Hector’s memory of that meeting was foggy at best. Garovel had translated it for him, since they had been speaking in Valgan, but Hector did recall that odd feeling Garovel was talking about now, like the air was slightly thicker. It wasn’t until later that Garovel had explained how very powerful souls could affect the physical atmosphere. And while he was certainly grateful that Lord Abbas had permanently soul-strengthened Haqq’s shield, Hector was not in any hurry to encounter someone like that a second time--especially now, after witnessing what Xuan and Melchor could do.
Chergoa and Garovel continued speaking, but Garovel spared a private moment for Hector. ‘You should express your gratitude to Dimas for saving our asses.’
Much as he would have liked to remain silent, Hector knew the reaper was right, so after taking a moment to gather his courage, he went for it. “Uh, um, Lord Dimas, uh... thank you for your help earlier. Darktide would’ve definitely, er... I mean, if you hadn’t... uh... Y-you and Lord Salvador saved us. So... er...”
The man’s expression was as unreadable as ever. “...Think nothing of it. Rather, I should be thanking you for protecting Duvoss and my idiot uncle.”
“Ah, uh... heh...” Hector thought better of wading into that territory and instead chose to change the subject. “Are you, um... aren’t you tired? From using pan-forma, I mean?”
“I use pan-moc,” Dimas corrected.
“...But yes, I am exhausted.”
“You... uh... you don’t really look like it.”
“I will not be sleeping until Xuan is awake.”
‘I will, though,’ said Iziol. ‘In fact, I think I’ll do that right now. Pardon my snoring.’
Hector exchanged looks with Dimas. “Can reapers actually snore?”
“No. Iziol was attempting to tell a joke. He is not very good at them.”
‘Hey. I... I’m... I’m mediocre at them, at least.’
Dimas met Hector’s gaze and just shook his head with silent honesty.
‘Here, let me tell a real joke,’ said Iziol.
And for the first time, Hector saw Dimas lose composure as a haggard expression flashed across his face.
‘Two clowns walk into a bar. The bartender says to them, “Hey, none of your funny business in here!”’
Then there was dead silence. Even Chergoa and Garovel had stopped bickering.
‘Well?’ said Iziol. ‘What did you think?’
Hector had still been waiting for the punchline. “Uh--er, that was... um. Wow.”
Dimas was less kind. “That was possibly the worst joke I’ve ever heard in my life.”