Garas Therian lingered in his bedroom, gazing for the umpteenth time at the creek he saw in its sunlit glory every morning and in its alluring darkness every evening. So many things had happened at the shore of that creek, so many of his little musings and experiments in ship design and family get-togethers (mustn’t forget those). In his optimistic days, he would draw up a chair and plant its legs in the sand. He could sit for hours, dreamily watching the boats go by. Some of them would be his.
Those days were no longer. Rather drearily, he hauled his grand old frame out of bed and plodded across the ornamental rug to the wardrobe. Shuffling through the various garments of his golden years, he settled on one of his father’s robes, the grey-white one with flecks of brown that seemed to have been fashioned of the creek’s water itself. It ruffled reassuringly as it fell over his shoulders. Feeling in the moment, to the greatest extent possible given his mild but nagging depression, he brushed away the dust from his robes and the doldrums from his heart and strode confidently into the maelstrom of food and noise.
“Settle down, settle down! Lord Therian is here!” The voice cutting through the crowd was the reassuring baritone of Ranoh Drask, a somewhat lanky man with shoulder-length gray hair who often showed up in attendance of Lord Therian. A former soldier, he exchanged common discourse with the guests, but was mainly there to keep the party clean of trouble. The spy, sensing the demeanor of security exuding from him, had unconsciously trained himself to become tense at the sound of Ranoh’s voice. This art, the strategic gaining and losing of fears, was something his superiors had always used to their advantage.
As the spy recovered from his very mild panic, hoping nobody had noticed, Therian strode to the center of an improvised circular clearing, a forest of bodies and blue-green robes rearranging its trunks to make room for him.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Hedangrove, I’d like to welcome you to my corner of the world. I’m Garas Therian, as most of you already know. I designed the boats some of you used to get here.” He bowed his head and raised his hands expectantly, and there was a smattering of confused applause.