Chapter Twenty-Four – The Heart that Longs for Peace
It was a couple more weeks before Citlally felt like she was back to her old self. At least, as close to it as she thought she was going to get. She felt as though there were still parts of her memory missing, and a part of herself that was missing, but she was at least not quite so weak and exhausted as she’d felt when Mannrius rescued her from Sardonia.
Endan felt quite a lot more functional, but he still had yet to recover as many of his memories as his wife had. The doctors all commented on how she seemed to keep him going, helping him heal better than he would have on his own. It was remarkable, really, how much he was able to recover. Most people who’d received the poison, especially three doses of it, were too lost to ever get back to such a level of functionality as what Endan now had.
Jalingan and Mannarius were just as impressed as Doctor Sendrick with how things were going for the couple.
“I feel like I should be thankin’ ye so much more than I already have,” Endan hold the doctor one day. “Ye brought us back together, and now I’m doing whole heck of a lot better then when ye found me. You even chose people who were able to save her life.”
“You’ve thanked me enough boy,” the doctor told him, a grin crossing his face despite his attempt at acting humble. “You’ve helped me with my research quite a lot. I’ve made more progress with you than I have over many years of trying to find information on humans.”
That much was true. Endan had learned to trust the doctor, that his motives for conducting his research were not at all questionable, that he would not experiment on him in any kind of strange way. Given that, he allowed the doctor to examine him almost daily. They talked a lot about what Endan could remember from what he’d been taught about human health back in school.
It turned out that the galactic database had limited information on humans. Besides that, being on a station so far out meant that only limited information came through. Most of what they had on humans was anecdotal, or else it was a very basic description of human culture. It was like having merely a tourist’s guide when one really wanted to experience all facets of something, the real way that it was.
Citlally was a little more shy about sharing herself for the research. She said that it was okay for the doctor to use her medical exams and the scans from when she’d been hospitalized, but she was far less willing to be poked and prodded then Endan was. Dr. Sendrick didn’t argue or pressure her; he knew that she’d been through too much, that it would be unreasonable for him to ask for more from her.
“I feel like our time on Nebulous Station 246 is coming to a close,” she said one day, off-handedly, as though it was no big deal.
They were lying in the garden, gazing up through an opening in the greenery. The best part about being in the garden was that it was actually an entire ring of the space station, and that meant that the top half of it was all windows. They could stare up at the stars outside, they could watch the glow of the nebula, and now and then they could watch a ship gliding by. It was the most beautiful scenery they could remember seeing for a long time.
“Do you feel like you have somewhere you want to go?” Mannarius asked her.
Citlally shrugged. “I’ve been looking through the computer database. I’m not really sure what to choose, because there are so many options.”
“I could take you straight back to earth if you want,” he told her, although something in his voice told her that he hoped she wouldn’t jump on that offer.
Citlally shook her head. “I don’t think I am ready for that yet. There’s so much that has happened out here in space… I can’t go home just yet.”
“You’re referring to the human idea of closure, aren’t you?” Jalingan asked her.
Mannarius glared at his cousin. “Quit acting like you know so much about humans,” he told him.
“Well, I am half human!” Jalingan quipped.
Mannarius gave him a look, and Citlally wondered whether he would have rolled his eyes, had he been human. “Having the DNA doesn’t count for much,” he replied, “when you’re raised on the Leomian home world!”
“I’ve been wondering about that,” Citlally said, her tone much more polite than the Lion’s. “You’re half human, and half Leomian. But which one was your father, and which one was your mother?”
When they both gave her a surprised look, she glanced down sheepishly. “I hope I’m not being rude by asking.” Her words came out timidly, worried that she’d asked the wrong question.
“I’m more surprised that you care,” Mannarius told her.
“My father is human,” Jalingan told her without hesitation.
“Oh,” Mannarius cut in. “You’re actually going to tell her?”
“Why shouldn’t I?” Jalingan snapped back.
Mannarius looked at him as though he’d just asked the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard. “Because a lot of the family doesn’t talk about it.”
“And why don’t they?” Jalingan asked him, and Citlally could tell that there was something going on in the family that she didn’t yet know about, but that was clearly a point of attrition between them.
“Anyway,” Jalingan went on, turning back to Citlally and Endan, “my mother is Leomian.”
“Does that mean that she’s been to Earth?” Citlally asked him.
