Serenades, chapter 14

Deviation Actions

Literature Text

fourteen: i don’t care what lord fuckbottom thinks
Ava looked vestal, with hair in four braids decorated with paper butterflies, ending in tufts of pastel green, yellow, white, and purple held with glass clasps and white ribbons, her face decorated with glitter of the same colors. She wore a white silk shirt trimmed with black lace with a pink ribbon around the waist and a knee length half-skirt with iridescence decorated with embroidered flowers matching the tufts of her hair, held with bead chains and poppy pins, white mesh stockings, a pearl carcanet with a copper and alabaster cameo, ruffled fingerless gloves with lace and pink ribbons and gold bracelets. Her fingernails were pink with white stars. I’ve never seen her dolled up like that before.
“Aren’t you cold?” I asked her. The train had left and we were in the chill of the station lot. The sky was evening-dark when we arrived, the sodium glow from streetlamps looked like they should give warmth but weren’t.
“I’ll be just fine,” she said, buttoning up her coat and wrapping her floral-printed cotton scarf around her neck. There was a pin attached to her coat, a blood-red rose and thorned stem on a white background. At the very least, it wasn’t a far walk to the demesne, and probably a longer walk across the lawn than it was from the street to the station.

We met the Cleisourarch in the reception room, a relatively small room off from the grand hall, dominated by an ornate fireplace of stone and plaster with figures of dryads and nymphs carved into it. The rest of the decor was no less opulent, a gilt table with an amphora of lilacs, gold candelabras and ferns in tall vases, a carpet from the Aredvi in white, pink, and blue, crystal chandeliers, brocade silk wall papering the color of apricots, a marble statue of a dryad in front of a window, a painting of a man in a blue huzzar’s uniform, a silver mask with a snipe nose, a red-plumed shako, wielding a ranseur with a red banner streaming from it.
“Your room is on the second floor,” he told us. He was a stern-looking man in an archaic looking white military jacket with black epaulets, gold buttons and an ultramarine sash. “You, the blonde woman, stay here. This, ahem, other one and her lover,” he said, a hint of disgust, of malice, like he wanted to call her subhuman.  “Leave me. I would recommend that you stay in your room until an attendant arrives.” Ava looked up from putting her shoes on, fastening the straps, pointing the sole of her bare foot at the Cleisourarch. Her face showed ennui rather than anger. Her toenails were painted pale green.
“Can I go change first?” Marciana asked, bowing. She was still in her violet floor-length coat, white mittens, and pants. I saw a glimpse of disc earrings with hanging rubies, her hair was held up with a jeweled comb.
An attendant in black finery was standing by the bottom of the stairs. The grand hall was three stories tall, topped with a glass dome. There were some tables with brocade cloths and decorative gourds and flowers on top. The room was dominated by a large fountain of granite statues. The stairs were brass-railed and spiraled around a pillar with marble and gold statues, and a bridge led to each balcony. At the top of black-veined marble columns were golden statues. He took us up the stairs to the second story, the balcony with marble floors and red carpeting and through a hallway to our room.

