The rest of the meal passed without much excitement. About
the most interesting thing that happened was when a live fly flew
out of Marc's salad, and he, guessing that it was in truth his
antidote, had to jump up from his seat (raising a large dust
cloud) to catch it, and shoved it voraciously into his mouth. I
couldn't wait to tell Norran about that....

After the dessert course most of the people at the table
stayed for coffee and conversation. Knillington ordered a servant
to bring two drinks for us, which was almost immediately done. He
offered Harlton some coffee, who refused grumpily, murmuring that
he was allergic. The drinks were served in silver goblets inlaid
with a single tree. The design looked strangely familiar.
"Knillington-what's this tree on the cup?" I slurred. The
lights seemed dimmer than usual, and my head felt heavy.
"It's the symbol of the royal family-the oak. There's a
very long and very boring fable behind it, but I think words could
be used in more useful ways than it's retelling." He replied.
"I agree!" I said, possibly a little too loud. The Prince
heard me, and looked over.
"Did you enjoy your first meal here?" he asked. "If not,
I'm sure I could talk to the kitchen staff, they'd be happy to
make you something-"
"No, I'm full, it was all very good." I assured him. The
jewels inlaid on his armbands were glinting loudly at me, and it
was surprisingly distracting.
Knillington looked me over. "Aurine, I think it'd be wise
for you to go to bed."
"No, I'm fine! Not tired at all," I said. I attempted to
find some sort of complicated hand motion to further convey my
awake state, but in doing so knocked my goblet over and nearly
toppled off my chair into Knillington's lap.
"Maybe I am a little tired," I conceded.

I was more than a little tired. In fact, I hardly made it back
to my room in the student's wing. If the Prince hadn't escorted me
back to my room (I didn't want him to - I wasn't feeling energetic
enough to put up with his strange social quirks, but he insisted.) I
probably would have fallen asleep right in the hallway. My every
thought seemed to consist of how nice a soft bed would feel. I barely
was able to follow the Prince's idle chatter. I'd just nod every now
and then, and add helpful comments like "Really?" and "Oh" on
occasion. I hardly even noticed when we finally reached the student
wing and my room, and he kissed me goodnight politely on the hand. My
thoughts were already inside the room. Once in the room, I didn't
even bother undressing. My last thought before I sunk into my pillow
was the fleeting worry that I hadn't found any lint, or gristle, or
fly, or anything resembling an antidote in my meal.