Snippet #2790303

located in Fódlan, a part of Fire Emblem: Apotheosis, one of the many universes on RPG.

Fódlan

A continent divided into three different factions: The Adrestian Empire, The Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and the Leicester Alliance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Senka Rinaldi Character Portrait: Amalthea von Kreuz Character Portrait: Mercer von Riegan Character Portrait: Cyril Eisner Character Portrait: Vridel von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Sorcha Blaiddyd Character Portrait: Jeralt's Journal
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I.Y. 1186 - Great Tree Moon - Friday the 18th
Goneril Territory - Late Evening - Cool
Cyril Eisner


The first couple days of marching had been largely uneventful. A couple of small skirmishes, but for the most part, Duke Goneril's lands had been bypassed as the imperial army made a straight shot for the capital, so there weren't a lot of forces here. They'd been moving carefully nevertheless, not wanting to be caught by a scout group who could run a message to the forces occupying Gloucester's territory. Hopefully, House Ordelia would be willing to mop up behind once their own territory was liberated on this march, because otherwise they were going to hit the bridge only to be flanked from behind.

He had no doubt that concerns like this were heavy on everyone's minds, and it was with this in his thoughts that he'd hatched a plan with Senka: though by this point dinner was made for the army in small groups, he proposed that the two of them cook for their friends, including Duke Goneril, and eat dinner as a group again.

There was no mistaking that in some ways, the five years between the end of their academy time and now had strained things a great deal, but even now Cyril could tell just from watching them all that the bonds were still there. Rusted, maybe, or buried by years, but strong beneath that. Sure. And he thought it was worth trying to rediscover those. They worked best when everyone supported each other, after all, not merely in the physical sense that came about on battlefields, where they'd never been more effective, but outside of it also. Emotionally, among other things.

It was hardly the work of a day, but that was exactly why it was best to take one day at a time, and go slowly. Everyone had to eat anyway; they might as well do it together, and let others take care of pitching the extra tents or doing the equipment checks for once. There would be plenty of time to fret over those things later.

To this end, He and Senka had commandeered a corner of the mess tent, laying out their dishes on the table for everyone to serve themselves freely from, and at some point today he'd talked to each individual person, to make sure they knew the invitation was personal, and from him. He expected they'd be willing to put aside a bit of time for their former Professor, after all.

Mercer was the first to arrive, glancing back and forth between the food and Cyril. He grinned at the two of them, causing Senka to arch a brow. “Am I allowed to actually serve myself or do I have to wait for the others to not be smacked," he spoke, referencing to something that happened years ago. When Senka had smacked his hand when he tried to serve himself some pastries in Reynard's home. She rolled her eyes softly at him.

“Do what you want, Mercer. I promise I'm not going to smack your hand this time. Just... don't eat until the others are here, alright? That way we can all enjoy it together," she spoke, offering Mercer a small smile. He snorted softly, though, and nodded his head.

“Yes, mom," he spoke, causing her brows to furrow and her eyes to narrow. “And I'm not falling for that. I'm going to wait for someone else to try and get food before I do," he added. Senka shrugged.

“Suit yourself."

Vridel walked in next, deep purple circles beneath his eyes. It was hard to say why the march seemed especially taxing on him, except that his general health seemed to be in decline. Cyril knew well what that meant, or might mean, but it wasn't the kind of thing one could simply ask about like it was nothing.

Unlike Mercer, he seemed to have no wariness about dishing himself some of the food. “I swear it's been five years since I had this and I almost died," he said wryly, scooping himself some of Cyril's spiced rice pilaf. “Brigid food is excellent, don't get me wrong, but still." He readily took a seat, but despite his apparent enthusiasm, did not immediately tuck in.

“There's enough for seconds, if you want, Vridel," Senka spoke. Mercer did his best to smile at Vridel, but it seemed he found it difficult. Apparently deciding it was safe, though, Mercer made himself a plate as Thea walked in, smiling brightly at the group. Out of them all, she seemed to have been the least affected, but even so, it was easy to tell it hadn't been easy on her.

“Oh, this looks so good! You two always make the best things," she spoke, taking a seat next to Vridel once she'd grabbed a plate. She nudged him softly with her elbow before she glanced around. “Guess we're still missing a few people," she stated. Sylvi was the next to arrive, walking with Deirdre, apparently. It looked like they were talking about something before they glanced at the group already forming. They said their hellos and took their seats.

Goneril was the next to arrive, blinking slowly and seemingly out of place. He was a new addition, if anything, to the group. His eyes softened slightly as he nodded his head in Senka's direction. She smiled back at him, as Goneril took a seat without grabbing a plate. He looked... nervous, if anything.

