- published in A Liaden Universe Constellation, volume 1
- also in Certain Symmetry: Adventures in the Liaden Universe #4
- see The Books (and other stories)
- circa SY 1384
- immediately after A Day at the Races and Shadow Partner
- "the results of yesterday's skimmer races at Little Festival were, inevitably, top news"
- Pat Rin's townhouse in Nasingtale Alley, Ongit's restaurant, House of Chance gambling casino, etc.
- Pat Rin yos'Phelium of Clan Korval
- Set about ten years after Heirloom, Pat Rin is now well established at Nasingtale Alley as a gentleman, a gambler, and a deadly shot / champion at Tey Dor's
- Luken bel'Tarda
- Mr. pel'Tolian
- Pat Rin's general man at Nasingtale Alley
- Hia Cyn yo’Tonin
- Eyan yo’Lanna, Clan Justus
- Betea sen’Equa
- "They had used to be Terran — I recall being told that the family name is ancient Terran — Seneca. They set up in Port, and carried on just as if they were still on any Terran world"
- Dela bel’Urik Clan Shelart
- older lady, pel'Varn
When Fal Den ter’Antod Clan Imtal dies by suicide, Pat Rin inherits his debt book. It falls to him to Balance any outstanding issues, which turns out to be both complicated and dangerous:
By the act of sending this book, Fal Den had chosen the executor of his will. He, Pat Rin yos’Phelium, was to tend all accounts left unBalanced at the time of Fal Den’s death, paying justly where the fault had been Fal Den’s; collecting fully where the debt was owed. No light task; this, nor deniable. And he had precisely thirty-six hours in which to complete it, assuming that all debts were on-planet, which seemed likely.
The results of yesterday’s skimmer races at Little Festival were, inevitably, top news. It could not be otherwise, with both the thodelm of yos’Galan and the nadelm of Korval entire in participation. Pat Rin sighed, gently, and sipped his tea. One’s mother was annoyed, however courteously she had accepted one’s cousin’s instruction in the matter.
One’s cousin had proven . . . unanticipated. One encountered an edge — and a precision of cut — which had not been noted before cousin Val Con’s departure for the scouts. It might be that scout training had produced this surprising alteration in the unassuming — even shy — halfling Pat Rin recalled. Or, as one’s mother contended, it might simply be that Val Con was coming into his own, that genes would tell, and by the gods it had seemed for a long and telling moment as if her brother Daav himself had stood before her.
Fal Den ter’Antod Clan Imtal had died. Pat Rin called for more information and quickly learned that Fal Den’s kin had published a suicide to the Council of Clans and had declined, as was their right, to provide particulars....
To believe that Fal Den was dead, and by his own hand . . . He had seen him only three days past, on the arm of Hia Cyn yo’Tonin, which was deplorable of course, and had Fal Den been the sibling Pat Rin did not possess, he would have been moved to whisper a word in his ear . . .
The door to his office slid open and the excellent pel’Tolian, his general man, stepped within and bowed. “Good day, Lord Pat Rin.”
“Alas, I must disagree,” Pat Rin returned. “I find it thus far a singularly distressing day.”
“Perhaps matters will improve, as the hours move on,” Mr. pel’Tolian suggested.
“Perhaps they will. Certainly, it is possible. In the meantime, however, I must request you to procure a mourning basket and have it delivered to the House of Imtal. I will write the card myself.”
An invitation from ....the same sort of person who thought it . . . fitting . . . to invite him — as multi-season champion at pistol and short arms at Tey Dor’s— to join hunting parties on distant outworlds where he might slog through underbrush for days and fire mini-cannons at blameless creatures while enjoying the company of those to whom nothing was more pleasurable . . . He dropped both solicitations into the recycler.
To wear a mask on Liad was, of course, to be very wicked. Masks were erotic, intoxicating and entirely outside of Code. “Well?” Betea sen’Equa asked, not a little snappish. “Are you going to put that on, or are you not?”