The World of Novi

THE MALLORN COMPANY CHRONICLES

Copyright Lowell R. Matthews Copyright © 1996–1998

Chapter 2: Some Light After-Dinner Entertainment

Section B: The Company

 

Alvaron—Monday, Lifesong 21, 3869 A.R.

With his presentation obviously a rousing success, Finlaure told the members of the Mallorn Company to enjoy themselves—but not too much, of course—then he and Lyridia left the Company to its revels.

"Makes a right purty speech, don't he?" Grandin grinned while cleaning his teeth with a bone pick. His belt was already loosened by at least two notches.

"Aye, indeed. One could believe that our Captain has had fine training and much practice in his art," added Father Andrew.

"I am not caring so much for how he can talk as how he can fight," Nikolai mused. "I want to see him use that fancy city bow I saw in his office." He drained his flagon and let out a satisfied belch, then grinned in embarrassment. "Excuse, please. Is bad habit from home. The Captain knows how to put on a feast, I am granting him that."

"Oh, it was fabulous," Aerin agreed enthusiastically. "Definitely the best I've had recently. So what do we do now? Besides get on the ship in the morning, I mean?"

"I'd imagine we're supposed to circulate and get acquainted with the others," Father Andrew replied. "We'll probably hear something soon from our good host."

As if on cue, Captain Jack bustled in from the kitchen, followed by servers laden with trays of fabulous desserts and more beverages, then by a small troupe of minstrels. Reaching up just inside the door, he rang the miniature ship's bell hanging there to get everyone's attention. "Laydees and gennulmen of the Mallern Comp'ny, list'n ta ol' Cap'n Jack fer a minnit. Yer Cap'n Finlowree done bought out nearly tha whole inn fer tha night, so there's plenny uh room ta crash out here in tha common room if ya wanna. Sep'ert rooms fer ya laydees, o'course." At that he grinned and gave a small bow in the general direction of two women at the third table, a strikingly beautiful Savi with a proud bearing and an only slightly less impressive Westerendi. In fact, Aerin thought as he stole a quick glance around the room, they were the only women in the room who didn't look like serving girls. "Er anybody else who wants ta chip in a li'l extra for a private room. One garn'tee I'll make—and yer other innkeepers er lan'lords might not—I'll get ya up in time ta meet tha ship, no matter how drunk y'are."

After the laughter died down a bit, he continued, "Yer Cap'n sez to reelax, have fun, meet tha other members. First thing when I'm done, yer s'posed ta stand an' introduce yerselves startin' at tha first table here, yer name, yer oc'pation, where yer from, and why ya joined up, all keepin' in mind yer new status as equals.

"Anyways, I'll keep the kitchen runnin' and tha drinks flowin' fer a while yet. Tha boys here'll play some tunes for ya, an' do some tricks, an' if ya put enough honey on yer words, ya might be able ta talk me inta lettin' my girls have a dance er two with ya, since yer numbers are kinda uneven, y'know? If any of ya want 'em, I've got cards an' dice an' some other game stuff, too. Enjoy yer party, lads! Ya got work ta do tomorrow!"

As the cheering and jeering died down, at Captain Jack's gesture a blonde Almareni with a heavy build rose to introduce himself. "Greetings, honored comrades. I am Henry mac Charles Rathbone of Alvaron, a Journeyman Noble Warrior of the Order of the Golden Knights. I (and several other companions from the Order) have joined Lord Captain Finlaure to serve a great, noble, and just cause. Who could ask for more than that?"

"I think perhaps a little more," grinned the next speaker, a short, slender, and very dark Zori. "I am Srinavi Samvir from the great city of Zoraj in Mahazor, a man of many talents and Master Snakecharmer. I first saw the Captain's announcement at the inn where I was making a little money entertaining the guests, and it intrigued me. Now I know more about the situation to the west, and the callous inhumanity causes me pain. If I can relieve some of the suffering, I will."

Next rose a tall, slender man, apparently of mixed Eldani and Novani ancestry with auburn hair and serious, piercing green eyes. "I am Bran Embery of Lady Edith Greystoke'sPinestar Ranch in upper Alvaron, a Journeyman Beastmaster. Lady Greystoke told my brother Bornand I about the Company, and she heard about it at a Council of Captains meeting with Lady Idril Seregon. We are part Eldani, so our stake in this adventure is clear."

