Bedyctor Dorn, as Bedyctor Dorn often did, was pacing. He was pacing within the modestly decorated parlor of his modestly sized house, which itself was located in the most modest neighborhood in Lianna City's god-awfully modest suburbs. Bedyctor Dorn was not alone, of course. Present in the parlor with him was his first and only son, Maleagant. Maleagant dared not look anywhere near his father while he was in one of his pacing moods. He had long learned the consequences of that and instead kept his nervous gaze fixated on the ground, waiting out the storm in uncomfortable anticipation.
"Snubbed, Malgy." Bedyctor ranted, clutching his cane so tightly his knuckles went white. "Could you believe it? Snubbed, I was, for an audience with the Viscount. Me! After everything..."
The lot in life of every Dorn was to aspire to greatness. The irrational thirst not just for power, but for prestige and respect, was just as synonymous with their family name as their rat-like appearances. Maleagant had long since realized that the pointed features of his father could have easily been likened to some sort of rodent. And shortly after that, a number of his more aggressive peers at the local academy had taken notice to Maleagant's own so-called Dornish features. Ratty, sniveling, they said. Of course, Maleagant could help it if he wanted. He knew how to, but it wouldn't do him any good to show up to classes looking different one day.
Aliens were not a welcome presence on Lianna.
Bedyctor was still marching, making a fist with one hand and waving it at the ceiling. "All that time rehearsing, wasted! Wasted! I had it down to an act, all the nuances of treating with nobles, the social etiquette involved!" He barked: a short, harsh sound that could have been construed as a laugh. "You'd think I was one of them!"
Dorns were a form of quasi-nobility. One, to Maleagant's knowledge, had made it off world and was the queen of somewhere. His father had never been forthcoming with the details. Maybe he was making it up to make himself feel better. In any event, this apparently made them a noble family by extension. None of the other noble houses of the Tion Hegemony seemed willing to acknowledge such a fact. So it seemed the rest of "House" Dorn would be doomed to strive for heights they could not achieve. Just like Bedyctor, who had considered this upcoming opportunity his ticket to prestige.
"You know how to treat with the aristocracy, don't you, boy?" Bedyctor had stopped pacing, looming over Maleagant. "You ought to know. You need to be prepared for it, in case you see one. Could be the difference between going up and down in this world!"
Somehow Maleagant doubted that. The only thing he wanted to be prepared for was an upcoming exam, which he would have liked to return to if...
Bedyctor coughed, then meandered over to an armchair. "Let me share with you some advice, right? This is the four G's of dealing with noblemen. Ready?"
Once Bedyctor was seated, Maleagant hazarded a look at him. He nodded slowly.
"Grovel, grovel, grovel, and grovel. Got that?"
Maleagant stared dumbly as Bedyctor stretched himself out in the chair, leaning backwards and closing his eyes. He kept lecturing. "Don't expect anything from them, unless it's to be treated like poodooe. You call 'em all 'your grace,' even if it's wrong, because it makes them feel important. And don't go looking them in the eye, either! They take that as defiance, right? Speak only when spoken to, never talk out of term... You getting this?"
"Good." Bedyctor huffed, scratching his chin before pressing himself further into the chair, getting comfortable. "You remember that, you might go someplace someday. But you probably won't, because I'll get there myself and you'll just freeload. Right? Go on, get out. I'm taking a nap. Moocher."
Stepping cautiously, as most would be well-advised to do around Bedyctor, Maleagant returned to his quarters and did his best to forget that conversation.
It did not work.