In which the number of Vertu’s passengers increases.
Toragin’s remonstration at, presumably, the Tree gives us the outline of her cause: Chelada was promised that she could have her kittens under the Tree, which must have seemed an easy thing to promise when Jelaza Kazone was just down the road from Lazmeln’s clanhouse, and then when the distance suddenly became much greater, the promise still existed but was much harder to claim, and the Tree apparently didn’t find it necessary to ease the way at all.
When she acknowledges that her name is part of the lineage of Clan Lazmeln, Toragin says it’s uncertain whether it will remain so. Clans may stop reusing a name if someone of that name sets an example that the clan wouldn’t want its future children to emulate; we saw that happen with Del Ben in “Heirloom”. So Toragin is suggesting that she anticipates her clan will find her (or perhaps already finds her) a disappointment.
And Vertu, for her part, considers herself to have parted ways from her own clan, as shown by the way that she refrains from including it with her name when she introduces herself. (Although it seems like Toragin knows which clan her name comes from, and depending on how much attention she pays to current events might know enough about Clan Wylan to have an idea how Vertu ended up here.)
I like the wording of “Vertu moved slightly away from him, so as to give him the privacy such a rendering of art deserved”.
@Paul, RE: a rendering of art. I enjoyed that too—although it seemed more like a Clutch viewpoint than a Liaden, or even a Surebleakean, one.
This promise between Tree and cat reinforces that the Tree acknowledges the cats as dragons, a new idea presented for the first time in this book. With Jeeves also communicating somehow with the Tree, does that indicate that Tree sees the AI as a dragon too? Or is it merely that to the Tree, those who can move around are all “dragons” compared to Trees, which generally remain rooted.
Not everything that moves around is a dragon to the Tree. Some of them are burrowing creatures that gnaw on tree roots. I don’t think we’ve seen yet if it has a metaphor those who are neither assistants nor enemies.
Love this line: “I had been neighbor to the Tree until it was chased away by the Council of Clans.”
Also…“You told her she would have her kittens under branch.” (Act 4, scene 3 ) indicates this story must be set soon after Skyblaze. How long does it take for cats to come to term?
RE my prior comment, one explanation is the cat wasn’t yet pregnant when Tree left Liad. It coulda been a promise given in some nebulous advance, for whenever a certain kitten grew up and had her own family of cats.