Neither Bricu, nor Threnn, have Antisocial Personality Disorder. While Bricu might score as high on the checklist, he has far too many protective factors to have high levels of psychopathy. Threnn’s scores would be, at best, average. Regardless of their scores, Harvest Ball is a newish story from the early days of their relationship. They’ve arrived at the Barn, but they have yet to meet the infamous Brothers Bell.
The Longwell’s barn was packed by the time Bricu and Threnn made their entrance. Unlike most Southron parties, it was not a servant that announced the couple. Instead, Josiah Longwell, the heir apparent of the Longwell’s farms and orchards, greeted them the same way he greeted every invited guest: With a mug of cider.
“Threnody! Bricu!” Josiah said. He plunged two mugs into the barrel of the amber liquid. The cider sloshed into the mugs, and the scent of spiced apples grabbed their attention.
“Thank you both for coming.” He handed the first mug to Threnn first, the second to Bricu. Josiah took his mug, topping it off with ladel of cider, and toasted the couple’s health. Threnn and Bricu returned the gesture, careful not to spill any of the cider back into the barrel.
“Thank you for the invite.” Threnn said. She took a healthy swig from her mug.
“Cheers mate!” Bricu said before slamming half of the cider.
“I’m glad you both could make it, although…” Josiah gave Threnn a wink, “Your mother did not say you would be bringing Master Bittertongue.”
“Did Thenia say who my date would be?” Threnn asked. Bricu could hear the irritation creep into her voice. Either Josiah didn’t hear it or he didn’t pay any attention.
“Oh, she had a list. Thomas Maunt was at the top of it. I was in the middle.” Josiah laughed, “No offense Threnn, but your mother has no clue about my tastes. My ‘guest’ is hobnobbing with the gentry.” Josiah nodded to well dressed, man at least ten years older than Bricu or Threnn. He looked back at Josiah frequently. “I mean, we’ve been together for five years. You would think she knows.”
Threnn said, “She knows, she just hopes for something else.” Bricu took another sip of his Cider. Josiah gave Bricu another ladel.
“Yer a brilliant host.” Bricu said. Josiah smiled and winked at him.
“Now tell me” Josiah placed a hand on Threnn’s forearm. “is she going to give you any trouble for bringing our Bricu?” asked Josiah.
“She can’t get pissed if two folk show up t’the same party.” Bricu said.
“Bricu has his own invite…”
“That’s right!” Josiah said, “How dense of me! You helped the family address some … unpleasantness a few months ago. Where are your friends?.”
“They’re indisposed.” Bricu said, sipping at his cider.
“That’s a shame. Give Makarah my best, will you?”
“Certainly boyo, certainly.”
“How many more were you expecting?” Threnn asked.
“Oh, we invited at least another twenty adventures of various stripe and station.” He looked past Bricu and Threnn to the couple that just entered the barn. “Oh look. Lady Gontaut has yet another new young escort. She’s old enough to be his grandmother. Still.” He dipped two more mugs into the barrel, “Excuse me while I talk the blue bloods up a bit more. You two go enjoy the party!”
“Of course.” Threnn said
“Cheers mate.” Bricu slid his arm around Threnn’s waist and led her away. Josiah gave them a polite nod before greeting Lady Gontaut with the respect due her station.
They waded into the sea of guests and party goers. Bricu craned his neck, scanning the crowd for the infamous Bellsm while Threnn made a bee-line to the bar.
“Yeh see ‘em?” He asked.
“No, I can’t see anything but the back of the crowd. But I know where they’re going to be.”
“An’ where’d that be love?” Bricu pulled his arm from her waist to let her lead the way.
“By the bar. Willliam will be flirting with Marketa Longwell.”
“Sounds smart.” Bricu said.
“It is. This way, he keeps her company and he gets cheaper drinks.”
“What’s Marketa think ’bout it?”
“Usually, she prefers the company, and the flirting is mostly harmless.” Threnn said. She continued to snake through the crowd.
“Oh, they both prefer flirting to actually being with each other.” Threnn said.
“Nothin’ serious then?”
Threnn nodded, “This way they can flirt, keep off underiserables and make each other feel better. It’s a win-win.”
“Sounds clever.” Bricu said.
“It was William’s idea.” Threnn said.
“Yeh’d figure that one o’them wouldn’t be pleased with the idea after they gave it a shot.”
“No.” Threnn said, “Love, it’s hard to stay mad at a Bell for long.”
“Och, I need t’learn their tricks.” Bricu said.
Threnn glanced over her shoulder. “It’s innate love.” She said, “If you haven’t managed to do it by now, I don’t think you’ll ever get it.”
“Strewth, the more yeh tell me ’bout the Bells, the more it sounds like I’m in way o’er me head.”
Threnn smiled back at him, and for the first time that night, Bricu started to feel a hint of worry. “The bar is this way.” She said. Threnn weaved in and out of the crowd, with Bricu following her lead.