Frederick followed his father into the common area while Elsanor sniffed Kelstrin's hand and continued to inspect the stranger as he brought up the rear.
"Your brother, Alfred, sends word from across the sea."
"And how is the pirate?"
Isaac chuckled as he situated himself into the large leather armchair sitting beside the fireplace. Frederick and Kelstrin took a seat on the perpendicular couch, Elsanor resting her head on Frederick's knee as she looked up at him with doe-like eyes.
"His business is doing well. So far his woven burmot is a rage in Ferezandra, but as I'm not much involved with the textile trade, I can only assume that means well."
Elsanor left Frederick side a he sniffed Kelstrin, her ears perked before she let off a soft growl. Kelstrin inched away from the dog, his gaze wary as she folded her ears back and rose her hackles.
"Elsanor, heel!" hissed Isaac, the dog backing away slowly while keeping her gaze on Kelstrin.
She trotted over to Isaac and curled up on the floor, her eyes never leaving as Anabel popped her head out from the kitchen.
An unspoken tension existed at the table as dinner progressed, Kelstrin keeping silent while Frederick and his mother took up most of the conversation. Anabel kept on taking furtive glances at Kelstrin between spoonfuls of stew, rubbing her feet together shyly.
"So Frederick, what is this I hear about a riot in Silestra?"
Frederick coughed on his stew, clearing his throat while wiping his mouth of spittle and gravy.
"I heard there was some sort of uprising in the capital. It's kind of unnerving."
"What did the broadcasts say?"
"From what I heard, there was a collective of Mystics who were causing destruction in the lower part of Silestra. They've closed off all the roads leading into the city while they deal with the situation. I'm just glad you weren't there when it happened."
Frederick took a glance at Kelstrin, who quietly remained involved in the conversation but maintained a stoic expression. Frederick looked back to his mother.
"As far as I am aware, there has been a mild disturbance that the authorities are dealing with. They let me pass before they closed the streets."
"Didja wave your ID badge around?" Anabel asked, sticking her tongue out.
"Anabel! Don't say such things!" chastised her mother.
"Oh come on, he could get away with murder if he just whipped that out!" A sharp kick to her shin silenced her before she fiddled with her stew, brooding over a chunk of vegetable.
Dinner blissfully ended soon after the silence that followed the conversation, Kelstrin escorted to a spare room while Frederick entered his.
He felt like he was stepping back in time, his room the same as he had left it the day he went to war. He bed snuggled up against a window of the house, overlooking the ocean below. A map of the world was pinned against the opposite wall, red markings indicating places he had been to, places he'd want to go to.
He approached his quaint desk and unlocked the retracting lid, finding all sorts of papers tucked away in the shelves. Most were of his practice at cursive writing, some drawings of rudimentary people.
He came across a small, leather bound book and gently undid the clasp to crack open the first page. It dated back nine years ago, talking about how his world on the farm was miniscule compared to what lay beyond the ocean. How often he dreamed of constructing a sailboat and traveling across the blue to unknown areas of the world.
He sat on the edge of his bed as he continued reading, the candle burning slowly as the evolution of time passed through his hands.
The moons rose high in the sky as night progressed, the ocean lapping calmly against the shore near the bluffs. Kelstrin carefully opened his door, peeking around the hallway before quietly stepping out on bare feet and silently shutting the door. He crept down the hallway, stopping for a moment to peer into Frederick's room.
He was asleep on his bed, his body splayed out on top of the sheets with am arm over his eyes. Kelstrin saw the candle feebly glowing in its stump, a book lying on the floor half open near Frederick's bed. He stepped in, making sure he didn't disturb any loose floorboards as he extinguished the candle and picked up the book. He placed it on the nightstand beside the bed, taking a moment to watch Frederick's face as the moonlight caressed his cheek. Fighting against his urge, Kelstrin turned and left as quietly as he entered.