The orc seated next to him was snoring.
Coram’s father had not come to the station to see him off, and now the orc seated next to him was snoring.
The youth gripped the copper mug tightly in his fingers. Lithe fingers that had known very little labor and very much fine moisturizing cream.
It was right of him not to come, Coram reasoned to himself. Such an event, watching one’s middle son depart for the inprocessing station outside Thebes, well, it would run the risk of becoming a to do. Public displays of emotion were not the way of the Lethanes or any family of quality, for that matter. Imagine the shame if some baggage lugger had seen the old fellow unload a tear or two.
“Couldn’t have that,” Coram murmured. The sleeping orc did not hear him. His words were buried in the muted roar of the forge god’s sacred rails sailing beneath the compartment.
Decorum. That hallowed watchword of the family Lethane and their noble ilk. That was why father hadn’t come. It was not because Coram was the first Lethane in three generations to manifest the Dragon’s Price. It had nothing to do with the stream of busy whispers his father had endured since the day little “Cor” had first scorched the mahogany rail of his toddler bed. It most certainly had nothing to do with the thin sheen of golden scales that ran in patches on Coram’s arms and legs, visible only when the light struck a certain away.
No, Coram assured himself, Father said he was proud of all that. Proud to send a son hastily into the service of Vyle, just as every Lethane throughout history had done when a scion bearing the Price survived to maturity. So proud, father had said through forced smile.
So proud, indeed, that father might very well have lost his composure all together. Right there on the boarding platform. What a scene that would have been.
The orc in seat 4B, suddenly wide-eyed and quite awake, stifled a gasp.
With detached interest, Coram glanced down at the copper mug in his hand, glowing orange now with molten heat. Thin bubbles raced to the rim as the mineral water within reached full boil.
Eldovar Lethane’s second son met the orc’s gaze with a practiced smirk. Sorry for the start, old chap. Lost myself for a moment.
“Next stop, West Thebes Station, shuttle to Fort Pyraemon reception and inprocessing,” called the porter. “All new recruits, have your orders and paperwork ready for inspection.”