Nathaniel leads the way into his office, followed by Kustav, Hal, Caleb and Novak. He settles down behind the desk and waits for them to all be seated while a servant brings tea and coffee. They go through the daily reports quickly, with nothing unusual to discuss, other than a certain amount of nervousness from some villagers concerning the cŵn visitor. Nathaniel asks them to do their best to reassure people that the cŵn is quite civilised, but to be on their guard against doing anything that might alarm him.
After all the normal reports, Nathaniel turns to the copy of Aoibheann’s letter in front of him. “OK lads, I need a favour. Aoibheann is worried that nobody has responded to this….”
Nathaniel holds up the letter and reads through it for the benefit of anybody who hadn’t seen it yet. “I am writing to inquire about which contests we feel most strongly about, so as we begin preparations for Lughnasadh, we shall not waste our time with any lesser sports. All eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, please also send the details of your pedigree and estate to assist in the matchmaking.”
This provokes a few smiles and the occasional eye-roll, albeit fond ones. “I know,” says Nathaniel, “I know. But, since the idea of having a celebration for Lughnasadh was partly mine, I will need your help in making it successful.”
He puts the letter down again and looks at them. “What I want you to do is to go round the village, covering the same groups you would for the emergency procedures, it doesn’t matter if you overlap somewhat, and find out what sports and games people would like to compete at and bring me back a list of the most popular suggestions. Kustav, if you could do the same for the guards and the Islanders. Talk to Phaedra about that. For the sake of clarity, drinking and pie-eating don’t count as competitive sports, and, if anybody makes any salacious suggestions for activities, do me a favour and don’t mention them to Aoibheann. “
There is a general round of grins. “I don’t think I could make enough pies anyway,” says Hal with a laugh. “I can barely keep up with Kustav.” The latter worthy gives Hal a mock glare and mutters something in his native tongue that might possibly translate approximately as “Speak for yourself, lard-ass,” which provokes further laughs.
Nate picks up the letter again. “As for the match-making,” he rolls his eyes, “I don’t know quite what she expects. I’ve not noticed people paying much attention to pedigree, and it isn’t as if we have much in the way of estate between us all. However, we will have to give her something to do. Between you, you know everybody in the village, so if you can think of some people who might be a good match for each other, and who might need a helping hand, let her know, and maybe we can… mark their dance cards or something.”
The stewards all look at each other and grin. “Mirko and Irina,” suggests Caleb, which provokes a snort of laughter from Kustav and some possibly ribald comments in their own language from the others. “Davor and Helene,” from Novak provokes a similar reaction from the others.
Nathaniel watches them with a bemused smile. “Well, yes, I can see you are all very keen to get started, but, please, no suggestions that are likely to provoke wars or family feuds, if you could manage that. Right, if that’s all, then we all have work to be getting on with. Thank you all for coming.” He waves them off in dismissal and watches as they file out, making more probably unsuitable match-making suggestions.