Book II Chapter 5: Fine Dining
Three weeks ago
Nefirian made his way to the front door of the restaurant, straightening his monocle and hair as he went, slipping carefuly past waiters and wandering diners to greet his guest.
He was hoping he'd make an appearance soon, though he was certain he knew how discussions tonight would go, at least in part.
Selarion was waiting at the door, talking to a distinguished, elderly couple waiting for their table. It was odd that he'd been asked to wait, though he suspected it had something to do with Nefirian actually being present this evening, according to the doorman.
Nefirian spotted Selarion and couldn't help but smile a bit before making his way over to greet him, though he was more than happy to allow him to finish his conversation.
"Selarion-- lovely to see you again."
Selarion politely excused himself as the couple moved off to be seated, offering Nef a slight bow. "And you, Nefirian. You asked me to wait? Careful now, lest your other guests get jealous."
Nef chuckled softly, ushering Selarion off to the door in the back of the restaurant after offering a respectful bow in return. "Surely, they wouldn't deny a man quality time with a friend."
He paused for a moment to tap a combination into a little bronze dialing pad attached to the door, stepping aside to present the open door with a flourish."Come, let's catch up on things, shall we?"
Selarion didn't seem surprised at being lead away like this, stepping inside the room behind the open door. "It's been a while, hasn't it? I confess, I've been busy."
"Oh, it's no matter-- we all have, I believe. Bastion's taken off for Aensdoun, and I--... well."
Nefirian led Selarion down a long, narrow hallway and a small staircase, ignoring the sounds of surgical drills and hushed voices in conversation below as they passed through a second coded door and into the lavish dining room within. A woman began to shout just as Nef closed the door behind them, cutting off the sound.
"... I'm certain you must know about Valdren."
Selarion paused before he answered, as if to make sure he wasn't about to be interrupted by another shriek. "Yes, I'd heard. I imagine he was something of a surprise on your doorstep."
"Just a bit. He... well, I don't know exactly what happened, but it frightens me to think what could inspire him to visit me, of all people. Opus's presence, I'm sure, but... to come here. Here, with such a look in his eyes."
He shook his head, pulling out a chair for Selarion before seating himself and pressing a small button on the table, leaning toward a metal speaker-grate against the wall. "We've a guest-- kindly bring wine and appetizers, please."
Selarion was apparently unconcerned at sitting down to eat in an underground facility, rather than in the dining room upstairs. "Well, he's never had a chance to see her before, has he? I suppose it's only natural that he might want to now."
"Of course. But I'd thought he'd never willingly set foot in Chimre unless it was to raze it to the ground as they did Grenadienne, not with the way Kelan had raised him." Nefirian frowned slightly, biting his lip for a moment and pushing old, painful memories back into quiet. "It's no matter, I suppose. The boy's clearly hurting, and I don't have the heart to turn him away from a safe haven. It all unsettles me somewhat."
The doctor glanced upward as a white leupak with a sash tied around its waist entered, carrying a tray of fine wine, glasses, and tiny pieces of glazed, roasted meats on skewers. It sat everything down before them, flashing Selarion a brief, friendly smile before bowing humbly and turning to go.
Selarion smiled graciously at the leupak before gazing admiringly at the delights Nefirian had arranged for him. "Naturally. His departure greatly unsettled Kelan... the Firestarters, last I heard, are at a loss as to what to do now. ...Have you spoken much, since he arrived?"
The Chapter shook his head lightly."When he first arrived, he explained that he and Kelan had... had a disagreement, and he wanted to see Opus if I'd allow it. Since then, he's been by her side," he said, looking up at Selarion.
"You understand why all this troubles me so much, I'm sure. He's been, by far, the loudest voice against theMirajin and everything it is and does since he first became a Firestarter. And now... he rests beside it! I'm ashamed to confess that initially I wondered if it wasn't a ruse so that he might get close enough to destroy it. But no, he has eyes only for his mother, the poor thing."
Selarion frowned, shaking his head. "You may be taking a great risk there, Nefirian, as innocent as his intentions might be. Kelan removed him to prevent any 'tainting' from contact with the mirajin... such sudden, direct contact may not be wise."
"I know," Nef admitted softly. "Believe me, I know... but he needs her right now, and I'm sure he considered that before he made his way here. I'll see that he's unharmed, to the best of my abilities."
Selarion nodded, though he didn't look entirely at ease with the situation. "Keep an eye on him."
"I will. Now... what of the Somnambulists? I've been caught up in so much of my own business that I haven't had a chance to keep tabs on them."
"Ah, I'm sure you've heard about Miss Elliot's situation?"
" ...situation?" Nef sat bolt upright, his ears laying back. "No, what's happened to her? Is she alright?"
