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La Belle Fleur Sauvage

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“Well, I do want to get married at some point, of course,” Temperance declares apropos of nothing, as they’re tucking into their dinner. “Not just yet, that’s all.”

“You don’t have to,” Abstinence says firmly, helping herself to another serving of raw chicken. “Marriage is not the be-all and end-all, no matter how hard our parents have been trying to convince you otherwise.”

“I agree,” Almira chips in, nodding her head for good measure. “That’s another benefit of Fortuna’s economic system, you see – everyone can earn their living through hard work and ingenuity, men and women alike. Marriage has long ceased to be the only legitimate mean for a woman to make her way into the world.”

At her side, Sir Victor pushes his serving of roasted potatoes around his plate, muttering something about courtly love and the sanctity of wedlock. “What’s wrong with arranged marriage, that’s what I would like to know,” he sighs as if to himself, puts down his cutlery at last. “Worked just fine for centuries, is all I’m saying.”

Abstinence pours herself a generous glass of wine, casts a wistful glance at the blood-red liquid glistening in the candlelight. “The way I see it, family obligations only tie you down; as for romance – well, I could never see the point, myself.”

“You can’t mean that,” her sister whispers, halfway between horrified and admiring. “Everybody wants to be loved, surely? I know I do.”

“There’s more to life than romantic love. Fellowship, adventure – and gold, of course, as our friend Selwyn would be quick to point out.”

“Ah, yes, Selwyn,” Sir Victor rushes to fill the ensuing silence. “I do hope he found what he was looking for.”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, guys,” Abstinence grins, fishing a crumpled envelope out of her pocket. “Got another letter from him this morning, he says he’s on his way to Morthyme.”

“Excellent,” Almira voices her approval, even as she snatches a couple more breadsticks.