calm sea during golden hour



The meal takes a turn for the better, Dimitri and Elliot pal up, and the Niflteen's share their favourite past-times, and they all chat over a million- Michelin lunch. What could go wrong?


Dihaan Khan

11/20/202310 min read

“I- I didn’t mean to, Prince, I-” Vienna stammered, instantly feeling like an insect under a microscope under that scrutinizing glare.

“And I told you to call me Elliot.” Elliot said, and turned his attention back to the walls.

Vienna exchanged looks with Dimitri and Eleanora before they all tried suppressing their snickers. Eleanora again pulled the phone out, pushed in a few numbers and finally winced as a loud noise pervaded the room- a sort of metallic ringing tone.

“H-hi, Nora!” Lyss’s voice erupted from the phone, magnified, filling the room. She sounded as if she was running somewhere. “Sorry I’m running late, I had to run an errand! Tell Vienna sorry for me! I’ll be right there!”

The call was ended from the tween’s side abruptly. Eleanora glanced around the table. “So, should we start?”

“A conversation? Yes. I’ve been looking up starters.” Dimitri replied, crossing his arms on the table and leaning forward. “Alright. This is embarrassing. What’s a hobby of yours you’ll never let go and why?”

“You should go first, with you and that infernal cape.” Vienna smirked, exchanging glances with Eleanora.

“Alright, mine is wearing my cape, because my sister gave it to me when I first came to Niflheim. It was the first thing I’d ever gotten as a gift, too.” The corners of Dimitri’s mouth curved up fondly at the memory.

“Mine is people watching.” Vienna said, smiling at the remembrances they brought back, of her and Eleanora and Dimitri sitting on a hill in the vineyard, watching the light fade from the sky as Sirens ambled back home, reimagining their lives until the Sirens were no more but figments of imagination, and other days, back in Terra, when she and her brother sat at the window, watching people stroll on the streets, walk on by and indulge in daily antics, laughing at them or just watching, “because it’s part of me.”

“Mine might be reading poetry, because I’ve been doing it since I was a child, and it’s soothing to read rhymes and relate to them when you have nobody to talk to.” Eleanora said, presumably reminiscing about dimly lit rooms, light filtering in through dark curtains, and poetry book pages leafed through by pale fingers, a cup of coffee scenting up the whole room.

They stared at Elliot.

“What?” he looked back at them, vexed. “My hobby’s wishing I was somebody else. And I’ll never let it go, because it helps me escape.”

Dimitri raised his eyebrows, disbelieving. Elliot huffed, rolling his eyes.

“And playing that sport called football. I know Sirens think it’s stupid, but it’s fun.”

Finally, something Vienna agreed with, although she hadn’t seen him ever playing it (though she wished she had).

“We should order then?” Eleanora suggested.

“Hmm….” Dimitri shrugged. “Up to our belleza.”

Vienna had no idea what that meant and no Google translate to save her.

“Sure, of course.” She said, allowing the slight British accent to creep back into her voice as it invariably did when she was regaining confidence.

“Great!” Elliot said, snapping his fingers. A quartet of Blue Badges appeared carrying notepads and phony moustaches. The (waiters?) scattered until each one of them had a chair in front of them. Menus were slid to all of them, and Vienna leafed through hers. There was a leaflet where you could write the numbers of the dishes you wanted, and Vienna, after glancing over everybody who were scribbling away, wrote down hers as well. She didn’t order much so as to not seem gluttonous, and wrote down an appetizer, a main course and a dessert.

Eleanora peeked at her leaflet.

“Order more, come on!” she whispered. “We’re trying to deplete the kitchen, come on, this bit won’t do.”

Vienna giggled. “Deplete the kitchen? Why?”

“Because everything mass produced is capitalism, and capitalism is bad.” Eleanora said, mockingly serious, mimicking Dimitri’s zealous tone.

“It’s not mass produced, and anyway, capitalism is meaningless.” Elliot butted in, throwing them a searching glance. “We aren’t capitalists.”

“You’re a prince and you live in a castle. Plus, you hate Sirens.” Dimitri said in an undertone, side-eyeing Elliot.

“I never said I hated them, Ivanov.” Elliot replied, not looking at the other male. “I said I disliked them.”

“Well, what did we ever do to you?” Dimitri raised his eyebrows.

“ ‘We’? You consider yourself one of them even though you’re mostly human?”

“Yes, and you didn’t answer my question.”

“I don’t get why they’re so much better than me.” Elliot trotted out. Vienna knew this wasn’t something he spoke about with just anyone, and he loathed Dimitri, so it must be some miracle keeping him speaking. Or maybe he just wanted a friend who wasn’t his saccharine kid cousin or his introvert twin sister or that new girl from earth who’d told him they were friends after he opened up to her but had ignored him ever since. A friend who was a guy. Not a girl. Surely, he’d had enough of the female race for a lifetime, with all of the human girls and Siren girls and Blue Badge girls surrounding him.

