Tunansia and Wislydale entered next, both with sour looks on their faces that made it perfectly clear they had met in the hall, and divined exactly where they were both headed, and why.
“Must we meet like this?” Wislydale murmured into his drink. “I have a great many things to do before supper, what?”
“I’m sure you do,” Edmund smiled. “I thank you for coming. I promise this won’t take long.”
Wislydale shrugged, and headed for the drinks cabinet while Tunansia sat across from Edmund, her eyes narrow and burning. They all sat and stood in silence for a few minutes, the seconds stretching longer as they waited for Tricknee to arrive. Edmund was already beginning to feel the sharp pangs of defeat creep around his heart. None of his cousins seemed particularly shocked or put off by his amazing reappearance. He worried this augured danger for his plan.
“Perhaps we begin this… discussion… without him?” Wislydale asked suddenly, a touch of hope in his voice. “After all, the sooner we start, what?”
“I agree,” Pinsnip snapped. “I’d just as soon get out of this room as fast as I can.”
“We all would,” Junapa said. “But young Master Edmund has requested us to be here, and it’s only fitting that we show him the same courtesy that we would show any one of us.”
A scornful snort echoed from someone in the room. For a moment, no one moved–it was like some horrible tableau of cloaks and daggers. Edmund couldn’t help but feel small, seeing the whole family gathered together, their narrow eyes shifting back and forth, waiting for someone to made a fatal move–or at least a move that could be made to be fatal.
Edmund swallowed nervously, trying to keep his uncertainty hidden. This was the group he had thought would come together? He couldn’t possibly succeed. The plan–his plan–was doomed.
He almost opened his mouth to send everyone away with some benign excuse, when Tricknee burst through the door, Googoltha in tow. He snorted in derision, and threw himself into the closest chair, snapping his fingers and pointing at the floor in front of him. Edmund watched as Googoltha stepped through the room, and curled up her legs as she sat in front of him like a hunting dog. She looked around the room curiously, and then locked eyes with Edmund.
She smiled, but this time her smile was small and simple. She smiled without bearing her sharp teeth. There was something almost soothing in her toothless smile. Edmund swallowed his nerves as he reached into his breast pocket, and pulled out the three yellow letters, holding them out in front of him like a shield.
“I have invited the heads of three other families to dinner. I have informed them of your presence at Moulde Hall, and they are expecting to enjoy dinner with all of us.”