He shook his head. “No. Have you ever heard of a Leomian visiting Earth?” He paused for a minute, caught up in a thought. “I didn’t mean to sound rude just then. What I mean is, I know your planet does not get much in the way of alien visitors.”
“Did yer father go to planet 83 Leonis, then?” Endan asked. Citlally had been wondering the same thing, though she hadn’t been as quick to ask the question.
“Wrong again, I’m afraid,” Jalingan told him as he shook his head. “They met in space. They were both working on the same space station for a time. He was a scientific researcher, and she was an aide to one of our diplomats.”
“I take it, by the way you talk, that they’re not together anymore,” Endan said.
Jalingan shook his head. “I’m afraid not. I guess something happened to where my father hadn’t realized that their races were compatible genetically, or how much she liked him, and she didn’t realize that he only had a limited interest in her. When his research was over, he put in a request to transfer another space station without so much as talking to her about it. She didn’t even know until he had already started packing up his things to move that he was going anywhere.”
“So she misunderstood their whole relationship?” Citlally asked.
“I guess you could put it that way,” Jalingan replied. “My mother took it pretty hard. She called it a bad break-up, but he didn’t even consider them as having been a couple in the first place. He’d thought that it was way more casual than that, and that it would be no big deal that he was moving. He said that they’d just been having some fun for a short time.”
“But the Leomians have a very high regard for humans,” Endan noted. “This sounds like a pretty low thing tae do tae her when she’s carrying his child.”
Jalingan shrugged. “Truth be told, she didn’t know that she was pregnant when he moved away. She just wanted to stay with him because she cared for him so much. She told me that she wanted to plan on having children with him in the future, but she didn’t know that it had already happened at the time.”
“So he moved away to another space station,” Citlally said, “and then she figured it out?”
“Yeah. She was able to get hold of him at his new research station, but the conversation didn’t go well.”
“It went terribly,” Mannarius corrected him. “He wanted nothing to do with the kid, but Linlen did not have the heart to – well…” He looked away and cleared his throat.
Jalingan scowled at him. “My mother – her name is Linlen – went back to 83 Leonis to raise me.”
“So why does Mannarius act like he does around you?” Citlally wanted to know.
“Because he’s a Klavernning, and so am I,” Jalingan explained. “it’s just that he has the heritage through his father, and I, well…”
Citlally thought that she could guess at something about the rift between the two cousins. She decided not to let the conversation go too far down that dark road. “Have you had a chance to meet your father?” she asked. “If there’s anything to our idea of closure, it is getting to know our parents.”
“Eventually, I did,” Jalingan told her with a nod. “It was an interesting meeting, to say the least. But then again, I guess anything to do with the best kept secret in the galaxy would have to be pretty interesting.”
“Is that so?” Citlally asked.
Jalingan gave her a knowing grin. “Yes, dear human girl. Yes, it is.”
* ** *** ** *
A day or so later, Citlally was browsing the computer database in the garden. Jalingan had gone off to another part of the station to take care of some kind of business, and Nurse Iratze was assisting in the medical center, but Endan, Dhruv, and Mannarius were with her.
Deep down in her heart, she knew that she wanted somewhere to go, somewhere that helped her find peace with everything that had happened, and Endan had entrusted her with making the decision. All he wanted was to be by her side.
She’d been through a lot of planets already. There were tropical worlds that were equated with paradise, forested worlds covered in green, with countless flowers, and even worlds with rolling hills and tall mountain peaks covered in snow that were famed for their challenge to climb, but none of them seemed quite right. None of them seemed be the world that she needed to visit just then.
“What is this planet?” Citlally asked at last. It was late in the morning, and she was chewing on a piece of toast that she’d smeared with what passed on Nebula Station 246 as butter and jelly.
“What?” Mannarius asked drowsily, having been lounging in the grass near the edge of the pavilion. He glanced over at her with a curious expression.
“This planet,” she said again. She leaned aside so that Mannarius could get a closer look at her screen.
“Let’s see what you found,” he said as he got up and walked over to her, then gazed down at her screen. There was the image of a planet, a white world, shrouded in clouds. He read its name off the screen, and the brief synopsis below it. “Oh, I’ve heard of this planet before. It’s the perfect place for you to go,” he told her.
“It looks like some kind of giant cloud,” she said, scrunching her face over to one side.
