• Nick Richards

Chapter 2: Synthel - Part Thirteen

The Duke escorted them into a nearby dining room where places had been set for three, so this was clearly what he had said it would be: a simple chance to talk over a meal alone. Alone other than for the half-dozen servants who waited along the wall of the dining hall. Perhaps one or more of them were security guards for the Duke as well. They sat at the table, which could easily fit a dozen or more diners. Jendi noted that the utensils were basically the same as she was used to, and wondered again how many things were so perfectly suited to their function that humanity had never seen the need to replace them or improve them much. This planet had obviously never lost — or had regained — the ability to work with both stone and metals: the utensils were made of silver.

“I hope our meals suit your mouths,” said the Duke as the servants brought out the first course. It was a form of soup, and thus familiar enough in purpose if not taste. Jendi tried a sip with what she assumed was the correct spoon (there were three on offer), found the taste odd at first but not unpleasant, and then found the after taste quite pleasant indeed.

“It is delicious,” said Jendi, “though I cannot place either the meat or the herbs. But it’s a lovely flavor.”

“I agree,” said Sevenser after she tried a taste as well. “It reminds me of a soup my mother made for me when I was a child.”

The Duke laughed. “Yes, I was going to say my mother did for me too, but really, it was the cook who made it, and my mother merely ordered the servants to bring it to me.”

“So you have always lived luxuriously?” asked Sevenser.

“As my father before him,” said the Duke with pride.

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