The Fourth Glass
The familiar ‘pling’ of the doorbell causes me to panic. I grab my phone; 18:30. I said seven sharp, dammit. I even underlined the time of arrival. Swedish etiquette states you’re always ten minutes early but that you, politely of course, circle the building for some odd twenty minutes. So why are they early?
I inhale, and in doing so I detect two scents. Dried blood and expensive wax. The first is Kai Blut and the latter is Pontus Malmberg. I open the door, greeting them, with not quite the neutral face that I’d like to have. I gesture to the hangers and the special shelf for shoes. Pontus draws one hand through his long blond hair, hair kept under an orange knitted cap and his eyes crinkle. “I know what you’re thinking”, he says with a drawl.
“That so?” I ask, nonplussed. “You’re upset that we’re early”, Kai adds. “But”, he continues in the same breath as he removes his black muffler,”it’s for a good purpose.” “Yeah we thought that the boys of the class could have a toast, or two before the girls get here. On account of there being so many more of them”,Pontus tangents. I get the definite impression that they have rehearsed this routine earlier.
“Sure”, I state with not too much rancor and lead them to the living room. Now living room might not be the best term for it, because it is also where I have my bed, a sofa, a large table and, where I keep my computer and the wide-inch screen that Greyscale insisted on buying. The room is rectangular, with my bed on the right short end, the sofa at the right long end, the television screen directly infront of the sofa and the table in the middle. The left long end is half glass, with a door that leads to the balcony.
We plonk down in my sofa, this old leather thing that Greyscale managed to get somewhere, which he repeatedly claims hasn’t been peed on by any cat. I sure hope that is true. I think that is true. Probably. In the time I have been thinking, Pontus have placed four small glasses on the table and a bottle containing an amber liquid, a bottle with a Mexican label./Odd, that./ What? /The bottles. There are three of you, yet four glasses./ Who knows? Maybe Pontus will doubletime a shot. His break-up with Hannah might have hurt more than I thought?
Pontus fills three of the glasses with the burnished liquid. We each grab one. “To our host, may his eye-patch look as badass fifty years from now”, Pontus salutes, and we all drink. I splutter and cough. Fire, it feels like I have downed undiluted fire down my throat. “There, there”, Pontus says with a smile in his voice, while patting me. “Next one”, Kai exclaims, promptly filling the three glasses again. This time it stings, but I am better prepared. A warm sensation spreads through my stomach and I lean back against the couch.
“So anyone care to tell me what the deal is with the fourth glass?” Kai is suddenly taking a call on his phone, and Pontus pours himself a third glass.”Ehrm…”, he begins, motioning for my glass, my third shot. “… this your party”, he reiterates.I nod, simultaneously experiencing a certain vertigo. Why is that I don’t think I am going to like what comes next? I frown. Are they trying get me drunk? I remove the glass from my mouth and place it back on the table, where it belongs.
“… and the thing is…” Pontus’ mumbling ends. There is a knock on my door. “IinivitedErim.” He utters the sentence so quick that it takes me a moment or two decipher it. I.Invited.Erim. There is a second ominous knock on my door. You have got to be kidding with me….
I peek through the peep hole. Oh yea. There is only one person in Fallowfell who has a mohawk, a mohawk which now is pink. Alright. You can do this Rune, I tell myself. You have got Aspergers; you spend half your time being polite to people you neither like nor understand. I open the door and take a step back.
“Hey… Rune, was it?” “Rune it is”, I say and incline my head towards the living room, where Pontus have poured himself a fourth shot. Taking it as his cue, Erim steps in. Kai, that traitor, exits the kitchen joins us. “Here”, Pontus says, giving him the fourth glass.
“Be right back”, I voice out loud, searching for an excuse that will buy me time,” I am going to hit the loo”. All of the guys nod.
I close the door to the bathroom gently, grab a towel and I stuff it into my mouth. And then I scream. Why would Pontus invite that asshole? Even worse, now that I have tacitly approved, I can’t kick him, out can I? /In doing so you would be the asshole./ I remove the towel and splash some water on my face.
I check the time on my phone. Twenty minutes. In twelve-hundred seconds, the girls will be here. Until then I have to endure. Persevere. I open the bathroom-door and enter the fray.
With the push of his index-finger, Hermann terminates the call. He places his phone on the desk, and marvels at the sense of emptiness in the villa. While Rune never made much of racket, there were still the occasional noises a teenage boy produce.
And now it’s silent.
He shakes his head. There will be a time for contemplation later. Now he needs to send messages. The news that the Council has sent Tam Linn to Fallowfell is too important to neglect.
All over Fallowfell, the select supernaturals denizens who Hermann informs all react differently.
Perenelle Flamel locks herself into a closet and won’t leave it, no matter how Richard Corazon begs.
Gomagog roars and shatters a large piece of mountainside.
Merith clucks her tongue disapprovingly in an ages-old gesture.
Greyscale stares in the direction of one of the Places of Power, where he has buried a Seed of a World-Tree, wondering about the future and the provisions he has made. One way or the other, there can be no going back. He just hopes that hasn’t doomed Fallowfell.