The next day I woke early. Jill had already left without a sound, probably sometime in the night when Altria and I had fallen asleep. She probably had duties to attend to first thing in the morning. Altria hadn’t decided to return to her own room and was still happily sleeping away next to me as I sat up in bed, trying to work out what time it was.
I’d only been up for a couple of minutes when there was a knock at the door. I would have been surprised if Altria had organised someone else to visit in the morning, but I couldn’t rule it out completely. I called out cautiously.
“Hello, who is it?” I asked.
“It’s Lillia, can I come in?” Replied the voice from outside.
“Sure, let yourself in, I’m still in bed.”
Lillia stepped inside and after a quick glance around the room noticed Altria laying there next to me.
“I had a feeling I would find her here, when there was no answer from her room this morning!”
“Yeah, she paid me a surprise visit last night…”
“Honestly, she doesn’t have any sense of decency. This is someone else’s home… Well, I suppose Serin probably expected something like this to happen anyway.”
“Probably.” I replied laughing awkwardly.
“Anyway, you two should get up. Breakfast is going to be served soon and I want us all to talk about heading to the capital tomorrow. I’ll see you downstairs in half an hour.”
“I’ll leave you to sort her out.” Lillia said as she left the room.
As soon as Lillia had left us, I gently woke Altria.
“Huh, Theo?” She said sleepily as she opened her eyes.
“Yeah, it’s me. You slept in my room last night remember?”
“Oh yeah…” She said rolling over and looking at me invitingly.
“As much as would want to, we need to get up. Lillia is expecting us all downstairs in half an hour. I’m going to have a quick shower first.”
“Ehh, okay. Lillia will just complain if we don’t hurry, I suppose.”
“Yeah, it looked that way.”
Altira climbed out of bed and started looking for her dress. While she was doing this, I made my way to the shower. By the time I had finished washing and returned to the bedroom, Altria had left. I supposed she had gone back to her own room to wash and change. After drying off and changing, I decided to head downstairs to find the others. I was met by John at the bottom of the stairs.
“Good morning Theo. The others are waiting for you in the dining room.”
“Morning John. Well, I suppose I shouldn’t keep them waiting any longer.”
“Please follow me.” He said gesturing towards the corridor.
John led me to the dining room, where the others were all sat waiting for their breakfast.
“Morning Theo. Did you sleep well last night?” Serin asked as I joined the group and sat down.
“Yes, thank you. That was the comfiest bed I’ve slept on in a long time.”
“Oh good, I’m glad to hear that.”
As we spoke Jill rolled a trolly full of food into the room. She was once again smartly dressed in her maid uniform, with no sign on her face of anything that happened the previous night. I tried not to stare as she went around placing our food on the table. She tried to stifle a yawn as she finished serving.
“Is every okay Jill? You look a little tired.” Serin asked as Jill went to leave.
“Yes, my lady everything is fine, thank you for your concern.”
“I hope so. Yesterday was quite a long day with all of the preparations and the party. Please make sure you get a chance for a rest after breakfast.”
“I will, thank you.”
With that Jill left the room. It was definitely mine and Altria’s fault if Jill was tired this morning. I felt sorry for her having to start work so early this morning after such a late night.
“I’d like to discuss our plans for the capital.” Lillia announced as everyone tucked into their breakfast.
“What did you have in mind?” Asked Serin.
“I’d like to set out tomorrow. I think it would be good for Theo to witness the bestowing of the summoning rights. We will need to leave in the morning to ensure we are there in plenty of time.” Explained Lillia.
“Okay, I agree that would be good for him to see.”
“What about Theo’s plan to track down his relic?” Asked Altria unexpectedly.
“We can’t have any talk of that whilst we are in the capital.” Cautioned Lillia.
“I know, but I want to arrange a meeting with one of my contacts.”
“As long as you are sure it is safe, but I think it would be best to keep Theo as far away from that as possible for his own safety and make sure they have no idea what the intentions behind your enquiry are.”
“So, apart from the ritual, what else are our plans for the capital?” Asked Serin.
“Well, we will need to visit the capital branch guild master. They are the one that summoned us after all. I doubt we will be able to get away without them wanting to speak to Theo in person.”
“That is the reason they summoned us after all.” Agreed Serin.
“Yes… They want to meet the hero that vanquished the demon officer. Listen Theo, you can’t let anything slip, you can’t even appear to have too many questions. Please understand, your life depends on it.” Warned Lillia.
“I know… I will.” I replied.
“I think we should ensure one of us is present when he talks with them. I think it would be best if it was me… But the guild could refuse me, in that case I would prefer Altria to be present, but she isn’t his summoner so that would cause its own questions. It will have to be you Lillia. Remember you can’t slip up either.” Suggested Serin.
“I know that. I think that all of us will be present.” Explained Lillia.
“That makes me feel a bit better. Just remember not to let your emotions show either. You know what will happen if they think you are too close.”
“Of course, I do.” Lillia answered, her face showing the pain of her previous experiences briefly.
“Good, well what else?” Asked Serin.
“I doubt that any of us will be able to pay a visit to capital without having to meet with our families. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t want to meet with our newest party member either.” Lillia said in between sips of her tea.
“Yes, I suppose that is unavoidable too and Theo is what all the fuss is about right now.” Agreed Serin.
“Is it really that big a deal?” I asked.
“Yes.” All three girls answered in unison.
“You defeated her, while four ranked adventurers couldn’t get near and nothing like this has happened in a long time.” Explained Lillia.
“Oh… But I’m sure it wasn’t me that dealt the final blow.”
“That is something that you should also keep to yourself while we are in the capital.”
We carried on discussing our plans for the capital over breakfast. I was more than a little worried about what was going to happen once we got there. It almost felt like I was heading to the headquarters of my enemy, despite us supposedly being on the same side. Any suspicion that I wasn’t going to do what the guild wanted, or that I was going to try and gain my independence would likely result in my death. I had to wonder what the capital’s guild masters were like. The image in my mind wasn’t a pretty one.
It was late afternoon by the time Altria, Lillia and I left Serin’s grand house. A carriage organised by Lillia rolled up the long driveway to collect the three of us, as Serin saw us off.
“I’ll see you all tomorrow.” She said as we climbed aboard.
Once we were all onboard carriage rolled along Serin’s long driveway and back on to the city streets. We passed through the large city houses until we reached Lillia’s apartment block. Both Lillia and Altria got off here. I wondered where Altria lived, I thought we would be stopping outside her place, but it seemed as if she was going back with Lillia for now.
“We’ll come for you at the adventurer’s guild tomorrow. Make sure you get some rest, we’ll be setting off early.” Lillia instructed as she climbed off.
Once the pair had left the carriage set off again. It didn’t stop again until we reached the bottom of the steps to the guild. I briefly thanked the driver before heading up into the guild building. It was busy inside and it was still a little early for dinner, so I headed up to my room. Once inside I walked over to my bed and slung myself down.