sorinverse: (magpie - Ramil)
[personal profile] sorinverse
This one takes place someone in between Book 2 and Book 3. Ramil is narrating. The prompt is from [livejournal.com profile] 100treasures. Also, as of 1/12/07, this entry is no longer friends-locked and open for anyone to read.



It was a bright spring morning in Aurum City and I was happily eating breakfast alone when Sorin finally came in. His being late was something I was used to and didn't take offence at, being that by the time I awakened each morning his side of the bed had long grown cold. He was in the habit of waking up at the crack of dawn, claiming to be at his most productive in the morning, while I chose to awaken at more sensible times, for example after the sun had risen. As he rarely could predict what time I would choose to awaken he usually returned home midmorning in hopes of sharing breakfast with me.

"Is that tea?" he asked, pouncing his tea cup with some enthusiasm. "Oh, thank Thella, I could murder a cuppa. Been dealing with morons all morning."

"House Silvan again?" I inquired, as he picked up the tea, which was still quite hot, being that the slaves had poured it for him as soon as they heard him crash through the front door.

"Who else?" he scowled, raising the cup to his mouth. A few moments later he was coughing and spluttering. "Thella's locks, you call this tea?"

"I purchased Erania black, just as you requested. It wasn’t cheap," I said, pointedly. "I had a cup myself, and I can't for the life of me see why you're so fond of it, it's rather tasteless, isn't it?"

"Tasteless?" Sorin looked mortally offended. "This isn't tea, it's blasphemy! Are you sure you got the right stuff? Show me the box!"

I rolled my eyes indulgently as one of the slaves scuttled forward with it, and he inspected it critically.

"Right. Who made this, this thing?" he demanded, pointing down at his tea cup. "It was Estrella, wasn't it? I'll kill her!"

"Which one is she again?" I could never remember any of the slaves' names. He of course knew them all personally, one of the quirks of having a former slave as a partner. It had its advantages of course, I had an excellent and unusually loyal team of staff, but it was exasperating having to remember which was which.

"Rather vapid kitchen hand, lovely singing voice, huge mole on her neck," Sorin said, dismissively.

"Oh, her? I sent her out shopping on the cook's insistence that she'd do less damage that way. You'd be surprised to know that I actually brewed the tea this morning."

Sorin and the slave – I think he was called Marcus – stared at me in horror and disbelief.

"I might have known," Sorin groaned. He flung his hands in the area and implored the ceiling, "Thella above, am I the only one in this accursed house who knows how to make decent tea!?"

Theatrics finished he turned back to me. "'Mil, dear?” Sorin asked, kindly. "Please leave the cooking to the slaves in future. I think it's best for everyone that way."

"As you wish," I replied, amused.

"But!" he declared. "Something must be done. Marcus - " Ah, I was correct, "summon the other slaves, a lesson must be learnt. It is time for Advanced Tea Theory lessons."

Not long after, all twelve of the staff present were gathered around the formal dining room table, which was set with the second-best crockery in the house. The slaves were all looking rather bemused, but weren't complaining about the chance to take a break from work. Sorin's eccentricities were well known, and generally well-liked, being that they were largely both harmless and endlessly amusing.

"Right. Now pay very close attention, what I'm about to tell you is vitally important to the continued harmony in this house," Sorin said, his face solemn.

"This," he gestured, "is a teapot. You fill it with tea leaves. The correct amount to use is one teaspoonful for every person to have a cup of tea, and one for the pot. Any less than this and it won't taste strong enough."

"The kettle is boiling, Sorin," one of the slaves called from by the fireplace, where Sorin had fastened the kettle. This was another one of Sorin's quirks, he preferred for the slaves to call him by name, as he still identified as a slave. I thought it was a terrible habit to get the slaves into as I feared they’d slip up in public and then he'd be forced to punish them against his wishes, but so far we'd been lucky and they'd been careful.

"Right. Now for black tea it's best to use tea which has just boiled, but for green tea it’s better to let it be a little bit cooler and let it sit for a while before using it. As this is black tea I'll just pour it now."

Everyone peered into teapot, in which the water was blossoming into shades of golden then orange-brown. Sorin set the kettle down by the fireplace, then sat down in his chair, arms crossed.

"Aren’t you going to pour it?" I asked, on behalf of the group.

"Aha! So that's where you went wrong! Of course I'm not going to pour it yet, it's got to diffuse. Look at it, the water is still transparent. No, we're going to sit and wait."

After a few moments some of the younger slaves started fidgeting. "How long do we wait?" someone finally asked.

Sorin considered this. "Slowly count to three hundred from when you put the water on, then check. If the water is still transparent keep counting to four hundred or five hundred, however long it takes."

We resumed waiting, and there was much relief when Sorin finally peered inside the teapot and announced that it was ready. He then ordered everyone to take note of the colour so we remembered what it was supposed to look like next time.

"Right! Now for the actual pouring."

"There's protocol for that too?" I asked, feigning boredom.

"Of course! For a start you've always got to use the best crockery you’ve got, it makes it taste better. See this stuff? Finest Yukiyama china, incredibly fine and delicate. Makes it taste so much better than some crappy piece of ceramic crap made by a Jamariyan peasant. Don't know why, it just does for some reason. Now, Ramil, no sugar for you if I recall correctly. Your milk – before or after?"

"Excuse me?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Do you want the tea or the milk in first?"

"Does it even make a difference?" I asked, impatiently.

"Of course it does!" Sorin said cheerfully. "If you put the milk in first, the tea hits it and it cools down more quickly. If you put the tea in first it's hotter, but it's easier to judge what colour it'll be and so how much milk to put in to taste."

"Put the milk in first," I decided, not wanting to be there all day.

"As you wish," Sorin grinned, obviously following my train of thought.

Against my formal Merchant upbringing I waited for Sorin to pour the tea for the gathered slaves, and to dish out the small sugared biscuits he insisted on serving with his tea.

"Dig in," he ordered, before doing so himself. I paused tasting the tea in favour of watching the rapturous expression dancing across his face.

Obviously someone was happy with the end results.

He noticed my eyes on him and rolled his eyes. "You think I'm nuts, don't you? Well you take one sip and then see if you can still call me crazy."

With great deliberation and every eye on the room upon me, I delicately raised my tea cup to my lips and took a slow sip. I then lowered the cup back onto the saucer, looked at Sorin in the eye and said, "You're crazy."

His face fell.

"But..." I let the word hang, with a smile, and moments later found myself dodging a saucer aimed at my head. I caught it before it connected with my nose and handed it back to him with great dignity. "Sorin, if you please, please remember this is extremely expensive crockery."

"Yeah, whatever, you jerk," he grinned.

Date: 2007-09-21 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgaffney.livejournal.com
"There's protocol for that too?" I asked, feigning boredom.

...siiiiilly ramil. that's just ASKING for it. =D

September 2007

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