Wal’s light voice held an undercurrent of suspicion. “Speaking of which, don’t you think you should share the issue Cissy mentioned you having with Imperial Sister Lindsey?”
Pain stabbed Diltan’s temples. Fuck. He did not want to have this conversation. However, today was determined to be chock full of shit.
He griped, knowing it would do him no good. “Damn it. If you knew the day I had, you’d give me a break.”
“Let’s compromise,” Rolat offered. “I will pour you another drink to help loosen your tongue and settle your nerves. Then you will tell us what happened.”
He took Diltan’s glass and reached to pour the last of the bohut into it. As he did so, Diltan rose to his feet and took a step away. It would not do to be within easy grabbing distance of his Nobek in the next few minutes.
He told his companions, “Being the Dramok of a clan is nothing like what I expected it to be. Clanmates who refuse to obey orders, who order me around to boot, and insist on enticing the wrong Matara to join us. As Cissy might say, the whole package sucks lemons.”
Rolat smirked and offered Diltan his drink. “Your biggest problem is not us. It’s your ambition, my Dramok. You reach high, so you will inevitably fall from time to time.”
Diltan took his glass from the Nobek and retreated a couple of steps away. No, if he was going to confess his wrongdoings with Lindsey, he was not going to be within arm’s length of Rolat. Just being in the same room was too close for comfort.
Steeling himself for the censure of his Imdiko and Nobek, Diltan told them, “I reach too high, on occasion.”
“Can one do that?” Wal mused. “I think a man should go for whatever his dreams are, however impossible they may seem.”
“Including another clan’s Matara?”
“Well, I can’t countenance that.”
Diltan sighed. “Then you’ll be very disappointed in me.”
The Imdiko’s eyes widened. “Oh Diltan. No.”
Rolat glared, his anger already on the rise. “Not with Imperial Sister Lindsey. Diltan, I swear I will beat you black and blue if you laid a hand on her.”
Diltan held one hand and his glass up in surrender. “I promise, I never touched her. I did try to get her to de-clan her mates in our favor, however.”
Rolat made a sound of disgust as Wal stared at him in horror. “My Dramok, how could you?”
Diltan slumped. Since it didn’t look as if Rolat was going to launch himself at him to administer sound punishment yet, he quaffed his third drink and set the glass down on the table. Once he recovered from the river of liquid fire burning its way down into his guts, he said, “Young Clan Bacoj had no rank, certainly not enough to warrant their clanning the sister of Empress Jessica.”
“Says you,” snarled Rolat. “That is absolutely inexcusable, Diltan. Even you shouldn’t be able to sink that low with your ambitions.”
Wal shook his head, looking more sad than angry. “I am so disappointed in you, Diltan.”
Somehow the letdown on his Imdiko’s face was worse than Rolat’s anger. It made Diltan feel sick to his stomach.
In a small voice, he said, “You can’t possibly be as disappointed in me as I am with myself. It was an awful mistake I made, a completely cracked-skull move. Maybe my worst.”