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Local Custom

Chapter 1


Each person shall provide his clan of origin with a child of his blood, who will be raised by the clan and belong to the clan, despite whatever may later occur to place the parent beyond the clan's authority. And this shall be Law for every person of every clan.

From the Charter of the Council of Clans  Made in the Sixth Year After Planetfall, City of Solcintra, Liad----


Chapter 2


The giving of nubiath'a, the parting-gift, by either partner signals the end of an affair of pleasure. The person of impeccable melant'i will offer and accept nubiath'a with gentleness and grace, thereafter referring to the affair by neither word nor deed.Excerpted from the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct----


Chapter 3  


"Of course you are my friend—my most dear, my beloved . . . " Shan el'Thrasin leaned close and cupped her face in his two hands, as if they were kin, or lifemates. 

"I will love you always," he whispered, and saw the fear fade from her beautiful eyes. Achingly tender, he bent and kissed her.

"I will never forget . . . " she sighed, nestling her face into his shoulder.'"Nor will I," he promised, holding her close as he slipped the knife clear. No whisper of blade against sheath must warn her, he told himself sternly. No quiver of his own pain must reach her; she was his love, though she had killed his partner. He would rather die than cause her an instant's distress.

The knife was very sharp. She stirred a little as it slid between her ribs, and sighed, very softly, when it found her heart.

From "The Trickster Across the Galaxy: A Retrospect"----


Chapter 4


Relations between Liad and Terra have never been cordial, though there have been periods of lesser and greater strain. Liad prefers to thrash Terra roundly in the field of galactic trade—a terrain it shaped—while Terra gives birth to this and that Terran-supremacist faction, whose mischief seems always to stop just short of actual warfare.

From "The Struggle for Fair Trade",  doctoral dissertation of Indrew Jorman, published by Archive Press, University----


Chapter 5  


Melant'i —A Liaden word denoting the status of a person within a given situation. For instance, one person may fulfill several roles: Parent, spouse, child, mechanic, thodelm. The shifting winds of circumstance, or 'necessity,' dictate from which role the person will act this time. They will certainly always act honorably, as defined within a voluminous and painfully detailed code of behavior, referred to simply as 'The Code.' 

To a Liaden, melant'i is more precious than rubies, a cumulative, ever-changing indicator of his place in the universal pecking order. A person of high honor, for instance, is referred to as "a person of melant'i," whereas a scoundrel—or a Terran—may be dismissed with "he has no melant'i."

Melant'i may be the single philosophical concept from which all troubles, large and small, between Liad and Terra spring.

From "A Terran's Guide to Liad"----


Chapter 6  


Any slight—no matter how small—requires balancing, lest the value of one's melant'i be lessened. 

Balance is an important, and intricate, part of Liaden culture, with the severity of rebuttal figured individually by each debt-partner, in accordance with his or her own melant'i. For instance, one Liaden might balance an insult by demanding you surrender your dessert to him at a society dinner, whereas another individual might calculate balance of that same insult to require a death.

Balance-death is, admittedly, rare. But it is best always to speak softly, bow low and never give a Liaden cause to think he has been slighted.

From "A Terran's Guide to Liad"----


Chapter 7  


The delm shall be face and voice of the clan, guarding the interests of the clan and treating with other delms in matters of wider interest. The delm is held to be responsible for the actions of all members of his clan and likewise holds ultimate authority over these members. The delm shall administer according to the internal laws of his clan, saving only that those laws do not circumvent the Laws agreed upon by all delms and set forth in this document.From the Charter of the Council of Clans----


Chapter 8  


Love is best given to kin and joy taken in duty well done.

Vilander's Proverbs, Seventh Edition----


Chapter 9  


The delm of any given clan, when acting for the Clan, is commonly referred to by the clan's name: "Guayar has commanded thus and so . . . " 

To make matters even more confusing, it is assumed all persons of melant'i will have a firm grounding in Liaden heraldry, thus opening up vast possibilities for double-entendre and other pleasantries. "A hutch of bunnies," will indicate, en masse, the members of Clan Ixin, whose clan-sign is a stylized rabbit against a rising moon. Korval, whose distinctive Tree-and-Dragon is perhaps the most well-known clan-sign among non-Liadens, is given the dubious distinction of dragonhood and a murmured, "The Dragon has lifted a wing," should be taken as a word to the wise.

From "A Terran's Guide to Liad"----


Chapter 10  


The most dangerous phrase in High Liaden is coab minshak'a: "Necessity exists".

From "A Terran's Guide to Liad"----


Chapter 11  


If fate decrees you'll be lost at sea, you'll live through many a train wreck.

Terran Proverb----


Chapter 12  


The thing to recall about Dragons is that it takes a special person to deal with them at all. If you lie to them they will steal from you. If you attack them without cause they will dismember you. If you run from them they will laugh at you. 

