"Well, that is excellent, Manny," said Nisrioch, his eyes shut. "Things are progressing well." He sat in silence for a moment, then gave a nod. "Of course, I'll bring Malina. And Anthea, also. The girls should see the other side of the river. Take care."
He opened his eyes, to see his daughter standing there. "How is Uncle Mansemat?" she asked. "And the rest?"
"Very well," said Nisrioch, standing up. "He's just been elected Lord Protector of the Free Cities."
"Oooh!" Anthea clapped her hands together. "That sounds prestigious." She leaned forward. "What does it do?"
"It... appears to have a great deal of cachet amongst the Free Cities," said Nisrioch. "Though the actual authority is apparently... variable."
Anthea frowned, and then gave an epic shrug. "Well, it was still very nice of them to make Uncle Mansemat the Lord Protector," she noted.
"Indeed," said Nisrioch, strolling to the door. "I believe we shall have a delicious repast of squash bread in maple syrup to celebrate. Following which, we shall wear many hats."
Anthea gave a delighted squeal. "Oh! Oh! That will be splendid! May we include Malina in this?"
"Of course!" said Nisrioch. "We shall have a Cthonique family hat party." He chuckled and shook his head. "You know, I kept having ominous feelings all this week, that something unpleasant was making its way to us. But now... oh, I'm half convinced I was nervous about nothing. Things are not so bad for our family, right now."
Nisrioch and Anthea both froze for a moment, glancing around.
"Father," said Anthea at last, "is it wrong that I have a sudden ominous feeling?"
"No, dear," said Nisrioch. "In fact, on further consideration, I'm wondering why I bothered saying that." He sighed and shook his head.