“Ah!” Kolb’s eyes closed like he was sampling a fine wine, and his hands stretched out, fingers spread. “My penchant for poetry! I thought I saw a piece of the poet in you, my lad–a bit of the bard? A lick of the lyricist? A whit of the wordsmith? Poetry is everything, my lad. Every word has at least one meaning, some of them more than one… but each has a thousand flavors! The love of a man for his hounds is not the love of a boy and a girl! And the love of one’s hounds is different when running with them through bracken after a fox, then when they are curled up at your feet next to a fire in the dead of winter! And the love of a spicy steak, broiled to perfection, next to a steaming pile of potatoes with butter melting down the soft and cloud-like mounds as the summer sun beats down on your plate, is not the same as the love of a sweet and succulent chicken breast with a crumble of nuts and lemon dancing across your tongue while the subtle scent of a Sauvignon curls in your nostrils and the autumn breeze tussles your hair…”
Kolb stopped, and his eyes snapped open. He relaxed as though coming out of a trance.
“I do beg your pardon,” he said, straightening his shirt. “I am awfully tired of soup.”
“She does make a lot of it,” Edmund admitted, wondering what the strange foods Kolb had mentioned were.
“It’s all she knows how to make!” Kolb’s eyes rolled about his head. “She’s a fine woman, and a solid maid, but I have never heard her cuisine lauded as a culinary delight–excepting myself, of course.”
“Do you lie a lot?” Edmund asked. Kolb blinked, looking at Edmund with a pained face.
“I never lie!” he said, aghast. “Adjust the truth, sometimes, to keep someone’s feelings from being unduly hurt, perhaps. I have even been know to exaggerate minor details for the value of entertainment, but I never… lie! It’s incredibly bad form.”
“I imagine you’d have trouble keeping them all straight, too.”
Kolb’s head snapped around to lock eyes with Edmund’s. The shock on his face was mixed with admiration and a bit of anger. Slowly, the anger and shock faded while the admiration remained.
“I must say, Master Edmund, you are learning quite a lot about what it means to be a Moulde… Did Tunansia give you that line? Or Pinsnip?”
“No, it’s mine,” Edmund affirmed, sticking his jaw out. “I write poetry too; I know how to read between the lines.” It was a bluff, but not much of one. In truth, Edmund had mostly been lucky that his jab had struck home, but he was glad all the same. Now Kolb would know he meant to stick around and play the game with all of them.
“Well then,” Kolb muttered after a moment, his bombasticity subsiding. “I can see I’m not going to be able to bamboozle you as easily as I thought.”