Elderly Concern Anique

Corte de Lions

A faint glow of sunset embarked upon the evening hour of Irae, casting the streets with an orangish glow that was being consumed by darkness. Reflected light from the lamps were slowing taking place where sunlight had once been as they are lit one by one.

Standing near the eastern side of the fountain a woman and her husband had stopped to converse with a woman briefly, their stances relaxed and open. Slowly after shaking their heads and gesturing to the street near the theater, their conversation becomes more animated as they use their hands as if trying to persuade the woman against something.

“Please don’t, at least not by yourself.” The wife can be heard saying while gripping her husbands arm as he steers her away. They could be of little help to the woman if she persisted to inquire about such things.

A familiar tinkle sounds as the door to the Clarity opens, the bookstore hugging the side of the street around the Corte. Perhaps to the questioning woman, it might hold a meaning of a different esoteric level; and yet to those making their way to their homes this evening, the bookstore is just another shop, and the current rumors that run along with it — not exactly something a good citizen would want to adhere themselves with.

Whomever stepped out appears to be regular customers or what it seems, packages under one arm and hastily walking away, the man himself trying to pull up his coat in protection against the coming evening chill. Stocky and bearded, he makes an odd congregation of shadows under one of the lamps outside of the bookstore, now that he takes his package from under his arm and his rheumy eyes spill their sights over the people about, before he lets out a rather intense exclamation at an auburn haired young woman, letting off a loud call of “Miss d’Estelle?”

The familiar chime of that door rings upon the woman’s ears and for a moment she is transported back to another time and place. Mentally shaking herself, Anique refocuses on the couple slowly leaving her company and just as quickly forgets about them and their warning. Slanting her eyes in the direction of the bookshop, she barely makes out a man departing the store.

“Yes sir?” Startled, the young woman turns to the sound of the voice. Her gaze falls upon the bookshop, the place she’d avoided visiting so far, more fully and squints her eyes at the man. Uncertainly, she takes a few steps forward to view him better.

“I remember you.” The old fellow begins quite excitedly for a man of his age as he drags his coat up to fend away the incoming winds; the material of that garment thick and well-worn. “When you were back in your brother’s shop, working.”

“Nikolas, wasn’t it? His name. Nikolas. I doubt you would remember me. We only met once or twice.” The old man prattles on, inserting a long sigh here and there, quite associated with how elderly would speak.

“What a promising man, Nikolas. He was extremely bright too. Did I tell you that I used to teach him before? History, literature.” Fond recollections mist over the old fellow’s watery gray eyes as he blabbers on, not remembering to make a point. “Economics…Oh!” He collects himself and coughs a little, finally acknowledging the fact that he’s been rambling on and on. “Why are you here, Miss D’Estelle? Are you doing deliveries?”

At the mention of her brothers name, Anique’s face immediately lights up and she takes the final strides to listen to the man speak of Nikolas. In her excitement at finally possibly learning something, she doesn’t even notice the chill creeping in through her cloak. Nodding as the elderly man he takes him time remembering, she becomes saddened as the description of his former self.

“No, no deliveries this time. I did work in this very shop about a year ago though. Nikolas was not very happy about that. Do you know the owner of it now?” Anique answers respectfully, her eyes casting over the closed door as she gestures to it.

“I am here looking for Nikolas as it were. I’ve been running our families store since he… well. Our mother is very ill I’m afraid, he should really come home.” And fix what he’s done, she thinks silently. Shrugging, Anique appears to become more upset the more she speaks of it. “You wouldn’t have happened to run into him? I heard news that he was here at some point in the last few months.”

“Your brother? Yes, yes. I did see him a few nights ago here. Just outside this store.” The old man ponders in a musing drawl, his age-mottled hands grasping the package of bound books a little tightly, as if that memory served nothing but bad tidings. “The owner, let me think, it is a man named Elias Rocheforte.” The elderly one continues, his eyes brightening up a little as he turns to look upon the bookstore behind him. “If I am not mistaken, that is.”

