Phovos was smiling way too much for a Ksithan. Especially since the food hadn’t even arrived yet. She was sitting at the head of a fancy table in a posh multicultural restaurant that served a wide selection of barbecued meats. Sitting alongside her were the four members of the Dessaron and, for reasons that Phovos intended to learn, the All-Ksa of the Threavok.
“Skyavok. We are called Skyavok now…” Psiksi muttered under his breath.
“Oh, sorry dear!” the Raptor smiled some more. “It is a much better name though.”
“You think so?” Kayel asked. For someone who was the leader of an entire species, there was something incredibly off about Kayel. He had a vibe similar… similar to Phovos herself. Somewhat lax and laid back. “We backed away from the name because we still see Threavok as a name for a race of slaves, rather than the powerful, united, independent race we are today.”
Phovos leaned across the table, closer to Kayel. She was glad to have put the two Skyavok on one side, the Kronospast and the Vrekan on her left and the Rethavok at the end of the table. Kayel was by far the most interesting of the five of them. Then again, Phovos knew the Dessaron, even their newest member, quiet well already.
“So if you are independent, why did you rejoin the Union?”
“I could ask the same of you…” Kayel paused. “Uh, do I call you Miss Phovos or Mrs Phovos?”
Phovos patted the Skyavok on the head, grinning like a lunatic. “I like you! I like you a lot!”
Kayel, to everyone else’s surprise, smiled back. “I like you too.”
After some more smiling, a waiter came and brought everyone drinks. In her excitement, Phovos had forgotten what she had ordered, but she didn’t particularly care. She found it interesting that everyone apart from Retvik had ordered alcoholic drinks, so of course she had to bring that up.
“Designated flyer… or rather, driver…” the Rethavok simply tutted, sipping awkwardly on a straw of fizzy soda.
“You know you can have one drink, right?” Elksia laughed next to him.
“Better safe than sorry.”
The Raptor smiled some more. “That’s good to hear!” Again, she turned her attention back to Kayel. “So why are you here?”
“Because you invited me!” Kayel smirked. “I assume you invite the Dessaron here often?”
Psiksi shook his head. Tenuk kinda did a shrug that suggested otherwise.
“Not any more, really…” Retvik grunted. “This is the first time in a while.”
“You’ve all been busy!” Phovos beamed. “But you though, you’re the new leader of the Skyavok. And you’re here on a neutral world.”
This time, Kayel didn’t seem so perky. “There is a large population of Skyavok here. I represent all of the Skyavok, including those that choose to live outside our pockets of safety. Few All-Ksa ever bothered with them, so I’m planning on changing that.”
The Raptor nodded. Both she and Kayel knew that was not the truth. Or at least, all of it. “Uhuh. And you’re spending time with the Dessaron too.”
“Well, Psiksi IS my child…”
Again, the Raptor nodded. “Yes, quite impressive! The little Ξ-Class warrior being chosen. And for so long, they refused to pick anyone to join them!”
“Phovos, why are you being like this?” Tenuk suddenly snapped. “I’ve known you for a fucking long time and you’re just being… over the top right now! Leave the poor vok alone!”
Kayel though smiled again. “Thank you, Tenuk, but I don’t mind. This is nothing compared to the shitty little debates I had to go through to get elected in the first place. That being said, how long have you known Phovos for?”
Tenuk shrugged. “I don’t remember. I just know we’re the same age, round about.”
Retvik suddenly gasped, then briefly choked on his drink. “You are a thousand years… old?”
Phovos nodded. Retvik glanced at Elksia to make sure that he hadn’t gone mad. She shrugged back at him, as did Psiksi.
“I…” Retvik sighed, then grunted, then gave up. “You look better than me. And I am only 66 years old and perfectly middle-aged… I apologise, I did not mean to interrupt.”
“It’s fine, dear!” Phovos grinned. “But since we’re all being honest here, I did honestly invite the five of you to find out what you were plotting.”
“We’re not plotting anything.” The reply from Psiksi, Tenuk and Elksia was almost in unison.
“We were though…” Retvik muttered.
“After the Thantophor attacked my home…” Kayel admitted, finally. “I was considering somehow getting my revenge. But after a conversation with the four beings who have spent time with the Death God, I realised that maybe really the Thantophor just needs some friends that he can be close to.”
“Except Arkadin kinda hasn’t been accessible lately…” Psiksi interrupted.
“Oh? Is that all?” Phovos seemed almost dismissive of it all. “I once considered that. I mean, I’m a thousand years old, clearly I did something to please Kayar and Arkay. But for Ksithanai, we don’t really know… how to visit our own gods in person…”
“Neither do any of us who know him,” Tenuk sighed. “He disappeared or something.”
Everyone fell silent as several waiters appeared, bringing in large trays of slow-cooked meat, served alongside a variety of gravies and roasted vegetables. The waiters bowed then disappeared back into the kitchen.
“Do you want to come with us?” Elksia suddenly asked.
“Pardon?” Phovos blinked.
“It’s not like you don’t have a ton of staff to keep an eye on Palaestra. Why not come with us to see Arkay? When he’s back, of course!”
Tenuk glared at Elksia, but she ignored him.
“He could always use more friends! And someone like you, I think he’d like you!” The Vrekan was beaming happily.
“Really?” Phovos asked.
“Tell you what…” the Raptor hesitated. “Let me think about it…”