Conversation among the room’s unique occupants became lighter in nature as it continued. Algar further dispelled ogre stereotypes while discussing favorite plays and literature with the vampires. Ian shared the odd custom from his world of women coloring their nails with paint stored in tiny glass buckets. This somehow transitioned to Albert announcing he’d started work on an invention that would record music and people’s voices onto a flat disk and enable both to be listened to whenever one desired. Sylvia entered and made a hasty beeline for the table still littered with dainty teacups and plates with crumbles of scones. Her impatient power walk halted upon taking in the sheer normalcy and good spirits of everyone.
Gwendoloena turned from her debate with Simone and Meriall over what color they would paint their fingernails if given the opportunity and nodded a hello. “Finally decided to leave that dusty library and join us, my dear?” She lifted the silver platter toward her. “I made sure a few scones stayed unnibbled for you and and I believe there’s still some tea left as well.”
Stepping closer only to come in normal speaking distance, Sylvia rose a brow and wrinkled her nose at the platter as if it bore a mound of earthworms. She darted her eyes back to the smiling fanged hostess. “Did you ask him if he has it?”
“Not yet.” Gwendoloena rested the platter back on the table’s edge. “There were other matters to discuss first.”
“You’ve all been in here for over an hour now drinking tea and stuffing your faces!” Sylvia yelled her words out with a gigantic eye roll. “What could you possibly be discussing that’s more important?”
“Sylvia!” Though a zombie, Albert still managed to project his own voice from across the room quite well. “No niece of mine should take such a rude and haughty tone with anyone! Such an outburst is unbecoming for a young lady!”
“It’s alright, Albert.” Gwendoloena held up a reassuring hand to him. “I’ve gathered from earlier that our young lady here is simply one who favors action over discourse. Though my dear,” she turned back to Sylvia, “you will find as you gain years and wisdom that sometimes talking and listening is more preferable to jumping into things.” She formed the hand into a light fist to rest her chin on as she leaned on the table. “And what our new guests here needed most before delving into larger problems was a moment for them to relax after their ordeal and for us to become better acquainted with them. But, you are correct that we have another important matter to attend to.” She pivoted her chin on the fist pedestal to turn toward the other side of the table. “Ian, while you were away, Sylvia and my guard Vandalarius surmised that you may be in possession of a very special paperweight of sorts. Did you happen to come across any unusual rocks that look like puzzle pieces before your accidental journey to our world?”
Despite having long devoured his scones and tea, Ian suddenly looked like he might choke at the question. Without saying a word, his eyes slowly drifted down to one of the pockets in the strange blue leg armor he called jeans.