He needed a long time to get his feelings under control. Only when the last warrior had returned to his place, Djarret’s knees stopped trembling. Ceres stepped forward and held his arms heigh. His voice rang through the hall. Enthusiastically, the warriors stood up.
“I called you. One man for every finger of my hand. From this moment, you are my right hand. You will be successful where others have failed.” He sat down again. “Now go and bring Korosadja to me.”
“Melissa stop dreaming, it’s time for breakfast.” The shrill voice of her aunt Freya was unwelcome. It dissolved the fantastic world into which she had plunged.
“Not hungry”, she growled. She rolled on her back and tried to read on. Suddenly, the book was taken from her hands, snapped shut and put on the white lacquered bedside table.
“Ms Taigh! When I call, you will put your book aside and come. At least on vacation, you should behave like a civilized person.”
Melissa pursed her lower lip and did not answer. She got up at a snail’s pace. Nagging hag, she thought. In my holidays I can do whatever I want. She stared past her aunt through the wide open French windows ignoring the white and beige room. Dreamily, she looked at the sparkling sea and the clouds that hung over the water like an elven veil. She imagined the voice of her aunt to be the screaming of the seagulls in the port.
“Go and wash your hands.” Freya grabbed Melissa’s shoulder and pushed her to the bathroom. The strap of Melissa’s beach dress slipped and Freya’s hard, pink fingernails left a scratch on the sun-tanned skin. Freya immediately apologized but Melissa pretended she hadn’t heard. She gritted her teeth and went to wash her hands.
They took the elevator to the restaurant a little later. Melissa stared at the pattern that the feet of the hotel guests had left on the red carpet and ignored Freya’s attempt to settle the quarrel.
But her aunt didn’t give up easily. “What is your book about?”
Melissa gazed into the mirror. She looked a lot more like her aunt than she liked: the same carrot-red hair, a similar figure. But I have better taste. Melissa smoothed her pale green summer dress that harmonized wonderfully with her brown eyes. Freya’s pink dress didn’t go with her hair, and it dangled. She didn’t use to be that thin. Also, I used to liked her. My god that’s ages ago. Before … No, she didn’t want to think about that. It was difficult enough to live with Aunt Freya and Uncle Herbert now.
“If you like historical novels for example, I can recommend some”, Freya said.
Melissa wheezed. She turned around and looked into her aunt’s face. “If you need to know: I am reading fantasy. Your silly Effi Briest or stupid what’s-it-called Buddenbrooks are balderdash! Long-winded, stupid texts. It’s enough that we have to read them in school.”
Melissa had enjoyed reading both books but she would never admit that to Freya. She was satisfied to see Freya’s lips contract to a narrow line.
Her aunt’s eyes narrowed before she answered. “I think it’s good that you read literature in school at least. Balderdash is the right word for these fantasy stories.”
Since the elevator just stopped, Melissa turned away from her aunt demonstratively and hurried through the lobby to the restaurant. She didn’t want to listen to Freya any longer. She let the glass door swing close behind herself without waiting for her aunt.
The restaurant had a bright and friendly air and was adorned with fresh greenery. The big windows opened to the esplanade, and the Baltic Sea right behind it sparkled like a string of diamonds. As always, a long and well equipped buffet invited the guests. Melissa looked around for her uncle Herbert and discovered his white shock of hair at one of the tables. She strode over to him. When he got up, he looked like the evil magician of a fairytale in a Hawaiian shirt and short trousers. However, his eyes sparkled merrily and his smile was welcoming her. Melissa preferred Herbert. She heard the steps of her aunt behind her and hurried to be the first at the table.
“Ah! There are my two beauties.” Herbert kissed Freya on the cheek and hugged Melissa briefly. His long, white beard tickled Melissa’s cheek. Politely, he moved the chairs for his wife and his niece before he sat down. With a proud smile, he pulled something out of his shirt.