“Is this how you imagined life to be?” She sat on the bed and kicked off her shoes, which made a thud on the blackwood floor, covered with a thick wool carpet from Yunan, depicting dragons and lotuses against a crimson background. The bed covers were a similar Yunanese design. The wall behind us was a painting of a mountain view, looking over lush boreal forests. The ceiling was carved oakwood and supported by coiled pillars.
“How did you think things would turn out?”
“Not this bad. We’d still be in Ain Sifna, for one thing. And I had no idea it’d be this cold.”
“I’m starting to wonder if we should have came here at all,” she said, prodding me with her foot. “Only a few people confirmed it. You, Marciana, Veridiana, Joannicus.”
“I see.” She got up, opening a drawer to find nothing but spiderwebs. Other drawers contained cloth from Yunan, the Archipelago, Adal, and the Aredvi, and gold and silver coins with strange emblems and unfamiliar writing on them locked up in a glass box, plates and candles and wine glasses. Behind it was an oil painting depicting a misty bleakness of naked rock and rust-colored sand, with sun-tinted clouds in the blue sky, and a few shallow lakes and dull green scalestems, ferns, spider moss, and club mosses to break the desolation, fog-shrouded gray mountains in the distance.
“I fucking hate this place! I don’t care how luxurious it seems, I feel like I’m in a cage,” she yelled, slamming a drawer shut.
She sat down in the chair near a polished blackwood escritoire, opening the bottom drawer. Behind it was a scene depicting an Edenic green forest near a river with fireflies hovering above it, pink sky and steep ferrous brown mountains in the distance, partially obscured by a pale mist. “Huh?”
I looked inside, and found a syringe and plastic bottles with labels in High Selinian amongst chains of pearls and stray emeralds and rubies.
“Vapour dust? Is this how the Cleisouarchess spends her time?” Ava said.
“Is this her room?”
“I think it’s upstairs, but I’m not sure.”
Marciana entered the room, fuming, her dress like liquid silver throwing back lamplight. The metal pots with the scaletrees flanking the doors rattled, wobbled on their axis. The wall nearest the door was undecorated oakwood, save for two small paintings and a doorknob-sized gash left after Marciana slammed the door against it in apathetic disgust.
“That arrogant old windbag,” she shouted. “I know he’s plotting something. If he thinks that his pompous accent and archaic title makes him better than us, he’s sorely mistaken.”
“What’s this stuff?” She held up an intricately etched brown glass narghile with a bubble at one end filled with white powder.
“Cocaine. Addictive. Imported from off-world, most likely. Worth more than everything else in the room, including your necklace. Other than that, I know nothing.” Marciana said. “I’m not that wealthy. Erawan had some in Kantipur, but I didn’t want to partake. He was very talkative. I asked him if he spiked my food with it, he told me he didn’t even need to, that I’d spill, I’m sorry.” Marciana put it back, and then grabbed a few stray jewels.
“This is cocaine? I’ve heard of it, but I never knew it was used for pleasure there. I thought it was given to infants to keep them docile and stupid when they grow up.”
“Here’s some ganja. This I’ve taken before and it’s not as exciting as everyone thinks it is. Most people grow out of this stuff by twenty.”
“What’s it do?”
“Makes you kind of woozy and euphoric and detatched from reality and kind of hungry too. Boring. Actually pretty decent for glaucoma, I’ve heard. It’s like raiding your grandparents’ medicine cabinet for an impromptu high.”

“You know what? Fuck this. I’m going to go explore the manse. I don’t care what Lord von Fuckbottom thinks,” she said to me, as I was looking at one of the globes in the corner, a featureless and glossy gray orb in a brass orrery, held by a blackwood pillar with detailed carving on the top, upholstered in scarlet and gold embroidery. I touched it, and it became ocean blue and grass green and cloud cream. The land was verdant on the edges but became beige deserts on the interiors, like our world, but the landmass was broken into six pieces.
“Doesn’t look like our planet. It’s spinning the wrong way too.”
“Huh? Come on. We’ll play with his stuff here later.” She held me by the arm. “Marciana, are you coming with us?”
“Nah, I just want to rest.” She sat on the bed, unfastening her silver shoes and kicking them off, moved into a supine position, and pulled off her white linen gloves.

“This place is kind of spooky,” I said. “Much too quiet.” I put my ear to the ornate wood door, heard nothing, opened it, entered to the second floor, just a balcony really, study stocked with thousands of dusty books, a two-story window with moonlight streaming in. I flipped through a book on the desk, a tome on history, wiped the dust from the pages and found it dry, archaic, and heavily biased.
“It’s night already?”
“At least Fuckbottom has some taste in decor,” Ava said as we walked out of the library. “I was expecting something tasteless, like he bought everything rich-looking he could find at some boutiques in Phaselis.”
“He’s not a conducator, he’s a noble,” I said.
“Of the bourgeoisie and not the aristoi.”

