The woman that entered the library was a little on the short side, slight of frame, dark skinned, dark haired, and very obviously a mage. Not outwardly obvious, perhaps. The hooded cloak she wore was made of nondescript grey wool. The clothes underneath stood out a little more - knee high boots, leather pants and a cotton top tied with silk scarves at the elbows. Definitely not the robes of a mage. And young... she was far too young to be a mage in her own right. An apprentice, perhaps, but nothing more.
And yet, Volker was certain she was a studied practitioner of the magical arts. Part of it was in the way she moved, a self assured confidence bordering on arrogance that came from knowing you could alter the reality of the world around you. By far, however, it was the sixth sense all mages possessed which told Volker what she was. He could feel the touch of magic on her, and he sat a little straighter in his chair as she approached.
"Guild Master Volker, I assume?" she asked, voice high and airy. There was a trace of an accent in her words, not enough to muddle the pronunciation and just enough to add an intriguing spice.
"You assume correctly, young lady." He stood across the room from her, next to a table which held a full tea service. He didn't know how long this was going to take, and if he had to be up instead of in bed he might as well have some tea. "Mayrin, was it?" he asked, and gestured for her to come towards the table.
"Yes, that's right," she nodded, which set a cascade of black curls in motion across her shoulders. As she came closer he saw that she might be as young as she looked, though she was still younger than he was.
"Tea?" he offered.
"Thank you," she accepted a cup and they both took a chair, one across the table from the other. "And thank you for seeing me," she added.
He made a scoffing noise. "They said you refused to leave unless I saw you, so here we are."
"Even so. You could have let me stand outside all night harassing your guards."
"And I would have," he said bluntly, "had you not mentioned Noman." He gave her a narrowed eyed look. "What do you know about him? And why have you come asking for a dead man?"
"Dead?" For a moment there was a flicker of doubt in Mayrin's eyes. Volker noted that with interest. No one but a handful knew Noman was still alive, and if she was hear on behalf of one of them Mayrin would have dropped their name as well. And yet, she'd come here expecting to find Noman alive and well.
"That's right," Volker continued the lie. "He died during the Incursion some months ago."
"No," the young mage frowned into her tea. "That's not right. He's here, alive and whole. I thought he would have... but he's not here?"
"No... no, he's not." He took a slow sip of his tea, regarding Mayrin over the edge of the cup as he did so. "What do you know of Noman?" he asked again.
"I know he's Airea's champion, that he both began and ended the Incursion, and that he yet lives." She shifted her weight in the chair and looked towards a nearby window, seeming to look through it despite the drawn curtains. Volker tried to stifle his surprise at how much this mysterious visitor seemed to know. "He's here," she continued, "and I need to find him."
After a pause to consider, he asked, "Why?"
Mayrin looked back at him, her gaze a little more suspicious than it had been. "Because if I don't the demons will swallow the world."
"Are you talking about another Incursion?" Volker demanded. He'd had his fears ever since the last one. If had happened once it could happen again, and if Noman really didn't have the stone anymore...
"No," she pressed her lips together into a tight line. "I shouldn't say more. Master Volker, can you help me find Noman?"
"I..." he hesitated, fingers idly turning his teacup back and forth where it sat on the table. Finally he sighed. "We'll talk again tomorrow. I may have some information for you then. Do you have a place to stay?"
"I rented a room before coming here, yes."
"Can I ask where?"
"A tavern called The Barrel."
Volker wasn't sure if he should be amused or worried at the coincidence. The Barrel, after all, was where Noman had made his home just before the Incursion. "I'll send a message there for you," he told her. "But I can't promise I'll have anything you want to hear."