The room was empty, though the map was still in its place on the table. The wisp that Ravaj had promised was waiting, which surprised Pallian somewhat; he had thought that his brother might feel it advantageous to force Pallian to spend the time to search them out. He glanced briefly at the map, then touched a finger to the wisp.
The bright-blue ball of heatless flame darted away, and Pallian followed, down corridors remembered and corridors half-forgotten. The light from the wisp glimmered strangely on the obsidian walls.
It burst into a brief shower of sparks at the doorway to the easternmost dining room. This one was used for small family meals, and the table within -- while laden with food -- was empty save for the Wizard-King and the Heir.
"Father," said Pallian. "Ravaj. May I join you?"
"Yes," said the Wizard-King, without looking up. Pallian took a moment to try to gauge his mood, but his father was expressionless and seemed completely focused on his food, which might mean anything from general contentment to hidden fury.
Ravaj nodded as well. "Come, sit, eat. No doubt you still need nourishment, and will need more yet."
The Wizard-King of Teregor speared a sliver of meat, chewed it, and swallowed. Then he asked: "You chose an initiation?"
Pallian nodded as he seated himself in one of the elegantly-carved chairs and set his pack on the ground beside him. This set of furniture was carved with snakes, twining around each other, fangs exposed; but then, this was one of the family's dining chambers. "Amedin suggested that it would be best to let him tell you of it, but if you ask I will answer."
"Of course," said the Wizard-King, as if he'd never had a doubt of it. It was better this way; Pallian did not want his father to think he was being difficult, either deliberately or accidentally. Certainly not after such a close escape from his scheduled execution.
Pallian filled a plate with food, and set to with an appetite; he had been locked in the Tomb of the Living for a full five days, and Ravaj was right: he needed the nourishment. He would owe his older brother for reminding their father of it, whether Ravaj had intended to help him or not.
He had just emptied the plate and was reaching to fill it again when one of the servants rushed in, stopped abruptly, and then prostrated himself.
"Rise," said the Wizard-King drily.
The man rose to a kneeling position. "I was sent to carry the prince's bags to his chamber. Forgive me, Majesty: I sought him in the library, but the half-dead told me he had already departed."
The Wizard-King eyed Pallian across the table. "You should have left that in the receiving room," he said, eyes narrowing slightly.
"So I see," Pallian replied. "Forgive me, Father. In my hurry to attend you, it did not occur to me."
His father waved it away. "A minor matter. The arrival of the House of Edrias must be our foremost concern now."
Pallian glanced at Ravaj, but his older brother seemed disinclined to speak. So, "How do I help?" he asked.
"Be present, but do not speak unless called upon. Much will depend upon how the House of Edrias conducts itself. Do not react, no matter what is proposed, and be obedient to any order I give."
"Yes, Father." He kept his voice even by an effort of will. You do remember that you were going to kill me for something I couldn't have prevented even if I'd known about it, don't you? "I understand and obey."
"There's the respect I am due." The Wizard-King of Teregor looked, for one brief moment, satisfied.