Laraken Tsumon

"Such vibrant red hair, it's lovely!"   "Thank you, it's the fashion now, in Tsou, to honour some of the people of peace."   "What?"   "My hair's much darker, normally. Unlike your grib's or yours..."   "What, they are patterning themselves in Tsou after Amarat?"   "Surely, it's happened before, he's quite handsome..."   "I always thought he was nicer than pretty, myself, but I'm biased."   "Nice?"   "No one I know makes me feel so appreciated as Amarat, I imagine that's a rare problem..."   "Hahah, yes, it must be. Will he be coming in soon?"   "Err, I imagine so." Flora was not used to being the mistress of the Palace, in name, if not in truth, and quite unused to the diplomacy involved, except Nellun had insisted... Ting-ting her communicator went, and she checked. "ETA 10 mins." from Amarat. So he shared Nellun's opinion of their guest. She had tagged him in a message about that long ago, he was probably making 400km/h in the Dunkehl Megamisama priority corridor then. Whoever their guest was, he was pulling all the stops. "I'm afraid I'm not fluent with protocol enough to keep track of the Tsou princes and princesses, will you tell me what you do?"   "Oh, that's to be expected, you've been married to the Nameito only a few short months?"   Flora grit her teeth, they'd been married a year now, she just wasn't fluent with some nations as she was with others. If anything, the Tsou realm was her particular bugbear in this area, despite meeting the Orange Prince earlier in Lai Dang. "Something like that, do you work with Orange Prince Furuken Tsimori at all?"   "Oh, I am his principal aide, it is tradition in Tsou for one of the Cat Prince or Princess and Orange Prince or Princess to be a member, at least in adoptive fashion, of the royal family. The one not so privileged becomes the first one's main assistant, and Prince Tsimori was born to the royal family, hisself." As a third cousin, Flora knew.   "An honour." Flora had taken a few tries to get the sensitivity of a diplomat's sense of self-importance, and how they related to each other. Amarat and Linni were just too much of a counter example, and had confused her more than they should.   A page came nearby and asked for Flora's attention. "Meihomei would receive this guest and you for low tcha, with your permission. Aumhivina." So that's how this particular game was played? Flora could deny Meihomei meeting a guest? Surely, that musn't happen often.   "If it is possible, I would allow it,"   "You grant permission, not Amarat?"   "No, in this place, I am Aumhavar." Meaning high priestess, or 'one who speaks for the elements'. "I would have to grant you permission to speak to Amarat, and I'm unsure I should, you clearly like him quite a lot..."   "Please do not imagine anything improper, but Nameito Amarat has been a firm friend of the Tsou since he was little, we would hate him to think us ungrateful."   "I cannot find fault with your reasoning, I've seen how he treats his friends and his enemies, and I know which I'd rather be. And when we saw how each other treated one's enemies, he told me, that's when he decided to propose, so I know something of his mind on this..."   "That's when he decided to propose, really? On the bridge of that cormorant you two shared?"   "You're very well informed... I didn't think we had told anyone where he proposed before..." If her guest knew that much, she must be seeing military-classified intelligence, Flora thought, and made a note to make a report of it.  
  "Thank you for joining me."   "Meihomei is too kind to receive me."   "You're familiar with Megamisama? Someone tells me you were out and about?"   "I visited my Kagomine counterpart, in Tranquility."  
  "We knew about her classification, if anything, we think she sees everything, Furuken Tsimori doesn't go much places without a minder."   "Yet he came here alone..."   "And despite the ongoing truce between us and the Tsou, we're not had a serious disagreement in a hundred and eleven years... Furuken Tsimori came to us first, but we were very much an easy test, to build his confidence. Tsunamon-chen is of tougher material, and possibly a sign the Tsou want to play hardball..."   "How would we tell?"   "She is their Kitten-Ra, if she brought her cat, she's here for business."   "Linni mentioned she did, and that her cat was flirting with one of his all day."   "What? And he allowed it?"   "I only got a text by communicator, but it seemed she wasn't on his radar as a threat."   "Someone summon Linni to low tcha tonight."  
