They spent another hour or so talking about the guild, the projects it was working on, and how Volker was holding up. He could understand her wanting to keep an eye on him. She'd spent a lot of her personal fortune to ensure the Mage's Guild was on even footing, after all. That understanding did little to ease the irritation he felt at having someone watching over his shoulder. It wasn't that Prince Vanora tried to tell him how to run the guild. Her Ladyship had always been very clear that she was a patron and not an employer.
Perhaps, he mused, it was just an inherent irritability all mages seemed to possess. They would cooperate with each other well enough if it got them access to one another's knowledge, but beyond that they always seemed to get into arguments. Volker couldn't count the number of shouting matches that had echoed through the halls of the guild only to be forgotten the following day.
Whatever it was that needled him during Her Ladyship's visits, he endured it politely and ensured her everything was going well. When she finally took her leave he heaved a sigh and collapsed limply in front of his desk. Now that she was gone others would soon be clamoring for his attention, but for now he could take some time and relax. The peaceful serenity lasted all of five minutes before one of the stewards came looking for an answer to a question. The rest of the day flew by in a buzz of activity that had become routine. He wrote correspondences to other guilds, looked over reports from the mages helping to build new exoskeletons at Redhurst, authorized or denied proposed experiments as common sense allowed, and even found time for a meal or two and a little personal research.
Before he knew it the stewards were closing curtains against cold night air. Candles and lanterns were lit, and the odd fireplace set ablaze in rooms where mages were planning to work through the night. The rest were headed for their beds, many of which were in the guild hall itself. Any mage who wished had a place so long as there was space, and the same held true for Volker. It wasn't precisely the same, of course. As leader of the guild his rooms were bigger and better furnished. They included a private study and a balcony that let him look out over the grounds from the second floor.
His feather bed was sounding particularly inviting, and he'd almost made it when one of the stewards intercepted him. "Sorry to interrupt, sir," he apologized, clearing realizing where Volker had been headed. "But the guards at the gate just sent word. There's someone here to see you."
"Lots of people want to see me," he smiled tiredly. "Tell them it can wait until morning."
"They did sir, she said it couldn't wait, that it was important." The steward wrung his hands slightly, adopting the look of a man who found himself between a rock and a hard place. Clearly the woman didn't want to leave, and just as clearly Volker wanted to be done for the day.
His smile faded. It couldn't be Esme, she was known to the guards. So who could it be, here to see him at the tail end of the day? And what could possibly be so important that it couldn't wait until morning? "Does this person have a name?" he demanded.
"Mayrin, sir. She said it was something to do with a man named Noman. She said you'd understand?" the steward raised his eyebrows hopefully.
"No," he replied carefully. "I don't. But she's succeeded in getting my attention. Have her shown in and take her to the library. I'll meet with her there in a moment."