The bell of the door clanged noisily as she entered, causing her eyes to swivel upward and her nose to wrinkle with suspicious curiosity. She hated when her presence was announced but of course, an owner of a shop had to know who was entering and leaving to avoid theft.
Taking her eyes off the quivering coppery bell, she cast her eyes about the dingy store. It was an old store for sure but well taken care of from the look of things. The owner clearly took pride in his business.
She began browsing the shelves of rolled up maps and atlases. A few were even housed in well bound, old books, and several were hanging on the walls and in the windows as examples of what one expected to find in such a shop. There was even a sign that boasted a talent for making maps or blue prints for practically anything. In fact, she noted, as she picked up a set of blue prints that had fallen behind one of the shelves, the man apparently own blueprints of many of the old buildings and factories, the one in her hand being that of a textile mill, apparently very much like the one she had seen that very morning.
As she placed it back in its rightful place she took note that the owner had come out from the back of the store and was watching her thoughtfully. When she turned to look at him he smiled genially, his bright yet old graying eyes revealing a gentle and honest mind within.
Ryalyn reached up and removed her hood, Ayden quickly ducking into its folds to avoid being seen. As she smiled gracefully back at the old man she knew that he would cause her no trouble.
"Can I help you, miss?" he asked in a kind voice as she approached the counter.
Her eyes, a bright periwinkle blue this morning appeared normal despite their gentle amusement.
"Actually, I do hope so. I'm new in town and I would like a map so I can find my way around." She smiled awkwardly at him as she added thoughtfully, "I'm not exactly used to the city ... "
"Ah! Then you've come to the right place!" He answered with quite a lot of energy for an old man. "I can get you just what you need, as well as a bit of advice which is, of course, no extra charge." He winked at her and came out around the counter. "If you'll follow me..."
The old man, 'Jonas' as he introduced himself, sped off to a shelf near the front of the shop, Rya following curiously in his wake. Mumbling to himself, he thumbed through several rolls of parchment before exclaiming "Ah! Here we are!" as he pulled one of the rolls down. He beckoned her to a table where he spread it out for her to see properly.
"A work of mine a few years old, though I assure you just as up to date. Very nice example of prime mapmaking, done using the older, much finer arts, if I do say so myself! I simply don't use that nonsensical rubbish that they use in the newer shops around!" His tone starting out proud then turned to annoyance as he reminisced about his new age competition.
Rya smiled gently at him and said, "Well, I assure you I quite agree. I've been looking for the perfect shop since I arrived this morning and it seemed to me that yours was by far better than any of those others you speak of."
She was not mocking, only kind and honest and the old man picked up on it immediately. He was quite the clever little man and seemed to have a nose for people and their intentions. As he thanked her for her compliment and their conversation continued she studied the man with sweet, curious eyes. She felt quite fond of him and he was most definitely interesting to her. He had an honorable air about him that spoke of the old ways and old courtesies as was the way with most of the older generations she would come to find in the future. And despite the man living in the middle of the crime ridden city, he still stuck to his morals and good upbringing. Thus, he was exactly the man she had been searching for.
The conversation that she had been taking part in as she thought to herself shifted to sudden seriousness and she paid specifically close attention, pushing all leeward thoughts aside.
Now miss, I must warn you as you are quite fair and seemingly a not-to-distant relative to elves, ... " he paused eyeing her features with sad, serious eyes, "to be extremely careful with any gifts or talents you may have." His voice had dropped to a whisper so that she had to lean in to hear him better.
"I don't mean to offend -" and at this he looked worried at which she placed a kind hand on his, a signal for him to continue, "but my wife was one ... Her father taught me the ancient ways of mapmaking as a matter of fact ... And ... well, she had abilities..."
"Nothing serious," he added quickly, "only a simply healing gift ... and she was taken away. They told her to renounce her ... talent ... but she wouldn't and so they had her disposed of ..." He voice trailed of, tears glittering in his gentle eyes.
Rya patted his hand, understanding immediately his stress on the words he used. He seemed completely unable to say the word 'magic' most likely out of painful memories of the past lingering as present fears. Soothingly she said quite earnestly, "I assure you I will be extremely careful." She looked deep into his eyes. She saw something stirring there and saw the outward movement of the man shaking himself to his senses.
He cleared his throat and said more strongly though dropping to a whisper once more to avoid being overheard, "I'm glad to hear you say so. Any sign or use of talent is illegal here and will end you up in jail and I'd hate to see such a nice girl like you have her life end so quickly and at such a young age." At this he laughed and sat up straiter, motioning to himself as he did so. "Besides, so few people reach the ripe old age of me anymore, I hardly have much company!" She laughed heartily with him, smiling genially.
"Well, we better get you rung up and moving. I'm sure you have much to do here in the city. And much to see besides!" He stood, leading her to the counter where he gave her the cost (much reduced than she knew it should be) and she gave him the money (more than the original cost). He looked at the extra money with concern and motioned as if to give it back but she shook her head and smiled.
"You have been much to helpful to me today and I gladly give you a tip." She winked at him in much the same way he had earlier and took the map off the counter, depositing it gently into her rucksack. Hesitantly he stared at the money and then, with her encouragement, deposited it where it belonged, smiling genuinely at her.
"Thank you kindly miss!" he said, his old zest in him again.
"And thank you, kind sir! May you always stay in business for those of us who wander lost..."
With a last flashing smile she drew her hood up over her head, hiding her face, and turned, departing graciously out of the tinkling door.