  "Thank you for staying."   "I'm the one who blabbed, I should show solidarity..."   "I'm not going to eviscerate Mikhala's nephew, if that's what you're worried about... Linni usually has great discretion about his kitten-ra activities, but this is more initiative than he normally shows, I just want to know why."   "Meihomei sent for me?" Linni was impeccably dressed, in funeral green.   "I did, I'm sorry, did I interrupt something?"   "No, well, It's been a few months since ShibuĂ©'s father's passing, and we both decided to visit him, after our guest left."   "Oh, my condoleances." Amalthea sounded tense, even to herself.   "Thank you, but our condoleances go to you as well, we know how fondly you thought of him." Linni's tone would have frozen nitrogen.   "I certainly don't think ill of the man who saved my mother and myself, but I doubt my sorrow would match his own daughter's, do give her my best wishes. Getting to the point. Laraken Tsunamon was here earlier. You let her cat meet yours, are you trying to force an alliance?"   "Not force, no, but I saw no harm in letting this cat be my guest. My cats liked him."   "Will there be kittens?"   "Maybe, Corbo really liked him."   "You really should let me know before you make these kinds of overtures to other countries, through their cats."   "Noted, but aren't we on the mend with them? I saw you being much friendlier with Furuken Tsimori than I remember you being with any envoy of the Tsou."   "That's because, at least in part, because he wasn't a mere envoy, he was the Orange Prince, their Secretary of State. I have reason not to offer insult."   "What?" Flora blurted.   "That's his actual title, Orange Prince."   "I thought it was more complicated than that."   "Well, somewhat, sometimes it's the Cat Prince's job."   "Oh, she did say something like that.." And Flora explained what her guest had told her about the Cat Prince and Orange Prince working together.   "That tracks with what we know, but I don't think they ever confirmed that officially, either."   "I imagine there's internal pressures that complicate getting either title, but it does track with what we've seen of their permanent embassies, they're always staffed with envoys, except when the Cat or Orange princeps is in attendance."   "Why those names though?"   "Ivory, Silk and Jade princeps are for their internal industry, religion, caring for their people, the crown prince is chosen from them. Oranges are their main export, and the Cat Prince or Princess is invariably their kitten-ra. I know you're not familiar, but do try to keep up dear Flora."   "I'm sorry I'm late, traffic control wouldn't let me land." Amarat ran in, sweating like a pig. Flora had missed him enough she decided she didn't care, nor that they weren't alone and just smooched him.   "Ahem. Our guest has departed already, we're debriefing Linni, who's been doing kitten-ra things without my permission..."   "Well, Linni, it was nice knowing you..."   "Ah-ah, very funny. Laraken is not to be taken lightly."   "She makes Flora here look big..." Amarat, who was neither tall nor especially big himself, loved to tweak Flora about her height, but in this case, the diminutive, or perhaps 'petite and doll-like' is the right term, Laraken would have been dwarfed.   "I'm the only one here who's not in the 'slightly smaller or smaller than average category' Amarat, no need to tease everyone." Amalthea was strictly average height and weight for a Kagomine woman, while both her nephew and his cousin were the same height as her, and only barely taller than Flora.   "That's not true." Linni interjected, after hearing a Miau.   "Oh?"   "Robyn's in the larger than any cat has any right to be category, and has been for a while." That was true, but then Aquafold cats were the largest shorthaired breed of cats, but Robyn tended to need adults to stretch their arms just to hold her lately...   "Oh, yes you are, you're such a giant among felines." Amalthea added, and skritched her pet's furry chin and got a purr for it.   "Do we need to do anything, in regards to Laraken?"   "Oh, no, there's nothing to be done, really. She's extra-territorial, like all Kitten-Ra's are."   "What, Linni's extra-territorial?"   "Well, he would be, except he's in enough lines of succession, he's closer to multi-territorial."   "Aw shucks, me? What about Amarat."   "I'm giving up stuff lately, I've had to, you're about to overtake me, if you haven't already."   "My sister too."   "Oh, pretty sure by being the Princess of Saer-Nattingham, she's legally Sarn now."   "As in renounce her citizenship, or just by predominance of status?"   "The latter. Kagomine nationality isn't 'renouncable', it's always there, if you choose to claim it. But being number two or three at worse, of a country, you get preponderance, for sure. Which makes me think you'll be brescian as soon as Mikhala formally renounces Ferrare."
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