Vyarin nodded along as the Princess Annalise spoke. It seems, to him at least, that the Clan Altera has something of an inborn habit of speaking to themselves aloud. This was no object to him, of course. It was as his grandfather, the late Zarrir the Elder, had said to him once; that who listens has everything to gain from who speaks. Besides, it was far better this way. The less he said, the less he could embarrass himself further with his choppy Astalian. However, a concern tickled at the back of his mind. If the two of them were to marry, as his father desires, would this be their fate forever? For one of them to speak only to themselves, while the other can only play pretend at listening? He shook his head at the thoughts within; this was simply more sign that he needed to master the language, and quickly.
Tangentially, it seems that he was beginning to piece together the sprawling palace in his head now. Certain halls and chambres were even beginning to look familiar. There, that one would lead down to the Court of Roses. There, the adjoining hall that it shares with the Princess Jinayah's armoury. It was amazing how daunting it all seemed in the days before. The more he looked, the smaller the world became. Princess Annalise continued to lead him, or at least he hoped she was, toward a balcony overlooking the sea. The morning sun glittered magnificently over the rolling waves, amid the distant thunder of their striking the earth. Despite the constant struggle of land against water, the scene was peaceful, harmonious even. Nature and fate has a way of piecing together everything and setting them in their rightful place. Vyarin hoped that by following his instinct, he shall arrive there as well.
"Oh." She had asked him a question. He reached up and touched the rag, feeling the ever-present wetness of it. As to what fluid had decided to invade it today, that was perhaps beyond the consideration of even the wisest shamans. "It . . . the hair . . . knife?" No, that sounded wrong. There was simply no way that phrase would translate cleanly from Prozdy or Ellion to Astalian, so he switched to his native language. "In our way, it is not to be spoken of. There was a disagreement between my father and the Prince of Geriozdy, and I settled it for him. In our tongue we call it a 'country haircut,' when speaking between equals." He trusted Annalise was familiar with the euphemism, with how many books she had in front of her when they met. "It is good luck, to settle differences. It is better they be buried forever, instead of left to grow. Clans have and will war against each other, and kill to the last son and daughter if an agreement is not reached. Sometimes the price is an eye." He paused, thinking about his own words. He was not truly ready to say them yet.
"If . . . you like . . ." he began, switching back to Astalian. "You . . . to help me. To teach. I learn your way. The talking Astalian, the . . ." he gestured vaguely around himself. "The all." It was somewhat awkward, and possibly, he conceded, a conflict of interest. He knew as well as she that both daughters and suitors would be under heavy scrutiny, most of all from each other. Though he was loathe to admit, he could not be blind to the truth; all seven of them were looking for ways to undermine him, to limit Prozdy's prestige and thus the balance of power forged by a marriage. Could he truly rely on Annalise's sympathy? He mulled it over, but finally nodded just slight enough that he could feel the weight on his neck shift. Yes, perhaps he could. It was his instinct speaking to him, that pulled him along the path of fate like everything else. He could trust her, at least for now.