Aurora – Chapter 13 (Part 2)

[19th of December, 2740 AD; Falconet Open Air Patio, Glora, Ahnlikohn]

 

Dusk fast approached as Henry entered the restaurant with Tori and Fercewend. Henry entrusted the care of the two sons to Fercewend’s daughter back at the hotel, so Henry did not have to worry about them for the night. Now was the time for the three to socialize and meet with several other members of the Ameci government and military.

“Thank you for taking us here,” Henry said to Fercewend. “Tori and I really appreciate it.”

“It’s not at all a problem for me,” Fercewend replied. “I should be thanking you instead.”

“You know, Rohan, it must be tough,” Tori said. “Was there no way for your wife to come along?”

“Believe me, I wished she was here,” Fercewend replied. “I don’t say this out loud, but it can get tedious having to deal with the same people over and over, day after day. My lovely wife often consoles me during such times, but she too has her duties to fulfill for Ameci and can only attend with us in spirit.”

“Sometimes you have to make a sacrifice,” Henry said. “At least you were able to bring Ari along.”

“Yes, she’s been begging me to take her on my trips,” Fercewend said. “Fortunately for my daughter, her school is on break, though the studying doesn’t stop for her.”

“I guess work doesn’t stop for the Fercewends, does it?” Tori asked.

“Work hard for the sake of others,” Fercewend replied. “That’s the family motto; it’s been that way for many generations.”

He led Henry and Tori to a table that overlooked the outer limits of the city and into the forests. The view was nice, to be sure, yet Henry focused himself on the ongoing conversation with Fercewend. As he and Tori sat on the other side and faced the general, Henry picked up the small menu laying on the table and began to peruse it.

“Do you have anything in mind, Henry?” Tori asked.

Henry thumbed through the pages of the menu. “Well, I don’t want to drink anything too strong,” he said. “It would be very unbecoming of me if I ended the night much looser than when I entered.”

Fercewend laughed as he set down his menu. “It’s your vacation, Henry, so you can live a little,” he replied. “I am certain that it wouldn’t hurt for you to have at least one drink.”

“That’s easy for you to say, Rohan,” Henry said. “You don’t have to worry about getting drunk because you still have to work.”

“Perhaps it is,” Fercewend said. “I must say, though, that you do seem a bit more tense than you were earlier today. Is something the matter?”

“You’re just imagining things,” Henry replied.

“Now that you mention it, he has been a little off,” Tori said. “You aren’t too worried about the boys, are you?”

Henry shook his head and looked down into the menu again. “That’s not it all, my dear,” he said. “I’m not worried about them, nor am I worried about Ari’s ability to handle them.”

“She’s the president of her school’s student council,” Fercewend said. “Ari’s surely watching over your sons with ease!”

“See? They’ll be okay,” Tori said.

“I told you it’s not about them,” Henry said. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Fercewend said. “Although, I think I know now what it is that’s concerning you. Yes, it’s clear now.”

He leaned in and stared at Tori, who was confused as she grabbed Henry’s arm. Henry was just as perplexed as she was as he wondered what his friend was going to say next.

“Well, it must be stressful having to travel overseas,” Fercewend said. “Especially when you’ve got a little one on the way to worry about. Indeed, that must be the reason why you’re so high strung, Henry. You’re worried about her and the baby!”

“Yes, it does get a little stressful,” Tori said.

“Fortunately, we should be able to get through it,” Henry said. “I’m sure that the baby will be healthy and whatnot.”

“I’m glad to hear you sound confident,” Fercewend replied. “Guess that’s all that I really needed to hear.”

Henry exhaled. “Guess so.”

The silence that followed proved to be unbreakable. Henry knew that there was no denying what just happened: the atmosphere in Ahnlikohn was different now and it was starting to affect Fercewend. There was no way to prove this, of course, but there was no mistake in Henry’s mind. However, it would have to be discussed later, as now everyone was ready to order. With nothing else to talk about, Henry decided to place his order and let the time pass for now.

 

*****

 

The full course dinner was something to behold. Henry and Tori were treated to some of the finest dining that Glora had to offer, and to Henry, the food did not disappoint. From the prime cut of steak to the seared duck, it was a dinner to remember for certain. Henry sat back in his chair and looked over the balcony as Tori did the same.

“Looks like you’re in much higher spirits,” Fercewend said to Henry. “I am glad to see that.”

“It was a good meal,” Henry replied.

“Indeed, it certainly was,” Fercewend said. “It should be about time for us to ask for the check and head out, don’t you think?”

“That sounds good to me,” Tori said.

“I can pay for the whole thing,” Henry said. “You’ve been nothing but nice to us, Rohan, so I think I should return the favor.”

“Nonsense!” Fercewend replied. “What’s the harm in treating my friend and his wife to a fancy meal? I’ll pay for it.”

Henry chuckled and reached for his wallet. “Please, let me take of it, my friend,” he said. “There’s more important things for you to worry about than having to write this down in your pocketbook, right? Let me handle the check for you, I insist!”

“Put your wallet back right now, Henry Randolph,” Fercewend said. “There is no reason for you to burden yourself with such a hefty check, now is there? You don’t need to worry about me in the slightest, because I’ve got this whole thing covered!”

“Henry, maybe you should just let him pay,” Tori said. “After all, it’s not that big of a deal about who pays.”

