“Enopio! We have guests!” the wife shouted into another room as they entered into her cottage.
“Keep your eyes out for the feather and any signs of danger!” Exelda quietly advised Kefalia, Akintos, Narcius, and Stocastin.
Narcius dismissed her notion of peril, “I’m an excellent judge of character, and I can just tell we’re safe with these people! I highly doubt that we have anything to worry about here!” When they got into the thick of the building, they could see a cluttered but quaint cottage full of homey knick-knacks that would have made them feel instantly comfortable if it weren’t for the plethora of pro Konna and anti royal family décor! As Exelda glared at him, he defiantly stated, “This doesn’t prove anything!”
Their hostess emerged from another small room with a man in his fifties that had gray hair and a tall, lanky body, and he greeted them all with a genuinely warm smile that gave off the aura of a kindly father, “Welcome to Enopio’s Winery! As you may have guessed, I am Enopio, and this is my wife, Krassi! Please, have a seat!” He indicated to a small, round, wooden table adjacent to a cooking area.
“Are you all hungry?” Krassi asked them as they sat down.
“Boy, are we ever!” Akintos answered without consulting anyone else first, which clearly miffed Exelda.
Enopio grabbed a bottle of wine off of the counter, and as he set a glass in front of everyone, he gingerly queried to Exelda, “Forgive me if this seems insulting, but are you pregnant or just overweight?”
Exelda obviously didn’t like the way he phrased that, but she gave him a reply anyways, “I’m both! No wine for me, thank you!”
Once everyone else had a drink in front of them, Enopio suggested, “How about a toast?” They all agreed to that proposal, and as they raised their glasses, they expected him to say something flattering about his guests, but instead, he praised someone else, “To Konna, whose hard work and personal sacrifice has done a great service for Chaos!”
Kefalia, Akintos, Stocastin, and Narcius instinctively shied away from the notion until Exelda raised her glass of water. “Cheers!” She flashed her eyes towards them in a way that commanded them to follow suit, which compelled them to instantly join them.
After their glasses clinked and they took a sip of their drinks, Enopio conversed, “So, what brings you guys to our neck of the woods?”
Everyone but Kefalia waffled on what to say about their reason for coming to the area, but Kefalia proudly let him know, “We took a boat!”
“I see…” Enopio seemed a little thrown off since she hadn’t said that in jest, and then he quickly followed up with, “And what did you have planned for this boat ride?”
“We’re on a scholastic mission to discover lost artifacts,” Stocastin came up with.
Enopio raised an eyebrow at that. “Really You’re all scholars?”
He hadn’t directly alluded to Kefalia, but she figured out who he had meant. “I have a lot to learn!”
“I think it’s a wonderful idea!” Krassi piped in as she stewed some beans in a large pot over a fire. “Get all of the valuable trinkets hidden in our polis before those dreaded royals get their dirty palms on them!”
“You guys must not be familiar with everything that they’re up to,” Enopio misinterpreted their bewildered expressions. “Well, Konna has revealed to us that they actually came into power on illegal grounds! One of their ancestors performed dark magic to sway the rightful king to abdicate his throne to them, and they have to continue that practice in order to stay in their position! Did you know that they sacrifice the blood of children for this spell?”
Akintos started to object, “That’s not true! They-!” Exelda discretely kicked his shin, so he changed what he originally meant to say, “I mean… They can’t ’cause Mercinon stops them!”
Enopio’s eyes sparkled by this concept. “Oh yes! Mercinon is an amazing man who already does so much for this country! I can’t wait for him to take his rightful place as king! Did you know that he’s related to the last legal king of Chaos?”
“Wow, I guess Konna has all the answers!” Narcius sardonically remarked, which earned him a dirty look from Exelda.
“Yes, she does! Such a wise and courageous woman!” Enopio, who didn’t pick up on Narcius’ sarcasm, extolled her.
Exelda had been so wrapped up in this less than favorable chat that she failed to notice that Krassi had approached her side, but when she turned her head slightly, she discovered that she was within inches of of her! Krassi inquired, “You don’t have any dietary sensitivities due to your condition, do you?”
