Next thing I know Aviur is by my side, holding out a hand. I grab it and my body springs up in his strength, his breath then heavy in my ear. Everyone hushes and takes their seats at the table, ignoring my dramatic reaction.
"It was you." I mutter to him, unable to control my thought-process.
"That saved you? You can thank me later." He mumbles back.
He sits back down at the table and gestures for me to sit beside him again. I look around, wondering where Trent has gone too. To be honest, he's the only person who's been beside me since I came here, and although he's a complete nuisance, I've become to like him - as strange as that is. If I lost him, who knows how I would cope with this new world.
"It's okay, Trent left to...see to his duties." Aviur explains.
"You say you're not a King, but you sound like one." I comment.
He shrugs. "Perhaps that's just my dream."
It's only a few minutes before plates of food are placed upon the table - succulent-looking chicken, an assortment of vegetables and a range of gravies. Aviur glances my way as if to say help yourself, and feeling starved from going twenty four hours without food, I tuck in easily. Forkful after forkful enters my mouth, and eventually I wipe a serviette across my lips and I'm done with it.
"So tell me more," I clasp my hands together on the table, checking that no one else is overhearing our conversation, "about this place, about how I got here, about how you caused me this terrible scar."
"You don't want to go there now, do you? I mean, we've just finished our dinner..."
I shrug. "And what if I do?"
"Begging for answers won't get you anywhere, dear," he says, "I can tell you that for a fact."
I feel my breath rising with frustration. "Then what will?"
It's only once I've done it that I notice I'm standing up, my chair pushed back from the table. About a hundred sets of eyes stare in my direction. I don't want attention. I want answers. Why is it so hard for people to understand that?
"Sit down, Valencia." Aviur says calmly, patting my chair, "Anger isn't going to get you anywhere either."
"Well neither is denial," I shoot back.
Whispers begin to rise around the table, expectant glares in my direction. But what else can I give them, when I don't even know these people? Who are they? Who's house is this? Is it even a house at all? What does Aviur really lead? An army? A country? Perhaps nothing at all. So why can't I get the answers to all these questions shoved into my mind by this peculiar, unfamiliar atmosphere?
I hear the familiar clinking of glass again. Aviur stands tall, telling the audience to 'give us a minute'. He then guides me out the door back into the corridor, before letting the doors swing shut.
"What was that all about, huh?"
I shrug. "You say that like you will listen to me."
I raise an eyebrow, but he continues. "In fact, I listen all the time. I listen to my people to bring to them what they want. I listen to..."
"But me? Do you listen to me?" I cut in, "Because if you did you'd be answering all my questions not avoiding them at all costs."
He hesitates, then sighs. "You're right."
I raise my eyebrows, not expecting a defeat from someone who wants to be a king. He leans his back against the wall, and I immediately think of school. How I would lean against the wall and wish I could be anywhere other than the crowds of ignorant, disrespectful children. That maybe I could disappear through the wall if I leant against it hard enough for my pain to turn to dust. But seeing someone that's meant to be so powerful do that, somehow makes me feel a whole lot better than myself.
"What are you smiling about?" Aviur asks.
I drop the smile, not even realising it appeared. "Nothing."
"So do you want to talk about it then?"
"I'd rather not." I admit.
He laughs. "No, I meant about this. How you got here, what this place is, who I really am. Perhaps how this side of the country is run."
"Oh," I say, in realisation, "Okay."
And feeling like I owe him more, I hold out a hand to him like he did earlier. But he just laughs, as if I'm being pathetic.
"You're brave to want to hold my heavy weight, but if you think you can, you're being a little too positive."
I smile. "Then tell my name otherwise."
He pushes himself of the wall, and I step back to make room. At this moment, Trent barges through the door and walks straight into me. I stumble back, apologising instantly.
"It's fine," he heaves, out of breath, "I've been looking for you everywhere."
I exchange glances with Aviur but he just grins at me. I still don't understand their telepathic views. Anyhow, I smile, shoving my hands in my pockets.
"Well I think it would be great if we could start today with my choice of clothing." I say, breaking the silence.
Both Aviur and Trent glimpse at my dark hoodie and leggings, scratched and clawed at from the treacherous journey yesterday.
Trent laughs. "I think that would be a good idea."