He really had to be out of shape if the Tower’s endless stairs were giving him that much trouble. Eihall paused to catch his breath, leaning against one of the pillars that lined up the hall. How long had it been since he’d wandered down these corridors?
Eihall’s mouth quirked up as he remembered his first visit to the city, recalling the wonder that it had held for him then. He had studied under Aristophe for nearly a year, chased Salo and Quinne into the labyrinthine passageways that made up the lower levels of the library. His hands ran slowly down the rough stone of the pillar, sobering up. Now Quinne was gone, and Salo headed up the Healer’s Guild. And him? With a sigh he pushed away from the pillar and moved slowly to the alcove of the Keepers. He whistled to Tiernag as the chimera doubled back, curious eyes taking in the stone rooms.
“Later I will take you to visit Tereg. Its overdue.” He promised with a small smile, crouching down to scratch behind his ears and just under his jaw. A promise was a promise, after all, and it would give him the chance to catch up with the boy. “In the meantime, behave. Don’t eat any of the sendings.” Tiernag whuffed at his hand and Eihall stood up again and led him into the small room.
It was clear that some things remained the same; the noise level rose as one crossed the threshold, the cacophony of sendings and assorted creatures slipping out of their habitats and into the common center room. He looked up to the tree that housed the winged guests, marveling at the bright orange blooms that curled up towards the light. Set in the corner that faced the outside of the building it spread out its branches alongside the inner walls, testing its reach. Upon them sat a half dozen brightly coloured feathered sendings, chirping to one another as they plucked at the blooms with their talons.
Obviously used to the safety of the tower none really paid attention to Tiernag as he padded to the tree and put his front paws on it, watching the creatures just out of reach. The bark shuddered under him and with a startled yip he moved away, returning to Eihall’s side with a rather contrite expression.
Eihall chuckled and patted his side. “I did warn you. Wouldn’t be much of a chimera hold if you could go around eating one another, would it?”
At his words he heard a soft laugh just behind him and whirled with a frown, unhappy at being caught unawares.
“Sorry.” A woman stepped out of one of the smaller rooms still stifling a laugh, but at his expression rearranged her lips more evenly. “Apologies, I didn’t mean to laugh. But you’re right, it wouldn’t. I can just imagine all the complaints we would be getting… no offense, but mages can be an irascible lot.”
“I’m not —“ He began defensively, aghast at the thought that she’d think him a mage. He wasn’t a Questor, and he wasn’t one of the researchers or alchemists that frequented the library form. “I’m not a mage, strictly speaking. I’m here visiting.”
At first think she didn’t appear to be one either. Gone were the robes so usual in the tower, as she favoured a loose pair of trousers and a long belted tunic instead. Her dark hair was held back from her face into a ponytail and he cleared his throat as he realized her bright eyes were watching him as he took her in.
“There aren’t many visitors these days. I’ll have to have the name of the person you are here to see to put it in the log. Oh, and this one’s name.” She crossed the room towards them both and held out a hand to Tiernag; the chimera sniffed it discreetly and then looked back at its companion.
“Tiernag. This is Tiernag, I mean. And I’m Eihall.” He remembered the log book, and tore his gaze from her towards the book. At least they still kept it in the same place. “I came here to see sep Aristophe, and I am not sure how long my business will keep me here. I have lodgings in the city, but while I am here —“
“Sep Aristophe?” her eyes moved sharply to his face before she turned aside to retrieve the book. “He doesn’t see too many people, particularly this early. For your sake I hope you’ve an appointment.” She smiled. “Tiernag. I haven’t seen his like in person before, though I am familiar with most breeds. He’s beautiful.”
Eihall snorted. “He certainly agrees with you.” He could almost feel him preening, just then. “And yes, I do. I was summoned, so I am not sure how long it may take me to attend to my business today, tem.”
“No matter, Tem Eihall.” She flashed him another smile, and held out a small piece of paper. “He will be well cared for until you can retrieve him. Today at least he might even end up with a habitat all his own - many of the mages are away at the city celebrations, I am told. Will there be anything else?”
Eihall shook his head, carefully putting the small document in his pocket.
“No Temu. Thank you for your care with him. Tiernag is a good friend, and I am sure he will behave for you.”
“No doubt.” With that she withdrew with the chimera into one of the small side rooms. Eihall waited a minute longer and then headed up; it was always a poor idea to keep Aristophe waiting.