When Douglas arrived at the manor, he didn’t recognize any of the guards on duty. It was possible they were new- it had been several years after all- or that he simply hadn’t seen them in their duties. As he approached, they tightened their grip on their weapons- likely not because he looked dangerous, but because it was their duty. He wished he could just say what he needed to, but he couldn’t say anything. “Halt!” called one of the guards, “This is the manor of Countess Irieby. State your business.”
Douglas doubted anyone would not realize whose manor it was, but that wasn’t really the point. Douglas wrote his message as quickly as he could and held his slate out to the end of his arm’s reach. “Douglas Lynwood. Here to speak with Gerald.” Douglas wasn’t sure if directly saying he wanted to see the countess would help… and in fact, he couldn’t be sure that she would see him. At the very least, Gerald would remember him.
One of the guards squinted, craning his neck forward- though it barely closed the distance. “Douglas Lynwood?” he looked to the guard next to him, “Go find Gerald and see if he is expecting a Douglas Lynwood.” Then he turned to face Douglas, “Wait here,” he held up a hand. Douglas nodded to indicate he heard and understood.
If Gerald didn’t come… that meant he would have to figure out some other plan. Well, he could set up a tailoring shop he supposed, but it wouldn’t be the best except in terms of repair. He didn’t think any of the nobles knew about him specifically, so soliciting their patronage wouldn’t be much use. Douglas had already thought about the problem on the road, but he still didn’t really have a solution. If only life was something easy to understand like a puzzle.
Douglas was taken out of his thoughts by the return of the guard… and Gerald. Gerald looked up and down Douglas, “Douglas Lynwood… come in,” he gestured, and the guards opened the gate and stepped aside. Douglas stepped forward while wiping the chalk off of his slate. He’d gotten quite good at avoiding getting chalk on himself… at least, too much of it. “I’m sure you have much to say, but there will be time to talk in a moment.” He brought Douglas to a sitting room, and gestured to a couch, “I will return shortly.”
The couch was as soft as he remembered… and it made Douglas aware of how dirty he was from travel. There’d been a place to clean shoes just inside the library, but Douglas wondered if he should have come up with a cleaning spell. The real problem was distinguishing between “dirt” and what belonged… as Douglas pondered the idea, time passed without him realizing it. Then he heard the door open and looked over. Standing in the door was a woman. For a few moments, they just stared at each other.
Then the woman came running towards him, “Douglas!” Douglas barely had time to stand up and try to sign out her name before Lucy was hugging him. “I was so worried about you…”
Douglas hadn’t used his sign language in years, so it took him a few moments to get started. “You… I worried more…” he found his right hand was especially bad at it… not only had he not practiced, but his hand still didn’t work quite right. “Didn’t you get…” Douglas hadn’t come up with a sign for kidnapped- it wasn’t really something that had come up, “…taken?”
Lucy nodded, tears in her eyes. Douglas wasn’t crying, mostly because his body hadn’t caught up to his feelings yet. “Yes. I escaped…” Lucy looked around, but of course the two were the only ones in the room. Even so, she kept her voice low. “Your silent magic helped… then I fled to the north. I ended up in Othius. Then I… well, it’s a long story. What about you? I heard you went to Kheles. Did you see the Endless Library?”
Douglas nodded, then began to sign and write his story, but soon after there was a knock on the door. Gerald opened the door, and behind him was Countess Irieby. The countess smiled slightly as she entered. “How wonderful to see a reunion of two siblings. Your sister was planning to chase after you. How did you find Kheles, Douglas?” She looked over him, “You seem to be in good health. Did you find what you wanted there?”
“I found it. Had to leave.” Douglas wanted to give more details, but writing one sentence at a time limited how verbose he could be. He didn’t really want to waste the countess’ time.
“That’s wonderful. I see you even found a staff while you were there. I hear those are important for wizards.” Countess Irieby sat down on a couch as she said those words, pouring herself tea from a kettle Douglas hadn’t really noticed. “Well? Aren’t you two going to sit?” Countess Irieby shrugged and continued, “I’ll admit, wizards are a secretive bunch… but you weren’t exactly good at hiding it, Douglas.”
Douglas nodded as he sat down. He had already suspected she knew, and even if she didn’t… he hadn’t been planning to keep it a secret. “How long did you know?”
“I had a pretty good idea from when we first met.” Countess Irieby turned to Lucy, “He was going around as a sort of traveling tailor. When one of those to whom he provided services refused to pay him, I happened to be coming to check on the work. I could tell right away the tear was more than just carefully mended… but then he tore it again and fixed it in an hour. Of course, I am quite capable of spotting a stitched tear, even if expertly done… and of course there is always thread on the inside at the very least.” Douglas shrugged. He knew that now but he hadn’t really thought about it at that point. Fixed was fixed, right? Countess Irieby turned her eyes to Lucy, “As for you… you did a much better job requesting all the proper fixtures for making paper… but I already knew about Douglas here.” The siblings didn’t really have anything to say- protesting would be pointless. “Now then, I certainly can use good paper, though the times are such that I am not particularly prioritizing dress repairs… however, I feel like the services of two wizards could be used to greater effect than just mundane affairs. In fact, I could use as many as are available… to that end, I have a job I hope one of you might be able to help with.”