A Family Meal

Every family will typically have a routine that is either daily or weekly wherein they gather together for dinner. This was certainly true in the von Slothjem household, which while it most definitively was not just any run-of-the-mill family nevertheless kept to its own traditions. One of those most closely treasured by the family was the nightly meal.

Not every night afforded the von Slothjem family a chance for this cozy, comfortable ritual. Some evenings there were necessary feasts and celebrations to honor one or another hero, local noble, or visiting dignitary. Certain individuals were also apt to be traveling in order to tend to the business of the realm. This was especially true of the Herzgraf, known to this small group simply as “Father.” The Queen took special care to make sure that when her husband was able to attend a family gathering that it was kept as personal and private an event as possible. Not only because as the matriarch of the family she wished to insure that her children and grandchildren knew that they were treasured and adored, but because these times seemed more and more infrequent as the empire had more and more responsibilities being thrust upon it. Time alone with family was becoming precious by virtue of its rarity.

On this occasion the family that had gathered included the Queen and her husband, the Herzgraf, as well as their eldest child Crown Princess Katherina, her husband, and all of their children. The Queen’s next oldest child, Prince Kolder, and his own wife and their children had also come for dinner. Katherina had been taking on more and more duties as her mother was less inclined to work as hard as she once had since the death of the Queen’s own mother. This kept the Crown Princess close at hand to the capital and therefore able to attend these intimate family meals. Kolder had duties of his own with the paladin lodge his father had governed because that vital role was now being given to Kolder as the Herzgraf had to spend an increasing amount of time dealing with military matters. But these were the only children that the Queen and the Herzgraf got to see regularly anymore.

A couple of years ago their precocious daughter Lersha had fallen in love with a foreign Archduke and after a whirlwind courtship they married and settled down in the realm of Renatus. Then the youngest child of the Queen and Herzgraf, Bortimer, himself found love in one of Renatus’ most prominent nobles, Duchess Thorngage of Maelonbourg, and had made it known that he intended to pursue her hand in marriage. Their remaining child, Prince Archibald III, had simply gone questing some time ago and nobody was certain where he was now. So with three of her five children off and doing their own thing the Queen was pleased to have two of them closer to home.

It was during the meal that the Queen casually mentioned that Prince Bortimer had gotten married a couple of days prior. The Herzgraf had chuckled at this news, and he reached over to squeeze his wife’s hand. She giggled as well, and they both shook their heads in a shared moment of not wholly unexpected joy. Kolder was shocked. He couldn’t have been more surprised if Prince Bortimer had burst into the room aflame and covered in badgers. Katherina was also surprised, the kind of feeling that borders on horrified but just a tick or two the other way. The conversation around the table became suddenly much more animated. All else that the empire had to deal with took a back seat as Katherina and Kolder exchanged their viewpoints with ever increasing volume and expressions of bewilderment. But the Queen and her husband sat holding hands, sipping their goblets of wine, and savored the chaos. Even when he wasn’t at the table, Bortimer always caused the best scenes.