|← Previous chapter||Next chapter →|
Exhausted by the ordeals of the previous day and night, Seraphina goes about her duties to Viridius in a stupor. Recognizing this, Viridius sends her off to get some rest for Glisselda's soiree at the Blue Salon. That evening Seraphina arrives early to the Blue Salon, nervous about the upcoming party. As she hangs around uncertainly, she spots a suspiciously familiar figure across the room: Miss Fusspots from her mental garden. Shocked, Seraphina tries to approach her, but is interrupted by the arrival of Princess Glisselda and Prince Lucian. Seraphina looks around for Miss Fusspots, but the woman has disappeared.
Seraphina catches a snatch of conversation about Prince Rufus. She sees Earl Josef of Apsig, who was part of the hunting patrol Rufus died on, telling some women about it, claiming that a dragon must have killed him because Rufus's head was missing. Seraphina steps in to refute him, saying that it could have been brigands trying to collect a ransom or even Sons of St. Ogdo trying to sitr up dracophobia in the light of Comonot's visit in eight days. Josef snidely suggests that Rufus could have merely seen a pretty shepherdess and lost his head.
Lucian Kiggs intervenes, taking Seraphina's side. He cannot arrest anyone without proof, and the one who seeks justice must be just himself. Seraphina recognizes the quote from Pontheus, impressing the prince, but Josef contemptuously comments that the Regent of Samsam would never listen to a mad Porphyrian philosopher or let dragons visit Samsam.
As the prince responds to this, Seraphina suddenly sees Miss Fusspots across the room. As she tries to make her way over, she steps into the path of Queen Lavonda and several saarantrai, but Prince Lucian grabs her arm and drags her out of the way. Lavonda addresses the room at large and her granddaughter in particular, telling them that her treaty has brought forty years of peace and yet her people still have not accepted dragons, which is unacceptable and embarrassing. Glisselda forces herself to approach and greet the saarantrai.
As the party resumes, Seraphina overhears a crude joke about human men and dragon females. Offended and upset, she finds that she can't stay any longer, but she runs into Viridius on the way out. Viridius is kindly understanding, but insists that Seraphina must give her respects to Princess Glisselda before departing.
Glisselda is delighted to see Seraphina and calls her cousin over, telling him that Seraphina is her so-called advisor on dragon affairs. Prince Lucian looks uncomfortable to be so loudly mentioning "dragon affairs" with the saarantrai so close, but he does not dare bring this up. Despite her fear, Seraphina speaks up instead, on behalf of Orma and as a way of standing up to Thomas Broadwick and the other bigots in the world. She suggests that Glisselda should invite the saarantrai to sit with her, or to dance with one.
Glisselda freezes, afraid, but her fiancé volunteers to dance with one first. Glisselda, relieved that she doesn't have to be the first, tells Seraphina that Lucian is always so good with these sorts of things because he is a bastard. Seraphina is surprised that she would openly call him that to his face, and that the prince doesn't mind, but she sees a certain tension in the prince and realizes that he minds a lot but doesn't feel like he can call Glisselda out on it.
Prince Lucian prepares himself and then dances with Eskar, one of the saarantrai. Seraphina stays a few minutes to make sure nothing is going wrong before leaving; on her way, she collides with Glisselda's governess, Lady Corongi.
- Seraphina Dombegh
- Miss Fusspots
- Lucian Kiggs
- Clarissa Corongi
- Blue Salon