The room was smaller than the pillared room. My father - I guess I have accepted it - sat at a large round table loaded with food. There was another man sitting next to my father that seemed very reserved except for his observant light blue eyes. His hair was short blond and he was clean shaven. He looked very ordinary, but didn't stop staring at me. My father, on the other hand, was digging into his steak and not paying any attention to me.
I walked up to the table and the man sitting next to my father pointed to the chair directly across from my father, "You will sit there." I stopped and stared. It was a command. I stared at him a moment, debating if I should give in or not. My father stopped eating and watched me along with this man. "No," I said and though no one had been talking, the room seemed to get quieter. The man said it again, with more inflection, "You will sit there," and he indicated the chair again. I moved to stand behind another chair and the man and my father stood up together.
I stepped back in surprise, and my father spoke, "Adora. I am used to getting my way and not being thwarted. I'll give you one last chance to avoid punishment. Sit in that chair."
He stared at me and I realized this wasn't about the chair or where I was to sit. This was about me obeying him and if he could bully me into obeying. If I gave in now, it would be just the beginning. Where would it stop? How demanding would he go? What if I kept pushing?
Suddenly my world exploded with pain and I collapsed, screaming. I curled into a ball and suddenly the pain was gone. I stayed on the floor for a few more moments, panting. I slowly stood and, without looking at my father or the other man, I sat in the chair that they wanted me to.
They sat down and my father said, "That was a warning Adora. The more you disobey me or Flagg here, the more pain you will experience. Now eat, this will be a busy day."
I ate in silence, but watched both of them. My father wore obviously tailored clothes - new clothes, heavily embroidered trim, while Flagg wore nice clothes, but very plain. Other than a small design sewn on the upper left chest area, it was unadorned. They were also different in what they ate. My father ate steaks and very few vegetables while Flagg ate only vegetables.
Flagg kept watching me and I kept trying to ignore him. "Father, what is your name? I recognize a lot, but I don't know specifics."
He swallowed, and smiled. "I am Lord Nicholas, Duke of this land. This is Flagg, my..." he paused and smiled at Flagg, "trainer." I nodded, and stayed quiet for a moment but his answers only caused more questions.
"What do you do Father?"
"I am in the shipping business. In fact, you and I are going to the marketplace today and you will see for yourself." After the meal, Nicholas pushed his plate back and leaned back in his chair. From a side door that I assumed lead to the kitchen, then girls came and began to clean off the table. I noticed they all wore the same thing - plain brown dresses that were shapeless, short sleeved and just past their butt. And on their left cheek, they all wore the same curly tattoo.