Chapter Eighteen: Dinner
Immortal Rose's Journal
The dining room was well lit when we at last entered, most of the seats being already occupied by those whom I had recently met. This was a peculiar set up, or so I thought, for I had assumed most of the castle's residents to be primarily blood-drinkers. This thought made me even more nervous than my previous state as the Lord motioned silently to the empty chair at his side. I obediently took my seat, however, and glanced about the table.
Miss Licorice was closest to my opposite side, Sirs Lazorus and Tuomas closest to her in that order. The latter was seated at the farthest end of the table, directly opposite the Lord. I had hoped for the physician to have been positioned closer than this, for his aura was gentle, and would otherwise have calmed my already fraying nerves. At the opposing side of the long table, Sir Crux Karayan sat at the Lord's other side, the opposite of myself. The one known as Malphas sat next to him. As I glanced at Malphas, he gave a furtive wink, quickly interrupted by the Lord's dark tenor.
"Now then, we have all gathered at last. I trust you have made introductions, Tuomas?" The physician nodded as he continued. "Miss Rose will be staying for some time as my guest. During her stay I trust you shall all mind your manners and treat her kindly, else I need not mention what fate would befall you."
His scarlet eyes that had been slowly scanning the table as he spoke lighted briefly upon Malphas at this last statement before rising once more to survey the spread before us.
"Please, partake. There is much here, and wasting it would be out of the question."
I followed his gaze, observing the generous platters of freshly prepared food that had been brought out and set on fine plates of exquisite china. A place setting and gleaming silverware had been set up neatly at my seat, as well as in front of the occupants on my side. The Lord and those on the opposite side were without these preparations almost entirely. Only a silver chalice was set before each. I could very well surmise a guess as to what each of these cups held within, and my appetite nearly vanished entirely at the thought. Quickly averting my eyes and attention, I turned to observe the others closer to my own seat.
Miss Licorice was already piling her plate with some of the offerings of the platters, giving me an encouraging smile as she set a small tart upon my plate.
"It would be best to claim a dessert early, or else Lazzy will eat them all!"
I looked up at the bat-like gentleman whom had already heaped his plate full of sugary desserts, and was proceeding to devour them one by one. Tuomas gave an exasperated shake of his head, gingerly sipping a cup of tea and nibbling at his own supper. My musings were interrupted by a cold hand at my shoulder, and I turned back to the Lord near my side.
"Please eat. Your ordeals have been plenty, and you must regain your energy."
The expression upon his face was a difficult thing to read, for it told of sternness, yet also of concern. Possibly even kindness, if I were not imagining it altogether. After all, he had in many ways shown a brand of his own caring and protection through such orders and harsh sounding dictation. I mused on this, doing what I could not to stare at the silver chalice resting near his opposite hand. It's presence did little in helping my hunger, and with each passing minute I could feel any semblance of it fading away. Still, I nodded and mumbled a quiet thank you.
This seemed satisfactory enough, for he resumed sating his thirst as I turned back to my plate.
The remainder of the supper was mostly enjoyed in silence and before long most all of the members of the dinner party had taken their leave. Licorice began clearing the plates and silverware from the table, Lazorus helping her by ridding most of any left over desserts.
I felt much better now that hunger was no longer an issue, and I could feel my mental faculties making a full recovery to their normal standings. It is common with most mortals after a warm and filling supper to feel a slight lethargy creep about to prepare them for a night's restful slumber. This remained true even for myself. My eyelids felt quite heavy, and I wished for nothing more than a proper night's rest and something other than a sofa or cod stone on which to have it. The events of the past seemed so far removed in the light of the company of so many others, and I felt safer that I had upon first arriving in this strange land. I may very well have slipped fully into complete repose on the spot if it weren't for the Lord's voice. Though, it seemed strange. His voice was quite loud, yet carried with it a strange echo that I could not readily place.
"Tuomas, look." A brief pause. "Please escort Miss Rose to one of the chambers in this wing. She is clearly much too tired to make the return trip to her own room at the present."
I could hear all of this being said, yet wondered why they would speak amongst themselves in such a way while I was still near them. I could move still, could I not? Surely my chambers were not that far from here.
It was not until I attempted moving that I found the process extremely difficult. My limbs were heavy with sleep, and my eyes had closed tight without my knowledge. Sleep is a very strange thing, is it not? To hear all manner of things surrounding you, yet to not be able to move nor speak for yourself. I heard Tuomas close by my side. He was very quick.
"I-Is it quite alright to move her? She seems completely unconscious. That is, I know we can't simply leave her here, yet all the bed chambers are on the higher floors."
A few moments of silence from the Lord, no doubt debating where to place me at this point.
I attempted to raise myself up or at least to speak on my own behalf, yet found myself completely bound in a semiconscious form of repose.
"The music room then. Karayan will protest I am sure, yet that is the closest available location for her at the present time."
I felt a slight shifting under me, as one who has had the ground entirely taken from beneath. Yet I did not fall, nor did I know at the present who was supporting me.
The physician spoke, very near at hand.
"There. I have her, but where should she recline? The music hall is not fitted for resting."
The Lord's voice was further off, the stones of the hall echoing it back in a strange manner.
"The pipe organ's seat will do well as a makeshift couch."
The rest of the brief journey was made in silence, even though I continued my efforts to escape from slumber's unyielding grasp. Was this simply a dream in and of itself? Perhaps I may wake back in my own home, or at the very least, in the first chamber where I had dozed close to the small bat. This land is indeed strange if one cannot be certain what is dream and what is real. This may well be a dream within a dream. Though, this land was unusual to begin with and who can rightly say what is strange and what in normal in such a realm?
By and by, I felt myself being lowered upon a soft cushion. The movement stopped and the voices of the two began to recede out of the room.
"Keep an eye on her, Tuomas, and be certain none come near this room while she rests. There is still work to be done in the room of crystals and I wish not to be disturbed nor hear of any other incidents for the remainder of this moon's night."
I heard the door latch shut and a key turn into place before I lost the battle against Sleep entirely and his brother Dream took over.
- Immortal Rose