We left the books at the small table where we had been sitting and left the room. Serin took me downstairs once again. This time she showed me to a large hall. I recognised Jill and John both busily finishing of the preparations for Serin’s party. Alongside them were several other servants that I hadn’t met yet.
“How are things coming along?” Serin asked John as we approached.
“Everything is in hand my lady. We’re just making the finishing touches now. You and Sir Theo can wait to greet the guests.”
“Great. Thank you, John.”
Serin took two glasses of wine from the table that Jill and John were busy filling. She passed me one of the glasses, before taking me by the hand.
“Come on Theo. Let’s wait near the hall entrance and greet the guests.” She said already pulling me along towards the entrance.
“Are you sure I should be greeting them with you? Won’t it look weird, I mean you are the hostess and well I’m not really anyone important. Perhaps I should just hang back here with the staff…”
“No, no. Of course, not! Remember a lot of the people coming are coming to see you. I did say earlier remember?”
“Yeah, you did say that, but…”
“Come on. It will be good for you to meet them as they come in and get to know everyone’s names. Don’t worry, Lillia and Altria will be along shortly. We’ll all greet the guests together.”
I wasn’t exactly happy to be greeting a load of guests that I didn’t know, to a party that well, wasn’t mine. There wasn’t much I could do about it, Serin was set on me standing there with her and the others would be along soon enough, I hoped. Even if some of the people were coming to meet me and the whole thing was to celebrate our party’s success, I still felt awkward about it.
We had barely been stood there waiting for a minute when the double door to the room opened and another of Serin’s servants stepped inside. Behind her were two familiar faces, Altria and Lillia. I was relieved to see them both.
“I present their highnesses Lillia Lithsentine and Altria Ailouros.” Serin’s servant introduced them with a bow, before heading back to the door.
It was the first time that I had heard either of their family names before and the first time I had seen them properly being treated like royalty. This was a more formal situation than normal. Both girls were dressed for the occasion. Altria was wearing a tight fitting and low cut black dress. I had seen her out of her adventuring gear before, but nothing as fancy as this. Then there was Lillia, she was also wearing a dress, hers was a pure white one, matching her pale complexion. It wasn’t quite as tight fitting or revealing as Altria’s, but it still left little to the imagination.
“Good evening both of you. I’m glad to see you both arrived before the rest of our guests.” Serin said welcoming them in the hall.
“Well, you did ask us to.” Answered Lillia.
“I thought this was supposed to be in celebration of our achievement?” Lillia asked.
“Then why do we have to be here early?”
“Well, I thought it would be good for us all to meet the guests together. I thought it might prove a little much for Theo. You know there has been a bit of excitement about this since we returned. If we’re all here together it will take some of the focus from him.”
“I suppose so. He hasn’t had to do many of these events either, not like us.” Lillia said.
Jill seeing that Altria and Lillia had arrived, brought a small tray of drinks over for the pair. Both of them accepted a glass of wine and thanked her before she left to continue making preparations for the party.
Seeing how all of the girls were dressed and the amount of effort that seemed to be going into the night, I really was starting to worry about how much a big deal tonight was going to be. I quickly knocked back the glass of wine I had in my hand. Before I knew it, John had come by and offered me another glass after taking my empty. I’d have to watch myself, it was going to be easy to drink too much in a situation like this. The last thing I wanted was to get drunk and make a fool out of myself in front of important people from the town. People that had come here to see me for the first time.
As the four of us waited at the door, Altria who had stood next to me asked.
“What do you think of my dress?”
“It looks great on you.”
“Thank you.” She said with a smile.
“What about me, don’t I get a compliment too? I don’t often dress like this outside of the capital you know.” Lillia said slightly pouting.
“You look great too. It really suits you. All three of you look beautiful tonight. I hardly know where to put my eyes.”
“You can help me out of it later.” Altria said quietly into my ear leaning over my shoulder.
“Thanks… I’ll be looking forward to that.”
At least that gave me something else to be focused on, rather than just being nervous about meeting the towns dignitaries and people in power. The four of us stood there waiting at the entrance to Serin’s hall ready to meet the guests as they arrived.
I looked around the room while we waited, and it seemed that the staff had finished making the preparations. The tables around the room were all now filled with delicious looking food and drinks. The servants were no longer busy filling the tables, they were now stood at the sides. Each of them carrying trays of drinks ready to serve the guests when finally got here.
It wasn’t long before the guests started to arrive for the party. They were each announced to the room by Serin’s servant as they arrived. All of them were a local noble of some sort, or an official connected to the guild in some way. All of them were female and dressed for the occasion, which was no surprise really. After they were announced we met them at the entrance. Just as Serin had said before they were all keen to meet me. Luckily enough this seemed to be more of a formality and just to satisfy their curiosity. After being served a drink by Jill and little chitchat, they soon went on their way and joined the party behind us.
The hall slowly started to fill as the guests arrived. The room started to hum with conversations and laughter. The four of us were still stood near the entrance, briefly meeting every new arrival. We had been stood there for about thirty minutes perhaps and I was wondering just how long we would have to stand there and wait when another guest arrived. I could tell by the reaction from the others, even before they said anything that this person was important.
“I present lady Lisa Rothering.” Serin’s servant introduced her with a bow.
She had introduced her as lady, but from a first glance she didn’t look to be a noble. She was smartly dressed in a beautiful green dress, but it looked as if she was uncomfortable in such clothes. I could see that she had clearly seen some battle. She was well built, and her left eye had traces of a scar above and below it. She had long flowing ginger hair, with black marks in it. I’d say she was one of the catkin, but there was something slightly different about her than the others of Altria’s kind that I’d met so far.
“Lisa is the guild master of this town.” Lillia quietly whispered into my ear before the woman approached us.
That was why she seemed important, despite not appearing to be a noble.
“Good evening all of you. I’m not late am I Serin?” Lisa asked as she joined us.
“No, not at all. There are still guests yet to arrive, you aren’t the last.” Serin explained.
“Good, good. So how are you all doing? I hope you’ve all recovered since returning from your big quest.”
“Everyone has recovered well, thank you Lisa.” Lillia answered on behalf of the group.
“Great! I hope you will be ready for the next one soon enough. I have a few ideas for where you could head to next. That will have to wait until you have all returned from the capital of course.”
“The capital?” I asked surprised.
“Yes… I assume you are Theo, that I’ve heard so much about?”
“I see. Had you not told him yet?” Asked Lisa.
“No, we were going to tell him tonight.” Explained Lillia.
“I see, sorry. I let the cat out of the bag. Yes, you have all been summoned by the guild masters to the capital. It seems the news of your victory has already spread widely.”
“They want to see us?” I asked.
“They do.” Replied Lisa.