Last from the first table rose a sandy-haired Hydri. "ArvanirLanzurion Hamringol, at your service. I hail from Taranlonde and I am a Senior Journeyman Mystic and Navigator. My friend Gaerin Glingaland I joined because we both have kin in Taurangel and Taur Pelanna. Need I say more?" Many others nodded in worried understanding, Gaerin most of all.

"Well said, kindred spirit," said a tall black-haired Savi who rose from the adjoining second table, then bowed deeply to the Company. "I am Camlire Lirelion Targamele, a Novice or Journeyman Monk from the school of Grand Master Sulindar Cambragol of the Alvaron Academy. I follow the Way of the Arrow, and will be glad to study under such a master archer as our Captain while seeking honor and justice in fighting an evil philosophy. I too have kinsmen in Taurangel."

"I have no kin to the west, but the cause of justice needs no kinship ties," said the next man to rise, a blonde and slender but hard-muscled Almori. "I am IvanDavanovich Yennironovof Alvaron, a fourth-generation Alvaronan whose ancestors fled the injustices of the east. I am a Journeyman Noble Warrior and a Squire of the Order of the Golden Knights. As Henry, my brother-in-arms, said, we have joined a great, noble, and just cause. If I can bring justice to those who have it not, my life will have been worthwhile." He took his seat again to a chorus of cheers and war-cries.

Next rose a tall, stout Almareni with dark auburn hair and a multitude of freckles, fresh-faced but serious. "I'm Gregory mac Darryl Lacewingof Almaden in Almadil, a short sail west. I'm a Journeyman Fighter (but I'm almost ready to test for Senior), a heavy footman, plain and simple. I came to the interview for a couple'a reasons, one for the good wages and two to broaden my experience a bit. Now, since then I've learned a thing or two about what's really goin' on back home and further west, and I'm gettin' a little steamed about it. I may not have Ivan's code of justice down pat, but even I think the Iron-boys have gone too far. Maybe we can persuade them"—here Gregory drew his knife and shaved the back of his arm with it, to laughter, cheers, and wicked grins—"to cross back over the line to decent behavior."

Last from the second table stood a very tall man, whose golden hair with a slight reddish tint, piercing blue eyes, and features clearly marked him as Nordeskai. "Guten eben, Damen und Herren. I am Adalbrecht Thanisson, a second-generation Alvaronan and Journeyman Fighter and Scout, or Rogue, if you prefer. I'm in the same boat as Gregory on why I joined the Company—first for the money and the experience. But now it looks like somebody has to do something about this Iron Chancellor and his bully-boys, so why not us?"

First to rise from the third table was one of the most eagerly anticipated members of the Company, the subject of much conversation since her entrance. She was a darkly beautiful, elegant Savi of noble bearing, resplendent in the sky-blue and silver colors of House Angalime and wearing a circlet of pearls and moonstone drops upon her brow. "Greetings, most honored members of the Mallorn Company," she began with a small, graceful curtsy. "I am Lady Isillea Ervalangien Angalime, a Moon Mage by profession and Priestess of Celestra. In unjust exile from my homeland of Taurangel, I have joined this Company of brave people because my heart seeks justice—justice not only for Taurangel and my House, but for all the diverse cultures and races of our world. I have seen the foulness of Mormelar's policies, and I judge that it is the final hour to stop the Iron Chancellor. And this can only be achieved with the united forces of all races!" The cheering was loud and long, only partly in response to the force of her words.

As the cheering slowed, a rakishly handsome dark-haired Almareni wearing a fine rust-colored suit fit for a rich merchant or prince at a festival rose and bowed deeply to Isillea and Fiona, who was sitting across from her. "First let me say that I thank all the Powers for my good fortune tonight in dining with two such fascinating ladies, even though you are very hard acts to follow and precede. My oath-brothers (and sisters) of the Mallorn Company, please allow me to introduce myself. My right name is George II mac George MacAdam, but my friends all call me "Deuce." I was born in the great city of Londell, capital of the great Kingdom of Allon, greatest in the west (and made larger last year, I might add). 'Twas there I first heard of the valiant Sir Finlaure, one of the Queen's Champions, and I worked for awhile on one of his trading ships before following him somewhat accidentally here to Alvaron. Take it from me, friends, our Captain is a leader worthy of the name, and one of the keys to securing the marriage alliance and victory of Her Majesty the Queen Elaine, long may she wear the Lion Crown. I myself am a man of many talents; I've been an actor, a gambler, a sailor, a world traveler, and a jack-of-all-trades. My skills are yours, comrades." He took his seat with a grand flourish, to good-natured joking and applause.

