“No, young lord,” the man replied. “Your father delayed the feast as long as he could, sir. They have only just begun dining in the great hall, if you would like to take supper.”
James looked to his guests, and back to the cloaked man. “Tell my father that we will not keep him waiting much longer, then.” His tone was stiff and even, without a please to be heard.
The man nodded, “Of course, young lord.” He gave a bow, and then turned to head back into the manor house.
“Who was that?” Peter asked once he was out of earshot.
“That,” James told him, not sounding at all pleased, “ is Sir Ethan. He serves directly under my father.”
“And you don’t like him?” Peter inquired, the tone in the older teen’s voice having been very clear to him.
James shrugged. “He was appointed to us only a few weeks ago by Duke Emerias. He seems to want to know every detail about what goes on here, and I don’t like that.”
“Wouldn’t that mean that he is looking out for your safety?” Himeko suggested.
It took a moment for James to answer that. He looked around first, and then gestured for everyone to follow him. “Nobody has ever watched the manor house so closely before,” he explained in a low voice as they passed into the entrance hall. “Now here he is, with his eyes like ice, and he wants to know everything. I have the strangest feeling that it is not for the sake of protecting us.”
“Why would anybody want to hurt you?”
As he led them towards the dining hall, he gave them a regretful look. “I know it cannot be easy waiting so long for my explanations. Please just be patient a little bit longer.”
He did not wait for their response, but opened the wide double doors to the banquet hall. As soon as the smells drifted over Cerys, she forgot about the subject at hand. Her stomach gave a loud growl, and she realized all at once just how ravenous she was. James strolled into the hall as smoothly as can be, and once those in the room noticed him, they quieted down and turned his way.
“Good evening, fellow countrymen!” James addressed the crowd. “It is good to see all of you in my home tonight. Please, accept my apologies for the delaying is returning .”
Cerys and Himeko exchanged knowing looks, both of them impressed by the smooth style in his voice. Not only that, but he sounded very official, noble in away that they had heard him use his voice before.
“May I present to you,” he went on, “my most esteemed guests: Peter and Cerys Westminster, Himeko Takamori, and Bayani Masipag. These are the friends that I have told you about, come at last to help us with our quest.”
They had seen noble introductions in movies before; heralded ramblings, the listing of names and title. It was the applause, however, that they were unprepared for. All around the room, the diners set down their napkins and stood, clapping for the arrival of the small band of teenagers. Did they really deserve such a hearty welcome, Cerys wondered to herself?