“Well, they’re definitely not better than you. Nobody’s better than each other. Power’s all that matters. Or talent, but that doesn’t get you far without recognition.” Dimitri said, sounding hesitant. “And you have power, obviously.”

“You don’t think I have talent?” Elliot’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Why would my opinion matter, Prince Mistral?” Dimitri asked, applying that maddeningly insouciant tone of voice he used when he knew he was right. Vienna had heard it too many times when in the midst of debates about new Danika Hahn books. Somehow, he always knew when they dropped and if they flopped (both were extremely rare). Perhaps it was those dominant Siren genes that made him so telepathic.

Elliot chose to stay silent and resumed his close examination, now of the table. Vienna scribbled a few more numbers down, the Blue Badges took their leaflets, and in the brief moments it took for them to prepare the food, they had a vastly absorbing debate about whether the people of Terra knew about Niflheim, and if so, to what degree.

“There is a place called Niflheim, but it exists only in Norse mythology, which means it’s fake. It’s the world of the dead.” Vienna filled the teens in on her knowledge of the place – cited from Google memory.

“That means they think it’s imaginary, but then how’d they come to know of it at all? Niflheim isn’t a common word, is it?” Dimitri asked, leaning forward in interest.

“Humans loooove making up myths for things they don’t know.” Eleanora said disapprovingly. Vienna couldn’t help laughing at that weirdly maternal look on Eleanora’s face.

“You look like you have experience watching that,” Vienna chuckled.

“Believe me, you have no idea how many times I’ve seen Lyss make up fake things about people on the spot. She calls it ‘tea of the week’, it’s more like lukewarm watered down coffee of the day.” Eleanora said, really going to town.

“What’s her backstory?” Vienna asked. She couldn’t help cringing over how that sounded, like all of them were characters in decade long tales, but it was what it was. They- the Niflteens- of all people knew that.

“Well, she has parents, but they didn’t want her. My er, paternal aunt basically raised her, I think, before the portal…fiasco. We got roped in and so did she.” Eleanora said.

“It’s all just angst.” Elliot muttered under his breath, sounding annoyed.

The food had the perfect moment to appear, teleporting onto the table while a Blue Badge wished them ‘A meal to enjoy, Prince and Princess and Miss and Master”, disappearing almost instantly after saying that.

“That’s the first time I’ve been called master.” Dimitri said doubtingly. “Sounds weird associated with me.”

“Get used to it,” Elliot said, “Apparently the Doyenne’s got a lot more Niflteen meetings planned.”

Vienna, alarmed, dug into the food with everyone else. It was exactly the same standard as all the food she had eaten in Niflheim- outstanding and unexplainably comforting. As she was poking her medium-well done filet mignon with her fork, the conversation ventured into a dangerous area- Lysistrata’s leaving out on the party. The subject could turn flammable- or it could be inflammable, she thought, wishing for the latter.

“She’s a kid, anyway, and she can’t match us in conversations, can she?” Elliot said firmly. “She’s... clingy and irritating.”

“She’s alright, just immature.” Eleanora said kindly.

“I don’t know her enough to judge, but she seems childish.” Dimitri added. They all stared at Vienna, who, startled, pretended to be swallowing so that she could think up her answer.

“She’s OK, I guess.” She trotted out, toying with her fork. “Like all cousins are. Mostly demanding, but alright.”

The twins and Dimitri nodded, satisfied with her answer, started on another conversation Vienna didn’t care to join or hear, being enveloped in her creamed potatoes.

“I heard Daphne totally fawns over you, Dimitri…”

“Me? Seriously, no way…”

“Don’t count yourself out of the running, Ivanov; you’ve no idea what Sirens…”

“Elliot’s right, Mit, but really, you don’t need to acknowledge it…”

“Decima would kill me…”

“What’s life without risk?”

“Hey, Vy, do you think Nora’s right?” Dimitri’s voice broke her out of her reverie. She snapped her head up and tried to grasp the topic based off of the chits she’d been hearing.

“Daphne? Shy girl, handmaid?” she asked, summarizing her knowledge of the girl in question to show she was still with them.

“Mhm!” Eleanora nodded.

“I don’t think anyone’d be able to put up with you for long, Mit.” Vienna said with a smirk. Elliot scoffed.

“Double that.” He said.

“No, triple it.” Eleanora snickered. Dimitri shook his head.

“From Sirens to humans to…whatever Vienna is (Vienna burst out laughing at this point) - just bring the whole queen in to bully me next, why don’t you?”