It is thus best to deal calmly, openly and fairly with Dragons: Give them all they buy and no more or less, and they will do the same by you. Stand at their back and they will stand at yours. Always remember that a Dragon is first a Dragon and only then a friend, a partner, a lover.

Never assume that you have discovered a Dragon's weak point until it is dead and forgotten, for joy is fleeting and a Dragon's revenge is forever.

From The Liaden Book of Dragons----


Chapter 13  


There are several million Traders in the galaxy, but only 300 Master Traders registered with the Trade Commission on VanDyk. Until recently, all 300 were Liaden. This has been changing slowly, as Terrans become more successful in the trade arena and able to afford the costly and extensive certification tests. 

Terran or Liaden, a Master Trader's work is exacting, requiring intimate knowledge of the regulations of a thousand ports of call, as well as a sure instinct for what will gain a profit at each. Master Traders often chart their ships' course as the trade develops, some running as long as five years between visits to the home port.

Less exalted Traders most usually ply an established route, which has most likely been researched and planned by a Master Trader.

The very best Master Traders are described as cool-headed, analytical, persuasive generalists who are filled with the passion to deal.

From "A Young Person's Book of Trade"----


Chapter 14  


The Guild Halls of so-called "Healers"—interactive empaths—can be found in every Liaden city. 

Healers are charged with tending ills such as depression, addiction and other psychological difficulties and they are undoubtedly skilled therapists, with a high rate of success to their credit.

Healers are credited with the ability to wipe a memory from all layers of a client's consciousness. They are said to be able to directly—utilizing psychic ability—influence another's behavior; however, this activity is specifically banned by Guild regulations.

From "The Case Against Telepathy"----


Chapter 15   The Universe adorns  a flawless jewel. Solcintra.

From "Collected Poems" Elabet pel'Ongin, Clan Diot----


Chapter 16  


Each one of a Line shall heed the voice of the thodelm, head of that Line, and give honor to the thodelm's word. Likewise, the thodelm shall heed the voice of the delm, head of the clan entire, and to the delm's word bow low. 

Proper behavior is that thodelm decides for Line and delm decides for clan, cherishing between them the melant'i of all.

Excerpted from the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct----


Chapter 17  


The number of High Houses is precisely fifty. And then there is Korval.

From the Annual Census of Clans----


Chapter 18  


In an ally, considerations of house, clan, planet, race are insignificant beside two prime questions, which are:  1. Can he shoot? 2. Will he aim at your enemy?

Excerpted from Cantra yos'Phelium's Log Book----


Chapter 19  


The best advice for any Terran with a yen to visit the beautiful planet of Liad is: Stay home.From "A Terran's Guide to Liad"----


Chapter 20  


If honor be your clothing, the suit will last a lifetime.

William Arnot----


Chapter 21  


L'iaden clans are primarily social organizations, amended by centuries of ever more exacting usage. Some Terran investigators compare them without amendment to military organizations, perhaps not realizing that the line of command is to some extent fluid, with variation due to considerations of melant'i. Though the delm is "supreme commander" and the thodelm his "second", an adroit junior with an agenda may at times be as much of an impediment to those commanders as any external enemy.

From "The Lectures of a Visiting Professor,  Vol. 2" Wilhemenia Neville-Smythe,  Unity House, Terra---- 


Chapter 22  


Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love.Aristotle----


Chapter 23  


The guest is sacrosanct. The welfare and comfort of the guest will be first among the priorities of the House, for so long as the guest shall bide.Excerpted from the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct----


Chapter 24  


A Dragon will in all things follow its own necessities, and either will or will not make its bow to Society. Nor shall the prudent dispute a Dragon's chosen path or seek to turn it from its course.

From the Liaden Book of Dragons----


Chapter 25  


The dramliz want young Tor An's genes. Farseers predict twins from the match and offer the girl-child to us—to Clan Korval—as settlement.'Jela would say that a wizard on board tips the scale to survival—which remains sound reasoning, though we're planet-bound now and in honorable estate, or so the boy will tell me . . .  

As it transpires, Tor An met his proposed wife several days ago, through Dramliza Rool Tiazan's good graces, I make no doubt! The boy's smitten, of course, so the marriage is made.

Perhaps the girl-child will fail of being dramliz . . . 

Excerpted from Cantra yos'Phelium's Log Book----


Chapter 26  


There is nobody who is not dangerous for someone.

Marquise de Sevigne----


Chapter 27  


Love: the delusion that one woman differs from another.

H.L. Mencken----


Chapter 28  


A person of melant'i deceives by neither word nor deed and shall have no cause to hide his face from the world.

Excerpted from the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct----


Chapter 29  


On average contract-marriages last eighteen Standard Months, and are negotiated between clan officials who decide, after painstaking perusal of gene maps, personality charts and intelligence grids, which of several possible nuptial arrangements are most advantageous to both clans. 