Next rose the second female member of the Company, a tall and attractive woman with sparkling gray eyes, a few light freckles, and classic Westerendi wavy copper tresses, which she wore bound in a thick braid by a ring of woven gold. "Good evening, friends. I am Fiona nic Padraig of Clan Uí Conchobhair (or O'Connor, if it's easier for you to say), from the island of Alzudor in the Western Empire. I am a Healer by training and a daughter of the great Kristine. I have come, hearing of the adventure to begin, in the hopes of offering my services to you all." She then smiled broadly and saluted the Company with her glass, and took her seat to a chorus of approval.

Last from the third table rose a tall, slender man; like his twin brother he was of mixed Eldani and Novani ancestry with auburn hair and brilliant green eyes, but his glowed with laughter where his brother's were serious. "Greetings, comrades! I too will thank my lucky stars for such charming companions, but I'll not try to match your flair, Deuce. I am Born Embery, Bran's twin brother, and I'm also a Journeyman Beastmaster from Lady Greystoke'sschool. My brother brought me here, and both of us will serve you well."

At the fourth table, in the corner of the common room, a slender Almori rose slowly and looked out over the crowd, and spoke somewhat hesitantly. "I am Nikolai Borissovich Nabokov. I saw notice put up by Captain and offered my services as tracker and outdoorsman. I am feeling bad about Iron Chancellor and his crimes and wish to help against him." He remained standing for a few seconds, looking like he had more to say, then suddenly sat down.

Next to him rose a dignified Almareni with a few wisps of gray in his raven-black hair. He was dressed in obvious clerical garb of black and white, cut in the Paragonian style and bearing the golden sword and balances of Hadrak the Law-Giver. "Nikolai is a little shy around all these strangers, but we shall not remain strangers long, shall we? My greetings and blessings upon you all, brothers- and sisters-in-arms. I am Father Andrew mac James Herrons, Priest of Hadrak, a Senior Journeyman Cleric. My brother Sir Richard (sitting there at the last table) and I were born on an estate just north of Paraven, capital of the Kingdom of Paragon, ever a friend to Alvaron and those who seek order and justice. I am not the fighter my brother is, but I'm sure you'll find my other talents useful in healing the bodies and spirits of those who do fight. I will serve in whatever capacity our Captain chooses, whether medic, chaplain or combatant, in pursuit of a most worthy goal. The blessings of the Law-Giver upon us and our quest!" He took his seat to a chorus of agreement, somewhat evenly mixed between the sacred and the profane.

Next, a slender young man with brown hair rose slowly, obviously feeling uncomfortable as the center of attention. It was hard to tell, but was that a slight yellowish glow surrounding him? (Isillea, for one, was certain there was; Gaerin wondered about it for a few brief moments.) "I am Aerindor mac Meran, but my friends call me Aerin. I was born and raised here in Alvaron. I have just completed my training at the Academy as a Warrior Mage, and feel the need to gain true experience. The mission into Mormelar seemed a worthy and honorable way to do this." With a shy smile he added, "and maybe to gain some fame and fortune along the way?"

"Hah! Well said, young Aerin," boomed a stout Sisomi with the look of recent fighting about him. "Well said. Greetings t' yer, friends; I be Grandin Flintfist, at yer service. Me and m' older brother Gromin Leopardsclaw over there at th' far table both joined up for a reeeeel good reason." Grandin lifted up his right arm and pulled back his sleeve to reveal a long scar. "Gromin an' me joined up with th' army of Kenax, our homeland, just in time t' get th' s! beat out o' us 'cause we just warn't ready fer 'em. Well, we were evac'ed here to heal up, an' we're both better now! Revenge fer Kenax!" Gromin joined Grandin in a loud roar (or was it an Omikhani battle-cry?) as Grandin took his seat, and the Company joined in, in one way or another.

At the fifth table, a tall, young-seeming Savi with hair of the darkest blue-black and eyes just as dark rose and bowed to the Company. Isillea smiled warmly and nodded at him, and Aerin noticed that he was wearing the same sky-blue and silver colors as she, with a small Silver Ship over his heart, although his clothes were plain and subdued compared to hers. "The stars shine upon us tonight, melloni, and I humbly greet you all. I am Yavenole Iaurnolion Luinmiro, a Journeyman Wizard by profession and vassal of House Angalime, though I have been made to understand that my new oaths to the Company supersede those for the time being. I shall endeavor to serve you all as I have served House Angalime. Where my Lady has gone in joining this worthy Company, I have followed and will serve you as well as I may." Suddenly he raised his voice into a shout: "Freedom for Taurangel, and vengeance upon the Iron Chancellor!" Again the chorus of jubilation rose up as he returned to his seat nearly overwhelmed by emotion.