“Huh? There are people in here.”
I heard someone speaking too. “Not one of those glass servant things?” I asked, heedlessly following her into the spacious and intricately detailed, but sparsely furnished ballroom. An eastern woman in a close-fitting violet cheongsam decorated with white roses and red clusters of flowers and black lines for stems and leaves, and billowy crinoline skirt held on with a white rope and blue ribbon, black velvet gloves with one finger, butterfly ring, white fingernails, and slippers with fluffy purple synthetic fur was balancing another one, in matching pink and red, on her feet.  Another one sat on a couch, in blue with green shoes, green bamboo stems on her cheongsam, purple flower clusters. At the other end of the room was another set of chairs and couches, flanked by potted horsetails, a fireplace of blue-veined white marble, a painting above it. The ceiling was painted with a cloudscape, flanked by twin crystal chandeliers. Niches in the walls had bronze and marble statues.
“You, uh, forced into this?” She sat in a chair, next to a marble and blackwood table with a malachite urn filled with roses
“No, the three of us do it willingly. I’m Chau Trinh, the one in red is Linh Mai, and the one in purple is Thuy Anh.”
“Yunan, not of Sipsong Panna or the five Cham cities.”
Ava struggled to remember a phrase in their language.
“They watch us. Don’t say anything about that!” Linh Mai shouted, jumping off of Thuy Anh’s feet.
“Do you speak our language?” Chau Trinh asked.
“I know some important phrases. You know, hi, yes, fuck you and eighteen generations of your ancestors. I’ve never had to use that one in Yunanese yet, but there are times I wanted to know it in Champassakan. I can recite things in pure, unaltered Classical Arabic too. But I only know the meanings behind the phrases, and not how the components go together..”
“It’s through the glass.”
“I could break it.”
“They’ll know.”
“How many occupy this demesne?” I asked.
“Five hundred soldiers, three hundred in kitchen and cleaning, the Cleisourarch. His family lived here, the Cleisourarchess and the children, but they’re in safer places now. Do you think you can take them on? The soldiers, I mean. I wouldn’t be that worried about the staff. A quarter of staff and twenty-five soldiers occupy thirty-five rooms of the ninety room mansion. The rest of them live nearby.”
“I’m pretty much a pacifist now. I’m sick of the bloodshed. Besides, to kill an innocent is to kill all of humanity, and despite everything, the world is a beautiful place.”
“I see.”
“Do you work here?”
“No, we’re just here for the dinner. Just like you.”
“How did you know?”
“Well, you aren’t soldiers and you certainly aren’t a noble,” Chau Trinh smiled. “And there’s no way you’re betrothed to one of them.”
“And you’re too well-dressed to be on kitchen duty.”
“Performers?” Thuy Anh asked.
“No. I sing, though, and I play instruments, but I’m not here to entertain him. But you said I shouldn’t talk about things like that.”
“Quiet!” Linh Mai snapped. “Look what you made her blurt out. You want security to find out and come here? Keep your talk outside. We’re just here for tonight’s party, and then we go back to Tan Long. That’s it.”
“I apologize,” Thuy Anh said. “We’re here as a gesture of peace. We perform, we earn his trust, we go back home.”
“Can we talk, in private?” Ava asked me. I nodded in response.
We went out the door, into the gardens. It was warm and misty, lit by spectral blue light like fluorescence and diffused moon, and the garden was covered by a glass ceiling. There were four trees dominating, with crimson blossoms. The plants; heliconia, orchids, ferns, guzmania, amphora roses were covered in moisture. The songs of nocturnal birds and piping of insects, the strange scents redolent of my journey through the Aredvi valley wafting in the sweltering air.
“What’s that say?”
“It’s someone’s name. Chau Trinh slipped me it. Someone to talk to.” She placed the inked paper in a fountain that a flock of parakeets were using as a bath. She took out her handheld and typed something on it.
“Because I’ll remember it. I don’t think they can watch us out here, and even if they could, by the time they’ve translated our Aredvi, we’ll be gone. So, we need to talk.”
“About what?”
“The Federal Metropolis of Selinus. In retrospect, the best thing to happen to the Selinian Republic. Lanxang is afraid to set foot anywhere west of the Ewemretqa mountains,” her tongue stumbled over that name, “even though the intelligence reports say the Ministry of Twelve Wise Ones have no weapons of that sort. So, there are three possibilities. One is that they were able to manufacture one bomb, and someone wanted to humiliate or hurt Kaitabha, one is that they somehow found one of the manufacturing facilities in the Waste, which are the most heavily guarded places on the planet, and smuggled one of the weapons into Selinia, or someone in the government wanted to get rid of Kaitabha and political rivals, with the added benefit of scaring Lanxang off.
“Anyway, I think I understand Kaitabha’s reasoning. His idea was to invade Selinus, drawing the Esercito back home, while the rest of the loyalists took over the Aredvi before the PLA could get there.”
“Which won’t exactly work.” I said. “Remember, the Exarchs are the ones that controlled the colonies, and they had their own army.”
“But Selinia was providing the bulk of troops, mechas, and artillery since the fall of Dakyanus. Anyway, since he was killed in the raids, it’s extremely unlikely that he knew what was going on. Either a rival in the Twelve did it or someone in Selinia did it and blamed him for it.”
“What are you doing out here?” a male voce asked us, angry. “This area is forbidden.” I turned and saw a man in pavonine green panoply, an archaic uniform with a white-plumed colpack, a halberd in one hand, and an energy pistol of an oddly baroque design, tin inlays on a mahogany handle and a silver unicorn decorating the barrel. He brought us downstairs to a disused area of the mansion, pulled shut a barred door behind us.

