It's The Little Things

   
Aurelia was still at the desk, bent over her journal and scribbling more notes. Since there was no need for it, she'd forgone her beloved suit and wore instead the sort of loose trousers and shirt that were common among her people. Her daggers, however, remained strapped to her wrists.

She'd heard people entering the house and exchanging pleasantries in the main room. Footsteps--not Jasper's, she knew now what those sounded like when he chose to make them--heading their way had her checking the edges of her vision for movement. "Good afternoon," she said a moment before she looked up and gave Helm's Chosen a courteous smile.

"Hi," Samantha smiled warmly back at Aurelia as she walked across the room toward Ruvria to give her friend a hug. "How's your head Aurelia?"

Ruve hadn't even heard anyone come in as she compiled her work and made notes for the Tower. Aurelia had convinced her of something she'd already known - that while she had found some promising leads in the Jamean libraries, she had nothing of real use. Which meant they would need to return to the Tower. She tried not to feel guilty for all those months with Jasper, which had been more self-indulgent than anything else...she knew that now.

But now she had Aurelia to help her, to keep her focused. Jasper was always trying to distract her, to get her away from her books out of some misguided concern for her well-being. Aurelia wouldn't do that, Ruve could tell already. So this was going to be good. This was just what she needed.

Her thoughts were forcefully interrupted as she found herself firmly in someone's embrace. "What - oh." She relaxed and hugged Sam back, marveling at how nice it felt. Maybe she should hug people more often. "Good morning, Sam. Er. Afternoon?"

"Whichever," Samantha hugged her friend tightly and then swung to the side, keeping one arm still around Ruvria to steer her toward the door. "So, your head Aurelia? Derek has a mean punch."

"True enough," the Sria replied, "but, I've had worse--not that I'm particularly eager for a repetition of the event." She wiggled her jaw slightly at the memory. "Miss Tamar was kind enough to patch me up." For which, she was grateful. It was so much easier to think when you didn't have to do it with a splitting headache.

"I'm glad you're feeling well then." Sam had already managed to pull her friend halfway across the room. "Jasper has lunch ready. You too Aurelia; it's break time. I would let you remain in your books, but I'm set to leave in a few hours." Once through the doors, she paused to introduce Ravan to Aurelia and Ruvria just in case.

Jasper chose that time to reappear, slipping plates full of wild greens topped with nuts and pieces of fruit onto the table. "Ah, good. Y'all met. Come and sit, yeah? I'll get the soup." He disappeared again, returning with the bread bowls and a large thing of soup that he put in the center of the table. "Ruve, Aurelia, I think you know the soup. Tell me if I got the spices right. Your people don't believe in exact measurements in old recipes."

Ravan

Ravan eyed Aurelia curiously, his expression neutral. He sat down, looking at the soup, and muttered a surreptitious prayer to Daivat under his breath, his eyes closed. "Thank you for the hospitality." He continued looking at Aurelia. 'So... how do you two know each other?" He asked, looking between Ruve and Aurelia, his tone businesslike.

Ruve looked at the soup, then looked at Jasper, then looked at the soup again. "How exactly did you...get recipes? You don't even speak my - " She suddenly remembered Aurelia - "That is, our language. No one does!"

But she still leaned forward and sniffed the soup. It did smell familiar enough to make her heart ache a little...but there was no way it could be right. Could it?

Then Ravan spoke and she looked up. It was a perfectly reasonable question, but...how much should she tell? She glanced at Jasper again, trying to read his expression. Ravan was clearly here for a reason. He had come here to the Trade Islands following Aurelia, and now Aurelia was an ally. Ravan had every right to be confused, to demand the property he had come for...but he hadn't. He hadn't mentioned anything of the sort yet, which meant Jasper must have talked to him. And now Ravan was here, when they were no doubt going to be discussing Dravin.

Well, Ravan was a hunter of rogue magics. A demon hunter, in point of fact. If he didn't receive the pertinent information now, he would just end up getting it later anyway, if Ruve read Jasper correctly. Not that she was terribly good at reading people. However...

"Aurelia and I share a common racial heritage, although that...er. Might not be readily apparent." Given how much more attractive Aurelia was...but this was not the time for those silly thoughts. "You know I am a Book Trader. Aurelia has been tracking me, for she was led to believe I was responsible for..." Ruve swallowed and bowed her head. "For the massacre of our people - by demons. She has now come to understand I am not, that the real enemy is our common enemy - the demon lord, Dravin."

Ruve shifted her glasses and considered something. "Hmm. Technically, she and I don't know each other, as we had not met before last night. But I trust that at least in part answers your question?"

"Exact measurements are for Outsiders," Aurelia quipped as Jasper laid the food on the table. "We just keep adding spices until it tastes right." She sniffed and smiled as the scents of lemon and warm spice filled her nose. "Smells like the real thing," she added and dished-up. It was a familiar recipe, common among her people. A comfort food. As with most of these kinds of things, everyone you asked would tell you that they had a grandmother or a favorite uncle who made the best version.

She wondered for a moment just how many versions of the dish had been lost with their creators on the Plains.

Samantha wasn't the only visitor, of course. She'd heard two sets of footsteps entering the house, two new voices when Jasper had let them both in. Aurelia looked at the man sitting across from her as he spoke, recognizing him as another Jamean that Ruve and Jasper had both worked with and for in the past. Interesting that he should be here, but convenient, if they could trust him. Who better to help them track and destroy a demon lord than a man who specialized in hunting demons?

Not knowing the man as well as either Ruve or Jasper, Aurelia kept silent while the scholar offered the beginnings of an explanation and watched for his reaction. While she waited, she broke a piece of bread off the side of her bowl and dipped it in the fragrant soup before popping it into her mouth. The taste of black pepper hit her first, so strong it made her eyes water a little and nearly over-whelmed the lemony tang the soup was best known for.

She looked over at Jasper and--catching sight of the small, but hopeful gleam in his eye--found she could not bare to disappoint him. Swallowing, she nodded at the would-be chef. "Good," she said, voice coming out a little hoarse before she could clear it. "Thank you."




 

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