I thought I could do this. Things started out pretty well, although she took a long time to answer the door, so I was just standing out there looking foolish and wondering if she’d changed her mind about going after all. Her new robe was very nice, it must have cost a lot. It was nearly the same shade of purple as mine too, which probably looked as if it was planned. I gave her the hair clip and she went in to put it on, because I thought it would match with her robe — at least I could wait inside for that though. In my nervousness I forgot to open mine until later — a nice pen and ink set. All of mine are getting a bit worn down, so I can use it right away. I didn’t use it for this though, I thought it would be a little strange.
We went up to the house, and to the main ballroom. They’d certainly put in a lot of work, it felt like one of the parties from before the scourge came. And there was far too much food, all of it delicious. I thought we ought to get some of that first, so we found a table and filled our plates. There was also a very fancy cake shaped like a dragonhawk, we thought they’d bought it in Silvermoon, but it turns out that Terellion had made it. He’s really very talented at baking. I went to get drinks, but of course Lani won’t have anything with alcohol in it, so I had to inquire about the punch from the ranger who was guarding. He didn’t seem to know, so he went into the kitchen to ask and I had to wait there with the glasses the whole time. There were a lot of guests, most that I recognized, but others that had to be family of students. Her father was there too, and I’m certain he was watching us the whole time.
I asked if she wanted to dance, and she did, that went pretty well. She said she’d had lessons when she was younger, I had too, but it’s been years since I went to any dance. I just concentrated on not stepping on her feet, and I did all right. Everything was going well, but I thought we should go out to the garden where it would be more private. If nothing else, we could talk without everyone listening, but I thought I might try more if it seemed right. It was very cold in the garden, but it had been decorated too, the trees and lamp-posts wrapped with ribbons. I didn’t see any snow, though the air certainly felt cold enough. We talked a bit about her new building, I don’t think either of us means to but we always seem to go back to that subject to fill the silence. But then she was talking about her troubles with her parents, and I thought I was being understanding but she said I wasn’t her patient. I couldn’t have been more stunned if she had slapped me. I was trying to listen as a friend, not an advisor, but I can’t really un-train myself of all those years of practice. Even she used to say that sometimes, usually if she was upset with me. It isn’t conscious, maybe I just don’t know how to talk to a lady anymore — I mean, as a regular person. I thought surely she was upset and would want to go inside, and it was getting cold.
But she wanted to put her hand on mine, which confused me. Wasn’t she upset? I thought I had messed everything up. She’s confusing. Imagine me asking someone else for advice! I don’t know who I could, anyway. She wanted to go home soon after, which was good because the hour was getting late, and I still had to walk home through the woods. That didn’t go very well either. I didn’t know what to say, or what she wanted. I mean, she was nervous about sitting together, I don’t want to embarrass her. And I couldn’t tell if she was upset or not, though she probably is now. It was a bit of a disaster. She asked when I would come by again though, I said I would have to look at my calendar. I don’t know, I thought I was ready to do this but maybe I’m not. Being alone is certainly a lot less nerve-wracking.
The party was uneventful — at least from a guard’s perspective. Sath’alor kept a close eye on those guests he didn’t recognize, but the Magister’s sisters and mother weren’t among them. As the hour grew later, he was able to relax and try some of the food that was laid out on the tables. Everyone seemed in a cheery mood, most of all the Magister. That was good, Sath’alor thought it probably been a long time since he had. He saw Tylenthis around at one point, eating near a couple of the students, but he hadn’t seen Linarelle yet. The girl, Des, had invited her — at one point she came up to ask him where she was. As if he kept constant tabs on them during their off hours? He shrugged. Was she coming? He didn’t know. Quietly, she asked how Orledin was doing. As much as Sath’alor wanted to invite the death knight, he knew it wouldn’t go over well. He couldn’t even offer to bring food home; while he’d certainly appreciate the gesture, it would be a waste. He seemed to understand why he couldn’t attend. Sath’alor hoped he wasn’t feeling too miserable back at the inn. Des said she’d like to bring Orledin more books to read, but a portal was out of the question. Wasn’t that why mages learned these things, so they wouldn’t have to travel? He said that maybe he could bring the books back with him. Then she asked if he wanted to dance. He didn’t of course, not at all, and he’d seen her dancing with another boy earlier, anyway. Sath’alor made some excuse about not being allowed — fortunately the Magister wasn’t standing right there to contradict him.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kestrae arrived not long after, with her new man in tow. It was like she was there just to needle him. He tried to pretend not to see her, but of course she came over to talk to him. About what? She talked about his new nephew, and whether he’d gone to see him yet. No, of course not, Thero would never allow that. He’d have to wait to meet Iannor when Isandri came back to Eversong to visit their parents. Kestrae seemed to believe Thero would make an exception in this cause, but then Sath’alor didn’t believe she knew Thero very well at all. Whatever grudge that man carried, surely hadn’t faded. She asked if he was happy here. What sort of question was that? He was surviving, that was enough.
At least it hadn’t been a total waste, he’d finally got the chance to speak to another of Hethurin’s sisters, the one who had gone to Kalimdor. She’d been quite seriously injured, but trained as a ranger and was interested in joining up with their little band once she was fully recovered. Sath’alor told her they could certainly use her help, and of the plans to build a station out in the woods. Hopefully, the healers would give her permission to come out soon. Once spring came, there would be an explosion of spiders, and Sath’alor was eager to try out the idea of destroying their nests.
Later, Hethurin gave him a slice of cake too. So the evening wasn’t all bad.