.

The current captain, a fellow who went by the nickname Little Dubbi, for some reason that I had not followed, spun up off the end of the bowl, put one hand down and twisted to land on the edge of the bowl at the team seats.  He had a drink and towelled off before gliding over to stand just under my row.  “Heya, Susu! If you tighten up on that jump you actually have a shot at the goal!”
“Thanks, Dubbi!”

The captain and I watched as the player modified his jump and then his team mates swooped in to see how it could be blocked or countered.

“What brings the Exalted to watch us lowly ones practice?”  He asked me.  People still knew I was a fan of the game, of sorts.

“Just to watch, let my mind think of other things.  A friend of mine is getting married and I’m in the middle of doing bemas organizing things.”  I wasn’t going to admit I didn’t know what I was doing.

“Ten smile on ‘em.  Anyone we know to pass on our ‘grats?”

Even if the players were all Aitzas they were all sounding a little more like Dyers, now that I knew what Dyers sounded like.  Perhaps skates did that to people.  “You might.  He’s old though.  My tutor Ailadas, Ailadas Koren.”

Little Dubbi had been idly sliding back and forth as if to keep himself warmed up.  Now he turned to me and stopped still.  “Koren?” Oh, that’s right.  He’d been a faib player.  Hey… “Killer?” he continued.  I nodded.  …Maybe I should invite—

He reached down to catch up his whistle, as loud as an express chair whistle and blasted the play to a stop.  “GUYS! TEAM-MATES!  KILLER KOREN IS GETTING CAST IN GLASS AND BOXED!” When did  they start using the vulgar term for marriage?  “We’ve got to give him a good teams’ send off, don’t we???”

He spun on his heel and looked up at me.  “When’s the men’s party?” oh, ten.

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