As Yavenole took his place, the Almareni next to him patted his shoulder and rose. His long brown hair was tied back with a bronze ring in the form of a serpent biting its own tail, and his deep weathered tan highlighted the many small scars so characteristic of warriors. "Greetings, brothers- and sisters-in-arms. I'm Michael mac Oliver Sands, a Senior Journeyman Marine Fighter from Paramir on Paragon, that's the other side of the island from the Herrons' estate. I spent a tour of duty in the Royal Navy as a Marine, mostly fighting pirates and smugglers, and most of the time since serving as a merchant's guard. I heard about the Lord Cap'n right here at Cap'n Jack's, and decided it was about time I worked for something more important than fat merchants who hog all the profits for themselves."

"Moah impo'tant indeed, mah son," drawled the next man to rise, a tall, heavyset, balding brown-haired Almareni in clerical garb of green and white whose hazel eyes radiated intellect. "Ah'm Fathuh Tuckleigh mac Tannon Ashenpike, Priest of Ariella, a Mastuh Druid. Ah was bo'n and raised in Elahven [Elarven], which as most of ya know is the capital of Mohmelah [Mormelar]. Ah'm sad indeed to heah how low mah homeland has fallen, but theah's still some of us around who haven't fallen with huh. Ah've been a Priest of Ariella the Earth Mothuh foh a good ten yeahs now, thuh last foah heah in Alvaron. But sometahms theah comes a tahm foh action, an' Ah don't lahk havin' Huh Holiness the High Priestess Culothel trapped in huh cathedral bah a mob of Eldani-hatin' nincompoops. So lahk good Fathuh Andrew ovah theah, Ah'll use all mah skills and talents wheah Ah may to help free huh, an' this seems lahk a good place to start."

"Yes it does, Father," nodded the next man to rise, the last from the fifth table, a tanned blonde young Almareni several years short of twenty. "I'm George mac Philip Hopwell of Alvaron, a Journeyman Fighter. My family's done business with the Seregons for generations now, so we should know 'em pretty well. I figure that anything Sir Finaril, Sir Finlaure's father, and Lady Idril, his aunt, support has to be a cause worth fighting for. I can vouch they're good folks, brothers; they'll look out for us right."

First from the sixth table rose a tanned Hydri with ash-blonde hair and sea-blue eyes. "I am Gaerin Andurion Glingal, at your service. I was born on an estate on the island of Galering and trained at the University of the West in Taranlonde; I am a Senior Journeyman Warrior Mage. As my friend Arvanir said, we joined because we both have kin in Taurangel and Taur Pelanna, cousins in my case. I will do what I can to make sure nothing happens to them."

Next to him a short, sandy-haired Almareni rose, grinned bashfully, and gave a small bow. "Hi. I'm Alfred mac Ralph MacDander, from here in Alvaron. There's not much to tell about myself. I've been a junior merchant, stevedore, teamster, and guard, and I've even had a few classes at the Academy and know a little bit of magic. I do what I can to get by, and I've done all right so far. I joined up because I needed a good job, and the Captain was offering better rates than other recruiters. And now that I'm here, I'm glad to know that we seem to be on the right side of things, even though it's likely to be more dangerous than anything I've done before. Good luck to us all!"

Next rose a proud young Almareni with dark hair and an athletic build, wearing a surcoat emblazoned with arms that Father Andrew described to Aerin as argent, two bulls' faces in fess vert, armed Or. "I bring you greetings, oath-brothers and -sisters. I am Percival mac Henry Bullenfield of Lonnorburg, Allon, a Journeyman Noble Warrior. My foster-father sent me here to Alvaron two years ago for training at the Academy. Maybe he sensed trouble brewing even then, or maybe it was just coincidence, but my being here kept me out of the War of the Lions. Maybe that was a good thing, because since I'm from Lonnorburg I probably would have automatically followed the banner of Duke Harold Cromwell, and I think we all know what happened to him and how he proved himself ignoble in defeat. I thank the Powers that I was spared that misfortune and have been allowed to join Lord Finlaure's noble cause."

