Did a little more on the MS last night before bed. I just kind of shoved Keiki where he belongs and a nice little subscene with a LOT of potential sprang from it. Now I'm going to have to go back and name all the dishes and utensils again (I haven't been able to find the original notes from before but I'll look for them a couple more times before completely giving up) and I have to not only decide what meaning they all carry--the Imotinans once used eating utensils and dishes as a means of silent communication, and, in fact, married couples still share a single set--but which dishes and utensils besides a knife they bring when they're at a party--a sort of all-purpose travel-pack with the most likely dishes/utensils necessary (and their accompanying messages when traded/shared). I remember the descriptions, at least, so if I have to write it all out again, I won't be completely lost.
The meaning of the knife is easiest to remember, though it was originally only given to one's most trusted friend/ally. I guess, in the political situation Keiki's facing, anyone who supports his cousin and his House--the legitimate heirs, after all--is a trusted friend/ally. Especially since he wouldn't trust his more distant cousins, who aren't eligible for the throne at all, except through birth and a blind disregard for Law.
The Laws that govern the throne are important. They can't be changed, but there are loopholes. The one Law that has no loophole, however, would Legally prevent any of Keiki's and Yajadi's distant relations from ascending the throne: Only the blood of Keiki and Yajadi has touched the Book of Blood. Anyone physically voilating that Law doesn't live long after the rightful heir's blood once more meets the tome. The spell connecting the Book and Throne doesn't care if you're related. If the Book doesn't know you, the Throne will kill you.
However, the Book of Blood's (the Keikithei's) importance has been allowed to erode through time. More than once, everone's lack of knowledge about the Book has prevented a usurper's success. No usurper has held the Throne for more than a portion of his or her lifetime. Not all heirs are publicly announced--only those produced by the reigning Zhipei are publicly known. Contract-births involving surrogate parents (usually a mother who was raped), are, by Law, to remain secret until the Heir comes of age. All Birth-Contracts are so. Only the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child typically know about the Contract. Only Contract-births prove one's legitimacy to claim a House's name, properties, etc. So, if the TLozhipei (Yajadi), were to accept another woman's child as her own, but without a Contract for the child, that child could not ascend the Throne, even if that child's blood had been presented to the Book of Blood. The child would be an adoptee, nothing more. In order for the adoptee to succeed Yajadi, the child must be Legally acceptable. Her blood must be introduced to the Book, and there must be a Contract for her adoption somewhere in existence.
She will be. But that's for another book. I'm enjoying thinking of what I'm going to do to Keiki before I give him a break.
Keiki cannot take the throne himself because he has a birth defect; it comes with a facial scar. The Law preventing him from taking the Throne states that one bearing Kazhehimo's Face (the outward sign of the birth defect--the facial scar) cannot be trusted to rule wisely. This Law was made long ago, when it was believed that children born so were less intelligent than normal children. All Kazhehimo's Face really means, however, is that magic was used upon the mother at some point during her pregnancy. The birthmark can take a variety of shapes/forms/textures. Keiki's is a slightly-rasised winestain birthmark much smoother than the rest of his face, and covers approximately two thirds of his face. His lips are uneven--thicker at one end than at the other--and he cannot completely open his left eye. Even though he is a mage and has the buttercream hair all mages are born with, the hair in and at the edges of the birthmark is discolored, almost blood-red, though the birthmark itself is more of a liver-brown. The skin of the birthmark is cooler than the rest of his skin, but more sensitive to changes in temperature and pressure; it sometimes rashes when he's been wearing his gairi (headcloth that covers his face) too long.
Many people with Kazhehimo's Face become Sabi'Oji, giving the illusion that few are born with the scar. In fact, most of the Sabi'Oji are those with Kazhehimo's Face, and, because Sabi'Oji serve as one's closest advisors/teachers/mentors/friends, that proves they are quite as intelligent as "normal" people. Besides that, they go through specialized training nowadays in Imotina, thanks to Kazhehimo--he wasn't a Sabi'Oji. Back when he lived, Hand-Slaves were the most trusted slaves of their masters. Nowadays, thanks to Kazhehimo's work, they make up the most important Station in Imotinan society. They are no longer taken from their masters' slave population; they choose whom they serve, and serve the Zhiraikaovei whose "signature" they bear on their clothing and skin as much as they serve an individual. They are priests, friends, and a variety of other things to their masters (Shisei'ubu).
But Barukei is refusing to accept Keiki's service. Not that Keiki particularly wants to serve Barukei (he'd far rather Court Barukei). But neither of them has much choice. Keiki can resist some of what his Zhiraikaovei--DLachomaogu--wants, but to resist everything all the time would kill him. So he's left tracking Barukei down and gets to follow his would-be Shisei. Keiki's "service" to Barukei will not be a typical example of how a Sabi'Oji goes about things.
Poor Keiki. (Please note the sarcasm)