It was increasingly difficult to find conversation; even more difficult than being taken seriously when he was shorter than a 5-year-old Sephi. He was hardly noticed, shunned from most noble conversations, and disregarded as a typical Aleena. ‘But perhaps they do not know who I am,’ Corvus thought. ‘Perhaps it is time to formally announce myself.’
As he had meandered through the great hall, he’d noted how most of the Odanites grouped together at the bar, or stuck to the walls. Some, like Edgar, had entered as quite a high-standing figure, and so had managed to accumulate a fair number of nobles around him and Zoya. Most others stuck together, but that was to be expected. The Rollmaster had considered running some of those annoying ice-breaker activities, such as the ‘Dance with someone you don’t know!’ or ‘Let’s improvise this situation to break everyone out of their shells’, but then he had remembered that he detested those fracking things with a passion. The trick was to get them to mix naturally, without provocation.
‘What’s natural to Odanites?’ Corvus thought. ‘Ah, I know just the thing.’
Just then, Seraphol’s clear voice rang out above the din, “Fellow members of Clan Odan-Urr, let’s toast those you have fallen and let us never forget their sacrifices!” And a solemn cheer arose from Jedi and Sephi alike. Perhaps Corvus didn’t need to do anything at all.
Well, he did need to do something other than move around everyone’s knees, and avoid looking up the ladies’ fluted skirts. He continued moving toward the Majordomo. Attendees were still arriving, so his attention was directed outside, and he was most shocked when Corvus tugged lightly at his coat like a lost child.
“Excuse me sir,” Corvus began. “I’d like to be formally announced. Here’s my invitation. I’m Corvus Corax, Rollmaster of Odan-Urr.”
“Do you seek to trick me, sir? I’ve seen you in the kitchens before, so I don’t think that you’re a Jedi. I politely request that you stop distracting me, and perhaps I won’t tell the Cook.” Corvus wondered how that may have been worded if they’d met on the street rather than in the anteroom of the Palace.
Corvus’ brow creased ever so slightly. He pulled a lone coin from his pocket, and let the man see it, a frown deepening on his face.
“You seek to bribe me, sir? On the Empress’ doorstep? How very dare–” He started to motion over of the guards, but froze as the coin floated up and touched his nose. The coin moved upwards, touching the space in between his eyebrows. The coin gently rested there until the man’s frown disappeared. Then quick as a flash, the coin flew back into Corvus’ hand. “I apologise if I have startled you, good sir. I only wished to prove my identity. Could you please read this card, please.”
“Very good, sir. I apologise.” He turned to the hall, and proclaimed, “Corvus Corax, Rollmaster of Clan Odan-Urr. Due to his diminished stature, the honourable gentleman announces that he will be spending most of this evening by the main hearth, should anyone want to talk to him.”
That last part hadn’t been written on the card. The Majordomo seemed to have been offended by the coin-trick, and obviously hadn’t read Corvus’ sincerity in his apology. No matter - if they saw him as lonely, then he would plunge straight into proceedings. Corvus put on his most humbled, yet jovial smile as he descended the stairs.
One noble lady approached fairly quickly, “Master Corax, how wonderful for you to arrive! I’ve been meaning to speak with you.”
Corvus bowed, “My Lady. How may I help you?”
“It’s come to my attention that some of the younger nobles have had the idea to spread rumours that there is a group of powerful nobles against Odan-Urr’s presence. I’d like to assure you that this is a complete fabrication. We trust the Empress’ word, completely.”
Corvus mused this over, turning a coin over and over in his hand. “Complete trust can be dangerous to admit, my lady. I doubt that that trust has no limits. Nevertheless, I thank you for the information - I will take it onboard for whenever I get my reports.”
“You’re welcome, sir. Perhaps you would like me to introduce you to my friends?”
“I would love to, but may I acquire a drink, first?”
“Of course, we’ll still be here.”
“Thank you, my lady.”
Corvus started making his way towards the bar, where he would join the other members of his Clan. As he approached, Edgar came to speak with him in low tones. “Corvus, before I forget, there could be potential trouble. Probably not here tonight, but in future. I’ve been informed by a young Sephi woman that there is a group of powerful nobles that not only plot against us but also the crown.”
Internally, Corvus groaned. Externally, he nodded, “I see. Thank you, Edgar, I’ll keep it in mind.”
“Beg pardon, but you don’t seem surprised or worried about it.”
“At the moment, I’m not - I’m more puzzled. A moment ago, I was told that the young Sephi were spreading rumours to us for fun. However, rumours of this importance, must be given some credence. I’ve known about some dissent within the populace, but not within the aristocracy. I’ll look into it. But for now, let us enjoy the evening.”
Corvus accompanied the Aedile to the bar. When he glanced over, the woman he had talked to earlier and her group had disappeared; moved on. ‘Strange’, he noted.
He looked toward the great doorway and allowed himself some free thought. He thought that usually at these functions, he wouldn’t be alone to walk the floor among knees, but rather, he would stand on the shoulder of Mar. For the first time, he wished that the Proconsul would arrive soon, so he could stand atop the crowd, instead of under it. That said, he would have to endure his continuous preaching about crusading and heretics. I guess that’s the price for having a free vehicle.
“What drink would you like, sir?” The bartender inquired.
“Have you got any scotch?”