Change of plans, part eleven

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Arthur sat waiting in the restaurant he'd made his second home. He'd even managed to get a private cottage for two by himself. Most of the words and expressions he knew came from the world of merchants, and the amused response from the servant told him he'd probably tried to buy a room measuring two standard Terran units or something equally hilarious.

Harbend wanted to meet him here for a purpose that apparently couldn't wait another day. Otherwise he'd simply have waited for Arthur to finish his breakfast next morning as usual.

There was a certain appealing touch to the habit of serving diners their meals in separate rooms. Arthur had never thought of it before, being used to the large dining halls on Earth. Of course he knew of the custom, but it was more a local color adding spice to the experience of some regions and most commonly found in Japan, but nowhere as elaborate as here. He hadn't expected to find a place like this in a surreal version of a fairytale Vienna indefinitely placed somewhere in time a millennium or so earlier.

He was drumming his fingers on the table when Harbend arrived with a few flowers in his hand. He looked haggard, as if he hadn't slept well and Arthur worried about what could have changed him so since morning. He was sure to bring some dire news. That, however, to Arthur's great joy, was not what happened.

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