Aeramin Firewind read through the answers one of the students had given on the latest test as he took a bite of the sandwich that Tik had brought to him in his office at the school. He twitched an ear as he heard a knock on the door. “Come in.” he said, not looking up until the door was fully open. His ear twitched once more upon seeing who it was. “Hello, Julan. You know I’ve been asked not to provide you with portals for a while.”
Julan smiled, “I thought you might make an exception.” He walked in and half-sat on the edge of the desk with one thigh along the edge and the other foot planted on the floor.
Aeramin sighed and looked up at him. “Julan, no exceptions.”
“Please! I miss everyone there, and I just want to visit for a little while. No one wants to do anything out here! Besides, I’m curious to find out if there’s any news.”
“About the murders! I hope no one else has gone missing. The last one to disappear was practically just a kid. I don’t even know if they found him or not.”
“You could just ask Imralion. He’s investigating the murders on the Row. He hasn’t mentioned finding anything new, but if you want news, he’s the one to talk to.” He paused a moment before adding, “And don’t you dare flirt with him.”
“Please, it would be easier if you just made a portal. Then I could just ask my friends there in person.”
Aeramin sighed, “That would be fine, except that’s not all you’ll do while you’re there.”
“You’re welcome to join in.” Julan flashed a smile and winked.
Aeramin leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Julan, I have a boyfriend. We’ve been over this before.”
“And your boyfriend has been seeing one of the ranger ladies, and how long have you been with him? You said a few years, right? But your daughter hasn’t even seen her first year yet. I’m not stupid. I can tell an open relationship when I see one. Besides, I wouldn’t tell. You could take me right now on this desk, and no one would be the wiser.”
“Julan, no, and my relationship with Imralion is not as open as it appears to you. Didn’t the Captain suggest getting an animal or something so you would be able to keep busy and adapt to life off the Row a bit better?”
Julan frowned, “Umm, yeah. I got a book about animals so I can pick one.”
“Maybe you could go read that instead of bothering me for a portal when you know I can’t make one for you.”
“Maybe I’ve already read it.”
“Oh, really? Where’s your animal then?”
Julan grinned, “Right here.” He deftly swung both legs up on the desk and scooted to sit in front of Aeramin in one swift motion, knocking papers on the floor. He let his legs dangle off the desk, one on each side of Aeramin, and his thighs spread. He leaned back a bit, bracing himself with his hands and breathlessly said, “My animal is aching for attention.”
“Julan…” He was interrupted by a knock at the door. He lowered his voice,“Get off the desk. You almost sat on my sandwich.”
Julan frowned, but did as asked. He stood next to the desk as Aeramin went to open the door.
Julan stood frozen with a look of fear as student known as Lhoris entered the room.
“Oh look, there’s two whores now.” Lhoris said, regarding Julan, “Why are you here? Are you teaching dick conjuration or something?”
Julan stared at the student as Aeramin answered, “Alinash Brightblaze,” Aeramin said, making a point to use the student’s real name, “ I see you remember Julan. He recently moved to the area, and joined the rangers. Julan, you remember Alinash, don’t you? He’s going by Lhoris for now.”
“Remember him? There’s wanted posters up for him on some of the boards. You do remember what he used to do, right?” Julan spoke quietly, the fear apparent in his quivering voice.
“No one is in danger here. I’m only here for food.” Alinash stated.
Aeramin glanced at Julan, “Don’t worry. I have a feeling his ruse is almost at an end. He’s in the magic student classes now, and he’s going to have to come up with his tuition money. Unfortunately for him, the rich mother he’s made up doesn’t really exist.”
“Actually, I came here to talk to you about that.” Alinash said, then glanced at Julan before adding, “In private.”
Julan walked close to the wall, putting as much space between himself and Alinash as possible, “I was just leaving anyway.”
Aeramin waited for the door to close, “I’m not giving you a loan or anything. You’re going to have to go somewhere else to eat for free.”
“I’m not here for food.” Alinash took a seat in one of the two chairs on the other side of the desk.
“I figured that wasn’t the entire truth. What are you here for?”
Alinash hesitated and twitched an ear. He leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees, “A book.”
“There are a lot of books in this house. Magister Fairsong has built up an impressive library in the few years he’s lived here. I assume there’s a specific book you need?”
“Yes. It’s called Time to Cast, and I’ll leave as soon as it’s found. I have reliable information that it’s here, somewhere. I’ve checked the library, and bookshelves in almost every room. There are three rooms I haven’t been able to even get a glimpse of. The headmaster’s office, practice room and bedroom. I thought you, being a teacher here and his friend, may have access to one or more of these rooms. Will you help me find it?”
Aeramin leaned back in his chair, only noticing now that the stack of papers he had been grading was still half on the floor. He didn’t move to pick them up, opting instead to keep his eyes on the young elf on the other side of the desk. “You want me to help you steal a book from my friend? There had better be something in it for me.”
“You want me to leave, right?”
“If I wanted you to leave that badly, I’d turn you over to the blood knights. I happen to be very well acquainted with one.” Aeramin crossed his arms
“No! I just want this book. What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything in particular. I just don’t want to steal from my friend. Perhaps we can compromise. Do you absolutely need the original copy, or do you just need the content?”
Alinash hesitated a moment before answering, “I need a translated copy, from Thalassian to Common.”
Aeramin paused thoughtfully before nodding slightly. “I’ll look for it. When and if I find it, I will keep it in my possession. I will allow you to copy and translate it while I’m able to keep an eye on you. Afterwards, I will return the book it’s original location, and you will leave. Does that sound acceptable?”
Alinash frowned, “It would be faster if you allowed me to copy it on my own.”
“I don’t trust you.”
“I don’t really have another option then, do I?”
“No, you don’t. I’ll let you know if I find it.”
Alinash frowned and got up to leave the room.
Aeramin waited until the door clicked shut before leaning over to pick up the papers.