“Are you sure?” Rory asks, “I don’t want them to think we’re cheap…”
“I do concur the place does look rather plain,” Finn answers, “but I must say it has the best food in town!”
“I agree,” Howard says. He didn’t say a lot before now, so I guess it must be good.
We walk to the outskirts of town and enter an unremarkable house. When we open the door, a bell rings.
“Welcome to the Common Omelette!” a person whom I assume is the proprietor calls with a loud voice. That voice sounds awfully familiar… that’s Nell!
“That’s a surprise!” I greet him.
“It certainly is,” he answers, “I just happened to find this place. It’s run by an acquaintance of mine that I haven’t seen in years. We have a lot to catch up on, so I’m helping out.”
Nell looks at everyone else that’s with me and announces in a serious voice: “Granny will tell you the same, but let me say it: whatever happens, Rowan, Aster, we’ll always consider you part of our family.”
“What are you talking such serious business in the door of my…”, another other man, a Cynanthrope about the same age as Nell, mumbles as he walks up to us. Upon seeing Rowan, he turns to Nell and starts whispering: “Tell me if I’m wrong, but… is that Iris’s kid‽”
Nell nods wordlessly.
“This is Adir,” Nell introduces him to us, “he runs this place, the Common Omelette, he calls it. I can guess who your companions are. Pleased to meet you, I’m Nell. Rowan is my nephew.”
“The pleasure is mine,” Rory answers, “let’s sit down. As usual, we’ll be having whatever the chef recommends.”
“I’ll take care of the food,” Adir says. Nell and him leave for the kitchen.
There are not many other patrons, only two Ailuranthropes. They seem to be the same as Rowan and me. Upon seeing the two of them, Howard states: “It’s our cousins, Kate and Tate. That’s quite a coincidence! I’m sure they won’t mind us joining them.”
Finn, Rory, Emily, Howard, Rowan and I join the two at their table. At first, the two seem puzzled to the presence of Rowan and me, but upon seeing Cyril on Rowan’s shoulder, they ease up. Just how famous is this Woosel here?
After properly introducing us to each other, Howard suggests: “How about having Kate and Tate join Aster and Rowan?”
What he says makes sense: Kate and Tate are about our age. That’d make things a lot easier for Rowan and me.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Emily agrees.
“Joining them?” Tate asks.
“Yes, they will be departing for their pilgrimage this year,” Rory explains, “there’s potential trouble they could be drawn into…” Rory sighs.
Kate and Tate look at each other and nod.
“It’s about time for our own pilgrimage, so that’s not a problem, but…” Tate answers.
“… it’s a long-term job…” Kate continues but is interrupted.
“I think this job should be worth G-3 with E-3,” Rory answers.
I have no idea what those codes even mean. Judging from the exchange, I guess it’s about the payment for the guards.
“Isn’t that too little?” Kate asks.
“You’ll be joining Dewick village, and of course, the pay grade will rise according to regulations. Besides, I just want you to be there and help them. I’m sure Aster and Rowan don’t feel like being watched all day. Just notify us, if you feel something is amiss.”
“Joining the village? But we’d stick our like a colourful thumb!”
“Dewick is a special village,” I add, “I’m sure you’ll fit right in.”
“It’s a job from the crown prince, why are you haggling?” Howard asks.
“Unlike you and Emily, we’re just from a branch family. The jobs that are usually given to us aren’t glamorous, and the pay is rather bad. I’m sick of being exploited.”
“In that case, I’m willing to increase to G-5 with E-5,” Rory offers, “but that’s only after you keep that job for at least two years. Until then, G-3 with E-5 is the best I can offer. I don’t need people for that job that just join because of the money.”
“How about you just come with us to Dewick for now?” I suggest, “after all, Rowan and I barely know the two of you. The same goes for you. I’m sure by the time we come to the capital again, you’ll be able to come to a proper decision.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Kate answers.
“But isn’t the shuttle too small?” Rowan asks.
“If it’s just from here to Dewick, it’s not a problem,” I answer, “it would be if we were travelling for days.”
“Sorry for the wait,” Adir announces and together with Nell brings several plates. The meal is pasta, these are tagliatelle, with meatballs. The sauce is green, and there are little purple herb cuttings in there.
“Pasta?” I ask, “I thought it didn’t exist here yet.”
“It’s uncommon around here, but I’ve learned to make it after my travels,” Adir explains.
“I see, I’m looking forward to it.”
We eat. The green sauce tastes like tomato with a hint of orange.
“This taste… this isn’t just greenberries,” Rory states, “it has a refreshing aftertaste.”
“I added in some small greenfruit,” Adir answers.
“I thought small ones are just sour?”
“No, they also have a fresh taste and fragrance to them,” to demonstrate Adir, presses what a looks like a lime. The smell is just as a lime.
“Big greenfruits are sweet, but they lack this fresh fragrance.”
“Are small and big greenfruits from the same plant?” I ask.
“No, it’s two different breeds,” Rory answers. “I should invest some resources in the cultivation of small greenfruits…” he mumbles. I think he likes that taste.
After eating, Nell stays with us to talk while Adir cleans up.
“So who is exactly is Adir?” Rowan asks.
“To sum things up, years ago, your mother was Adir’s love interest. After you were born, he left the village and hasn’t been back since. He just found out only Iris has passed away years ago.”
“So what does he know about…”
“… your heritage? Seeing you next to our crown prince here, there’s no doubt about that. Adir definitely knows.”
“What do I know?” Adir asks as he brings us dessert, as I half expected by now, it’s green clementines.
“I was telling them about how you used to date Iris.”
“I was too young to remember,” Rowan states, “but how was my mother?”
“Didn’t Nell and the old hag tell you about her?” Adir asks.
“No, they always say, I’ll eventually find out.”
“That’s because we aren’t supposed to tell you about your heritage,” Nell states, “but among all people you know, Adir is probably the best person to ask about her.”