“You don't have to be so tense, Al. You're in good company," Deirdre stated, rolling her eyes as she filled her plate. Sylvi chuckled lightly as she made herself a plate as well.

“I'm not tense," he murmured, pursing his lips together.

“Yes you are. Even I can see it," Senka replied, setting an empty plate down in front of him. Mercer snickered softly as he pushed his food around on his plate, quite content on not eating yet until the last of them arrived.

Sorcha and Devon filed in a bit later, having come right from some bit of camp setup from the slight exertion still obvious in their faces. Sofia wandered in and sat next to Deirdre—her preferred dish had always been one of Senka's vegetable roasts.

Last to wander in was Reynard, hair a little windswept from the ride he'd no doubt taken about the perimeter of camp. He was in charge of positioning the watches, and he took it very seriously. He took one look at Goneril and rolled his eyes, fixing up the empty plate in front of him with a bit of everything on it and setting it back down in front of the other man, whacking him in the shoulder softly with the fork before resting it next to him. "You can be excused for not knowing the rules this once, but when the Professor and Sen cook, we eat."

He made himself a plate next, taking the spot next to the Duke.

That left only Cyril and Senka to serve themselves, which they did, and then it was a free-for-all as far as eating went.

“Oh, man, I missed this," Deirdre spoke first, taking another bite of her food as to savor it. Sylvi snorted softly, and took a bite of her own food, smiling brightly as she glanced towards Cyril and Senka.

“I agree with Deirdre. It's been so long since we've had your food. It should be a crime that you two cook so well," she murmured before shoving another spoonful into her mouth. Mercer chuckled lightly, still pushing his food around as he glanced between everyone.

“I don't know, Syl," he began, arching a brow in her direction, “I think it's mostly good because we are in good company, as Deir said." It was at this point that Goneril finally took a bite out of his own food, and his eyes seemed to light up.

“This... is..." he didn't seem to know how to say what he wanted to, and cleared his throat. “This is very good. I did not know you could cook so well," he spoke softly, taking another bite.

“One of the benefits of being at the academy was being able to enjoy the days when Sen and Professor would cook," Thea stated as if to explain to Goneril. “I think the entire academy was in love with the both of them when they were on kitchen duty. I don't think I'd ever seen the dining hall so filled as I had on those days."

“Hm, and it was chaotic just trying to get in. If you weren't there early enough, you had to eat in your dorm room because students even filled the gazebos," Deirdre added, arching a brow in Sofia's direction. “I think we actually ate at the docks because there really wasn't anywhere else to go."

Sofia nodded. “More than once. I seem to recall some experimental fused cuisine that was especially popular."

Cyril huffed softly, glancing at Senka out of the corner of his eye. “We put those together when Senka wanted to cook dishes from Duscur, so it wouldn't be obvious that's what they were." It had been a small thing he could do at the time, to help her feel connected to the culture she had to hide, and share it with others. So she could see that they enjoyed it. Fortunately, if anyone had ever made the connection, they hadn't said anything about it.

Sorcha ate with what seemed to be great focus, and Cyril could almost understand that. They said that smell was the sense most linked to memory, and taste had a lot to do with smell. It was possible it would be nostalgic for her in a slightly different way from the others.

“Okay but I never asked: where did you two even learn to cook, anyway?"

Cyril shrugged. “Personally I taught myself. A lot of trial and error. But if I wanted to eat very well back with my father's company I had to make it happen. We only had cooks at bases, not on jobs." He felt a slight twinge at the mention of his father—it seemed so much closer an event to him than it really was, but with time the pain faded, as most things did.

Senka had been in the middle of taking a bite of her food as she glanced towards Vridel. She swallowed her food before she answered, “I learned from both of my parents. We... used to cook whenever they had time, but father was the one who taught me the most about cooking. He even taught me how to bake. Bomboloni are what those jelly-filled donuts are called, the ones you seem fond of the most." There was a smile on her face, though it didn't hold the tinge of melancholy to it that it used to when she talked about her parents.

“Oh! Speaking of, you need to make those again. It's been so long," Mercer stated, putting an emphasis on the last word. “I haven't had a good dessert in such a long time," he continued, taking a bite out of his food. Senka rolled her eyes softly, but the smile on her face remained.

“As I've told Thea, there's only one person I allow to boss me around. If you ask nicely," she began, earning a soft snicker from Deirdre, “I might make some more for you. Maybe the ones with chocolate, too."

“If it's not too much," Goneril stated, glancing up from his plate, “I'd like to try those as well. They sound delightful."

