So one of the big parts of the first two acts of Shayara = the building conflict between the Council and that Talthar Kithrayna. For those who know nothing about Shayara, just - major political upheaval ramping up to what the Talthar Kithrayna hope will be a bloodless coup. (It does not end up being bloodless. That's not a spoiler, it's common sense.)
So what we have is a situation where the Council has been in power for hundreds of years, but has only turned into Pure Evil over the past fifty or so, and the evilness has been well-hidden until about the last fifteen years, and it only became totally apparent to the average resident of Shayara five years ago. Because when you send trained killers through the Harvest Festival, you're really not trying to pretend to be good guys anymore.
The problem for the Talthar Kithrayna, who saw the corruption earlier, is that the Council has who they allege to be the rightful ruler, and societally, even if the rightful ruler totally sucks this lifetime, you don't just go around deposing her. So they had been not taking much action because they thought that was the case. Since the surfacing of some evidence that Alanna's not who the Council says she is, they've been searching for the potential real ruler.
So basically, post-Purges, you have two separate layers of rebellion going on here. You have the Talthar Kithrayna - the rulers of the seven great Houses - very carefully negotiating their relationship with the Council to avoid their Houses being targeted in another Purge, to keep their people safe. And you have the average resident of Shayara, who doesn't have to watch every move for fear that a misstep will bring down thousands of people. They have a lot more leeway, but also the Talthar Kithrayna has to stay aware of what the ground-floor rebels are up to so they don't trip up or trip over each other's actions.
So what does a street-level rebellion look like in Shayara?
Even though the stakes aren't *as* high for individuals who don't publicly represent their Houses, they're still high. Enemies of the Council do have a way of disappearing. Sometimes a body turns up, but don't count on it - and given some of the things the Council is known to be up to, yes, there are fates worse that death.
So mask shops are doing a brisk trade. Might the Council request the purchase records of said shops? "Oh, I'm so sorry - my records are such a mess. My former manager died in that unpleasantness a few years ago, and I just can't find decent help these days. You know how it is. We don't seem to have any records from - oh, this whole month! Tsk."
Beyond being unseen, what else?
It's a 21st-century rebellion, so of course there'll be info on flash drives - flash drives on trees, nestled in the curlicues of the gates or niches in the city wall, tucked in the shelves at the bookstore, in the sugar caddy at the diner. But of course the Council will figure this out - and they'd start by confiscating them, but would quickly switch gears and start seeding their own identical drives - with keystroke-logging software and/or viruses/worms. (And would they try to find out where the drives are coming from? Of course. And would the Zitorhi tech-adepts give them just-slightly-misleading information on that? Of course.)
When both sides are smart, it's hard to stay ahead of each other. So how do you signal to potential associates that you have information? That has to be a constantly-evolving process. How do you do that on the street? Music. Street theater. Dance. Embedded clues. Mark pointed out that this is a society with a lot of telepaths; yes, but how do you know it's safe to transmit or request information? Lots of clues and codes. And the use of color can be important in Shayara, so fashion gets into it - the wearing of the green isn't a St. Paddy's Day thing in Shayara, it's a political statement in support of the House that was almost completely obliterated in the Purges.
Kieran ends up having to have a very oblique talk with members of his House about a particular agitator wearing his House color (red) and going by Reynardine (House Narsan is associated with foxes); he approves of Reynardine's attitude, but is concerned that the actions will be seen as coming from House Narsan instead of just a member thereof, and that this will negatively impact official House actions. What amuses me is how he goes about this: he brings it up at the weekly knitting circle.
Oh, you know knitters run a spy network, because of course they do, hi. What could be more innocent than a bunch of people hanging out in the park or at the fountain having tea and knitting? And if the colors and patterns being used are consistent in interesting ways, what of it, hm?
And of course Kier knows about this, and of course he's a regular attendee. This is a Kithrayn, yes, lord of his House, but he's also a man raised by women. His dad took off early, his mom was not very together and was gone early-ish herself, and so then he was brought up mostly by Donna and by the women of his House. So not only are there just generally fewer barriers between him and his people than there are between most Kithrayna and their people, but of course he knits; he associates knitting with many of his good adolescent memories, around the fire with Donna or with the people of his House, after a good meal.
There's a lot of this in my head - not just of background like "of course Kieran knits", but ways of spreading information through dance, through art, through coded poetry. And disinformation - Mark realized that if you have perfectly innocent flashmobs, and the Council goes ballistic shutting *everything* down, that really doesn't help the Council look sane in the eyes of people on the fence.
So there is a braindump, hi. Any Shayara questions while my brain is here?