Spring is rolling into summer from the Hill to Riverside and while flowers are proliferating, apparently the stores of chocolate are not. It’s been a month since the Ball and ever since that dramatic night, the city’s wealth of chocolate has been drying up – to the dismay of many.
But of course, as in most things, the last to suffer are the wealthy – and so we meet Diane as she enjoys a cup of the dwindling drink. As she clinks her delicate cup upon its saucer, we learn that the shortage is by her very own design! It seems that after the various men (William, the Dragon Chancellor) have failed to accomplish her desired end (getting the chocolate tariff lowered), she has taken steps to accomplish the thing herself.
Because: Bitches. Get. Shit. Done.
Her plan: collude with the Balams to hold back chocolate and bring the city to its knees while using that moment to bring up tariff negotiation with the Counsel of Lords. The Counsel will be forced to see just how desperately they need the Balam’s goods and have no choice but to accede!
<pause to imagine Diane cackling evilly over steepled fingers> <not that she would ever do something so indecorous>
The gatekeeper in all these plans is Lord Davenant, the Dragon Chancelor – but Diana feels confident he’ll move according to her secret string pulling, even if he refused to jump at her more overt requests. And just so, at that very moment, we see him getting harangued by his wife over the lack of chocolate for her afternoon gathering.
Elsewhere we find Rafe come to sit for his oral examination. After all his concerns about not being able to select his own board of testers, it appears he’s gotten lucky: His nemesis de Bertel is sick and in his place is a half-senile old lecturer, come out of retirement. Rafe recalls the happy confidence with which Will has promised him the test would go well at their last meeting, and starts to grow suspicious…
And he’s not the only one. We flash across town to where chocolate sellers are whispering over empty store counters of rumors that the Kinwiinik warehouses are in fact full of chocolate, and the Council of Lords must be hiding something.
Little do they realize how right they are as we move over to the Balam compound where Kaab is discussing the plot with her aunt and uncle. They receive a letter from Diane updating them on how well the plan is proceeding and then discuss how much to trust a woman so skilled at duplicity. Kaab reveals some details of her concerns of late (Diane’s potential connection to the death of Ben and the importance of a certain locket) and ends up confessing her love for Tess. Her aunt and uncle don’t grow too concerned about the former and tease her about the latter – but no one in the party is a fool, it’s sure.
And while trusting Diane to be good might be ill-advised, trusting her to get a job done seems a sure bet as in the next scene we see all signs pointing to Lord Davenant bowing to the pressure and encouraging his fellow councilors to acquiesce to the Kinwiinik’s demands.
Elsewhere Rafe is celebrating his successful exams – though doing his very best to maintain his ever present sulk. Will makes an appearance much to everyone’s surprise, and meets Micah, who tells him about math, and a certain friend named Thaddeus, who tell Will he looks like a goat. It seems some of the delicacies people are trying in lieu of chocolate have…interesting…side effects.
In Tremontaine you’re just as likely to share a laugh over a tomato pie as you are to get stabbed in an alley which is a juxtaposition we see starkly now. In the merchant’s quarter, Reynald (Dian’s hired swordsman and murderer of Ben) runs into another lurking hired sword and they swap information: It seems Kaab’s poking around town after Ben’s former clients has not gone unnoticed. Reynald begins to put some pieces together and the two death-dealers lay in wait for our favorite love-besotted spy.
What was I just saying about things you’re likely to find in Tremontaine? Well there is a third one – and its love making. Thank the heavens Malinda Lo saw fit to put all three in one episode! The next scene is one too delicious to give away in scant detail so I’ll just encourage everyone to read it for themselves – but it’s a beautiful, sensual scene of chocolate and passion between Kaab and Tess.
It seems sex isn’t the order of the day in Riverside alone as we move over to the Hill where Lord Davenant has come to call on Diane. In a scene of masterful manipulation she makes him dance on command – not literally of course, but nearly so. Holding the carrot of her affection in front of him she carefully moves him across her chess board until he agrees to write to the counsel right then and there.
The final scene takes place some hours later, after Davenant has left and Reynald has returned. He tells his news to the Duchess: Kaab is the Tess’ lover and is seeking Ben’s murderer. Diane goes still, and tells the bloodthirsty man that which he clearly has hoped to hear: Kaab must not find out who killed Ben, and it’s up to Reynald to make sure of it.
Watch out Kaab – this can’t be good.