“I’m terribly sorry,” Marciana said. “It took longer than expected.”
“You better be,” Ava grinned. “But I think we’re just detained here until the dinner. To keep us from exploring. It’s my own fault I got captured. I got complacent. This place feels like a Belle Epoque throwback with a few inconsequential bits of modern technology thrown in like those globes in our room. I didn’t see any Network terminals or really any form of electronics. But they’re probably just hidden really well.”
“Anyway, I wanted to know if you’re willing to give up Purajana.”
“Why?” Her eyes widened.
“Because there’s no fucking way she’s safe here.”
“I met three acrobats from Tan Long when I wandered off with Nica.”
“Don’t you mean dragged him along with you like you always do?”
“Yes, that’s what I mean. I’ll ask Chau Trinh tonight. I...” she sobbed. “I saved her once. I don’t want to find out that something happened to her. It’s not that I don’t trust you. You’ve been good to her, but you know, she’s here, and look at who we’re stuck with. I don’t want that!”
“It’s ok. I’d be fine if she lived in Yunan. It will be hard for me, but I’ll live.”
“Have you been there?”
“I feel alienated around them when they’re here. Yunanese and Champasakkans strike me as being more distant, even though I’m probably overreacting and thinking too much of my noble heritage and several incidents in Sarnath. I had few problems from the locals in Sarnath, and all of them were related to some misunderstanding over collaborating with Selinia or Champassak. The Lanxangese I’ve met seem nice, but there aren’t that many of them.”
“Here, yes. It’s sort of like how all of the Selinian people wanted to be like the patricians without thinking about how the patricians all thought they were below them. It’s a major problem among the Champassakans and Yunanese here. They want to be like the Selinians, they pretend they’re not thought of as subhuman, they mistreat the Archipelagians and the Chenlans. That just further alienates them.”
“To me, it always seemed like we wanted to create a society tiered by ethnicity as a sort of throwback to the original system we had in place, and to create artificial boundaries. Cecilia said she liked it in Yunan. I can’t remember where she was, specifically.”
“Veridiana did too. I’m pretty sure she was in Tung Kea.”
“He said he’ll let you out when the dinner starts.”
“Like I thought,” I said.
“Wonderful! Fucking wonderful!”
“In the meantime, hold out your hands.” We did so, and she placed green olives in them. “There were other things there, but I wasn’t sure if you’d like it. Aspic, caviar from deep sea fish, poached chimaera, raw and living oysters, and other things that just scream insane excess. Like everything else here. Besides, I’ve had caviar, and I think it’s overrated.”
“Why can’t you let us out?” I asked.
“I don’t have a key. I’m terribly sorry for that too. It’s not like I can just barge into the guards’ lounge and throw shrimp and olives at them until they give in to my demands and let you out.”
“It’s ok. I can deal with it. I’m used to being detained.” Ava said. “So, how was your talk with that self-absorbed, arrogant, manipulative, malicious piece of shit with delusions of grandeur?”
“I’m less than impressed with it. Don’t act surprised.”
“You’re sounding like me.”
“Yeah, I know. We still have one person on our side for every one that wants us dead.”
“That much?”
“Here, anyway.”
“What’s chimaera like?” I asked.
“It looks like fish that someone turned into aspic and left to ferment. I’d imagine it tastes like fish that someone turned into aspic and left to ferment, but I’m not willing to find out.”

The room felt empty, even with all the men and women; senators and nobles and emissaries from the House of Commons, in lavish clothes, furs and silk and satin, and gold, silver, and ruby jewelry.
“You, good sir, remind me of someone I knew, once.” Marciana said, calmly and emptily, as cold as the wind outside, spitting on the ground near his feet. “And I knew someone else, someone who meant more than life itself. He’s dead, and all because of people like you. I know your kind all too well. Listen, the moment you try anything, no matter how small an effort you make to assist the enemy in any way, you will be against the wall with the rest of them.”
“You whore!” he yelled. Marciana walked away.

A loud cheer went out when the Cleisourarch arrived.

“Of course he wasn’t going to help us,” he said, arm outstreched and hand on the wall. “Such is the aristocracy, fostering ethnic dissent.”
“What was your proposal to him?”
He grinned “What proposal?” He offered his hand. “Martinus Vasilevsky.”
“Nicasius Patrescu.”
“Come with me for a minute, please.”
He took me back to the servants’ quarters.
“What are their capabilities, do you know, comrade?”
“Five hundred condottieri.”
“Do you know what they’re armed with?”
“No. Jezails, fusils, I’d imagine.”
“Damn. They’re more than a match for us.”

