The dumbfounded crowd all gawped at one another as Luke and I began to tidy dishes from the long table to the kitchen. We slung our eyes downward but kept chins up to not appear suspicious. It made no difference, all eyes were fixed on the now opposing factions within the room. I could taste the confusion and disgust. Nobody had disagreed with the guests of honour outright, nor had they challenged their glorified opinions as Griton and his associates all appeared sober – not to mention their status. The atmosphere was crushing though and Luke and I managed to scuttle away from with all the dishes during the argument that flared almost as soon as the second serum took effect.
Roaring accusations and bitter distrust erupted. Griton tried to assume command of the situation but found his efforts silenced by his former underlings. The new power rose up and the old truths of war and disgrace were slung in the face of Dr. Taryn first. His questionable credentials and murky practices were at last spoken of aloud. The pompous doctor buckled in seconds, rushing from the dining hall under a hail of jeers and taunts. Dene and Mulaar both fell on the chopping block next, being counterparts in the cabinet. Both men attempted to hide behind the pretence of their power but once the mob had tasted blood there was no hope for them. Mulaar and Dene walked out together, followed in short order by Miel. The so-called Lady Bethoe left before the abusive truth could be wielded against her, which left Griton. He was no fool, he had known all along that his power was based on betrayal and right then he knew that he himself had been betrayed. The shock of it all didn’t give him time to make any connection with myself and Luke. He had no doubt about how good the food had tasted, that was self-evident, but once the accusations began to flow it was no longer about the food, it was about the past and all the sins and the blood.
Luke and I left through the kitchen before finding out what happened to Griton. We rushed home without stopping at Zarinah’s and opened a bottle to celebrate. Wine, without the serum, had never tasted so sweet. It was as if we had drank down all the serum in the world first. I don’t think we spoke to each other that whole night. We just sat up at the window and looked out across the rooves of the capital toward the ocean. The distant waves sang in the distance, as if for us. As if to praise us and congratulate us and share in the moment with us to somehow enjoy some of our glory. It is a moment frozen in my memories. A crux. A caged bird whose song only I can hear.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey