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Rated: ASR · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2250148
Dreams play out easier in the mind, but Alistair must press on with his ambition.
Chapter 4 - Bitter Approval

The meeting adjourned for lunch, as Hugo stated upon arrival. They were lead to a lounge, where an array of sandwiches were laid out, along with cheeses cut into perfect cubes and a hearty broth was dished out by the kitchen attendants. Some of the society members hung around the food, Hugo in particularly orbited around to get extra helpings. While others took to the comfortable chairs, smoking fine cigars and nursing their glasses of brandy.

Quinton and Paler did not join the rest in the lounge, as they informed Alistair of their intentions to draw up a legal document immediately to secure his family's assets. Two hours went by, and the mood in the lounge had evolved into a jovial environment. Members were hearing hooting and laughing down the corridor. Alistair himself became charmed by their luxurious pastimes. He loved being among the company that his own father would have dealt with and absorbed every ounce of information of all the tales they regaled.

As the brandy bottles piled up on the table, the stories were becoming less consistent, and in Alistair's mind, less accurate. This did not bother him, he'd purposely kept a sober mind to retain any helpful advice for his own big adventure that laid ahead.

The waiting process took three hours, Mr. Paler entered the room to retrieve their guest to sign the documentation. "Mr. Pembroke, please follow me back to the board room" he whispered, as not to wake up a large portion of the members that had fallen asleep due to the alcohol and excitement of the afternoon.

Upon returning to the board room, a parchment rested on the table, at the side closest to the door. Director Quinton extended his palm and engaged Alistair with a formal greeting. "Please pardon my perhaps rather brazen behavior earlier. I run a tight ship here, and preserving our image is a matter that is taken to heart, I apologize sincerely fine sir if I have caused any offense."

"Not at all," Alistair replied.

An inkwell and quill were positioned to the right of the document, positioned in a neat and symmetrical fashion. The parchment was indeed long, written in the smallest calligraphy the young man had ever looked upon. His eyes scanned along with the paper, analyzing the complex language used. It appeared to address matters as discussed earlier. In principle, if Alistair were to be killed or vanish for a substantial period of time, the Royal Exploration Society would then take legal ownership of his estate.

Quinton pushed the quill into the man's view, then flashed the time on his pocket watch. "I understand there's a ship to catch. Rest assured, Alistair, we'll act in accordance with our agreement".

Pressured by the time, Alistair signed the parchment. Paler then brought a large book and placed it to the side.

"May I?" Paler asked, signaling to retrieve the quill from Alistair.

"Oh, yes, of course."

Alistair's name was then written into the official member's register. Quinton and Paler then presented him with a mark of his association, a silver hip flask that had the organization's emblem and his name engraved onto it. To the untrained mind, such an item may be seen as cumbersome to take around, yet a true explorer will always take a source of water on their travels.

"Congratulations, Alistair. It is now official, you're an explorer!" Paler heralded.

“Yes, and as director of the Royal Exploration Society, I must urge that this water trinket will serve as your license. It grants protection under the request of her majesty the Queen. Always keep it on your person. And remember to conduct yourself in a manner that represents this society and our monarchy in the most appropriate of fashions!” Quinton added.

With that said, the newly anointed associate bided farewell to the society and returned to the carriage heading towards the Port of London. With the exception of a couple of pleasantries, neither passenger spoke to one another until eventually, Giles broke the silence. "Sir, by the flask you're carrying, would it be wise to presume it went as intended?"

Alistair stared out of the window, not wishing to divulge too much into the details. "That is correct, old friend, that is correct". He felt rather embarrassed to not have been accepted without needing to negotiate terms. But in the same light, the agreement that was signed did give him a dose of harsh reality. Other than the man seated by his side and the servants that worked at Paxton Manor, there wasn't anyone else close to him. He'd lived a rather secluded life and about to venture aboard a ship, alone, following the tracks of a father who'd not been seen or heard from for over a decade.

Giles could sense the tension in the air and gave two comforting pats on the troubled man's back to shake him out of deep thought. "I fear I've upset you, sir. Paxton suffered a similar frustration. No matter how many times he left us, I'd bend his ear with worry. Pay no heed to an old fool, but forgive me for prying, where does that journal tell you to go?"

"The New World," Alistair opened up one of the starting pages and placed a finger to reveal a portion on land. "Right there, San Juan County, New Mexico".

A pale complexion came over the old man. "Sir, please tell me you've made preparations! I thought you'd swim shallower waters, not plunge into the darkest depths with sharks. There are criminals, outlaws, vagabonds carrying guns!"

Calmly Alistair drew closer and gave reassuring pats on the back of his own. "I've arranged protection. I am to meet a gentleman by the name of Conway. He has a brother who I have also acquired the services of. Rest assured, dearest Giles, everything is in order."
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