Mannarius chuckled. “It’s something more like a gas giant, but not exactly. It has a surface, but it’s a pretty big planet.
“A gas giant?” Citlally asked, raising a brow, “but with a solid surface?” She looked puzzled.
“Why did you tell her that?” Dhruv asked from her other side.
Mannarius shook his head. “I don’t think that came through the translator right.” He looked straight at Citlally. “Our language has a word for planets like this, but it doesn’t translate well. It’s not a gas giant in the sense that you understand them. Dhruv, how would you explain it?”
The co-pilot grinned at the chance to show off his knowledge. “It’s a large planet like most others that have a solid surface, but it’s surrounded in clouds. A better way to say would be ‘cloud giant.’ It has a very rich atmosphere, I might add.”
“But can lifeforms like us breathe its air?” she wanted to know.
“You bet!” he told her. “It’s pretty good for you, actually.”
“So what makes this planet so special?” Citlally asked again. “You said that it’s peaceful. How so?”
Dhruv nodded. “This is Mekse,” he explained. “The beings living here are the kindest, most compassionate life-forms you will ever meet. I think you have a saying on Earth… a heart of gold?”
“Aye,” Endan told him. “It’s an idiom.”
“What did you call my co-pilot?” Mannarius asked.
Citlally giggled softly. “No, he said ‘idiom.’ it’s a phrase that means something besides that words that it uses. You can’t take an idiom literally, you see. We just have to memorize that when the words in one sentence are together, it has a special meaning.”
Dhruv winked at his captain. “Human language is funny, is not it?” He waited for a nod from Mannarius before going on. “If you were to take that phrase literally, I would say that gold is much too heavy to serve as a heart. Still, I know what it means. The beings on Mekse have the purest, kindest hearts that you can imagine.”
“What do they do that’s so good?” Citlally asked him.
“Well…” Dhruv looked between Mannarius and the human, then gave a heavy sigh. “I think you should read about it for yourself.”
“I was going to, but a lot of it isn’t translated.”
“I can fix that,” Mannarius said. He moved in and typed a series of commands into her console. “The English codices are not very good this far out in space,” he conceded, “but this should translate it enough. Why don’t I leave you you to read it by yourself, and then you ask me any questions you have later?”
He didn’t stay to hear her answer, but grabbed Dhruv by the arm and pulled him down the garden path with him. Further down, Citlally could hear the faint sound of the automatic doors opening and closing behind them, leaving Citlally alone with Endan and the computer.
* ** *** ** *
Citlally couldn’t find either of them again until dinner time. By then, she had decided that she definitely wanted to go to Mekse.
“Endan and I read about the planet,” she said as she sat down beside Mannarius.
He looked over at her, his smile fading to a sullen expression. “I guess you can see why I didn’t really want to talk about it,” the star captain told her as he passed her a platter.
Citlally nodded to him and used the over-sized fork to place a serving of meat on her plate. “It’s a difficult subject to talk about, that’s for sure,” she replied. She glanced down at the napkin in her lap. “But it made me think of something. I guess it’s about time that I apologize for kicking you.”
Mannarius looked straight at her and blinked. “You remember that now?”
She nodded to him. “I guess I was too upset to think about the fact that you were trying to help me at the time.”
“I know,” he told her. His tone was reassuring. “I probably would have kicked someone in the same situation myself. I would never expect someone going through that to be reasonable or logical when they are in the middle of it all.”
“Thanks for understanding,” Citlally told him, a faint smile crossing her lips.
Endan looked across the table at them. “You kicked him?” he asked.
“I did,” she admitted, somewhat sheepishly. She was not the type to act shy or demure, but she truly did feel bad about having hurt him. “When he first took me on board the Lionstar, and I was…” She paused, hesitating, and found that she could not bring herself to say exactly what had happened.
“When you were sick?” the captain said for her.
“Yeah,” she said. “You could call it that, I suppose. Anyway, I was pretty upset, and I ended up kicking him away.”
Endan gave Mannarius a questioning look.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt her,” the lion insisted. “We – the nurse and I – were trying to give her medicine. She wanted nothing to do with it!” Then he looked to Citlally. “Either way, your apology is accepted. Not that you needed to give me one in the first place.”
“Wow,” Dhruv chimed in as he sat down with his foaming mug. “Most people don’t get a chance to kick my captain and get away with it!”
