Quinn raised his eyebrows at Cassiel.
“That’s not a word, is it?”
It had been his idea, trying to increase his vocabulary. There had been a few too many occasions at balls were his lack of education had shown during conversation. He wasn’t stupid, but oftentimes he’d been reduced to an awkward smile and a half-assed response.
“It is, Quillan. It means using long words when short ones will do.”
“Oh. Sounds like a lot of conversations at balls then. How did you pronounce it?”
“Ses, as in cesspit. Qui as in…key with a Q. Pay, day, lee, an. Sesquipedalian.”
“Okay…isn’t there a shorter word for that?”
“Well yes. You can say verbose, too, but it’s a less interesting word really.” She smirked, similar to her sisters half grin when she knew she’d done something clever and unexpected.
“How about…” she paused to think “happiness?”
“Not this again.”
“I like to expand by horizons. Humour me. I would like to get something out of these sessions too.”
She did it quite a lot. As far as he could tell, Nebellea had given some speech about slaw lives being so different to noble lifestyles and now she liked to see how their views on abstract concepts like happiness compared.
“Happiness…it’s more than being contented. It’s active pleasure when something has happened. It’s getting some extra food one day. It’s getting a transferred from one noble to another, one who beats less. It’s finishing work early. It’s winning cardgames.” He grinned at the last one.
“Quite. I wouldn’t say we differ there. How about loyalty?”
“Doing right by those who do right by you.”
“That sounds small minded, Quill.”
“Maybe. Skaa have to be loyal to number one…maybe some family. It isn’t really a quality in skaa. They’ll be family minded, but loyalty is more than that. Obligatory are loyal. Guards are loyal. Skaa don’t have the liberty.”
“I see. You’re loyal to someone though, right? Pellik?”
“I guess. I’d do what he asked me to do, I’d stand by him if he made a decision I agreed on.”
“What if he did something you didn’t agree with it?”
“Within reason I guess…can you be loyal to ideas?”
“Yes, but it’s not the same.”
She looked quizzically at him.
“So, between friends who can keep a secret, who are you loyal to in this…enterprise?”
“Penndlehave. He gave up his life to be here in so many ways. I stole Tret away so I’m responsible for his current situation.”
“Thats responsibility, not loyalty. Loyalty is standing by someone who is perhaps not always perfect. It’s allegiance and support, abandoning something of yourself for them.”
Quinn lent back in his chair. Who am I loyal to?
It was on his mind after Alhara announcing she may leave for Terris. He was loyal to her for what she had done to educate him. But more than that, she was trusting of him. It might not be more than the others in the group, but trust inspired trust.
But then what about the group as a whole? Was he loyal to Bella, to Fallow, to Owandise?
Owandise was a fine woman, but he didn’t know her. He was grateful for what she had done and somewhat of what she represented, but he wouldn’t do anything she asked without question.
Fallow…former pirate and skaa beater, now a reforming man trying to improve the lives of skaa. He’d made him kill a man for the sake of his own security…would he do it again? Or had their dynamic changed enough that he’d know not to do that? It was a hard question. He respected the man. He was a logical man, immovable in some ways unless you could prove why what you’re doing was reasonable. It doesn’t seem like loyalty.
Bella…confused, changing Nebellea. He never knew what to expect. When she had moved to steal from Lekal…he would never have expected it. He would have leapt to join her…but it wasn’t selfless. He wanted to move against the nobles when he could. What if she wanted them to attack skaa?
Except she wouldn’t. If nothing else, he could rely on her to be less violent, more accepting than him.
“I don’t like this question, Cassiel. I’m loyal to the group and what we’re working towards…but it comes from me agreeing with it.”
“Sometimes, Quillan, loyalty can be a two way street. You give them your loyalty, knowing they wouldn’t abuse that responsibility.”
“So who are you loyal to, Cassie?”
“I’ll tell you when you know who you’re loyal to, Quill. Anyway, how about abolishment?