After asking and answering the silly questions I thought I’d set up the scene properly and go back to find the exact moment Jilan lost track of Raneth. It’s surprisingly early: immediately after his audience with the king she goes off on “business with someone who shouldn’t see [Jilan] yet”. And then she disappears. Neither Jilan nor anyone else sees her any more until the bickering scene. I thought this was only days, or at most a couple of weeks, but it must be much longer, because the audience is less than a week after the Feast of Anshen (the summer solstice) and the next time we see Raneth it’s almost the Feast of Mizran (the autumn equinox). I thought for a while that I’d miscounted, or that Jilan’s friend was exaggerating, but there are new apples, and the fact that it would be full-blown autumn in Rizenay but here in Valdis it still feels like summer to Jilan-the-northerner is an important piece of background.
So where does she go for nearly a whole season? Ildis is only a couple of days away, and though she is imprisoned in Ildis later that isn’t her reason for not being in Valdis this time. She could make it to Rizenay and back in all that time. Her “business” probably wasn’t in Rizenay, because she speaks to Jilan as if she’s expecting to be away for only the afternoon while Jilan explores Valdis.
We (my writing buddy and I, in IRC) established that Raneth is known for going off on wild-goose chases, usually without notice, and that this is probably what irks the solid and responsible Lyse.
* irina cheerfully rips the middle of the book apart
I said, unaware that it would be so far apart. I had her away for only a week and a half to start with but it’s simply not possible. Also, Jilan is getting bored with handyman work and a bit frustrated that he’s not learning anything, and that wouldn’t happen so soon because he’s not easily bored and he likes the work itself.
We were coming up with plausible reasons for a week’s delay:
<irina> now I have to account for 10 days to go to a tiny town 1 1/2 days away and fail to find what you’re looking for and come back.
<zeborah> lost in the swamp?
<irina> perhaps I’ll really have to have her catch cold and be laid up in the hunting lodge
<irina> she can have a horse that hates weather
<irina> or sprain her own ankle (but then she’d probably ride back to town some way)
<irina> she’s not there when Jilan saves the king’s life, and she’s not back when the tailor has finished Jilan’s clothes that he gets as a thank-you present (this takes a week)
<irina> so she’s definitely away for more than a week on a wild-goose chase
Er, more than nine weeks. That’s some wild goose. Jilan does try to look for her when he’s saving the king’s life; either this has to go or I have to get Raneth briefly back in Valdis before Jilan’s unexpectedly complicated outing so it’s likely that he’ll reach for her. And he has to know that she’s away, or he’d try to find her in order to get her to teach him. He may not be easily bored but he’s also not complacent.
<irina> wild-goose chases are kind of her specialty but it’s *so close*
<irina> hmm, perhaps someone is impersonating Lyan *especially* to get her away from Valdis so she can’t catch him while he does his business there.
That’s sort of plausible. She might even be really after Lyan himself, come to think of it, because we know that he is in Valdis a week after Midsummer and again to make an attempt to kidnap the king, but not where he is and what he does in the 8-9 weeks in between. Perhaps he’s in Ildis to organise the Royal Guards, or in Lenay or even Veray to confer with the head of the Guild of Archan there. Probably not back to Rizenay, because he’s unlikely to be welcome in that town right now after a couple of blatant screwups.
In the current version Raneth is surprised that Lyan was in Valdis while she was trying to catch him in Ildis, but that won’t work if there is so much time to cover. Back to the drawing board, this time with a proper timeline on the side.
I do like the horse that hates weather. I’ll get it in somewhere.