Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Page 1775

((Triple Wednesday -- Page 3 of 3))
Garovel advised him to play coy, so he did. He told them that questions about strength were important secrets that he couldn’t divulge.

Half the kids lost interest when he told them that and wandered off, but the other half stayed and asked him other, more innocuous questions, like about his favorite food or color or animal.

Somehow, those proved even more difficult to answer.

He lost the interest of the rest of the kids soon thereafter. It felt like most of his confidence and self-worth left with them, as well.

However, his mood improved again after he entered the Tower of Night and found the Najirs there, having breakfast. It was the first time he’d seen them all together. Asad, his wife, sister, daughter, and son. Hector remembered Imas and Jada, but the wife’s and son’s names were escaping him.

Wait a minute. They were having breakfast?

Garovel, what time is it?’ asked Hector.

The reaper shrugged.

Hector supposed it didn’t matter much. Not having any daylight to go by was just one of the challenges of living in a giant hole in the ground.

He made his way over to the Sandlord family, who’d already taken notice of him.

They looked a bit tense, however. Perhaps because he and Garovel were watching them?

Asad spoke up first after finishing whatever he was chewing. “Hector. It is good to see you. Allow me to introduce my wife, Samira, and my son, Midhat.”

“We have already met,” said Samira. “Briefly.”

“Yeah,” said Hector with a nod. “Hello again.”

No introductions for us?’ said the reaper hovering behind Midhat.

“That is Ekkos,” said Asad, “my son’s reaper. Samira’s is Lemirat.”

Good to meet you both. I’m Garovel.

Yes, we have been hearing quite a bit about you and your servant,’ said Lemirat. ‘This is an interesting home you have here.

Yeah, it’s a work-in-progress,’ said Garovel. ‘You’re welcome to stay as long as you like, though we won’t be offended if you find the place a bit uncomfortable.

More fortress than resort,’ said Lemirat. ‘I cannot say it bothers me, personally. I generally find the sturdiness of fortresses more pleasant.

“I do not,” said Samira with an obvious tinge of irritation. “And it would appear we have made the trip here for no reason, as well.”

Asad gave his wife a look. “Samira.”

She saw his face, looked toward Hector and Garovel, then turned away.

Uncomfortable silence arrived.

Garovel was the one to break it. ‘You’re right, Lady Najir. I must apologize. I was the one who requested that Asad send someone here ahead of us. I didn’t foresee how strange our travels in the Undercrust would become. It’s not everyday you get teleported back to your home country, you know. It was quite the surprise.

The woman looked between Hector and Garovel again. “Yes, well... it is good that you returned safely. I have never been, but I have heard many tales of the perils in the Undercrust.”

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