Mannarius noticed her half-startled look and gave a soft laugh. “Don’t worry about it,” he assured her. “I already told him that under the circumstances, pretty much anything that you could have done would have been reasonable.”
“Thanks for understanding… again,” she told him. She took a bowl from the middle of the table and spooned some more food onto her plate. “Back to the planet. I was talking with Endan about it earlier, and he and I agreed on something.”
“What is it?” Mannarius asked.
“We know that Nurse Iratze still has the capsule with…”
Mannarius looked saddened to see the way she faltered with the words. “The remains?”
Citlally nodded. “I don’t understand why its so hard for me to talk about it. Endan says that it is probably because I didn’t even know about it in the first place. I’m not so sure about that.
“It’s hard to talk about no matter what,” Mannarius told her. “Even though you didn’t know, you can’t help but feel that you should have kept it safe. It’s something so fragile…” He sighed and didn’t elaborate any further.
Citlally gave another nod. “I guess it would be. Anyhow, we don’t want to take the capsule back to Earth.”
“Are you certain?” the captain asked her. “According to our analyses, it was conceived there.”
“I know,” she said with a heavy sigh. “But…” She scowled, frustrated with herself for not being able to go on.
“Everythin’ we know about it happened out here in space,” Endan finished for her. “I see no reason tae take it all the way back to Earth and have to explain to everyone what happened. I think that bein’ out here among the stars is the best place for it.”
Citlally nodded in agreement. Her eyes were glistening, as though she was trying to hold back tears. Nobody asked her to talk.
“Mekse is in the heart of the Heart Nebula,” Dhruv pointed out.
“I realize that,” Endan told him. “I think that’s part of what makes it such a perfect place. Once we get back home, and Citlally heads back to the observatory, every time she looks at the Heart Nebula…” He squeezed her hand and gave her a sympathetic look.
“There’s a certain amount of romanticism to it, don’t you think?” Dhruv asked just as the door opened.
Dr. Sendrick walked in, followed by his granddaughter and her friend, as well as Nurse Iratze.
“What is this romantic idea you are talking about?” the doctor asked. “It seems to me that humans have quite a lot of romantic notions.”
“You’re late for dinner,” Mannarius told him. The look of displeasure on his face was evident.
“Not as late as Jalingan seems to be,” the doctor said as he looked around the room. He took a seat across the table from the human couple. “I hope you can understand, I had a patient I had to help with. As for the ladies, they were waiting for me, so please don’t hold it against them.”
Then he noticed the expression on the others’ faces. “For talking about romanticism, you sure do look glum.”
Citlally looked up at Endan. He knew that she was not used to feelings like this; usually she was so strong, and nothing so easily upset her. The events since Regulus Station II had been attacked had definitely taken their toll on her.
“We were talking about going to planet Mekse,” Endan told the doctor. That seemed to explain everything.
“Ahh,” the doctor said. “It all makes sense now. Don’t say another word; I understand what you’re talking about.”
Endan nodded his appreciation. “I have to say, though,” he added, “I was pretty impressed by what I read about how well the stewards take care of everyone who comes to their planet.”
“Everyone is welcome there,” the old doctor agreed. “I find it fascinating that you’re willing to go at all. I would have thought that humans would feel the need to go back to Earth.” He passed Callina and the other ladies the platters so that they could serve themselves before he took any food.
“Some humans probably would,” Endan told him.
“Oh, grandfather,” Callina said, “haven’t you figured out by now that you have to evaluate humans on an individual basis? Every single one of them is different from the last.”
The doctor shook his head. “Yes, yes, you keep saying that, but there has to be a common thread among them, and I’m determined to write my thesis about it.”
“You might as well be trying to find a common theme among all living beings in this arm of the galaxy,” Mannarius told him.
“Maybe you should just go to Earth and find out for yourself,” Endan suggested to him. “First-hand experience is very valuable to our anthropologists.”
“Oh, yes, I’ve been told as such many times before. I might just have to go,” Old Sendrick replied as the platters came his way and he was finally able to get some food for himself. “Are you heading home after you visit planet Mekse?
Citlally shrugged. “I don’t think that I’ll know for sure what I want to do until I am done with what we have to do on Mekse. Although… I doubt that I will go back to Earth right away. I have this feeling that my time out here in space is not finished just yet.”
