Twenty - In which breakfast is cause for trepidationMature

Breakfast was usually something Noman avoided. Apart from the usual reason, breakfast at a Prince's estate was a supremely uncomfortable experience for him. He couldn't just grab what he wanted and eat it. The one time he'd tried to go directly to the kitchens the reaction had been... well, he'd rather not relive it. Instead he had to sit at the table and talk to the servants, who for some reason insisted on calling him "sir", even when he told them not to. When the food finally arrived it looked like someone had put far too much effort into it. Everything was so carefully arranged, so perfectly done. He felt guilty about eating it, which was ridiculous.  And then they watched him eat, and always asked if he needed anything else.

So it was with some trepidation that he haunted the doorway to the breakfast room and reflected on the fact that there was an entire room for the sole purpose of eating early in the morning. Vanora was already there, sitting at the head of the table. The almost empty plate just to her right indicated that the Captain had been there with her. 

Without looking up from her plate, Vanora pitched her voice so it would reach the doorway where he stood. "Sooner or later I'll break you of that dreadful habit, Noman."

With a grunt he made for the table, seating himself just to her left. "How do you do that? How do you know when I'm near?"

She cleaned one corner of her mouth with a napkin, but he saw the action cover a small smile. She set the cloth down on the table and met his eyes. "You've been my guest here for months, and that's what you choose to ask?"

"What question did you expect?"

She shrugged, shoulders just a fraction before falling back into place. "Nothing in particular."

He held back an annoyed reply. "All right," he said instead, "So are you going to answer the question I did ask?"

"Perhaps you're not as stealthy as you think you are," she suggested. 

"Or perhaps Volker gave you some magic trinket to spy on me with," he countered.

"You never know what new and interesting things Volker will come up with next," she told him. "But I'm going to guess you didn't come here to talk about that. I take it you learned something of interest on your late night expedition?"

"I found Mayrin, or rather she found me." He leaned back in his chair, both hands laid flat atop the table. "It turns out she had a compelling reason to come looking for me."

"Oh?" Vanora raised an eyebrow. "And what might that be?"

"She knows where to find Aelar, and she wants to help us reach him."

The Prince slowly folded her hands in front of her, green eyes calculating. "And you believe her?"

"I can't afford not to," he argued. "I've come up with nothing so far. This is the first lead we've had, and if we let it go it might be the last. We have to follow it."

"You're not the least bit suspicious?" she asked. "We start looking for a lost god, and suddenly she shows up with the answer? It's very... convenient."

He waved the suggestion away with a grunt. "I'm ten shades of suspicious. We're dealing with the bloody Gods after all. Nothing's a coincidence, and nothing's ever as it seems."

"No," she agreed slowly, "It never is. Very well then, Noman. What's our next step?"

"Well," he took a breath and let it out slowly, brow creased in thought. "I guess that depends. As much as I hate to ask this, are you still in touch with Bainbridge?"

The End

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