“That's because they are. Lyanna loves them, too!" Thea stated in an enthusiastic manner.

“What about you, Teach? Do you know how to bake or are you only good at cooking?" Mercer asked, arching a brow in Cyril's direction in what seemed to be curiosity.

“I can bake," he said with a shrug. “Though it's not something I've had much opportunity to practice. Proper ovens aren't something I had a lot of access to." Most of what he'd used were open flames of one sort or another, and the various kinds of thing that could be fit over them. The monastery had been rather luxurious by comparison, and he knew even they didn't have quite as much as a proper castle kitchen or anything.

"Did I ever tell you I had to learn to cook—and bake—for an infiltration job once?" Reynard remarked, glancing at the others. "I was spying on this fellow who was set to host the Prime Minister for a dinner, and because he was minor nobility the easiest way in was through the temporary kitchen workers he hired. I almost burned the roast my first night on the job. Once the chef was done having a heart attack, she made me personally assist her from there on out. I learned a lot."

“But did you get the information?" Sofia asked with a little grin.

"Of course," Rey replied. "And then some. The lord's son wrote me awful poetry for a good year afterwards." He rolled his eyes.

Vridel coughed, and shot a look at Mercer.

“Probably has that in common with Mercer. He was the one who wrote the poetry for Senka because... well, I'm not well-versed in it and..." Goneril stated, coughing lightly into his hand as he glanced at his plate, seemingly more interested in it than anything else.

Deirdre snorted fairly hard before she doubled over with laughter, her forehead resting against the table as she took in a deep breath. “Are you kidding me? Al... you big dope. You had Mercer, of all the people available to you, write poetry. Poetry!? Even I could have told you that was a horrible decision."

Senka shrugged her shoulders lightly. “I don't know, Deir. I thought it was rather nice, but at the time I thought it was from Alaric. If I'd known it was Mercer's doing... well, I suppose that would have made more sense. It did sound like he was referencing things to Sorcha, now that I think about it. Were you thinking about her when you wrote that, Mercer?"

“Yep. Not gonna deny it," he replied smoothly.

Sorcha glanced up sharply as soon as her name was referenced, to a few chuckles, including one of Cyril's own.

“W-wha? Poetry?"

Vridel snickered. “The levels of idiocy involved in this story are just ridiculous," he said, shaking his head. “Never change, any of you." He easily included Goneril in the lot, which might well have been the source of Rey's subtle smile. That or he was just in agreement.

Senka smirked a bit as she arched a brow in the Duke's direction. “That's nothing compared to what happened when Alaric asked me to dinner," she stated in a nonchalant fashion. “He tried reciting the poem back, but couldn't remember the words. He was as red as his hair during the whole thing," she continued, taking a bite of her food as if it were the easiest thing to say. Goneril, however, pursed his lips together as he frowned a bit.

“I wasn't exactly sure what to do, then. I was nervous. Could you really blame me?" he murmured softly before taking a bite of his food. Mercer huffed lightly at his statement.

“Oh, you'll get used to it, Al. Senka teases just about everyone she likes," he stated as if to console the Duke.

“It's true, I do."

“Most of this lot do," Cyril noted, gesturing vaguely to the table. “So by all means consider yourself welcome. And do feel free to dish out whatever you receive." He lifted his spoon to his mouth, spice tingling on his tongue, and shrugged.

"Well that's the Professor's stamp of approval right there, so I guess you're stuck with us now," Reynard noted, throwing an amused glance in Goneril's direction. "I'd apologize, but I'm really not that sorry."

Deirdre snorted. “Al? Tease someone? You're more likely to get a fish to start singing," she stated, snickering softly as Goneril furrowed his brows deeper. “Besides, he's really bad at it. His way of showing his favor to someone is by being overly protective and very motherly," she added as an after thought.

Mercer huffed lightly as if he were trying not to laugh, but was failing. “That explains... so much," he managed between laughs.

Rey was regarding the other man with a raised eyebrow and a little half smile, but it faded quickly as he shook his head. Cyril chuckled softly; the scene, save for the ages of his students, could have played out on any evening in the dining hall at Garreg Mach. This—silly though it was—was precisely the sort of warmth he'd been trying to recapture in inviting them all here. They were all as relaxed as he'd seen them in months, most smiling or laughing, even those less inclined to such expressions wearing softer versions of their faces than usual.

Beneath the table, he took Senka's hand and gave it a soft squeeze, letting the conversation flow around him for a while. Tomorrow, they'd be back on the march and as strained as ever, but tonight...

Tonight they could be this instead.