The banquet hall was set for a regular medieval feast, replete with the U-shaped table arrangement, roasted boar– as far as Cerys could tell, at least– sleek dogs chewing on discarded bones, and the smell on wine in the air. A tall man, his hair grey with age and responsibility, stood and waved his arm to summon over James and the others. James did not hesitate.
“It is good to have you home, at last, son!” the older man said, pulling James into his embrace. “When night fell, I started to worry that you would be staying in the village. I see that you took the more foolish route and pressed on.”
“Father, you know I can fight them,” the teenager replied. Then he changed the subject. “I would like you to meet my friends.”
“I heard you announcing them, son.”
James smiled and turned to the others. “Cerys, everyone, this is my father, Baron Lexavier Saravel of Carawick.”
“It’s your grace, isn’t it?” Cerys said first. “A pleasure to meet you, your grace.”
Cerys felt a bit odd addressing someone like that. She knew about forms of address among the peerage, had seem them in movies and used them in games, and had even toyed around with them with her friends who participated in the Society for Creative Anachronism, but this was different. Now that she was meeting an actual, true-to-life baron, she could feel herself blush, and wondered whether she had done it correctly.
“You do not need to be so formal,” Baron Lexavier told her. “Any friend of my son’s is welcome at my side. Please, speak openly.”
“Thank you,” Himeko said. She was relieved that she would not be expected to behave in the right way so soon.
“Enough of all this,” he said next. We have saved you some seats. Com and eat with us. You must be famished!”
There was no denying the grumbling in their bellies or the parch in their throats. Within moments, Cerys and her friends were seated around the baron, and their plates were laden with all sorts of meat and vegetables. It turned out that there was also mutton stew, a wide assortment of cheeses (not all of them to their liking, but at least worth tasting), and several fruits that could not be found anywhere on Earth. They managed to decline the wine, though several other guests and even the baron insisted that it was not a problem. The room was a little bit quieter while everyone ate their fill.