“You could always go home,” Callina suggested, “and then head back out.”
“If I did that… going home first…” Citlally told her, “I would probably end up not leaving again right away.”
“So what is the human phrase for that?” Dhruv asked. “’Playing it by nose?’”
“By ear,” Endan corrected him.
The doors whooshed open again, and Jalingan strolled in. He greeted everyone warmly, and looked around for an open seat. Citlally noticed that his hair looked rather disheveled, as though he’d been running or doing some other physical activity, and he had his jacket draped over one shoulder. He wore a vest that was only partly buttoned, and the off-white shirt underneath looked rather wrinkled.
“What in all the worlds have you been up to?” Mannarius asked him.
“Oh,” Jalingan said, still not taking a seat. “Just loving life.”
He gave Dhruv a curious wink, and in turn Dhruv raise a brow slightly and shook his head.
“More like up to trouble!” Mannarius grumbled. He realized that the only open chair was the one beside him, and gave a deep frown. He got up from his seat, moved the free chair to the other side of the table, and sat back down.
“Still not sitting next to him, huh, captain?” Dhruv asked.
Mannarius half-glared at him, remembered that it was his co-pilot, and looked away instead.
Citlally leaned in close to Dhruv and whispered, “What is going on between the two of them?”
“It’s been going on for years,” he whispered back. “I can’t explain it.”
Citlally gazed between the two of them, the Lion and the half-Lion, then looked back to Endan.
He shrugged. “Let’s just eat.” He kept his tone hushed. “It’s not really our business anyway.”
The group had been eating together several days a week – or what passed for a week on space station countless light years from Earth – ever since Citlally had been released from the medical center. It was usually dinner, but sometimes they were able to meet up for breakfast or lunch instead.
On the days when they didn’t eat together, it was because some of them were busy with other things on the station. Citlally found that she liked that about deep space; it was possible to find work wherever you went, to play a role as you were needed. She only wished that she wasn’t viewed as being in too delicate of a condition to do anything. She didn’t like anyone thinking that she was delicate, and it frustrated her that many others on the station were reluctant to have her work for them because of what she’d just been through.
Even so, it was nice being able to get together as a group and enjoy one another’s company. The camaraderie they’d built together was a better comfort to Citlally than many other things had been. Best of all, they were able to gather in her quarters in the garden, where they could open the windows and let in the fresh smells of the plants outside. Sometimes she was able to spend her time cooking – since nobody gave her anything else to do – or else she let Endan prepare something, and other times they would order catering.
“So what do we have going on today?” Jalingan asked as he filled his plate and began to eat.
“Citlally wants to go to planet Mekse,” Dhruv told him, knowing that Mannarius did not want to talk to him.
“Mekse?” he asked, his eyes widening. He’sd nearly dropped his fork in astonishment. “You told her about Mekse?”
“Not exactly, Dhruv explained. “She’s been doing her own research on planets, and she found it all by herself. All we did was download a few codices so that she could read it in her own language.”
“Wow! Talk about a special place, huh?” Jalingan said as he took another bite of his food.
“It does sound pretty special,” Citlally agreed. Despite Mannarius’s opinion, she had a certain liking for Jalingan. She saw him from a different view point than what the others did, and he seemed to realize it – and to appreciate it as well.
“She wants to take the capsule there,” Endan added.
“Capsule?” Jalingan asked, clearly not understanding what they were referring to.
Nurse Iratze looked up from her plate. “So you’ve decided?” she asked. “Your little one is to find peace on Mekse?” Her voice was smooth and relaxed. Now that she was feeling better, Citlally loved to listen to her talk, the way she seemed to intone her words and speak from her heart.
“I would like that very much, yes,” the human woman replied. “I’ve read about the kind of care that the stewards take.”
“I think it would be a wonderful place for you to go,” Nurse Iratze told her. “They would do your little one a great deal of honor.”
“Honor!” Callina said. “That is something very important to humans, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is,” Mesilde told her. “Don’t be silly!”
“But you have to think,” Callina went on. “Some species out there don’t pay any mind to the ones who are never born, or to the one who are lost very youn – ow!”
She glared and her grandfather. “You didn’t have to kick me!”
“Of course I did,” the old doctor replied. “You needed to stop talking about it. Forget about all those other goons for a while and focus on our friends right here in this room. They care a lot about every life, no matter how small it is, and you can learn to honor that as much as the stewards do.”
