I wasn't sure if I was happy or not that we arrived. It was already getting dark when we got there. The city was busy as ever though, the twilight only made the crowd harder to navigate through. Something about the horses made people move out of the way though. We arrived at the Castle fairly easily, heading for the stables immediately.
The stable boys weren't very happy to see us. It took a moment to figure out what was wrong, but apparently the stables were quite full with a large group visiting the Castle. Usually there was always some empty ones, but it seemed the horses might have to stay outside. I let them handle it after a kind word that it was alright.
Deirdre followed me into the castle. There weren't many students about, it was just after dinner when most of them made themselves scarce into town or their rooms. Pity we missed the food, but I didn't really feel like eating in company anyway.
We headed for the Master's room, curious if there would be anyone there. Deirdre waited in the corridor, behaving very neatly with so many possible prying eyes present. There was a tension in the air everywhere here. Not just that of study but something a lot more tangible. The people in the city didn't look aggressive towards the Castle though. I wondered what was going on. Perhaps I would find it out soon.
I knocked on the door.
"Enter." I didn't recognise the voice.
Nor, after I entered the room, the Master. He was old and dressed like one but he didn't look at all familiar. Or kind for that matter. His expression was, for lack of a better word, nasty. Unsatisfied with the world around him. The room itself had changed a little as well. The desks were somewhat cleaner and the books against the wall looked more organised as well.
He looked up sharply. "Yes?"
"I've got messages from Rockwall, Master."
"Show them." His voice was snappy too.
"Your ring please, Master?"
"Don't talk nonsense, give me the messages."
Now... I'm usually very polite towards those around me. Especially Masters or those holding an important trade. And I wouldn't say that I always followed rules as well as I should, but this was bugging me. A lot. Until a thought came into my head. A test. It could be just a test. It wouldn't be easy, but refusing was the only right thing to do in this case.
He looked slightly surprised through his irritation. "What?"
"No, Master. I will not give them until you show your ring."
He smiled, grimly. "Good." He held up his hand up to show the signature ring on his finger as he turned it back to the outside.
It was a Master's ring. And not just any, it looked like a much more expensive variant. Just a tad more gleam, shine, and detail in it. I just nodded and retrieved the messages from the bag with care and handed them to him. I bowed slightly after he'd taken them and wanted to turn around. I didn't exactly appreciate his company.
"Did I give you leave, boy?"
I turned back and bowed again. "No, Master. I apologize."
"Good. There's been some change in the Castle the past few days. You have completed most of your studies here, is that right?"
I blinked. "Yes, Master."
He frowned. "Why choose to be a messenger?" His tone of voice made it clear that he definitely deemed it a lowly occupation.
"Exploration, Master. I love to learn and see new things."
He looked genuinely surprised and, for the first time, not annoyed. "I see. Report back here tomorrow evening."
I bowed. "Yes, Master." His voice was really grating across my nerves. But I could see some intelligence behind his eyes.
I nodded and left the room as quietly as I could. Happy too see Deirdre standing outside. Though she didn't look that happy anymore. She had a worried look on her face when I got closer. She headed for me as soon as she saw me, taking me by the hand and leading me away, towards my room. She said just one thing while we were almost running through the corridors.
"I saw them."