After the destruction of the dragon had ceased and the village of Avelen protected once again, Malachai accompanied Cole and Ruby to the castle; all the while princess Aira took the liberty to string along at her king's side, which made his companion uneasy and annoyed. Ruby's thoughts were directed away from the sight, and she distracted herself by reminiscing about the young fairy man she had been acquainted with moments ago.
"Much has happened between last night and this one. I believe a banquet is in order - nothing extravagant, but a bountiful meal nonetheless. What say you, my king?" Malachai inquired as he opened the door leading into the interior of the castle walls.
Ordeals and circumstances had mounted one upon the other since their arrival to Avelen, therefore neither Ruby nor Cole had realized just how hungry they truly were until the mention of sustenance aroused the attention of their stomachs. "I could eat," The king said as he entered the castle, and a loud grumbling echoed out from his waistline. Ruby said nothing, but the idea of a meal pacified all of the other emotions that were plaguing her thought process.
Time was given to the company of courageous warriors, and everyone had washed themselves and dawned fresh garments for the dinner gathering, although Ruby stubbornly stayed dressed in her modern clothing. While the others busied themselves preparing for the banquet, she hurriedly pampered herself and spent the remainder of her time reading and reciting the passage within the ancient tome, but the young woman was summoned before she could cast any sort of spell that might return the pair home.
When she had arrived, Ruby surveyed the chamber and noticed members of the castle were already seated at a long wooden table that was immensely decorated with illuminating candelabras, a copious amount of cooked meats, and fresh produce. The Council of Sages, as well as other royal guests, were engaged in several conversations that swelled the dinning hall with noisy chatter. The aroma that filled the air reminded the young woman of her fatigue and exhaustion, so she crossed the room and grabbed the back of a tall chair.
"Over here, my lady." Malachai gestured to an empty seat further along the table, and her eyes met with that of her companion's, who was seated at the head of the table and close to the woodsman. Ruby had hoped to eat in relative silence, then after her meal retreat to the solitude of the guest chamber she was occupying, where she could reflect on the myriad of emotions that overwhelmed her. After a moment she pushed the initial seat back into the table, then she traversed to the seating place Malachai had motioned to; a sigh of disappointment followed after her, as there were two enchanters already seated that became excited to see the beautiful young maiden about to join them for dinner, until she was beckoned away from their side.
Her petite body slumped down into the chair across from Malachai, and a round plate colored pearly white laid before Ruby. Instinctively she reached out for her first morsel of food, but suddenly her hand grazed against Cole's as he extended toward the same tray of cuisine. The pair of companions shrank back into their seats momentarily, their faces blushed with a bright redness, then each friend gradually piled a meal upon their plates, politely minding the other's hand as they filled their dishware with a hearty serving of eateries.
The clamor all together ceased when a castle servant escorted princess Aira into the chamber, and the rattling of silverware against the pearly plates echoed with loud clinks. The royal maiden's attire had changed from her earlier garb; she was wearing a slender floral gown that revealed her smooth legs painted in a porcelain hue, and the dress exposed her exquisite and shapely physique. Her bosom was covered by a rose colored corset, which plumped her bust and slimmed her figure even more so. All eyes fell upon her as she crossed the chamber, and even Ruby couldn't help but stare on; she was in disbelief that the princess would wear such appalling garments to a banquet, but the thought was mutually shared as Aira approached the table and noticed Cole's companion. After a while the sound of voices revived within the dining hall, and the chatter continued.
The royal maiden snidely remarked "Do ladies refuse to wash themselves where you're from?" when she arrived at the table; the comment was directed at Ruby's choice of dress. Aira was dismayed to see both seats next to king were occupied. She was not about to contest with Ruby for hers, so she lingered behind Malachai's chair for a moment and quietly cleared her throat.
The woodsman was aware of her presence, but he intentionally pretended to be oblivious to that fact as he renewed his conversation with Cole. When the princess remained ignored, she rudely tapped Malachai's shoulder and said in a curt voice "Excuse me, my lord. I do believe you are in my seat."
The woodsman sighed for a moment, then he acquiesced the request Aira discreetly demanded and offered his chair, which altered the entire dinning hall's seating arrangement, just to appease the royal maiden. After the assemblage was resettled, the princess quickly pursued to engage Cole's attention; the rest of the meal time was spent with the royal maiden interrogating the king about his homeland, and she inquired about such details that the young man struggled to pacify her curiosity.
Cole was reluctant to disclose information regarding West Sparrow, and nearly every time it was his turn to answer, he would nervously glance at Ruby and study her reaction. Her gaze was fixated on her portion of food, but the young man perceived that she was eating very little and only twirled her silverware upon the pearly plate; although Cole was keen to notice that once or twice his companion sneered and narrowed her eyes at the princess, yet it was only during the times that the royal maiden offered to personally serve him food and drink, at which point she would bend her body and intentionally extend her bosom's cleavage.
Each statement Cole uttered only sickened Ruby's heart, and her mind focused on the thought and worry of her siblings back home. The young man's tongue stumbled as he spoke, and he fought to avoid including stories closely linked to his childhood companion. He was riddled with guilt as he painfully recalled memories they had shared together, and the one that burned brightest in his mind was the time he had regretfully compared Ruby to her mother.
Every moment he reflected on West Sparrow, the pang of remorse ached more and more, and he understood the only remedy that could cure his shame was a heartfelt apology given to his friend. The opportunity to revive Ruby's spirit was crudely interrupted by the relentless questioning from Aira, and any chance to speak to his companion faded after the meal was at its end.
The Elder's table place was swiftly cleaned by a small company of castle servants, and he cleared his throat as he stood from his chair. The concentration of the room fixated upon the old sage, and he spoke aloud, "The time for pleasantries has passed, and now we must discuss matters at hand. My king, and my lady - surely you both are foreigners in an unknown land. Malachai has mentioned your naivety about your current circumstance, and I humbly request forgiveness for not enlightening you during our previous council. Now that you are accompanied by your advisor, I shall give an account of Avelen and of the prophecy of the star born king."