She tried hard to concentrate on the topic she raised, but with where her eyes fell from her lower vantage point, Exelda couldn’t see anything but Krassi’s enormous bosoms! She didn’t delight in this sight, but her surprise unintentionally caused her to stare. “Not that I…” She spotted Krassi’s necklace before then, but she could now see that her jewelry had a charm attached, a charm that Exelda realized was the object resembling one of the golden feathers that they had seen prior to coming inside! “Not that I know of! Thanks!”
After Krassi returned to the kitchen to complete their meal, Exelda quickly gulped down her water and then requested to Enopio, “Could I get a refill, please?”
“Of course!” Enopio obliged.
“So… You got quite the show!” Akintos grinned cheekily and kidded, “Did you find the feather in her toga?”
Exelda responded, “Maybe!” It threw Akintos off completely to get that retort, but before anyone could probe into the matter any further, Exelda instructed them, “One of you is gonna have to try seducing her to catch a glimpse of that thing hiding in her breasts!”
Stocastin decreed, “Narcius should spearhead this task.”
“Me? Why do I always have to seduce the unattractive women?” Narcius protested.
“It’s your own fault for being so good looking!” Kefalia conveyed to him.
Narcius ran his fingers through his hair and acknowledged, “Yes, being this beautiful does come with an ugly price tag!”
Exelda rolled her eyes just as Enopio gave her a full glass of water and Krassi served them a piece of bread with their beans. Exelda could tell that they wanted to continue gushing about Konna, so she changed the subject, “So, how long have you been in the wine business?”
After a coupled of hours, they had long finished with their meals, but after multiple glasses of wine, everyone but Exelda found Enopio’s stories highly amusing. No one caught wind of Exelda impatiently tapping her fingers as Enopio concluded another animated anecdote, “And then the guy’s wife burst in and screams, ‘You scoundrel! You told me you quit!’ And the guy told her, ‘I quit my job, not wine!’” Narcius, Kefalia, Stocastin, and Akintos roared with laughter, and Enopio chortled at his own recollection, “I’d be surprised if he survived the journey home!”
Akintos slurred quite a bit as he chimed in, “That’s like Exelda, what she would do! But she’s the one who promised Da- ow!”
“I promised my child’s father I wouldn’t drink anymore.” Exelda faked a smile for Enopio but glared at Akintos when their hosts weren’t looking.
“Time for another refill! I’ll have to go back to the wine den to get more. Excuse me.” Enopio got up and headed to an adjacent room.
Krassi observed, “Wow, there’s a lot of dishes! I suppose I should wash them before more visitors come here. Excuse me as well.”
Exelda heavily recommended to Narcius, “You should help her!”
“Why? Dishes aren’t my…” He espied the angry expression on Exelda’s face and reversed his stance, “Oh yeah! Hey beautiful! Need a hand?”
“Sure!” Krassi chirped. Narcius applauded her and guffawed at his own joke.
As Krassi handed him a towel, Exelda muttered under her breath, “Oh my gods! He calls that seduction?”
Akintos loudly wondered, “Why do my legs hurt?”
“Because you drunks keep getting close to revealing information you shouldn’t!” Exelda hissed. “We can’t tell them we’re associated with the royal family! Who knows what they’re capable of!”
“Enopio’s such a good name! You should name your baby that!” Kefalia hiccuped, and then she added, “If it’s a boy! But if it’s a girl, you should name her… uh…”
Narcius emanated a big, toothy smile as he purred, “Krassi! You… so pretty! Let’s make out!” He moved towards her with his tongue already swishing, which made Exelda bury her head in her hands and shake her head.
Krassi smacked him in the head and scolded him, “You pig! I’m a married woman! My husband is n the next room!”
“But he’s not here right now!” Narcius gave her a cheesy wink.
“Oh, don’t mind him! He’s just too in-ur-be-rated! Here, I’ll help you do the dishes!” Kefalia offered.
Akintos watched the two women with great interest and questioned, “Ooh, is she gonna seduce her?”
Exelda sourly articulated, “Nope. She’s just doing dishes!”
“Oh, this attempt is proving beyond their capabilities! I’ll just do it!” Stocastin announced.
“You? What do you know about seduction?” Akintos challenged him. “Your idea of flirting is jabber-jawing about formulas!”
