Luck in the Shadows (Lynn Flewelling, 1996) Study Guide: Chapters 25-28
Summary: Chapter 25 "Return to Rhìminee"
At the end of the week, Alec rides to Rhìminee with Micum and Beka. After Beka goes to the barracks Alec and Micum head to Seregil's apartment. Seregil plans to introduce Alec to society as his ward, Sir Alec of Ivywell (a fictitious and faraway estate). He presents Alec with the gift of a lock-picking kit in preparation for a job that night, burgling Master Alben, whom Seregil has figured out is the forger.
When they arrive at the house, there's a party going on downstairs. Seregil informs Alec it's a one-man job and he'll be going in alone. Alec nervously but competently sneaks in and recovers a document case, quickly hiding as a pair of party guests wander upstairs. Just as he's going for the window to leave, he's grabbed; as he struggles, he sees Seregil, and it turns out Micum Cavish is the one holding him, and it was all another test. This is Seregil's own house.
They go downstairs and attend the party, which Lord Seregil is throwing to celebrate his return to his lordly mansion and to introduce Sir Alec. Seregil dances with Ysmay, a hot girl, and Alec dances with her saucy ex-courtesan aunt Kylith.
Eventually, Micum pulls Alec into the hall, where soldiers have come to arrest Seregil for treason.
Summary: Chapter 26 "Plans at the Cockerel"
Nysander meets with the Queen, arguing on Seregil's behalf and finally revealing that he is a Watcher. The queen gives Nysander two days to prove his innocence. At Thero's suggestion, Alec goes to the Red Tower, where Seregil is imprisoned, to see if he has any information which could help; they speak as Lord Seregil and Sir Alec, but Seregil uses the thieves' signs to convey the message Tell Micum silver fish. Turns out he is referring to a former blackmailer he and Micum once caught, whom they nicknamed Old Silverfish.
Summary: Chapter 27 "Hind Street"
Alec and Micum play the same trick on Master Alben that Seregil played on Old Silverfish, which is to set a small fire and see what he runs to protect. That night, Alec sneaks into the house to verify that Alben is in possession of the forged letters (he is). Alec makes sure to make a noise so that Alben awakes thinking he's being robbed. He tries to escape with the documents, at which point Captain Myrhini, Princess Klia's friend, and her troops are ready to arrest him.
Summary: Chapter 28 "A Midnight Inquisition"
Alben and Ghemella are brought before the queen, viceregent Lord Barien, and Nysander with the damning evidence of their involvement in the forgeries which led to Lord Vardarus's execution and Seregil's wrongful imprisonment. The queen and viceregent are ready sentence Alben to death, but Nysander points out they were undoubtedly working for someone else, and urges that they be banished rather than killed in exchange for a confession. Alben doesn't know the name of his client, but informs them that the same man asked for forged Queen's Warrants three years ago. Although Seregil's name is cleared, everyone decides to leave him in jail, and hold off on banishing Alben, for a week in order to try and catch the traitor.
Analysis: Chapters 25-28
The introduction of Seregil's Wheel Street villa finally brings home his true social standing and the associated responsibilities. Alec is instantly uncomfortable in the house. Although Seregil is skilled at seeming at ease in social situations, his repeated and continued absences, his Watcher status and his possession of a more lived-in-seeming apartment all indicate that he also finds the aristocratic lifestyle trying. Although his title is not counterfeit, "Lord Seregil" seems to be as much a put-on persona as any disguise.
Still, Seregil is cheery on that first (and only) night back, perhaps in an attempt to keep Alec's spirits up, or out of a genuine optimism that Alec's presence will improve his quality of life there. (The elaborateness of the decor and clothing in Alec's room seems to indicate that Seregil did expend a great deal of care in the preparations for his "ward." It's open for conjecture whether or not he genuinely thought Alec would like his "gaudy" selections; since he has had ample opportunity to pick up on Alec's distaste for ostentatiousness, he might have been consciously trying to vex him, which is arguably an equally loving gesture.) Seregil's failure to betray any discomfort during the party only seems to succeed in making Alec feel all the more alienated.
A side note: for what it's worth, some narration during the party gives us what I believe is our first specific confirmation that Seregil has had heterosexual sex, as we learn about Seregil's relationship with Kylith, which began shortly after he left Orëska House: "Charmed by his mysterious past and questionable reputation, Kylith had drawn him into her bright circle and, for a short time after the death of her husband, into her bed" (ch. 25, p. 329). So Seregil seems to be bisexual, or at least to have experience with both sexes, which makes sense given his advice to Alec w/r/t the Street of Lights to "never spurn the dish untasted."
Speaking of Seregil's mysterious past, we get a new hint in Nysander's discussion with the Queen:
"Seregil, a Watcher? Sakor's flame, can I be that blind?"
There seems to be no other reading here than that Seregil was at one time a traitor to Skala. What the circumstances were, how he avoided punishment, and why Nysander "stand[s] by him nonetheless" are open questions.
Seregil's trick on Alec is the largest-scale one we've seen yet, and smacks of a final exam. For once, Alec seems miffed at Seregil's deception: he was led to believe that he would finally be performing some real work; he took heed of Seregil's encouragements when he expressed doubts; and then he finds out it was all a hoax. Seregil explains that his own house is probably among the most difficult marks in the city. Still, it seems clear that Seregil is not quite ready to let Alec "graduate". His arrest paves the way for Alec to take a more substantial role in the intrigue.
In some ways, Micum is a better mentor than Seregil at this point in Alec's education. Alec has enough practical skills to succeed, and he's itching to do something useful--particularly when Seregil is arrested, giving him a personal interest in the cause. Micum looks over his shoulder, but doesn't try to keep him from getting involved. When Seregil is in charge, he barely lets Alec leave the apartment at night, which, despite his insistence that the city is a more dangerous place than the countryside, seems like overprotection, particularly considering the dangers Alec has already faced by his side. It seems that his fatherly/brotherly/friendly/loverly affection has been increasingly interfering with his mentorship.
On the other hand, it's possible that Micum, Nysander and Thero are simply better or more willing to lie to Alec to get him out of the way of danger: after all, they do all convince him that he needs to spend most of his time at Wheel Street to keep up appearances, as Sir Alec's unexplained disappearance concurrent to his protector's arrest would surely look suspicious. This argument is plausible, however, and in the end they do let Alec take an active role in the caper which proves Seregil's innocence.
Important Quotations Explained
"The instruction of inexperienced young men is one of life's unrivalled pleasures." (Kylith to Alec, ch. 25, p. 328)
Kylith, the zesty ex-courtesan, makes this remark when Alec apologizes for his lack of dancing skill. Kylith clearly intends a sexual reading, but it's interesting how this remark sums up both the romantic and platonic aspects of Seregil and Alec's relationship.