CatMtn at aol.com CatMtn at aol.com
Tue Nov 2 04:10:25 GMT 2010

A Birthday Feast  at the Zangre 
Today is November 2nd, and most of the listies are meeting on  the plain 
around the Zangre to walk up the approach together.  Some have arrived earlier 
and are  already at the castle helping plan the party.   
The reasons for the meeting are  happy ones—first, it is Her Ladyship’s 
sixty-first birthday, and second, Iselle  and Bergon have secured their 
position in Chalion-Ibra, allied with the other  countries on the peninsula that 
speak Chalionese, and are sponsoring successful  voyages of exploration to 
other continents.  Everyone wants to celebrate.  It’s a beautiful day in early 
November,  with blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and cool enough for comfort 
without being  too chilly.   
The road to the Zangre from the  plain is steep and winding, and it’s easy 
to see why the castle has never been  conquered by force.  The castle  walls 
encompass the entire top of the table-like mountain, and any soldiers  
attacking it would have to climb cliffs before they even got near the castle  
walls.  It is a beautiful castle,  made of glowing, creamy stone that seems to 
change color ranging from amber to  nearly white with the weather or time 
of day. 
Ista and Illvin have come to the  Zangre for the occasion, with Liss, Foix, 
and Ferda.  Visitors from other universes include  Dag, Fawn, and their 
daughter, Whit, Berry, and  their son, and Hawthorne.  Many of the Vorkosiverse 
inhabitants are  there as well, and Ivan is looking very smug because the 
next Vorkosiverse book  is about him.  And there’s this  girl….   
The climb up to the castle was  fascinating, with different views of the 
city laid out below as the road twisted  and turned.  The group is  
accompanied by flashing lights as people take pictures on the way  up. 
The castle gates are standing open,  and the listies and characters enter 
the courtyard.  It is decorated with colorful autumn  leaves and vines to 
honor the Son, and the sinking sun is turning the stone of  the courtyard to 
gold and amber.  We  go through the main doors, down the long hall, and into 
the patio, where the  last rays of the sun are slowly fading away.  Dinner is 
to be served in the patio,  which is an elegant room with an opening in the 
roof that allows the diners to  see the stars.  Many of the listies  have 
brought special dishes from their native countries, some have cooked their  
favorite dishes for entertaining, and the servants receive these and put them 
on  a buffet table for the guests to sample before the meal.  Ma Foxti, 
Marilyn, and Elizabeth are in  charge of the buffet, having servants replace 
empty dishes with full ones,  making sure they are arranged in a way that will 
indicate which ones are the  spiciest.  James Bryant brought  curry with 
all the side dishes, which interested the royal family very much  since their 
explorers have been trying to reach India by going around the continent of 
Africa, but have not yet succeeded.  All trade with India is still  by the 
extremely complex and expensive land and water routes of the Silk  Roads. 
Miles is at the party, of course,  with Ekaterin and their children.  There 
is a rather large group of children;  Iselle and Bergon’s four, Gregor and  
Laisa’s three, the four Vorkosigan children, Cazaril and Betriz’ son, the 
two  from the Wide Green World, Harimad and Bob!!’s two girls, Tora’s two 
boys, and  at least a dozen others.  They have  been allowed to play in the 
patio until dinner is served, when they will be  moved to their own dinner 
and party by a small army of  nursemaids. 
Cordelia came to speak to Miles,  looking determined.  “Miles, are you  the 
person who has been spreading rumors about Ivan’s latest girlfriend? He  
seems to be taking her more seriously than his past  romances.” 
“Er—what’s wrong with that?  I owe him for talking about Ekaterin and  
getting Major Zamori, Alexi Vormoncrief, and of all people, By Vorrutyer  
bothering her,” he replied defensively. 
“That’s not the same thing, and you  know it.  Dropping hints that she’s  
a Cetagandan ghem to some of the old-fashioned Vor and that she’s one of 
Baron  Bharaputra’s daughters to the galactics is going too far!  Alys is very  
“Oh, all right,” sighed Miles.  “But he does deserve  it.” 
“I warned you,” murmured Ekaterin  with a faint smile.  Miles wanders  off 
to find Royce and compare hospital experiences.  Ekaterin chats with her 
mother-in-law;  Howard joins them. 
