I spent some time in the baths with Kallijas, who knew he was going to get very drunk in procession, even if he just wet his lips with every drink he shared with the crowd. He’d followed Virani-e’s example even if he was a tremendously easy drunk for Diem Inebriants Multifarious.
I had a glass of ginger wine myself and wonder of wonders my stomach didn’t just toss it straight back up at me. It was really obvious that this whole day should be considered my pre-wedding party. Ili told me to be ready before dinner and I just assumed that he’d planned something.
I admitted to myself that I was terrified. Ecstatic, but terrified. Gan and Fara... even though my night before party was supposed to be only men, there were too many women Dyers who I wanted there... they were both waiting for me when I came back to my rooms to dress and they told me not to eat.
“You want to get me even more drunk?” I was incredulous. Gan threw his arm around my shoulders.
“Take your Haian drops to settle your stomach. Ili’s done an amazing job. Oh and you should put your skates on.”
Fara glided in on her skates. She and Ky and the Mahid girls had been practising together. “Plain cotton for you, Min.
Nothing fancy for the groom in Jitz.” It took only a moment to tighten the kilt buckle. Having my arms covered like a man, even with gossamer cotton still felt odd.
Idiesas tapped on my door. “Minis?”
He came in, lightly armoured, fully armed. And on skates. I didn’t even know he skated at all. Behind him Ili came skittering in on his own faibwear. “Heya big brother! You aren’t ready yet! Your skates aren’t laced yet! Come on, come on come on!”
Then the room was full of dyers swooping around.
“Remember your own pipe,” Fish said swooping around us. There was enough space around the carpets for them to treat my suite of rooms like a faib course. Cream and Aisha and Resh and a dozen others were there. “We haven’t had a good party since last Jitz!”
“You corrupters of morals! You –aigh!” They’d swooped behind me and swept me up in their crossed hands.
“Grab his skates, Ili, he’ll just stand there and talk at us all day!”
Laughing uproariously they carried me out the door and down the hall, Idiesas and others of the elite in the pack. There was no sign of the gir...um women, other than my dyer friends. It was like the night of the election.
The sweet herb finally settled my stomach and my nerves down and I was actually able to eat. They knew what I liked... they took me to Feliras’s Renewed Glory and he had a dish specifically made, the rainbow fish crisp on rice, tiny bites, and since it was Diem Inebriants Multifareous a wine to go with every bite. I just couldn’t do more than taste.
When they bundled me out the door unexpectedly... I was just saying ‘Isn’t this where the party is? Hey, wait. Where are we going?”... Kallijas’s Drunken carriage just happened to be outside as we emerged onto the pavement. Kall, in the robe and flaming head-dress, offered me a swig of the long glass tubular goblet he was obliged to carry and drink from. Fafiras, Idiesas’s second in command and Virani-e both stood by with hidden buckets should he move too quickly and catch his hair on fire. He was very drunk. Merrily drunk. But not wobbly drunk.
The carriage didn’t have any extra place for anyone else, all taken up by the enormous vat of wine, and slow moving because of the same vat. I actually drank a good mouthful of the offered Imperial wine, burying my face in the wonderful Ro, while my friends cheered. Even him. Virani-e just grinned at me. I hopped down and we all skated around the carriage for a while in it’s progression until Fish hooked me by one elbow. “This way now!”
“HAVE FUN!" That was Virani-e. "We’ll see you later Minis!” That was both of them from behind as I got tugged down Sandin’s Alley. It was already unreal. Kallijas with the blue flame on his crown, kissing Virani-e in public, holding the drinking vessel steady with one hand. The roaring, drinking, dancing, skating crowd. I was herbed—a bit... and maybe I was a bit drunk too. The ginger wine before and the Ro 73 if I was right. The whiff of perfectly cooked beef feathered under my nose.
Idis and Linfias and Rohad were all on skates and they darted ahead. “Hey we need to catch up before they eat it all!” That was Resh and we leaped to follow even though we didn't push that hard, they were my security, after all.
“You aren’t... The Greasy Barbarian? Really?” I managed to make the corner without tripping over the curb there. Ili, who was fast as a water bug, giggled.
“Best beef in the city! They told me!”
Biggest beef in the city as well. I hoped they wouldn’t try to make me eat the cut of meat that was half the size of the table. At least not all by myself.