Selarion blinked, evidently surprised by this. "It's been public gossip for a while now. Her brother?"
"I've been under a figurative rock for the past few weeks-- hell, I didn't even know she had a brother... Go on."
Selarion sighed, looking down at the table as if he'd rather be doing anything else than gossiping about this. "...The short version is that her brother is now a large, reptilian beast. You might be familiar with them. I believe one just served me dinner."
Nefirian stared at him without a word, the color draining from his face. "You--... the attacks. No..."
Selarion nodded, sipping at his wine."Mmhmm. She's been at his side, doing what she can."
Nef pressed his hand to his face, saying nothing for a long while.
He hadn't visited her since his world began crashing down around his ears; no doubt she'd already suspected he was to blame for that, and his absense had probably done nothing to help his case.
Not that he could dare show up again now...
He let his hand slide down to rest on the table again, absolutely crestfallen. "Too much has gone on in the past weeks. I've never felt so... so helpless."
"You can't be everywhere at once, Nefirian. She's coping, as well as only Miss Elliot can. I haven't been able to visit her in person, I thought it might be... well, inappropriate. I did send my regards, however. So did you." He offered a faint smile before taking another sip of his wine. "I knew you were busy, though I had expected you'd hear about it before now."
Nef considered this for a moment, raising a brow; Selarion's resourcefulness really shouldn'tve surprised him anymore, and yet... "Thank you, Selarion. I've actually heard precious little that hasn't come from the mouths of myRosesas of late, between trying to uncover exactly what happened withthe Reverie and ensuring the young Prince is taken care of. I fear we-- we meaning Valenthians as a whole-- are not nearly as alone on this planet as even my people once believed. "
"You're refering to the events around the blackout, yes? Now, I believe it's your turn to fill me in. I know little more than those of us left behind - only that Opus awakened, and shortly afterwards, we could sleep once more."
He nodded slightly, finally pouring himself a generous glass of wine before downing it in a few greedy gulps."What we just experienced these past few weeks was the reawakening of an Elemental Lord."
"...I see." Selarion seemed remarkably calm, nibbling on his dinner thoughtfully."I don't believe I'm familiar with any. "
" I never knew such a thing existed. Yes, my tribe had contact with what we termed beast-gods, but we believed they were it; just, natural spirits that roamed the land. This... thing was unlike any power I've ever witnessed; it not only threw me and my ilk clear out of Reverie, but it prevented everyone else from sleeping in the crossfire, and you know what? I don't know how. All I know is that I'm not on the same level, and it will return at some point. It was only by the appearance of Bastion's master that I lived to tell of it."
Selarion took a long moment to think before speaking again. "...I was under the impression that Bastion's master had passed on. So this lord ranks above them?"
"We had all believed so-- and yes, or so it seemed, though Sasha managed to banish it somehow. I didn't see or comprehend terribly much by that point, admittedly... but before it had decided it wanted me dead, it was focused on Opus... and it called her an Elysian. Not a term I've ever heard before."
"Elysian... no, not a word I'm familiar with either. Did it make any sense to her?"
"No, she didn't understand. He said it... almost as if it were her species. And for that matter, the area we were in was full of stone tablets and draconic idols. It may be the key to learning more about her; the Anshe were never prone to approaching anything that seemed as though it was the property of the gods, so it's likely nothing's been touched if there are more sites such as that."
"A site worthy of study, then. I expect you'll be fighting the Court off with a stick to get at it now."
"I've a gut feeling I'll be returning to Aensdoun soon enough... so it should prove an interesting endeavor no matter how I slice it."
Nefirian grinned cheekily, a bit of mischief shining through again as the shock of earlier news finally faded away. "I'll be more than happy to share anything interesting I might discover with the Somnambulists, in a show of good faith, of course."
"But of course. This is troubling, indeed."Selarion paused, clearly taking a moment to carefully word his thoughts. "...Now would be an excellent time for the three of you to put aside your differences, and work together."
Nef closed his eyes, nodding once. "Marquise would agree, I'm certain. But... I'm not sure how to approach Kelan right now."He glanced downward meekly, his ears drooping.
Surely, he couldn't proposition his old friend at a time like this.
"...If you were willing, I could pass on an invitation to Kelan." Selarion knew he had to tread carefully here - there was a lot of history between the three Chapters, and previous meetings had been... explosive, to put it mildly.
"Please? I... I feel we could all benefit from this, if he was willing. With something so big on the horizon, it'd be wise to educate ourselves and prepare."
"I'll pass it on. I... can't promise anything. He hasn't been easy to reach for a little while, now."
"Of course. Thank you, for whatever you can do, Selarion."
Next Chapter: Book II Chapter VI
Category: Book II | Story