An Unexpected Visitor
Adriana gently lifted the spatula to the mouth of the flask, carefully shaking the bright white flakes upon the implement into the dark mixture. In a few seconds, the liquid turned a bright orange and began glowing intensely, before suddenly dimming and clarifying completely. Adriana sat back in surprise and turned to consult the weighty tome beside her, her brow furrowed.
“You’re using too much orcleaf, and you need to stir it while you add the wyrmroot.”
The young magic user looked up in shock at the man who stood on the other side of the bench; a man who had not been there a moment before. The newcomer, clearly a wizard, was dressed in dark blue robes and carried a shoulder height staff topped with what looked like a carving of a dog of some sort. His face was drawn and weary looking, and his bright blue eyes contrasted sharply with the dark bags under them. His once black hair was now greying at the temples, and a shock of white ran from his forelocks to his crown.
As Adriana studied the newcomer, she furrowed her brow, her mind racing as she tried to place his face. “I know you, don’t I?” She said, eliciting a raised eyebrow from the man. “Yes. The inn in Athenos all those years ago. You were with Lana Budanter.”
This evidently took the man back, for he turned his head to the side and looked her up and down, gazing at her as if seeking to verify her recognition.
“That’s right,” he began slowly, “I am a friend of Lana’s.” He leant forward and placed his hands on the bench. As he released his staff its sapphire eyes flashed brightly and it remained standing upright, seemingly of its own accord. “Karnus Perdissium.”
Adriana nodded in recognition and looked warily at the man. “Yes. Crackle has told me all about you…”
The man smiled wryly. “I hope my apprentice gave you a positive impression. He mentioned you to me as well.”
Adriana nodded as she glanced down at her experiment. “Is there something I can assist you with…” she hesitated for a second, “master wizard.”
“Yes,” Karnus looked away thoughtfully for a second, “I hear you’re working with a gentleman known as Rheddrian…”
Adriana looked the man in the eyes, “now I know I didn’t tell Crackle that…”
“Lana mentioned it to me.”
The woman narrowed her eyes. “Hmmm.” She busied herself with the experiment laid out in front of her. “What is it you would have me tell you?”
“I’d like to know more about Rheddrian. What is his agenda? Where did he come from?”
Adriana studied the man thoughtfully. “If Lana is a friend of yours, surely she could have told you all this…”
“Alas, we haven’t been in sustained contact for a while. She merely mentioned her association with you. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate it takes a lot of effort to communicate across a continent.”
The young magic user shrugged her shoulders. “Perhaps. Still I’m sure you’ll appreciate I need to exercise a degree of caution in talking about such matters…”
The wizard raised his eyebrow again, “so you won’t assist me?”
Adriana met the man’s arrogant gaze. “I think I’d prefer if you talked to one of my colleagues. Sylarantharios is in New Alvar at the moment, but once he’s back I’ll mention you to him.” She took up her spatula and began weighing out a dark yellow substance.
The wizard opposite her removed his hands from the desk and said, “I’m afraid that’s simply not adequate.” He removed his gloves, revealing an array of rings, one of which caught the light from the continually lit globes on the wall, reflecting it uncomfortably into Adriana’s eyes.
“You see,” he continued as Adriana squinted, “I need to know everything about this Rheddrian fellow, because I need to know what Lana has gotten herself into.” As he spoke, Adriana felt her eyelids grow heavier, “So I need a little more information before I can…”
“Sorry,” Adriana interrupted, evoking a raised eyebrow, “I’d love to help, but as you can see I’m in the middle of something, and while I don’t know what you were in the middle of doing there, I don’t appreciate it whatever it was.” She stared at the wizard with a steely aspect.
Karnus returned her stare with a neutral look upon his face. As the two wizards locked eyes, Adriana could almost see the man weighing up his options, and earnestly hoped he would simply choose to walk away. “Now,” she said, clearing her throat, “I have things to be getting one with, so if that’s everything…?”
The question hung in the air as the man held the stare for a second longer, before nodding and stepping back. “Very well. I will consult with your colleague. I wish you luck with your experiment. Incidentally, your milk of elfroot seems to be off.”
Adriana looked down in alarm, noticing for the first time the tell tale bluish tint to the liquid in her hand. When she looked up again, the man was gone. She sighed and set down heavily on the stool. Perhaps she should tell Sylarin about this encounter… She decided to put it off until she’d finished the experiment, and with that, set out to obtain more of the spoiled ingredient, perturbed by her conversation with the stern wizard.
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