Last from the sixth table to rise was another proud young Almareni with an athletic build and fine clothing, but taller than Percival and with auburn in his dark hair. "Ah am honah'd to be in the presence of such a noble company. Indeed, the nobility of y'all is much greatuh than that of many a son of a man with a title Ah have encountah'd. Mah name is William mac Eldred Ela'invea [Elarinvea] of Ela'invea, which is upstream of Elahven [Elarven] on the Elah [Elar] in central Mohmelah [Mormelar], an' ouah Captain asked me to say a few wohds about mah pooah misled country.

"This tahm last yeah, mah fathuh, the Lohd Eldred mac Andred, was the Duke of Ela'invea and the Foreign Ministah of His Majesty's Pahliamentary Govuhnment. It saddens mah heaht to have to say it, but mah fathuh's allies in Pahliament singulahly failed to respond propuhly to the terrible crisis in ouah land, which began the yeah befoh last with drought an' a plague of locusts which ravaged ouah fahmland. Conditions got so bad that last wintah mah fathuh's faction was voted out of powah, and Henryk Eisennah's [Eisennar's] Triple Talon Pahty was voted in. An' strangely enough, he did give the people hope. But he also outlawed the Three Gahbs [Garbs, of wheat] Pahty, stripped mah fathuh and his allies of theah titles an' estates, an' drove them into exile. I suppose that in a way he did us a favoh with that exile, because ouah hands are relatively clean of the blood of the innocents slaughtuh'd bah Eisennah's followahs.

"But as foh myself, Ah can no longah stand idly bah an' wait the way mah fathuh seems detehmined to do. The Captain has given me this chance to help right the wrongs done to mah country and by huh to othahs in the name of the I'on Chancelloah. Ah am a Jo'neyman Cavalieah [Cavalier] by profession. Ah'll use eve'thing in mah powah to help this honah'd Company and the oppressed peoples of mah own country an' huh victims. May Wisdom and Justice prevail!" He took his seat at last to subdued and respectful agreement, and acknowledged the many proffered handshakes and wrist-clasps.

After a brief and somber pause, a small Erovi figure rose to stand in his chair at the seventh table. He looked longingly at the dessert trays for a moment before addressing the Company. "My humble greetings to you all, noble gentlemen and ladies. My name is Durandoc Grandbrook, but everyone here may call me Durry. I come from this part of the world and have never thought much about other countries, but I also cannot bear to think that there are people not free from oppressors. I think I have some skills that will become useful in gathering information quietly and unobtrusively."

Compared to Durry, the tall Savi who rose next towered like a Titan. A black patch which exactly matched the color of his hair covered his left eye. As he bowed slowly and somewhat stiffly to the Company, Isillea smiled gravely and bowed her head to him. Aerin noticed that like Yavenole the scarred Savi was wearing a kind of uniform in sky-blue and silver, this time with the Silver Ship badge immediately above an embroidered shield of his own arms, argent, three chevronels interlaced sable, in chief a bald eagle soaring proper. "I greet you all under the blessings of the lights of Sun, Moon, and Stars. I am SirOromvare Varelion Feansulo, a Master Fighter by profession and once-and-future vassal of House Angalime. I have a great many reasons to join this Company, certainly for one, to seek a measure of retribution upon the Iron Chancellor and his lackeys. I may not be quite so agile nor as good with my bow as I was before I took that Mormelarian dog's sorcerous bolts at the Tangira crossroads, but they shall learn to their sorrow that I have been diligently honing my other fighting skills. As my oath-brother Yavenole said, 'Freedom for Taurangel, and vengeance upon the Iron Chancellor!'" The cheers, this time, rattled the rafters.

Next to Oromvare the dark Almareni who stood next looked short, but he was really above the Almareni average. His black surcoat with an ermine border was embroidered with a golden hawk preying upon a white rabbit. "Glory and honor to us all! I am Robert mac Ran Hawkworthy of Alvaron, a Journeyman Armsmaster and Squire of the Order of the Golden Knights. I swear my service will be faithful and true."

Last from the seventh table rose another Almareni with ash-brown hair, slightly shorter than Robert. "Hear, hear, Brother Robert! I am also a member of the Order of the Golden Knights, a new-made Journeyman Noble Warrior. My name is Nobell mac Victor Highermark, from Alvaron. My cousin Valiant and I followed the lead of Brother Ivan in joining this noble endeavor. To victory!"

