~ & ~
Gardenia's focus moved from Hale to Cynthia who remained silent and observant. Gardenia knew this was a massive amount of information to take in so she wanted to go at whatever pace each individual required. Her eyes glistened as Lola inquired as to whether or not it was possible that they could unlock their shards before dinner. "Oh!" But before she could reply to the gilr, Luca spoke up and began to prattle off. Gardenia grinned and placed her hands on his shoulders once he sat back down, needing to feel his excitement as it was endearing and entirely refreshing to have someone see the same vision as her. "You understand! This place is rustic, you won't find many modern-day amenities like robotic servants or camera surveillance systems. We make all of our food ourselves so I do hope dinner is a delight for your senses. I shiver at the thought of having to eat such processed bland food day in and day out."
Stopping herself, she stood back and looked to the man known as William who asked about not cooperating. Her smile faltered as she cleared her throat. "Mmm that would be disappointing. A shame to waste such potential." She said carefully, her arms circling to cross and press against her chest. "It is of course your choice to participate, no one is by any means forced to stay. But to turn down such a fun life seems like a missed opportunity. That said, if you truly refused, we could attempt to remove the shard but such a procedure has never been attempted before...so its success remains an unknown likelihood. It's possible the shard's removal would render you unable to use any magic whatsoever."
"With the outcome being so tentative, my advice would be to keep the shard unlocked and to walk out the door right now. That would be your best course of action." Gardenia concluded simply with a shrug. She could see both William and Cynthia on the fence about the whole revelation. Her attention focused on them, "Because we understand no one has outright consented to the shards being implanted in the first place, we understand the risk of unlocking a shard and having one of you just walk off into the sunset. You could use that power and exploit the world around you, become some kind of pretty little murderer if you so desired." She stopped herself from getting too ahead of herself.
"It is our ultimate intention for us all to reach a beneficial relationship that suits us all. We wish to put on a wonderful show, simple as that. You wish to train your new talents and maybe make a life change, that's hopefully what you'll come to want. You have all been given wonderful talents and you may either abuse them, ignore them or...you can hone them and take the world by storm. The spotlight is thirsting for something that has been long forgotten. You all have shards that give you powers not even the best storytellers from centuries ago could not employ." It was baffling to consider some might be ambivalent to such a simple and enthralling concept but she had to consider the monotony of the daily grind probably beat out any desire to be individuals.
Hale glanced to the others and got up, stretching his arms above his head before looking to Gardenia. "So you'd prefer us to just leave now if we're not interested in working with you." He said, wanting to get the bottom line if it would help move things along. "But otherwise after we eat and get to know each other, you'll unlock our shards and we start training. If at some point we decide to leave...we're free to do so?"
"Y-yes, of course!" Gardenia nodded to him.
"Do we have to sign any kind of agreement or contract?"
"No, no we don't wish to keep anyone like some sort of prisoner." She shook her head.
Looking to William and Cynthia, Hale put his hands on his hips, "Then why are you two so nervous? Gardenia is putting her trust in us to do the right thing but evidently we're still able to leave at any time." He said. "I think we should give it a go." He smiled. Gardenia looked to him, wearing an appreciative smile.
"I understand your trepidation but you do have some time to consider even unlocking your shard or not. Over dinner I encourage all of you to ask whatever questions are needed." Gardenia said before bowing her head. "I believe dinner is about ready, please follow me." She said as she moved to the back of the theater and into the grand foyer of the mansion. She took a left and led the group down a wide hallway, the purple walls were decorated in thin white lilies which had been stenciled onto the walls. There was gold crown-molding and the floor was a rich hardwood oak. Everything was lavish but careful to embrace a true feeling of cozy nature. While other homes would be simple in taste and design, the five strangers were now surrounded by may colors and textures.
They finally arrived at a long table which had several dishes spread out. There was fresh sliced bread, boiled and salted potatoes, honey glazed ham, roasted carrots and asparagus seasoned with butter and garlic, and red wine. "Everything here is grown on site so please eat carefully, your bodies may respond differently to natural foods but I assure you it is very safe to consume and we believe healthier than the foods normally consumed in the outside world." She said. Normally food was bland, only meant to serve as fuel for getting through the day and getting necessary vitamins and nutrients. Like fashion and media, the idea of eating for enjoyment had been one long scoffed at.
"This looks amazing! I've never smelled something so inviting." Hale took a seat and noted it was padded and quite comfortable. "So will your father join us? He is the man who set all of this into motion after all."
"He is quite tired so I'm afraid introduction to him will have to wait until tomorrow."
Nodding, Hale began to serve himself, not wanting to let the food get cold. He couldn't believe there were people like this, people who still seemed to cling to old lifestyles. He had only thought the future was the direction to look but he was beginning to consider that the past had much to offer. His eyes traveled to Gardenia's attire, enjoying the bright color of her dress as well as her hair. He wasn't sure how much he'd be able to contribute but he decided there wasn't much he had to lose. He had so much to gain. He looked to Luca who seemed to be on the same page as him. "This is all pretty strange and wonderful, isn't it?" He commented as he passed Luza a warm dish containing the tender potatoes. "My name is Hale Westlake and I hope this is the start of something extraordinary." He smiled.
"Controlling air sounds really cool, I'm jealous you probably get to fly!" He commented to the other male.