Lost in thought, Inaris climbed the steps to the archives with three books in her hands. The first two were scandalous volumes that had fallen short of expectations, and the third was an introductory to knitting (which, while a valiant attempt, had ended in utter failure).
Not watching where she was going she stumbled up the last step that, to her surprise, did not exist, and sniffed indignantly at her clumsiness. Returning the books to the main desk she turned to look around when she caught sight of Dorsett. Completely oblivious to the rest of the room, the man was engrossed in writing down notes and looking at a small stone beside him that emitted a faint light.
Sauntering over she stopped behind the man and peered around him at his work. “Hey there, you. What ya doin‘?”
Dorsett jumped and looked first to the stone, as if it might have done something between then and the last time he looked, and then glanced back at Jade. “Oh– Jade, hello,” he murmured, offering her a weak smile. “Just… just copying a book, you know how it is.” He glanced to the stone. “What are you doing here?”
Inaris’s head listed dramatically to one side as she eyed him. “Returning books and hopin’ to bump into you. What’s that?” she asked, motioning to the stone.
Dorsett looked back at the stone. “Oh, that is… that is…” He stopped, and took a deep breath. “That is a stone which is magically tied to a ring Atanamir wears. It– well, when he wears the ring, the stone is supposed to shine a bright pink. This…” He gestured to the dull white color, “…This means he is not wearing it. And he never takes it off.”
Inaris leaned a little as she peered at the stone. “Does the ring give off any light? Perhaps he’s… somewhere where it might give him away, or he has it hidden to be kept safe…” she offered slowly, hoping herself that it was just that.
Dorsett shook his head. “No, no. It is just black, and it does not… glow, or anything. He always keeps it on so I know he is safe. This is… this is not good.”
Her expression sobered a bit. “Maybe… maybe he was robbed by brigands in the night and he’s currently hunting them down to get his stuff back?” She tried hard to sound encouraging.
Dorsett chuckled a little, quietly. “I doubt it. But I appreciate the thought.” He paused. “I know he cannot be cooped up in the house all the time, but every time he goes out, something like this happens….”
Inaris crossed her arms under her chest and moved to lean against the edge of the table. “Do you know where he went off to this time?”
“Angmar,” Dorsett said with a bit of a shrug, as though it were a perfectly reasonable place to vacation. “He was looking for an artifact of some kind. Took Hallem and Oendir with him. He sounded so confident when he left.”
Inaris arched a brow. She had heard mention of the place more than once, and none of it was ever good. “Yeah… bright and sunny spot to go treasure hunting,” she responded dryly. “No wonder you’re wound so tight.” She then nodded to the stone. “How long since it stopped lookin’ pink?”
Dorsett looked at it again. “A… few days. Four days. I wish there were some easier way of making sure he is all right….”
Inaris hummed in agreement, then turns her keen gaze back to him. “And I suppose you are spending all day staring at it, and sleep with it at night just in case?”
“Well… well, yes. I mean to say, what else would I do with it…”
The young woman huffed and shifted her leaning to stick out a hip. “Not wear it out. You won’t be any good when he comes back if you’re anxious and helplessly sleep deprived.”
Dorsett looked a little guilty. “Well… well, no. But if I do not keep an eye on it I will not know if he is okay.”
Inaris narrowed her eyes at Dorsett as she gave him a look. “Would the stone turn a different color if he died or a different person put the ring on?”
Dorsett hesitated. “No. I mean… just if he put it on again, you know…”
Inaris nodded curtly. “Well, then that settles it.” She extended out a hand and leveled her gaze at him. “I’ll babysit your rock tonight.”
Dorsett blinked. “Oh– no– you do not need to. I can keep it.” While unspoken, “Just in case,” hung readily in the air.
She smirked. “I think I do,” she countered stubbornly. “I promised Atanamir that I’d keep an eye on you. Either you can surrender the rock to me for the night, or we can have a sleepover and I’ll stay up with the rock while you get some rest.” She almost preferred the latter option, imagining the man might need to be force-fed tea and sat on to keep from fidgeting and pacing all night.
Dorsett looked torn, but he eventually picked up the rock and handed it over. “I could just keep it in a cabinet,” he mumbled.
Inaris barked a rich laugh. “Uh-huh. I don’t believe you one bit, Dorsett. If you stuck it in a cabinet you’d just stand there with the door open afraid you might have blinked at the wrong time.”
Dorsett sighed. “I use that thing to read at night, you know. Light without a fire.”
Inaris shook her head at him as she cradled the rock in one hand. “I sympathize for you, but a little warm flame won’t hurt you, and the light of a fireplace is more likely to lull you to sleep. Besides, I’m sure Atanamir has other non-lethal glowing things about the place.”
Dorsett couldn’t argue with that, so he finally gave up. “Have you convinced Drewett that Elves exist yet?” he asked quietly, shuffling his papers around aimlessly.
Inaris ‘s mouth curves in an amused smile. “No, not yet. I’m picking my battles with that one, though I can’t decide if elves or dragons would be a harder topic to sway him on.”
“I think… I mean, could you not start by convincing him that Elves are essentially people who look a little differently than we do? Dragons seem like something that could be only a legend, but Elves…” His voice drifted off before quickly adding, “And we have an Elf or two we could introduce him to.”
Inaris hummed thoughtfully. It would at least be entertaining. “Good point. Think either of your Elves are the type to agree to meetin’ him?”
Dorsett cleared his throat. “I feel like, ehm, like Miss Raenarcam might terrify him just a little, so… maybe Miss Eruviel. She might humor us if we ask nicely.”
Inaris arched a brow. “Worth a shot. Would you mind asking her? I admit I’ve never really talked with an Elf before. Not sure how to approach ’em.” Thinking about it, she was sure approaching an orc would be far easier… of course that she had done.
Dorsett blinked. “Well, um. I suppose I could, yes. I sort of just… say hello, and then…” He trails off, like someone wondering if they had been doing things totally wrong up until now. “But, I mean to say, I can ask her. I suppose it is not terribly important that he believe in Elves, since most people will never see one around here.”
Inaris shrugged. “True enough. Maybe I’ll stick to dragons, then and make a game of it.” She almost carried on, suddenly distracted by how absurdly endearing Drewett’s superstitions were, but she cleared her throat and gave her bangs a toss of indifference.
Dorsett smiled faintly, and started cleaning up his things. “I suppose I should go home. I will see you tomorrow to get the stone back, yes?”
Inaris nodded. “You will. Don’t fret so much, really. I promise that if it changes I’ll go to your place straight away. Try and take a breather, though, all right?” she insisted, more sincerely. “Feed the cats and yourself, and try a hot bath or something. It’ll be all right.”
Dorsett tucked his papers into his bag, and attempted a slightly wider smile. “Thank you, Jade. I will… see you later, then.” He paused for a moment, and then slipped out.
Watching him go, Inaris leaned back against the wall as the door clicked shut behind him. She tossed the stone up to catch it a few times before stopping to inspect it. “I know he’s cute when he frets, but this is just cruel,” she muttered as if the stone could hear her. Tucking the stone safely down the front of her dress, Inaris turned to head for the other exit. “Get your act together and get home.”