The chorus of cheers which followed Nobell's remarks blended with those greeting the first person to rise from the last table, a serious Savi with dark gray hair and deep blue eyes. (Several previous speakers were by then eyeing the beverage trays more than the current speaker.) "Ladies and gentlemen, I greet you under the Moon and Stars. I am Brother Telanaro Mironarion Calirene, a Disciple of Rhiana and Journeyman Druid and Fighter. I was born in Taranlonde and came here to study at the Academy, but this Company and its cause are higher callings. The Academy can wait."

Next rose the second stout Sisomi, slightly older than his brother, but also with the look of recent fighting about him. "I be Gromin Leopardsclaw, at yer service. M' brother said it all b'fore. Revenge fer Kenax, and pass th' beer!" The cheers rang loud.

Next rose a lithe, incredibly graceful and handsome Savi with sable hair and midnight-blue eyes. "Greetings, friends; I shan't keep you long either," he smiled. "I am Ancamire Elurinion Telperiondil, an Initiate or Senior Journeyman Dancer, and I also study under Master Cambragol, and other artist mentors. I sense in our Captain a kindred spirit whom I will follow gladly."

An Almareni who strongly resembled Nobell followed. "Greetings. I am Valiant mac Charles Highermark, a Journeyman Armsmaster and member of the Order of the Golden Knights. I am also Nobell's first cousin, and joined with him. And yes, I do try to live up to my name."

The laughter which answered Valiant's jest blended into cheering for the last speaker, a tall Almareni with raven-black hair who wore a small sword-and-balances medallion. He stood and gave a small bow. "Many greetings, brothers- and sisters-in-arms. I am Sir Richard mac James Herrons, a Senior Journeyman Paladin of Hadrak the Law-Giver, and Father Andrew's younger brother, from near Paraven. As my brother said, 'The blessings of the Law-Giver upon us and our quest!'" The chorus of agreement rose again, once more again somewhat evenly mixed between the sacred and the profane.

Sir Richard did not take his seat; instead, he walked around his table toward the dessert and beverage trays, thereby becoming the leader of the parade. Even so, once there he asked the others to wait until Durry had caught up (which interestingly enough they did in spite of a few muted curses), then Sir Richard offered Durry the first choice. "I could not help but notice that your appetite had not been satisfied, brother; let the hungriest go first."

"Thank you very much, Sir Richard," Durry replied somewhat breathlessly, then wasted no more time in attacking a wonderfully sweet and tart winter-apple pie.

Shortly thereafter the servers moved the tables as far towards the walls as possible, and the minstrels began to play. To Aerin's dazzled eyes, the evening became a blur of motion and music (seen through something of a purple haze, in fact), to which the only drawback was a somewhat bloated feeling from the rare opportunity to overindulge.

Almost as soon as the music started, Fiona laughed and stood up to dance, drawing Deuce after her, and it wasn't long before Captain Jack allowed his serving girls to join in. The numbers were still pretty unbalanced for proper dancing, though, and several of the more roguish types pushed the fourth and sixth tables together, then gathered around to join Grandin in the drinking game called "pence" in Alvaron. Aerin, who had seen the game and its inevitable results many times in his uncle's common room, knew better than to play when half-drunk already, so he happily yielded his spot at the table and stood to watch (and cheer and jeer) from the corner.

Nearby, Isillea sat musing over her chilled wine (which was surprisingly good for this place), politely deferring requests to dance for the moment. Deciding to indulge her curiosity a bit, she stood and glided closer to the game, which looked quite strange to her eyes. Naturally, her presence inspired the players to push their coin acrobatics and wagers to new heights, but her attention was really on the young man in the corner—Aerin, wasn't it? Again she was certain that she saw a glowing aura surrounding him, but now it was a warm violet, not yellow. While she was wondering whether or not anyone else could see it, Aerin looked up and caught her glance, then gave her an embarrassed nod and dropped his eyes. She watched the aura fade to near imperceptibility, even to her eyes, and lighten towards pink. Since she didn't want to pry in public, and the youth seemed (understandably) afraid of her, she decided to let her curiosity find other entertainments. Shortly thereafter, the minstrels began the tune to one of Isillea's favorite Eldani dances, and she somewhat naturally became partnered with Ancamire, who really was an excellent Dancer worthy of the profession.

And so the evening wore on, fueled by song and sweets and delightful beverages, until Captain Jack and the servers started passing hints that dawn came early to those with swollen heads, and the party began to wind down as those Company members with other lodgings left. Aerin claimed that same corner of the common room as his own, and settled down to a peaceful sleep, strangely comfortable in the crowd. Perhaps it was the presence of so many new allies? At any rate, dawn would come all too soon.

Editor's Note

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