That night, a small contingent of soldiers returns triumphant from the swamps west of Dunark, having successfully subdued some rebellious Gelters. Ebenezer Ravenna orders a celebratory feast. Occasional feasts are an important tool to keep up morale, he explains to Nico, even if the sloppy drunkenness is galling to anyone with a drop of good blood in their veins. He says this last bit with a pointed glare.
The food is, of course, delicious, and servants make sure to keep everyone’s cups full of Magdan wine. Nico sits with his father at the head table, smiling stiffly as the commander relates every blow of every fight, all proud that the “ringleaders” and half their families were all wounded sliced up killed — and the detail and the sheer amount of joyous pride on the commander’s face makes Nico want to stand up and scream, to force them all to take this seriously. But that wouldn’t actually help anyone, what’s done is done, and they’re probably right that after this it’ll be years before someone dares rebel again, and Dunark needs to seem strong, and — so instead, Nico empties his cup in an attempt to quiet the screaming inner voice a little, to help him ignore the commander.
He ends up doing that several times, throughout the evening.
When all the courses have been served and eaten, Nico stumbles and sways getting up from his chair, earning a withering glare from his father. Maybe if he slinks away quietly that’ll be the end of it, it’s not like anyone else in the room is going to notice.
...no, his father meets him in the hallway, grabbing his arm. “What are you doing, stumbling off like that. I’ve told you time and time again how a proper Ravenna must always be fully in control in front of his people. And yet you insist on acting like this.”
Even with his inhibitions lowered drastically, Nico knows better than to talk back to his father. So he just stands there, trying very hard not to sway, as his father continues.
“I thought for a moment you’d finally started to see your destiny, to at least try to fill Erasmos’ shoes. But you can’t control yourself for even one evening. I don’t know what the gods were thinking when they took him from me and left you.” He glares at Nico for a few seconds longer, then turns abruptly, stalking back towards his seat.
When Nico gets to his room, there's a bottle of whisky on his table. He takes a few gulps. It’s not like it matters now.
The bottle's contents are a little stronger than whisky, and Nico barely has time to stumble onto his bed before falling into a very deep sleep.