Episode 33: A Good Meal (Intermission)

      Sionis hadn’t spoken for some time, instead tending to his noodles on the stove.

      “You okay?” Vestria asked, glancing up at him.

      “I am,” Sionis answered. “I just wish I had more to say. Truth be told, it was all so sudden and immediate. After that day… it was just… over. The war, the death… the loss.”

      “I see.”

      “You expect it to be more fulfilling, I guess,” Sionis continued. “You think it’ll come down to you and the villain. I was a soldier that day. I did what I was told. I had a drive for survival and a hunger to escape the certain death that loomed over us all. I can’t even recall, with the best of my ability, the injuries I sustained, or the food I ate that night. It’s all a blur of blood and chaos. I marched, I fought, and then I was granted the fortune of being one of the few that lived.”

      “I’m so sorry,” Vestria said. “I’ve heard about this event from others that I spoke with. There are so few that survived that original battle at the Grid. Those that did… well you know what happened at Vers…”

      Sionis stiffened. “I do.”

      “Right. I guess we’ll get to that at some point.”

      “Indeed,” Sionis said, messing with his noodles again. “Dinner is nearly done.”

      “Dinner?” Vestria asked. She looked outside and nearly gasped. The sun was indeed approaching the horizon and the early evening was upon them. She couldn’t believe it. She hadn’t eaten anything in hours, and it was only now in this moment that she realized how desperately hungry she was.

      “You’ll be glad you waited,” Sionis said, seemingly reading her mind. “It’s worth it.”

      The Flamecaller whirled around and drained the noodles, then set them in a large bowl and started adding chopped vegetables and broth. The meal smelled so good that Vestria was fairly confident she had started drooling. She reminded herself never to wait so long for a meal again.

      Everything Sionis had said about the Battle at the Grid… it had all been so visceral and real. All through the delicious meal, Vestria couldn’t help but feel like she had somehow absorbed some of the shock that Sionis had lived through during the conflict. She found her mind circling back to the absolute apocalypse that had fallen on Lederan and how impossible it must have felt to live through that darkness each day.

      “This is wonderful,” she said, ignoring her thoughts and focusing on the food.

      “That’s why you starve your guests before you feed them,” Sionis said with a grin. “You can feed them an absolutely mediocre meal and they’ll think they’ve been given a meal fit for the King of Stonehaven.”

      “Sionis, I gotta tell you, I’m moved by your story.”

      “I would hope so,” Sionis replied.

      “I mean it. I came here for facts. I expected to sit here and coldly transcribe what you tell me, record it, and eventually bind it and use it. It has always been so mechanical, but with this… with you…”

      “I’m very personable,” Sionis said, smiling. “It could be the food, too.”

      Vestria laughed. “I suppose that’s fair. I’ve not had many of my interviews mixed with food.”

      “So,” Sionis said, slapping his hands on his legs. “We’re through the darkest part, and honestly I’m not super keen to go to sleep on a bad note. How about we talk about what came next, shall we?”

      “Are you sure?” Vestria asked. “It’s late. I wouldn’t want to—”

      “I’m afraid I have to insist on this one,” Sionis answered.

      “Well, I’m more than willing,” Vestria replied, wiping her mouth, setting her leftover broth aside, and tapping her mechanical quill to wake it up. “So, tell me then, what happened after the war?”

      “It got better,” Sionis said, crossing his arms, “but we had one more hurdle to clear first.”


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