“Yes, grandfather,” Callina said with a sigh of defeat.
“So,” Citlally went on, turning to Mannarius with a smile – a mixture of happy and bittersweet – “Are you able to take us there?”
“My dear girl,” Mannarius told her, “I will take you anywhere that you want to go.”
“There is only one problem with that,” Dhruv said. He gave his captain a sheepish grin for having burst his bubble.
“What’s the problem?” Endan asked, seeing that nobody else was going to.
“The Lionstar cannot get there,” Dhruv told them.
“Why not?” Citlally wanted to know.
Dhruv tried to ignore the captain’s cold stare. “Let me be honest; the Heart Nebula is in a different part of the celestial plane – as your world’s understanding of astronomy calls it – and it’s a lot further out. It’s in the Perseus arm of the galaxy!”
“I’m not worried about how far I have to go,” Citlally told him. “I’m on a journey of finding peace now.”
“The distance is less of a problem then anything else. Mekse is pretty close to the Melotte-15 cluster, and there’s a lot of space debris out there. The Lionstar has to be able to navigate through that, and we would probably hit something no matter what. Plus there’s the radiation from the young stars in the cluster…”
Dhruv’s words trailed off when he saw the look on his captain’s face.
“Sir…?” He was starting to feel concerned.
“The Lionstar is the best ship that I have!” Mannarius told him.
“It’s the only ship that you have,” Jalingan corrected him.
Mannarius glared at him, much more coldly than he’d looked at Dhruv. “It’s better than your junky star-skipper!”
“That old thing?” Jalingan said. “Usually I’m not even piloting it. I get to dock it on the larger ships that I end up working on. One of the benefits of being a mercenary.”
“Who cares about benefits when you’re working for scum!”
“Gentlemen, please,” Doctor Sendrick stepped in, “let’s not fight over dinner. The more important thing right now is whether or not we have a different way to get them to Mekse. There are plenty of transport ships that go there.”
Jalingan sighed. He looked much more ready than Mannarius to drop the argument. It was starting to look like he was reacting to the Lion’s aggressions, whatever caused those.
“I am absolutely not leaving my Lionstar behind,” Mannarius insisted. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked set to stick to his principle.
“Then how are you going to get through the space debris?” Jalingan asked him. “You’re going to take so much damage that the ship would break apart!”
“We’ll figure that out later,” Mannarius grumbled.
“Could your ship be retrofitted?” Citlally asked.
“Could it be modified?” she went on. “Can you add on the parts that you need to get us there?”
Mannarius rubbed his chin while he thought over what she had suggested. “I suppose… Maybe. When I acquired the Lionstar, there were a lot of things that I could have added to it.”
“Too bad you had such a limited budget,” Jalingan said. He shut his mouth when he saw the way the captain looked at him.
“I’m sure we can get the modifications,” Dhruv told them.
“There is a station near the Soul Nebula that does a lot of really great work – and for a reasonable price,” Doctor Sendrick noted.
“The Soul Nebula?” Mannarius repeated. “That’s right next to the Heart Nebula.”
“That means it’s too far away,” Dhruv said. “We need to get to work done closer to the Skull Nebula so that we’re able to cross the distance. There’s no point in traveling 7,000 light years and then adding the drive that could have gotten us there faster.”
“What about the jump-gates?” Endan suggested.
Dhruv shrugged. “There are only a few on the way, and they are far between. We still need the new drive to get us the distance in between, unless you want this journey to take a few years.”
“I don’t think I do,” Citlally said. “Not for the reason that we’re going out that way.”
“I can understand that,” Mannarius said. “This time, time is of the essence.” Then he glared over at Jalingan. “Of course, it was of the essence last time, too.”
“You know I got there as soon as I could,” the half-lion reminded him.
“That again?” Citlally asked. “Can’t we just drop it? What’s done is done.”
“If you insist,” Mannarius conceded.
“I can pull up some repair and work stations that are on our way to the Heart Nebula on the computer later,” Dhruv said, wanting to limit the subject to what was really important just then. “There’re sure to be plenty of them. You’ll be able to take your pick among them.”
“Sounds good to me,” Mannarius said.
“Sounds great,” Endan added. “Let’s enjoy dinner now!” And he picked up his silverware and began to cut into his meat.