Sawyer packed the hall for his research talk on the last day of the conference.
He had a captive audience for all his opinions on neuroscience. It was a golden moment.
After the talk, the attendees lined up to ask him questions.
A prominent trade journal took his photograph for the cover of their next issue.
The whole experience was an unqualified triumph, as far as he was concerned.
Even though he had to admit that some attendees clearly weren’t here for the presentations.
Outside, it poured rain all day. It was so dark and gloomy, it was as if the sun never rose at all.
Edmund watched the storm all morning. He found the weather soothing.
He knew that he wouldn’t get a better time than this to start his search.
He’d been researching in old tomes for months before this trip. He knew his best chance was to find the tomb of Thortonbleu.
The tomb wasn’t nearly as hard to find as he feared.
It was right where he predicted. The whole quest was quite short, really.
He was now in possession of an ancient dragon egg.
All he had to do now was figure out how to hatch it.
The rain stopped in the afternoon, and the stars were peeking out after nightfall. The evening suited Dylan’s plans perfectly.
“Dress to the nines,” he advised Andria. “I’ll take care of the rest.”
He took her to dine under the Simfel Tower.
They both pondered the menu for entirely too long.
“This is delightful!” Andria cried. “Just like our honeymoon, only better. I was wondering when you were going to do something romantic. You never disappoint me.”
“Romance is an art form,” Dylan admitted, “and you are the best of all possible audiences.”
“Would you like to try some of that newfangled phone photography with me?” he asked when the meal was over.
“Only if you let me choose the pose,” Andria said.
“Actually, that wasn’t bad!”
Then he drew her close and moved to the piped French music that filled the plaza.
“Nobody else is dancing,” Andria pointed out.
“Has that ever stopped us before?” Dylan asked. Andria chuckled.
“I’m glad I married you,” Andria said.
“That’s good to hear,” Dylan said. “At this point, you’ve had a long time to regret your decision.”
“I’ve had a long time to reflect on my amazing taste in men, you mean,” Andria retorted.
Then, at the same time, they couldn’t hold back their yawn.
“It’s getting late,” Dylan said. “I think I need to head to bed.”
“I have to face it, my love,” Andria said.
Edmund, on the other hand, was feeling quite young and spry when Belle Girard invited him over to house to, you know, watch a movie or something.
“I’m so glad you could make it!” she chirped when he arrived. “It can get boring here with just me and my grandmama. You seem like such an nice guy.”
So they pretended to watch a movie for a while,
and stole glances at each other, while avoiding each other’s eyes.
Then they gave up on the pretense of watching the movie. It wasn’t that good anyway.
The conversation went much better. Among other things, they shared a love of art. Considering that they’d met at the Musee d’Arte, Edmund shouldn’t have been all that surprised.
Eventually, Edmund realized they were being watched by eyes that weren’t all together friendly.
“Ah!” Belle said, blushing. “That’s Grandmama, and I think she’d rather we took our visit someplace else.”
Someplace else, turned out to be the lawn, where they sat under the stars
and made eyes at each other.
It was a truly beautiful evening.
“I’m getting hungry,” Belle said. “I don’t want to bother Grandmama. Perhaps we could go out for a bite?”
Edmund smiled at her proudly. “Or I could provide a snack right here,” he said.
“Wait, you do magic!” Belle said.
“You have to be kidding me,” she said, turning away in disgust. “I can’t believe I invited a witch to my house.”
“You’d better leave,” she said. “Don’t call me.”
She left him standing on her lawn, holding the apple in stunned silence.
Thus Edmund learned that outside Avalon, his abilities were not always the best way to win friends and influence people.
Berthe “Belle” Girard got along really well on this date. In fact, the front door was marked incorrectly on this lot, so when he arrived, they went into the unlit garage to talk autonomously, where I found them flirting all on their own. The also went autonomously to go watch the stars together. I started to wonder if she was the one after all, but then he autonomously conjured an apple while she started freaking out from low motives, and I took that as a sign. It would have been kind of a pain for him to pursue someone from France anyway.
I got a lot of mileage out of that couple who spent Sawyer’s entire conference kissing and playing air guitar. I don’t think they ever reacted to anything going on in the room.