Stocastin retaliated, “Hey! It’ll work on the right girl! Besides, I don’t need to seduce her to get the feather!” He turned invisible as he headed towards her.
Exelda tried to quietly deter him, “Oh no! Stocastin, don’t!”
Krassi prattled on with Kefalia, “I found my kids’ names from reading our guest book. We’ve had visitors from all over Chaos and even other parts of Greece, so lots of unique names came our way! One time, we even had a man from- Hey!” She felt something digging into her cleavage, so she turned to yell at the perpetrator. She saw Narcius still standing there, swaying slightly, so she smacked him again.
“Piece of cake!” Stocastin became visible again and sat back down at the table.
“Oh, you guys want some cake? I think we still have some!” Krassi searched the shelf where they stored their food.
Akintos delightfully asserted, “Free cake too! What a great afternoon!”
Exelda deduced, “Free food and an endless supply of wine? Who does that without a motive? Why is Enopio taking so long?”
Kefalia placed a cake on the table as she opined, “You’re too suspicious! They haven’t given us any reason not to trust them!” All of a sudden, a metal cage popped out of the ceiling and surrounded them! “Okay, maybe now they have!”
“Play time’s over, my friends!” Enopio emerged from the wine den carrying a large, slender, wooden pole, threateningly. Krassi retrieved one of her one from behind their pantry and joined her husband in staring at their cage menacingly.
“Are you sure it’s over? ‘Cause you called us your friend and are carrying game sticks!” Kefalia regarded them.
Enopio spat, “Shut up! Did you think we gave you all that food and wine out of the goodness of our hearts?”
Narcius fibbed, “No…”
“We knew who you were!” Krassi divulged. “Konna sent a bulletin out just this morning saying that five palace employees were on the hunt for a rare ingredient for an extremely dark spell, and we caught you! Won’t she be pleased to hear we put a halt to your devious plan!”
“Wait, you’re in contact with Konna? How do you communicate? Where are these bulletins?” Exelda quizzed.
Krassi admitted, “She doesn’t talk to us directly, we just know where she hides her messages for the people of this land! But I’m sure that’s about to change!”
Enopio growled, “Quit trying to get something out of us! That’s what we were trying to do to you! But you didn’t provide us with much, so-!”
“If you wanted to convince us to expose our secrets, you probably shouldn’t have partook in so much liquor!” Stocastin pointed out.
Enopio cringed at that. “It doesn’t matter! The important thing is that we make sure you don’t hurt Mercinon’s rise to the top ever again!”
Akintos prodded them, “You guys know that we’re superheroes, right?”
Exelda easily pried two bars of the cage open, and Akintos created two fireballs that instantly destroyed their weapons! Kefalia flew to the top of the cage and grabbed the rope used to lower it, and she tossed it to Narcius, who used his speed to tie them up before they could run away. Exelda taunted them, “Nice try! We’re leaving now!”
“Hold on!” Akintos ran into the wine den and pulled out a bladder of wine that he could fit in his toga’s pocket. “For the road!”
“Exelda doesn’t want us to steal!” Kefalia gasped.
Akintos countered with, “They’re not gonna report us! They just tried to kill us! Which one is more likely to earn a dungeon sentence?” Kefalia as well as Stocastin and Akintos thought he had a valid argument and helped themselves to a purloined item of their own. Exelda exasperatedly sighed.
As they exited the building, Exelda griped, “Well, that was a disaster!”
“No! If Gifloga erupted while we were there, that would have been a disaster! We got out alive and we got the feather!” Stocastin pulled the gold charm he took from Krassi out of his pocket.
“Let me see that!” Exelda snatched it from him and exclaimed, “It’s not a real feather! It’s metal! Cheap metal too! Look, the gold comes off when you scratch it! She must have had it in the window to dry the paint!” She grumpily tossed it onto the lawn.
Narcius yawned and proposed, “That’s too bad! Let’s take a nap before we search for the real one!”
Exelda denied that, “Oh no! We’re gonna keep going! That’ll be your punishment for drinking on the job! Dason made that rule for me, but it applies to everyone! Let’s go!” The other four groaned as they headed back towards their boat.