It only took Amanana a moment to recover from the surprise Veronika had given her.
“Time travel.” She chuckled, although it was a bit weak. Then she nodded her head slowly, as if in acknowledgement. “Indeed. You’re more clever than I thought, and that is definitely saying something. You’re quite good.”
“The clues are all spelled out in the testing, though,” Veronika protested. “I was supposed to figure it out, wasn’t I?”
“Well, if you were, that was Miryam’s doing and not mine, as I’ve never been told anything for the sort. Perhaps she has been hoping for someone to realize it before they’re tasked with a mission that involves the timeline, but some of the things Miryam does have a method to their madness, and sometimes they are just, well… Madness. Ahem. Time travel. Yes, that is something that the Bellamy makes very careful use of. Of course, we also make use of magic, as I believe you’ve guessed or noticed, and of a couple different inter-dimensional travel methods, as well as the protections upon the building itself and the nature of the building itself, which like all good archives, uses more than a bit of space-folding. I do believe we had a young archivist who was also an architecture student attempt to make a set of floor plans of the Bellamy. Sadly, they went insane – or so the story goes. That was before my time, or at least, that was at a time when I wasn’t here. Sometimes the time flow here really does get a bit confusing.”
“And all of this on my first day.” Veronika shook her head, sipped her water, and nibbled on another biscuit. “The Bellamy doesn’t believe in getting people slowly acclimated, do they? It’s sink or swim – and from what everyone’s telling me, most people sink.”
“Some manage to swim. Some manage to swim for a few days or a few months or years before suddenly they sink, and that can be more detrimental both to them and to the archive. Some just run away screaming – which is likely better for them and is better for the Archive, because, frankly, none of us like it when someone dies on the job. It’s awful, even if we’ve barely known them.” Amanana considered the bottom of her own cup woefully. “I’ve become quite attached to you already, you know.”
“I was starting to get that feeling, yes. Why?” Veronika was surprised at her own forthrightness, but on the other hand, she thought maybe this was something she might actually get a straight answer on.
“Oh, I don’t know. I imagine some of it is your fire. Some of it is definitely the way you handled Lady Knight-West. That was quite impressive. And you came to me willing to keep going until you had finished that entire list, which is just amazing, I have to say. And you have been quite enjoyable to talk with. I hope that you find yourself coming up to Supernatural and Occult quite often in the future – if you want to, I’ll show you a route which involves neither ghosts nor damning windows. It’s a bit longer than the ghost route, but it does avoid having to keep up with quite so much gossip. And well, let me see. Some of it is definitely how cute you are. Which may be awful of me and you may glower and frown all you want, but there are some things I can’t quite help, and that is one of them. I don’t see looks first, I don’t often even consider them second, but I do absolutely enjoy beautiful things, and you, Miss Bellamy, are a beautiful thing.”
She sipped her water and looked away for a moment, either to compose herself or to give Veronika a chance to compose herself.
Veronika found that she was a little flushed and a little distracted, possibly even considering how attractive Amanana was in turn – very, of course. She’d noticed that before.
She took a polite sip of her water. “You’re quite kind. But I think that I will – ah. That I will continue to believe that you think that I’m fun to talk to. It’s a bit easier to believe.”
“Give it time, Miss Bellamy, give it time. You’ll see both eventually. But, well, we seem to be done with our snack. How are you feeling?”
“I am-” Veronika gave the question due consideration. “I think I’m all right. I don’t have any numbness anymore, I don’t feel like I’m going to scream, and I don’t feel woozy. I’m still vexed, but I do believe that’s to be expected, given the circumstances, yes?”
“Given the circumstances, I would be a little concerned if you didn’t feel a bit vexed. Perhaps quite a bit vexed. Well then, in the interests of you finishing your first day before Miryam forgets who you are, let’s get you to the bone room.”
“I can – could likely – probably ought to try to – find my own way,” Veronika protested, but her heart wasn’t in it.
“You could, and perhaps you ought, but indulge me, would you? I dont’ get a chance to get out of my cave all that often.”
“It’s a very nice cave.” She said it almost without thought and was rewarded with one of those bright smiles that seemed to make her sit up straighter.
“Why thank you. I do endeavor to make it nice. Regardless, however, it is a bit of a cave. So let’s go look at someone else’s cave, shall we? To the bones!” She pointed off dramatically.
Of course, the drama was ruined a bit by packing up Veronika’s cart again before they could go off on their adventure, as it were. When they headed off, it wasn’t so much with a grand flourish as with the trundle of wheels and the click of their shoes.
Still, they were going to the skeleton room. And that seemed to be dramatic enough.