We followed Madalgisius to the dining hall, a room decorated in plaster relief, a black veined marble fireplace with a white bust, wrought iron lamps, an oak table and chairs, tan curtains, crystal chandeliers, oil paintings depicting more fantastic landscapes, one of elegantly-dressed aristocratic ladies sitting in wicker chairs, deformed and diminutive servants fanning them with palm fronds, a distant battle fought in barren gray wastes of regolith and too-close horizons.

One of the kitchen staff, in viridian and gold finery, brought the entree, snails fed on salty milk and dill in a sauce of butter with lemon and parsley. Quails in a sauce of truffles, cave mushrooms, and their own fattened livers. There was chimaera too. I sated my curiosity and immediately regretted it; redolent of very bad cheese soaked in fish oil.
“So, how was it?”
I made a grossed-out facial expression in response. “Reminds me of some kind of cheese.”
“Like moon cheese?”
“Like the kind of cheese that sticks to the oven after Marciana bakes some macaroni and cheese and fish sticks with every condiment and spice she can find, a bit soapy from an attempt to clean it off with a mixture of soap and fish oil.”

“Reminds me of a wedding I went to the summer before I went to Sarnath,” Marciana said. “It was for a wealthy relative on the Clairmonte side, of course, whom my family didn’t have correspondences with on a regular basis, and they ate these extravagant things and I don’t think they enjoyed it; they just wanted to show off. Nothing quite like this, but there was a sang prang served rare there too, although I don’t think they fed it on expensive spiced meats and champagne like this one. I tried it, and it was a bit hard to stomach. If you’re not used to digesting it, I wouldn’t bother. It’s not that good anyway, and I was bitter because I walked by a Champassakan place and someone’s yellow curried basmati rice smelled amazing. I had to leave in the middle of dinner to vomit in the posh hotel washroom. I wanted simpler food, so I stopped by a cafe on the way home and got a sandwich to nosh on, and then I spent the next week eating leftover Yunanese.”
“Did anyone flip out and try to kill you with an axe?”
“Why would they?”
“I don’t know. But you reminded me of Cecilia. You’d get along great, seriously, if you weren’t enemies for no good reason. She hates weddings too. Anyway, I thought killing indigenous life is illegal.”
“Exemptions can be made for self-defense. Whether you can get away with capturing a sang prang as a cub and feeding it on meals half of Selinia can only dream of and then calling it self defense depends on who you are. There are people like Dn. High and Mighty Noble who want to make it legal. Who’s up for some centaur steaks and leg of bone faery?”
“There are people who wanted to hunt and kill apes as well. And they believed that apes were created by a malevolent being in mockery of humans. It’s so grotesque, if you ask me.”
“I wonder what he thinks of centaurs?” Ava looked at Nai-Thim.
“Same thing he thinks about Chenlans and Geralese, no doubt. That the only reason centaurs exist at all is because of human compassion and their potential for use as cheap labor if those pesky laws weren’t in place.”
“Yeah. You know as well as I do that the first thing out of someone like his mouth...”
“Did you try the sang prang?” I asked. “It has a weird pungent and metallic taste to it. If anything, it tastes like ghoul meat.”
“I think it’s carnivorous, but I’m not sure if it qualifies as an animal. I’m not sure I want to try it. Nica, wait, you ate ghoul meat? When?”
“When I was in Vaishali. They weren’t able to bury victims of riots and the subway system was miserably porous, so ghouls just came wandering in through there and fed on the corpses. I think there’s mint jelly and pineapple on the sang prang to hide some of the taste.”
Bonefish was the next course, a sticky vitreous fluid covering a yellow pulpy mess that looked like it was still pulsating. I sniffed it, it smelled of alcohol and slightly of rust.
“Is that thing still alive?” Marciana asked. “I’m terribly sorry. I’m going to get back to the room, take a shower, go to sleep. I’m feeling a bit sick.”
“Tomorrow, when we get home, I’ll cook you something good, ok?”
“Takes me back to indigenous anatomy and physiology labs. Only we used models and simulations instead of actual dissections.”
“Eww, dissections. We had to cut up fetal pigs when I was in secondary, so I said I wasn’t allowed to touch them, and the teacher gave me some models to play with instead. What do the organs do?”
“Same things ours do, they’re just arranged differently, or they share functions, or their functions are split up between different organs. Centaurs have three hearts, I remember. They respond to anagelsics and stimulants and antipyretics differently, or not at all.. They’re isogamous and homothallic, no distinct sexes or mating types or anything. Any one of them can mate with any other.”
“That must make things easy. Are there advantages to, um.”
“Anisogamy? I don’t know. Reduced gamete size and increased gamete number?”