“Maybe so,” Henry said, “But I’d feel much better if I took responsibility.”

A jovial voice filled the scene. “Gentlemen, gentlemen, what seems to be the issue?”

Henry, Tori, and Fercewend turned and saw Isaac Kunigunde approach the table. He was with Crawford and Casper Bradley, who were dressed up in their three-piece suits. Without hesitation, Henry and Tori stood up and greeted the acting president and his son, as well as Isaac. Fercewend followed up with the same greeting as he sat back down.

“I didn’t expect to see you here, sir,” Fercewend said to Casper. “I assume talks are going well?”

“Now why would you ask me about work off the clock?” Casper asked. “Me and my son just decided to have a nice dinner with a good friend. Guess you had the same idea in mind, general.”

“Oh yes, yes indeed,” Fercewend said.

Isaac grinned. “That much is true,” he said. “Never in a million years did I think that you would pull yourself out of the gutter, Mr. Randolph, but I guess even life provides a few surprises.”

“Wow, thanks,” Henry replied as he turned to Bradley. “You seem to be doing well for yourself, commander.”

Bradley smirked and giggled. “Yes, yes I do,” he said. “So, you and your wife, Mr. Randolph… I guess she’s coming along nicely, huh? She… she does it for you well, I wonder, when you two go at it? Geez, I think I’m seeing a little more than usual here… Woah, better put a lid on that one, Henry, because she could blow at any second!”

He broke out into laughter as he fell against Isaac, who wrapped his arms around him. Casper sighed and shook his head.

“That was completely uncalled for,” Tori said.

“Commander, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I demand that you apologize to her and I right now,” Henry said. “Such comments are unbecoming for someone of your stature.”

“Excuse him, Mr. Randolph,” Isaac replied. “He’s a tad loose from all the fun he had with his pals earlier.”

Henry stood up. “Whatever he did earlier doesn’t excuse his remarks,” he said. “There are standards in the Ameci military and I know that General Fercewend would agree with what I’m saying.”

“Mr. Randolph, it’s not worth it,” Casper said. “We were just passing by and wanted to say hello. There’s no real reason for you to have a little spat with my son, isn’t that right, general?”

“That’s right, right?” Bradley asked. “I’m just… I’m just having a little fun out here, aren’t I? Why do you gotta make me the bad guy… Mr. Randolph? Why do ya?”

Fercewend looked over to the side and remained silent.

“Rohan, you know what to say,” Tori said.

“Don’t forget, General Fercewend,” Isaac said. “You remember what was said earlier in the week, do you not? We’ve still got a job to do, so I think you should dismiss your friends here and let us get down to business.”

A resigned sigh followed as Fercewend looked over to Henry. “I think it would be for the best if you and Tori left,” Fercewend said. “It seems as if my work isn’t finished.”

Henry stared at Fercewend, as it felt as if time had stopped. There was a complete loss of words on Henry’s part as he did not want to believe what had just happened. This, however, only served to confirm what Henry had feared as he found it harder to look Rohan in the eyes. With disbelief in his heart, Henry turned to Tori and motioned for her to leave with him. She got up and left with Henry as the two just wanted to leave the restaurant as fast as they could. Once outside, Henry took out his frustration on a nearby trash can. He was about to kick it over when Tori stopped him.

“Henry, I think it’s about time we headed back to the hotel,” Tori said. “It’s not that far of a walk.”

Henry regained his composure and faced Tori. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I was almost about to lose it back there… I still can’t believe what just happened.”

“Henry…”

“Damn it, what is Rohan even thinking?” Henry asked.

“I know,” Tori replied. “But there’s not much that we can really do right now, is there?”

“I want to believe that Rohan was just stressed and that Bradley was just drunk, but that whole encounter really made me mad,” Henry said. “I couldn’t even begin to imagine what would happen if it continued for much longer…”

“Listen to me, Henry,” Tori said as she rested both of her hands on Henry’s arms. “Please get a hold of yourself!”

“You should be angry, Tori,” Henry replied. “I’ve heard many things about Crawford Bradley, but they were mostly second- and third-hand accounts. I’m an idiot for not seeing through him sooner!”

“I’m upset, too,” Tori said. “I’m upset at all of them, even Rohan, for not doing anything… But I don’t want you to lose your head over it. That’s not the Henry I know.”

“What the hell are we going to do, though?” Henry asked.

“Let’s go back for now,” Tori said. “Tomorrow we can go talk to Rohan.”

“You’re right,” Henry said. “I guess I did lose my cool a bit, didn’t I?”

“It’s fine,” Tori replied. “Besides, this is our vacation. We don’t have to stay here if we don’t want to. There’s a whole region to see.”

“If things sour here, then I guess I wouldn’t mind going with you and the boys to the Iiayi countryside,” Henry said.

Tori smiled. “Let’s make a note of it, then.”

Henry agreed and proceeded to walk with Tori back to the hotel where their sons were. Still, it was difficult for Henry to shake the reality of what had happened back at the restaurant. It felt more fitting of a bizarre dream that just made no sense, yet it all played out in front of Henry’s eyes. He and Tori were sure to speak with Fercewend tomorrow morning, though Henry was not sure if he would even be able to crack the seemingly impossible barrier that now existed between the two of them.

 

To be continued…

 

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