In contrast, lifemating is a far more serious matter, encompassing the length of the partners' lives, even if one should die. One of the pair must leave his or her clan of origin and join the clan of the lifemate. At that time the adoptive clan pays a "life-price" based on the individual's profession, age and internal value to the former clan.

Tradition has it that lifemates share a "bond of heart and mind." In view of Liaden cultural acceptance of "wizards," some scholars have interpreted this to mean that lifemates are "psychically" connected. Or, alternatively, that the only true lifematings occur between wizards.

There is little to support this theory. True, lifematings among Liadens are rare. But so are life-long marriages among Terrans.

From "Marriage Customs of Liad"----


Chapter 30  


A Healer should be contracted to attend every birth for the purpose of keeping the mother's soul attached to her body and for easing the way through childbirth.'Such attention is doubly necessary in the case of one who has the honor to bear a child for an allied clan. In this instance, the child's clan must instruct the Healer in addition to blur memory and assuage any painful emotions the mother may otherwise experience.'A Healer should also be summoned before the one who gave the child-seed rejoins his own kin.

From The Liaden Code of Proper Conduct----


Chapter 31  


Accepted of Clan Korval: Identical twins, daughters of Kin Dal yos'Phelium and Larin yos'Galan.'Accepted of Line yos'Galan: Petrella, daughter of Larin.'Accepted of Line yos'Phelium: Chi, daughter of Kin Dal.

From The Gazette for Banim Fourthday  in the Third Relumma of the Year Named Yergin----


Chapter 32  


The last of those who had hand in Eba yos'Phelium's capture and shaming seven years ago is dead. Balance achieved.Daav yos'Phelium, Sixth Delm of Korval  Entry in the Delm's Diary for Trianna Seconday in the Fourth Relumma of the Year named Sandir----


Chapter 33  


Here we stand: An old woman, a halfling boy, two babes; a contract, a ship and a Tree. 

Clan Korval.

How Jela would laugh.

Excerpted from Cantra yos'Phelium's Log Book----


Chapter 34   The Lower Docks of Solcintra Port are the sphere of thieves, murderers, rogues and criminals of every description. Clanless and desperate, they have nothing to lose, and are completely willing to relieve the unwary of their purses and, often enough, their lives.

From "A Terran's Guide to Liad"----


Chapter 35  


Er Thom fell from the Tree this morning. 

I hasten to add that all is well, though of course he took damage. A matter of broken ribs and dislocated shoulder—that's the worst of it. Nothing beyond the auto-doc's capabilities.

I cannot for certain say how far he fell, for all Daav can tell me is that the pair of them had "never been so high." Er Thom was craning for a better sight of the Port when an end-branch broke under his weight.

He was caught, twig-lashed and unconscious, by the big by-branch about seven meters up—you know the one, sister. The luck is in the business twice: The child doesn't remember falling.

Daav saw the whole, and kept a cool head—far cooler than I should have kept at eight Standards, and so I swear! 'Twas he climbed down, fetched me out of a meeting with dea'Gauss, and showed me where Er Thom lay.

Nor would he be parted from his cha'leket, but kept vigil at 'doc-side and bed. I at last persuaded him to lie down whilst I kept watch, and he fell instantly asleep—to wake a quarter-hour later shrieking for Er Thom to come back, "Come back! The branch is breaking!"

I await the Healer as I write this . . . 

Excerpted from a private letter to Petrella yos'Galan  from Chi yos'Phelium----


Chapter 36  


To be outside of the clan is to be dead to the clan.

Excerpted from the Liaden Code of Proper Conduct----


Chapter 37  


In the case of a clan's loss of an individual member through the actions of a person unrelated to the clan, balance-payment is hereby set forth. Such payment weighs equally the occupation, age, and clan-standing of the individual who has been lost. The attached chart shall henceforth be the standard by which all clans shall compute such balance-payment.

From the Charter of the Council of Clans, Fifth Amended Edition----


Chapter 38  


Take the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well.

Jean Jacques Rousseau----


Chapter 39  


There are those Scouts—and other misinformed persons—who urge that the Book of Clans be expanded to include certain non-Liaden persons.'I say to the Council now, the day the Book of Clans includes a Terran among its pages is the day Liad begins to fall!

Excerpted from remarks made before the  Council of Clans by the chairperson of the  Coalition to Abolish the Liaden Scouts----


Chapter 40  


The first attack was a hammer-blow at the Ringstars. A dozen worlds were lost at once, including that which was home to the dramliz and the place the Soldiers call Headquarters. There was rumor of a seed-ship—as high as a hundred seed-ships—sent out from Antori in the moment before it died. Much good it may do them. 

Jela says The Enemy means to smash communications, then gobble up each isolated world in its own good time.

Jela says anyone with a ship is a smuggler, now. And every smuggler is a soldier.

I've never seen anything like this . . . 

Excerpted from Cantra yos'Phelium's Log Book----

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