"Wine?" Maggiormente rubbed his beard.
"We cannot discuss philosophy without wine," Fabien said. His shrugged as if were impossible to debate the point.
"Ah, but there's this motor to consider." Maggiormente said, patting the motor which sat on the table before him.
Eduardo looked up from his plate, a smear of chocolate across his muzzle. "There will be time enough for the motor later. A little contemplation and discussion first will put you in the correct frame of mind to delve into its mysteries."
"And more cake!" Brigitte crowed.
"I do not think we need more cake," the alchemist said frowning at his familiar. Eduardo licked the plate, which no longer contained evidence of the cake that had been served upon it. Plenty of chocolate crumbs and pink icing remained on the lion's face.
"I think we may safely say that the cake has been eaten."
Eduardo looked up. "There's no more cake?"
"There is no more cake for you." Maggiormente wagged a finger at the lion, who growled and shook his mane.
"I am full anyway," Eduardo said, sitting down on his haunches to begin grooming himself. He folded his wings demurely as he started licking his paw.
"Never mind, mes amis," Fabien said, returning with a bottle of red wine already unstoppered. "We have other matters to discuss."
"Oh, Alain, let the poor man get to his work!" Adèle tutted, as she picked up Eduardo's plate.
"Nooo!" Brigitte threw her arms around the lion's neck, starling him once again. "Don't make them leave!"
"Ma petite," her mother scolded, "Monsieur Maggiormente and Eduardo have important work to do. You cannot keep them from their endeavours."
"We're not in that much of a hurry," Eduardo admitted, struggling ever so gently to free himself from Brigitte's grip.
"You cannot go yet" Fabien said, grabbing a few glasses. "I have already opened the wine. We must drink." He began pouring out the wine and handing glasses out. His wife shook her head at him, but accepted the offered stem.
The alchemist took the wine but hesitated before sitting at the table with his friends. Maggiormente found himself impatient to get to work at the compound that he would test inside the motor, but there was also a doubt niggling at the back of his mind.
There is something I have forgotten.
But what could it be?
"Tell us more, Maggiormente," Fabien said after sipping his wine and nodding approval. "What's this business about airships?"
The alchemist clapped his hands together with delight. "The procedure may be a bit complicated…"
"Give us the highlights," Adèle urged, lifting Brigitte up on to her lap.
"I am the most important part of the process," Eduardo said. Without a chair to sit on, he decided to rest his chin on the edge of the table and pout. "Essential."
Maggiormente laughed. "Indeed, my friend, you are."
"He never does anything but eat," Brigitte said, looking severely at the pouting lion. "He eats everything."
"That's not all I do," Eduardo said with a noisy huff of breath. "I inspire."
"It's true," the alchemist affirmed.
"Does he help with the alchemy?" Fabien's brow furrowed. "Can he carry beakers?"
"No, nothing like that."
"I might be able to carry beakers," Eduardo muttered, returning to grooming his whiskers with one paw, licking the chocolate cake crumbs from it.
Adèle laughed. "I would not want to see him try to carry glassware." Brigitte leaned over from her lap to pat the lion's head. Apart from the ruffling of his wings, he did not seem to mind the continued attention.
"I would not expect it of him. The compounds can be rather powerful smelling and it would hurt his sensitive nose to have to inhale them too closely. So, that is not how he usually helps." Maggiormente paused.