Chapter 49 - Celebration
They pulled into Lyros after a long drive, their stomachs had grown hungry. The first trailer that welcomed them back now had three white masks placed on the deck, facing outward. It seemed every so often the number of those masks had been increasing. Grant recalled when he first pulled into Lyros there was only one. They each looked distinct, but none radiated a bright comfort despite their color. It seemed whoever made them did so just to make others feel uncomfortable.
Rhett drove further into the village and saw that everyone was setting up for the feast. The group waved at them with cheerful smiles. An exact opposite of the last time they saw all the villagers outside at once. With a pop, all four doors on Rhett’s vehicle opened and everyone got out.
Tables were set up in front of Lars’s trailer, and on the top of them laid a variety of worn out tablecloths. Many faces that Grant had only briefly encountered were seated around the tables, or up and about preparing the dinner. Everyone gave short greetings to one another as they proceeded into the community gathering. Looking for a place they could all sit, they found Ambri sitting alone at a table.
“Where were you guys?!” Ambri shouted.
“We were at the zoo… They said they couldn’t find you earlier…” Kale murmured.
“They didn’t look too hard then, did they?” Her eyes shot right into Saraiya.
“I didn’t see you out by the cages…” Saraiya said, shifting her gaze to the faces at the other tables.
“Was that the only place you looked?!” Ambri’s anger rose.
“Whoa Ambri, calm down. It’s alright!” Lars butted in and stopped the conversation. “I saw them looking for you, they actually did look for quite some time.”
Grant knew that was a lie, but he was thankful for Lars.
Everyone helped fan the flames of Ambri. Friendly smiles and waves showered the event, some even looking a bit too friendly. The group took their seat at the table while Ambri sighed. Cats were wandering about in the yard, more than Grant had ever seen in the open. The cats seemed to be avoiding him, but still appearing to be taking an interest. Perhaps it was due to being seated next to Saraiya and Rhett.
At the center of each table, grilled fish sat on a platter, stacked up to the point that the tower leaned. Grant took a deep breath in through his nose and placed his hand over his mouth, catching the drool. Did Lars go out fishing again? He did have a surplus of leeches that could net him any amount of fish if he had the time.
“Now, that everyone is here, I would like to properly begin the opening of the welcoming weekend! Here’s to Rhett, Saraiya, and Grant! Our newest members of Lyros! And soon to be new members of our family!” Lars held a drink to the sky.
Everyone surrounding them lifted their drinks to the sky and gave a triumphant shout.
For how little Grant had tried to get to know most of the residents here, they surely knew how to make them all feel welcome. Maybe he should have tried to interact with them more, although there would be plenty of time for that in the future.
Grant poked at a piece of fish on the platter with a fork and brought it to his plate. Ambri watched him.
Kale was still wearing his mask, not eating. Was he waiting until the end to take some home? Or was he going to sneak some behind a trailer? His gloved hands laid on the blue tablecloth. “I don’t know if I can wait to eat this… I might have to run inside and chow down quick hah.”
“Can’t you wait until after the speeches are done?” Ambri asked.
“Speeches? Lars already gave his toast,” Kale said.
“That’s not the only person here to give a toast.”
Kale’s face paled. “No… You don’t mean...”
“Yes, the man who owns the land. He’s here. Mr. Nelto.”
Kale’s hand instantly closed into a tight fist, as he tried to hide them under the table. Saraiya looked up from her notepad.
“Who is Mr. Nelto?” Grant asked, while slurping down the fish, barely chewing.
“He is the one who lets us all have our trailers on this land. He stops by only once every couple years, so you guys are lucky to have the honor of him showing up for this feast.” Ambri took a bite of the fish.
“When is he leaving?” Kale asked.
“Tonight after dinner.”
Kale seemed to relax after hearing that answer. “Okay.”
“Is he just here to check out how everything is going?” Rhett asked.
“Yeah, for the most part. He makes sure everything is running well and checks if anything needs fixing.”
Lars stood back in front of the crowd, and raised his drink once more. “That’s not all we have for the guests of honor tonight! Mr. Nelto is here as well!”
The man stood up and walked up next to Lars and bowed. Lars left the makeshift stage, that was his deck, and sat down next to other residents. Mr. Nelto wore a tuxedo, sunglasses, and a crooked smile. He had long brown hair with streaks of gray, tied back in a ponytail and looked to be in his early fifties.
“Thank you all for allowing me to join in your feast! It’s so wonderful my land has provided you guys with such a tight knit community! It seems you guys are doing a great job with taking care of everything as well. Including all these cute little critters, he picked up a cat in each hand and brought them to his face.”
Rhett’s face twisted. “How? What do I have to do to get them to like me?! This guy is never even here!”
Nelto heard him and laughed. “I’m not sure what to tell you… Rhett? Was it?”
“Cheer up Rhett. You’ve still got your tortoise.” Saraiya said. “Which we still have yet to see!”
Rhett looked at her and shook his head, smirking. “Shh.”
“Oh what? You have a pet here too?” Ambri said, eyebrows raised.
Mr. Nelto smiled. “Ah, you must be the one from Kandorr then as well. You guys take mighty fine care of your guardians.”
“Ahah, yeah.” Rhett scratched his head, and took a bite of food. “Hey Lars, where’s the alcohol?”
Lars chuckled. “Of course! It’s up here in this cooler!”
Rhett got up from his seat and headed up towards Lars and Mr. Nelto to grab a drink. He opened up the cooler and felt a hand clasp against his shoulder.