Marciana was back in our room by the time we got there. She kicked something under the bed.
“What’s that?”
“Nothing.” She moaned. “I think that bonefish I ate is still wiggling around in my stomach.”

Breakfast was on an oakwood table in the morning room, white plaster with delicate motifs of shells and swirls, a gray marble fireplace with gilt figures on the side and front, a mirror flanked by caryatids in front of it, candelabra lamps, peach-colored chairs, a red and black carpet. Chau Trinh was the only one I recognized; she was in a cerulean velvet dress covered in scintillating glitter and woven with fiberoptic threads glowing blue, a translucent silk shirt, silver cord tied around her waist, silver shoes with five pointed stars, transparent beads around her neck and hanging from her ears, a small handbag covered in silver studs.
“The kind of thing to be eaten in the bath,” Marciana said in higher spirits after her sleep, taking a tray with pastries, a glass of sparkling cherry wine, a dish of rose pudding, a bowl of fruit in whipped cream. “There’s a hot tub in our room. You’re welcome to join me. Um, you did bring something to wear, didn’t you?”
“Hey, the whipped cream looks sort of like the white pulpy stuff in the pomegranate.”
“I’d be wary of eating pomegranates here,” Marciana told Ava. “And it’s not just about the mythological implications. Get some of the juice on anything and he’ll have your head as a trophy.”
“I just want something simple. It’s better than the floor sweepings at Valerian McTojo’s Brautworst and Sashimi Emporium. I’ll join you soon.”

“I had trouble sleeping.” Marciana said, as we walked out into the stark white. “I’m never good at sleeping where it doesn’t feel like home.”
“I wasn’t comfortable at all, either.” Ava said. She had changed into jeans, boots, a long coat, a floppy black hat, and pink mittens with red tassels and white fluff. “I’m glad that’s done with, and I kind of want to go sledding, but I don’t have a sled, an inner tube, or even a tire. Maybe I’d throw a snowball at Madalgisilus, but he’d probably order his goons to shoot me. Let’s walk along the shore.”
“Don’t look at me like that.”
“Don’t worry, I just want to talk. I thought it would be easier, but I’m not so sure. They probably have fusils and jezails and firelances and things. I’ll talk to Veridiana about that, a raid on the armory would be impressive. But very risky. Even worse, he might even have an automatic translator. I’m afraid they’ll be able to call for reinforcements before we can do any damage.”
I bought coffee from a vending machine at the station, hot enough but tasting like it was left in there for a week. Marciana, longing for simpler food, bought a bag of pretzels. We were the only people here, with the sound of only my breath, my heartbeat, my boots against the snow. The birds were gone for the winter, the wind muffled by the snow cover. The train arrived and brought a clanking noise with it, for our journey back into the city.
“Can you open these? I don’t want to take my mittens off.”

“If only I was able to take some of those coins. But who’s to say that anyone would believe they’re rare or off-world or something when I took them?”
“They’re like that with my necklace.”

“It’s a dish from the Aredvi. You’ll like it.”
“What’s in it?”
“Pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, split peas, ground lamb spiced with cumin and parsley and mint, rice. No weird mystery ingredients and the lambs aren’t fed on expensive wine and herbs.”
“It looks good.”
The colors of Ava's hair tufts match the gems in Abel's Ark.

I have no idea what chimaera tastes like, actually. I don't think anyone's eaten deep sea fish and brought it up anywhere. I've searched.

Macaroni and cheese + cheese injected hot dogs + every spice and condiment = a recipe someone's friend came up with when drunk.

Valerian McTojo's Brautworst and Sashimi Emporium (will probably change brautwurst to crepe or something French to fit the noble class) comes from a Lemmingtrail topic on offensive things to build at ground zero. I prefer the Fenway Park replica, though. Maybe a crab juice, mountain dew, and khlav kalash (someone made a recipe for this, it's lamb, mutton, tomato, chili pepper, onion, water, olive oil, salt, and pepper - serve with crab juice or mountain dew) stand.

Marciana is aware of who Persephone is.

No, Ava made ash-e-anar, not khlav kalash. There's no sticks. Or crab juice.
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