This birthday party is unusual in  that there are many servants to do most 
of the preparation of the dinner.  All of them want to be on the serving  
staff to get to see the people from far distant places that make  India seem 
almost next door.  Iselle encourages this because it will  spread the 
information that there really is a land on the other side of the  ocean.  Luckily 
most of the  preparation has already been done, and the dining area is large 
enough to  accommodate a large number of attendants.  Some of the listies 
have made an effort to try and dress in the style  considered proper in 
Chalion at the time, but many of the women are wearing  elegant trouser suits, 
which Liss especially, as well as Iselle and Betriz, are  looking at enviously. 
 It’s obvious  that there may be a style revolution coming to Chalion.  
Groups of listies are mingling and  talking:  Kate, Andrew, Alys, John,  and 
Cazaril are discussing poetry; Howard, Jill, Natali, Mark, and Kareen are  
carrying on an animated discussion of some sort;  Pete, Richard, Bergon, and 
others are  discussing military history; the head Birthday Tixie, Jim Parish, 
is trying to  round up his assistants and having a hard time of it; Megaera, 
Sasha, and Mary  are trying to take pictures of the gathering and the patio—
in short, it’s a  typical listie gathering, and trying to organize it is 
like herding cats.  Everyone might as well just relax and  enjoy it. 
The children are in another hall  being fed their dinner and playing games, 
and it’s time for the adults to gather  at the tables.  The Divine Hallana  
says a few words of thanks for friends, food, and the events we have come 
to  celebrate, and then the first course is served. 
The dinner is magnificent.  There are enough courses that all tastes  can 
find something delicious, and the company is all that could be desired.  
Jerrie has given the music and lyrics of  some of the best filk to the castle 
musicians on an earlier visit, and there is  a musical accompaniment to the 
meal.  Caz is embarrassed by the verses proclaiming him a hero, but Palli and  
Nicholas assure him that he should not feel that way, as they are nothing 
more  than the truth. 
The final course is, naturally, a  huge chocolate pecan cake.  After  the 
candles have been blown out, the traditional song sung, and congratulatory  
speeches given by Nancy, Pat, Tony, and Jim, Harimad and Anmar  cut and serve 
the cake.  (The cake,  shaped like the Zangre itself, is so large that it 
takes a sword or a machete to  cut and serve it neatly.)  Iselle  loves the 
taste of chocolate and expresses a wish that it was available to  her.  “It 
will be,” Phil assures  her.  
It is getting chilly in the patio,  so the royals and their guests are 
happy to move to the ballroom after  dessert.  The musicians, supervised  by 
Mark, Jerrie, Paula, and Maureen, are playing a mix of traditional Chalionese  
music and music familiar to the listies.  The combination is odd, but seems 
to satisfy everyone.  As the evening goes on, it gets even  more odd when 
they start blending the two kinds of music.  
The dancing now starts with a few  folk dances which some of the listies 
are familiar with, and the Chalionese  court finds the listies’ dances easy to 
learn and very amusing. Gwynne and Tel  are teaching the steps, and Tria is 
watching and  critiquing. 
John has wandered into the castle  library and appears to find it 
fascinating.  Megaera, Alison, and several other  listies have joined him there.  The 
 library has books from all over the western world, and bibliophiles are  
understandably drawn to it. 
Micki and Anne are asking Betriz  about trips into town tomorrow, and she 
agrees to arrange transportation.  Jeff and Matija express a desire to  visit 
some of the temples.  Marina  and Becca are interested in watching some of 
the craftsmen do their work, and  many other listies want to get souvenirs. 
LouAnn and Laura both slip into the  children’s party to make sure everyone 
has settled down for stories and  bedtime.  The nursemaids are a bit  
confused by requests for stories they haven’t heard of, but have coped by  
telling the little ones “new” stories that they aren’t familiar with, so  
everyone is happy.  Laura reports  this to the other parents on the list, and the 
parents go in to say goodnight to  their children. 
The dancing, card-playing, and other  entertainment last until almost 
midnight.   The Tixies and all of the list wish Her Ladyship a most sincere  
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!  And many, many  more. 

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