91 Days Until Bribes And the Uncertain End (part 1)
Zeydar sat in the middle of a public dinner, Stars and Circles greeting each other for the fundraiser. It was a feeble attempt to make money and an even more feeble attempt to try to make the rich and powerful feel needed in this time of crisis. This was this terrible attempt at trying to be rich again after Estashia had ripped their money away from them to fund the operation of saving the world. Zeydar supported Endwin’s suggestion to simply tax them all, but Europa and Estashia had overruled it and take it through a mandatory auction and fundraiser. All people had to donate a certain number, far above their taxes. Zeydar figured that it was because it gave them a power of using their money themselves. All the same it felt empty and showy.
“Zeydar Arcadius.” Graceon Phyn spoke from behind Zeydar. Turning, he found the man dressed in, perhaps, his finest. His hair was combed back. His eyes were clear. He wore a black suit, plain and ancient as if he had stepped out of a magazine from hundreds of years ago. He was handsome beyond belief. He had a glass of wine in his hands and stood with the other in his pocket.
“To what do I owe the honor?” Zeydar tried to smile. He stood to shake the man’s hand, but Graceon did not shake it nicely. He gave a limp shake that lasted minutes. They had never been friends, but they had known each other. They were in the same circles and May had been friends with his sister. It was not a good sign.
“A pleasure to see you as well.” He said it in such a way that made Zeydar’s blood chill. There was no smile. Graceon was looking at Zeydar as if he were a threat. It was as if Graceon knew that Evester was looking at Zeydar more than he had to anyone else. This man wanted Evester, and Zeydar had taken that spot. He felt as if Graceon knew that when there was no reason for that.
“Graceon.” Zeydar paused hoping he was wrong. “I want nothing.”
“And why would you assume I have Dreams to offer you?” Graceon asked as he drank wine. Zeydar breathed out in relief. Graceon assumed something different. Graceon did not know of the book Zeydar had brought with him to the banquet.
“What can I do for you?” Zeydar tried again.
“Can I not talk to an old friend of one of my dearest.” The words scrapped at Zeydar, once more making Zeydar doubt.
Zeydar tried to sway the conversation away from what his relationship was too Evester. It was as Zeydar said the next words that he regretted them. “It’s honestly not my fault you didn’t recognize him.” Evester as Aether had said he had dated Zeydar. Evester as Aether had been obsessed with getting back to Zeydar. Evester as Aether had reasons that Graceon did not know, but Graceon knew the lie. It was the wrong set of words.
“Recognize him? I knew it was Evester the moment I laid eyes on him. I simply didn’t know why he was dressed in that way. Then I learned he was searching for you.”There was no way that Graceon had known it was Evester. Zeydar had only known thanks to magic and his eyes. Graceon knew Evester less than that, even if he claimed otherwise. The more that Zeydar believed it, the more he realized that Graceon had known. Graceon had guessed and he was jealous. Even if he didn’t know the truth, he knew the story. And in that story he guessed the truth.
“What can I do for you?” Zeydar did not hold the same power as he had before.
“What can I do for you, you mean.” Graceon corrected. Zeydar cocked an eyebrow waiting for him to continue. He smirked and drank his wine again. “Nothing is for free.”
“Graceon.” Endwin’s voice broke apart their conversation. Graceon looked to Endwin with a pleasant business smile. Zeydar had not needed saving but having Endwin there, made him feel at ease. “How can I help.”
“I was just talking to our mutual friend on the space program.” Graceon answered.
“Everyone is equal once we leave, Graceon. I told you this.” Endwin laughed without any humor.
“Save the Igilistal family, you mean.” Graceon starred directly at Zeydar with the words. He knew. He knew. He knew.
“As if that is a surprise to you.” Endwin tried to get Graceon to walk away.
“We both know how I feel about surprises.” Graceon did not budge as he looked at Zeydar.
“There is not much that Zeydar can do—“ Endwin continued.
“Evester snuck into Valaria for him. There are plenty of things that a Superior can do for me.” There was a threat in the words. He was going to use the relationship. Zeydar had to get away. He could not let Graceon win this round, not without knowing what apparently Graceon knew more about.
“I’m not for sale.” Zeydar smiled at him and then stood with his glass in hand. “Now, I am being called by Marjorie. Have a pleasant night.” And Zeydar left, leaving Endwin to take care of the man he had once claimed friend, even though Zeydar was sure that was not the word for their relationship. In his hand he had the book. He left the party to get back to the Igilistal home alerting Europa before he leaved. He read the book the whole way home, and did not stop until long into the night after the fundraiser had ended. By the time everyone had arrived back at home, Zeydar had read the whole book. He slept in Evester’s bed that night, holding the book to his chest repeating the words again and again, his heart sinking every time he did.