“I think you could only find me in half.”

They all jumped- or as jumping goes when seated at a table. Elswyth’s lips stretched into an insincere smile as she left the door, making her way towards the table, the Niflteens’ necks craned to look at her.

“Startled you, have I?” she tilted her head slightly, her eyes flitting over the contents of the table. “Love the menu choices. The dory’s my favourite, too.”

The dory smiled at Elswyth. 

Dimitri stood up from his seat. “Good afternoon, Doyenne.”

“No need for that.” Elswyth waved her hand. “I was just here to tell Vienna that her next task is an hour later, so you…teenagers better eat swiftly.”

“Of course we will.” Elliot told her in a tone three shades too sincere. If Elswyth caught onto the sarcasm, she didn’t let it show, only turning away towards the girls’ side of the table, her eyes zeroing in on Vienna, who awkwardly stared back.

“Have a nice day, sis.” Eleanora said, rather dejectedly, as if not expecting a reply.

Elswyth nodded, her gaze fixated on Vienna, who smiled. A staring contest.

“I’ll see you at the task, Doyenne.” Vienna finally said.

Elswyth nodded again, and turned to leave.

The door shut, and then finally they were all back to normal.

“That was some serious tension.” Dimitri said, collapsing back into his chair and yanking at his tie in annoyance. “The Doyenne could’ve just sent someone to keep tabs on us, couldn’t she?”

“Always going the extra mile.” Elliot muttered.

“I guess she thought we were plotting some kind of mutiny in here,” Vienna quipped, smiling at her own joke before she fully realized what she had said. In confirmation of the fact that she had actually said what she just heard herself say, she glanced at Elliot, who was staring back at her, his charcoal eyes startled, almost terrified.

“That was a joke.” She added, even though Dimitri and Eleanora were eating without any complaint or signs of realization. She mostly said it to reassure herself and probably Elliot, too.

“Yes, Vy, we realized that.” Dimitri said, laughing.

“Anything wrong, El? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” asked Eleanora, redirecting Vienna’s attention to the very person she had chosen to ignore. Indeed Elliot did. He looked down at his plate as if that would hide the trembling hands.

“Y-yes.” He choked out.

“Alright!” Eleanora said cheerfully, just as oblivious at clues as her sister. “Are we all done eating?”

They were.

“Are we ready for more all-inclusive convos?”


“Someone start one up, then.”

Not her. Sometimes Eleanora could be TOO cheery. Like her cousin.

“Vy? You’ve been awfully quiet today, what’s up?”

“Eh, nothing. Just thinking about the tests.” Vienna replied nonchalantly, digging herself out of her cynical subspace. She propped her chin in her hands and pretended to be paying attention while Eleanora started up a very controversial, rather bickerous debate about Danika Hahn’s complex characters. This time, she focused on the conversation while finishing her food so she wouldn’t starve during the tests and pass away.

“I know David Fisher is the universally hated character,” Dimitri started. “But I don’t see what’s so terrible about him. He’s imperfectly perfect, like all of us are.”

“I don’t hate him, actually.” Eleanora mused. “It’s the King I hate.”

“The King ruined everything. And his brother? He was a victim.” Elliot added.

“His brother did betray the entire kingdom.” Dimitri chipped in, sounding suspicious. “And try to take over the crown.”

“He had his reasons.” Elliot went on as if it was the most accepted thing in the world. “He had his fair share of trauma, didn’t he?”

“What about the main character?” Vienna slid into the conversation. “She isn’t talked about to the degree she deserves, in my opinion.”

“True, Vy, but she’s…not really at her best, is she?” Eleanora looked hesitant.

“She’s evolving.” Dimitri threw in, seeing Vienna’s expression. “And…improving?”

“But she’s just a kid thrown into a huge mess she’s supposed to solve.” Vienna insisted. She had found so many parallels between herself and the protagonist in Danika Hahn’s Eccedentisiast that she felt she had to defend the protagonist with her life and blood.

“Aren’t we all?” Elliot smiled. It was the first time Vienna had seen him do that, and even now it seemed like the habit was out of practice. But she could still see why everyone was so obsessed with him.

“We’re teens, El, there’s a difference.” said Eleanora vehemently, who still seemed to be in her ‘all characters are lovely and I refuse to hate any of them’ era. “We’re older. And more mature. And we have the ability to choose.”

“I hate to agree with Prince Mistral, but for once, I have to, and Nora, we didn’t exactly get to have a childhood, did we?” Dimitri averred.

“Just call me Elliot already.” Elliot waved his hand in dismissal. “And he’s completely right.”

The duo of stunning sentences from Elliot shocked everyone enough. But what shocked everyone more was the clatter of plates crashing on the floor.