“Strange person, and I heard bad things about him recently. Best you do not strike up a contract with him, young lady.” He advised severely as he reverts back his gaze. “And why would Nikolas be upset at you coming here to work anyway?”

The old fellow seems now to be all disapproving and indignant now, perhaps sympathizing rather with the young woman’s situation, and his tone grows soft and comforting now that she’d mentioned something about her mother.

“Wait.” The old fellow suddenly thwaps his hand into his palm and raises both scraggly eyebrows at the young woman. “Now I remember, Miss D’Estelle, something Nikolas told me. He’s here to find something.”

The name Von Karlach does not utter from the elderly man’s lips as Anique had hoped, and his questioning why her brother did not like her working for him was probably why that very man had the answers she needed. Nodding as he instead says another name, her upset subsides at the possibility of finally getting somewhere. “You saw him? How did he look, was he ok?”

The strings of curiosity are tugged upon as she is warned away from the new shop owner. “Surely if he was seen in this shop, I should inquire about it with the owner.” Her gaze seems to drift away for a moment, plotting, darkening, the look of open innocence shifting ever so slightly before it is quickly reigned back in. “I would like to help him but he merely sees me as his younger sister who cannot fend for herself.”

“He didn’t look well.” The old man steps up a bit closer to the young woman, away from the glow of the streetlamp and his boots dig into one of the old drying puddles on the cobbled street. “In fact, he looked rather ill, pale. Like a long illness.”

The geriatric rubs at his ear, pulling the bit of his wool cap down over the stumpy looking appendage. “He said he’s here to look for a book. And only one person he believes has it. Some man he said visited your shop back home.”

A lengthy wheeze shudders out of the old fellow’s papery lips and he glances down for a length of time at the bound package in his hands. “Certainly it was not in that bookstore, that’s when I met Nikolas; he went in and he came out, empty-handed.”

“Before he left, he told me, if I ever saw the former owner of the bookstore come back, I must send missive to him immediately.” The old fellow’s wrinkled face deepens into a valley of frowns before launching into a soliloquy why one must never also speak to that previous owner as well. “von Karlach, that was his name. Learned man but spooky. Very spooky. He had the best books I heard. You know too, don’t you. But Nikolas…” The old man swallows and becomes quiet, not willing to speak anymore; and seemingly looking uncomfortable.

Anique notices the man seeming to lose his composure, the cold settling about his frame as he starts to close himself off. A slow grin spreads across her lips, knowing exactly what she needs now. “I was employed by von Karlach for a full year, how dangerous could he possibly be really? I am in perfect health, not a scratch on me.” Anique offers up an ounce of reassurance for the old man’s peace of mind that she held no true belief in.

Appearing anxious now to get going, she shifts from one foot to the next and puts her gloved hand against the elderly mans cheek. “It’s cold out, would you like some help? I must go see someone before it gets much later but I’d be happy to assist you and perhaps you can tell me what you were about to say about Nikolas.”

The old man shakes his head promptly, and he leans forth, rather close to the young woman, pressing his gloved hand on her forearm. “I can go home by myself. It is not that late yet.” He peers slowly at her, as if examining Anique’s words for truth.

“I tell you what I feel in these old bones, Miss D’Estelle. It’s never wrong.” He grunts slowly, a breath drawn deep and chokeful of the salty air. “Nikolas is staying at the inn in the village near to the City. In Este.”

The old man drops his hand from Anique’s arm, stuffing that hand into his coat’s pocket and pushing his package of books under his arm. “It is half a day’s walk and quicker by carriage. Maybe he will tell you more himself.”

“Thank you sir, very much. You’ve been a tremendous help to me.” Anique smiles warmly at the old man, hoping to relieve any of the worry the latter part of the conversation might have caused. The last thing she needed was someone else looking too deeply into what she was truly after.

Without further comment, she pulls her cloak closely around her small frame and begins down Triada toward the theater. Oh, she’d see her brother.. eventually. She suspected he would not be pleased to see her either. But first, she’d have to get through tonight.

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