First: A New World
Kael did not sit for long. It was not in her nature to just sit – or she probably would have had far less trouble with heroes and the like. Instead she stood again and brewed several potions in quick succession.
Her ingredient stores were a bit low. She was going to have to venture out into – into that – and see what she could do about it. But first, first she needed a few things.
A potion of Cloak of the Road coated her in clothing appropriate to her station in this place. She looked down at the sleek, snug clothing and approved. This world, whatever it was, had nice clothes. Better than robes, she thought, or the things that people had worn when she’d first reached adulthood.
Her stairs were covered with dust, too. The whole tower looked as if nobody had touched it in – no. No, there in the dust were footprints. They were covered with their own layer of dust – not new, but not all that old, either.
Interesting. Perhaps the spell had been weakening. Perhaps someone had wanted a potion.
She stepped out into the main foyer of her tower and was surprised to find velvet ropes and, even more surprising, a man in clothing not all that dissimilar from her own. He was wearing a placard over his heart that called his allegiance the Kaelingrade Torrent-Step Black Tower and his name Friedrich Vibius.
Well, Kaelingrade Torrent-Step was her, or close enough for the strange shapes of the letters. And this was her Black Tower. “Friedrich?”
“Mr. Vibius,” he corrected. “Are you the new Kael?”
“That would be me,” she agreed. “What, ah.” No, she didn’t want to ask what is this place. “And you are…?”
“I told you.” He frowned impatiently at her. “I’m Mr. Vibius. I run the museum here.”
Museum. That was interesting. A seat of the muses, here in her Tower? Well, she supposed it had slid itself out of time. “How long has the museum been here?”
“What, are you new to the city?”
“That’s a very good way of putting that, yes.” She lifted her chin and gave him her best You Lousy Person Stop Giving Me Trouble look.
He was completely unfazed. “Don’t try that Kael stuff on me. It might be great for the tourists, but it’s not going to do anything on me. I’ve seen seventeen of you girls come and go, and none of them had the ice to chill me. Nothing chills me, girl.”
Tourist. It couldn’t mean one who turned on a lathe, that was silly. Maybe one who – hrng, she was going to need a potion of languages, she supposed. Everything was close enough to be both comprehend-able and baffling. “I’m new to the city, Mr. Vibius. How long has the Museum been here?”
“A hundred years, give or take a week. It is dedicated to Kaelingrade Torrent-Step, I’m sure you knew that much, and our grant insists on certain things, one of those being that the room below the top of the Tower always have a Kael – that’s why we’ve hired you, not because we like the look – and that the very top of the tower always be off-limits. We don’t even clean it, and don’t even think of going in there. You catch kids trying it, you give them your best Why Are You Bothering Me Pesky Mortals act. Yeah, that look. Room, board, and appropriate robes, all back there back stage. Now get robed up and get up to the Kael-room; we’re about to open.”
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