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Progression of the Interlude:
Precipitation is plentiful; grass is sullen; the master is dying; a Moment of Discovery rocks Rysn’s boat; a lifestyle has its ups and downs; the apprentice is sent to convince potential customers of her worth as a trading partner; a blue person cheerfully hangs upside down; assumptions nearly ruin conversations; Rysn has no head for heights; gender is irrelevant; trade is refused; a higher authority is consulted; great pain ensues, with great rescue and great reward; the master is apparently not dying after all.
Quote of the Interlude:
"Your conversation will not be a negotiation. The terms were set years ago."
She turned to him, frowning. "What?"
"This is not about what you can get," Vstim said, "but about whether or not they think you are worthy of it. Convince them." He hesitated. "Passions guide you, child. Do well."
In retrospect, this is really frustrating. On the one hand, she needed to believe it was all real, and all important, in order to be a fair test of her skills. On the other hand, it might have been nice if she hadn’t been so desperate to get the trade that she did something incredibly brave ... and incredibly, totally stupid.
“Do not let your assumptions about a culture block your ability to perceive the individual, or you will fail.” This was more of Vstim's instruction to Rysn and that’s exactly what she proceeded to do. Not that it was entirely her fault.
"We are led by a king. Gender is irrelevant.” It has to be a bit difficult to accept this rewriting of language, and to take the perpetrator seriously. Unfortunately for Rysn, this is one of the things she needs to accept without arguing. Once she saw that the robed person was a woman, it really was rather logical to assume that she couldn’t be the "king."She probably shouldn’t have questioned it, but if she just accepted everything she was told, she would open herself to mockery, and that doesn’t work either for "boldness."
But her argument is lacking in tact. She manages to insult Talik by making the same obvious “bargaining points” that thousands of other traders have, such as the islanders’ apparent isolation and resource limitations. Worse, she makes the natural (but incorrect and deeply insulting) assumption that these things drive the simplicity of their lifestyle, and that by association they are also a bit simple ... not to say stupid. She only adds to it by making unnecessary, condescending comments about the king/queen thing again, as if she is some kind of authority on the topic.
However, her reaction (and Talik's) to learning about Vstim’s method of proving his worth back in the day balances the negatives: “Though he obviously hadn’t always been the wizened old ledgerworm that he was now, she’d imagined he’d been a wizened young ledgerworm in the past.”
Rysn wants to appear polished, cosmopolitan, and professional, or at least not quite so young and naive. Unfortunately, her embarrassment is made obvious to those around her.
Shamespren fell around her, shaped like white and red flower petals that drifted on a wind.
Comparing the wannabe-carefree outsiders drawn to the “simple” Reshi lifestyle to painspren on a battlefield is an uncanny simile. "Life can be simple here. it attracts such people like war attracts painspren."
Axies seems to equate the greatshell's spren with its soul. Later, Vstim seems to do the same when he first says that the spren cushioned her fall, and then that she was "saved by the island’s soul itself."
All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:
Rysn was shocked when she saw the island move and realized it was a fantastically huge animal. Chasmfiends have some kind of spren/investiture connection in order to grow to their enormous size. So, do these islands as well? The chapter contains several references to the "soul" of the island, so ... ?
The larkin is described as something like a "cremling with wings," which comes across as something like a crab/hummingbird, yet with silver eyes. The fact that it was given to Rysn by the island itself makes it seem like it might have significance in the future, even while it might have both positive and negative repercussions for Rysn somewhere along the line.
The Herald is Chach, also known as Chanarach or Chana. Her divine attributes are Brave/Obedient, and her body focus is the Soul. Likely, she’s here first to represent bravery; Rysn may have been foolish, but it was brave of her to climb down that rope, which she did for the sake of securing trade for her babsk, an obedient act as well.
- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson