Miss Nicola asked:

This may seem like a rather silly question but it has been puzzling me recently. When two girls are married in Aristasia what happens to the names? Does each girl get to keep her own name with the brunette name passing on to any brunette children and the blonde name to the blonde children? Or does the blonde take the brunette’s name?

Miss Veleda answered:

Customs regarding names in marriage vary in different parts of the Empire. In the West it is usual for the blonde either to take the brunette’s name or to retain her former name – especially in cases where she is in the theatre, business or public life – while the children would take the brunette’s name. Among some traditional Raihira families, however it is common for blonde, brunette and children to take on the name of the one highest in precedence. Occasionally this can lead to a change of name in the course of a marriage – if, for example if the blonde of a brunette baroness unexpectedly succeeded to a title of the Countess of —, the name associated with the title would thenceforth become the family name.

In some Eastern societies (of the type called cheliniar) it would normally be the blonde’s name that was taken by the brunette.

Succession varies also, not only in different parts of the Empire but in different cases. Some titles and hereditary positions pass solely in the brunette line, some solely in the blonde line and some by strict primogeniture (i.e. the eldest daughter of either sex is the successor). The title of Shuranya, for example, can only be held by a blonde. Some two hundred years ago, there was a period when there was no Shuranya of Mereton for eight years until a distant blonde cousin of the family was born and succeeded immediately to the title and estate. Numerous brunettes who would otherwise have been in the line of succession were ineligible owing to their sex.