[A/N: Since these chapters are so long, I'll be chopping them into two, roughly 1.5k word parts from now on. The first part will be released on Fridays, and the second on Mondays. Please let me know what you think in the comments, if you like this scheme or if you prefer the old one. Thanks!]
"Tickets please." The guard at the entrance of the dining hall frowned. He didn't look at the old man when he presented his ticket, only took it from his dirt-stained fingers and checked it against the list. "Hm. Welcome, General. I'll call a server for you." Ding went the bell when he rang it, and not three minutes later, a maid stepped out from behind the double doors, dark eyed and expressionless. "Table for one?"
"Indubitably!", the General boomed.
Rolling his eyes, the guard took the man's coat, cane, and hat. The General wanted to ask where he was taking them, but before he had the chance, he was ushered into the hall.
The dining room was, like the rest of the ship, splendorous. Like a rectangular interpretation of the dance hall, plants sprouted sporadically from the marble floor, and pink lamps hung from a coffered ceiling. Here, though, tables littered the floor in a seemingly random manner. And there was no chandelier - instead, scented candles set on every table lit the room in discrete pools of light, and filled it with the smell of lavender, honey, and excess. The General followed the maid to a spiral staircase in the back and together they ascended to a second story much like the first. Here though, instead of the coffered ceiling, a large glass roof opened to the four balloons and dying day above.
"Your table, sir," said the maid, as she led him to a small table near the centre of the room. "And your menu. Your courses have already been decided for you, for the ease of our kitchen crew, as have the drinks. But you may choose the entrée."
"You have my gratitude, young man!", boomed the General, loudly enough to startle the nearby diners. "Fine young people like you give me faith in our country! I will be sure to compensate you for your, uh, graciousness."
The maid shifted uncomfortably. "Well. That's very kind of you, sir. We're not allowed to take compensation directly from our guests, but I'll take it as a compliment." She smiled. "Also, I'm a woman."
"Ah! Well." They stared at each other for a few silent moments before the General hurriedly broke eye contact and buried himself in the menu. After standing around awkwardly for a few minutes, the maid shuffled away quietly.
As he looked through the menu, the General felt his stomach drop. The pages were completely incomprehensible. All the words bled into each other and jumped around the page; the tiny text gave him a headache just by being near him. This was hopeless. Frustrated, he threw the menu down and buried his head in his hands. He didn't know what he expected. It wasn't like looking at a menu would teach him how to read. While he stewed, he examined the plate set before him. Inexplicably, they'd given him three different sets of forks and spoon, each nearly identical. Why was it so difficult to eat a meal here?
While he groaned in frustration, diners began to ogle at the strange old man who'd stumbled into their lives. Everything about him they found odd, from his absurd manner to his disgusting beard to his outrageous clothing. The ridiculous powder-blue suit had so many frills and decorations it looked more fitting on a clown than a refined gentleman. But there was nothing gentlemanly about him.
Their hardly supressed giggling must've finally gotten to him because he looked around nervously and tugged at his obvious wig. And when it became clear his distress only drew more attention, sweat began to bead on the General's forehead and panic lodged itself in his throat.
When the maid returned, she found the man on the verge of tears. "Sir?", she asked, concern barely entering her voice, "Are you feeling alright?"
He shot up and blurted "Yes! Perfectly fine, thank you very much! Just an, ah, old injury acting up. From the war."
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The Wax Wind ConspiracyFantasy
Spirits were high when the luxurious Wax Wind skyship made its maiden voyage from Clementine one warm Noonsday evening. But the Wax Wind would never reach its destination. And its passengers would never be heard from again. Follow the stories of the...