Aran de Lahore reseated himself slowly, stealing a glance at the woman across the dinner table. He saw her eyes widen as she looked directly at him. Aran suppressed a tired sigh. Within the familiar surroundings of the Library, it had been a long time since he had received such a look. Most scholars were accustomed to his disfigured face. There were days he hardly thought of it himself.
Today the look added to his melancholy and he wished in vain that he had found some excuse not to attend dinner. But it had been the new caretaker’s first dinner with his senior staff. And there had been the rumours of the new lady scholar of Asuria. Both reasons had drawn him here.
“Lady Kira Marash, let me introduce you to my most senior member of staff and head of the department of History, Professor Aran de Lahore.” Rannol’s formal introduction brought back order to the dinning table.
Aran inclined his head and produced a smile that did not convey any sense of smiling at all.
“Most enchanted,” he spoke with only the right side of his mouth moving. “I fear our table will not compare to Asurian cuisine, but I sure hope we will make the effort.”
Kira smiled. “I cannot wait to taste local cuisine, My Lord, I find Asurian cuisine highly overrated.”
“Indeed!” Aran raised his one eyebrow. “I presume we all learn to get accustomed to our own national dishes and like them less for that. The Library offers food from all over the Federation but little from beyond its borders. It was been years since I tasted your nation’s food and I have fond memories of it.”
“You have travelled to Asuria?” Kira’s suprise was evident.
“Indeed I have, even if was a long time ago.” His voice trailed off as if Aran drifted into some long lost memory.
Another silent unsettled the diners and it was with a great deal of relief that they all turned to the doors when they opened and servants arrived with the first course.
As the servants left the room, Rannol gestured towards the man seating directly across the table from him.
“And this, My Lady Kira, is my Keeper of Documents, Salu of Styria.”
-> go to part 8: The Keeper of Documents