"You're Nicodemus." Abby stuttered, realizing just who the man was. "I was given a sealed letter to give to you as part of my duties when reporting in to your team."
"I kind of figured it was something like that, but I haven't had a team in a long time. Truth be told, I rarely leave this building anymore." The man revealed, his face betraying neither shock nor surprise that Abby had been sent to him. "I really should have figured it out from the beginning as soon as I saw you, but you've got a lot more of your father's features than I care for. Count yourself lucky that you at least inherited some of your mother's features. Like the color of your hair or the ability to use the arcane."
An uneasy feeling flooded Abby's body as she processed the words this man was saying. Nicodemus had known her parents or at least claimed to have known them. "How did you know them? She asked suspiciously, her voice tinged with a healthy edge of skepticism.
Nichodemus laughed, an empty and hollow laugh that hinted at self-loathing and bitterness. "Of course I knew your parents, Marie was my daughter, and her husband, your fool of a father, was the bane of my existence. His ability to irritate and disappoint, I'm sure he learned from his father."
Abby hardened her jaw, avoiding the impulse to grind her teeth or attack the man outright. The more the man spoke, the angrier she got. Resenting that he was making these outlandish claims and maligning both her treasured grandpapa and the father she had lost as an infant.
Seeing the look, Nicodemus frowned, raising an eyebrow. "Yes, your grandfather, the one that's kept you hidden away from the world, hoping no one would figure out what you are. He's a damn fool, and I'll repeat it as many times as needed to get that point across. None of this would have ever happened had he just listened to me when I told him how things were going to work out."
"I don't believe any of this. This was a mistake; grandpapa must have made a mistake I don't belong here. There's no way that I can work with you." Abby yelled as she turned to leave, getting ready to run out the door.
Nicodemus followed behind her, grabbing her by the shoulder before she could leave. "That would be a mistake. If he sent you my way, it's a sign that going back would be dangerous for you. That man was always jealously protective of you. He would never have sent you my way unless he thought he had no other choice."
"Let go of me," Abby demanded, her gauntlet starting to pulse with the white energy of the Builders, preparing to dismantle the door in front of her and use the pieces to put distance between her and Nicodemus.
"Find, you want proof? Here's your proof since you don't seem to care enough about yourself to realize how hard the future is about to get. You said you didn't bother to read the sign that showed my shop was closed, right? Did you at least catch the name?" Nicodemus shouted, trying as he did to make a point he thought was critical.
Abby didn't want to have anything more to do with the man. She shrugged off his hand, starting the process of destroying the door as Nicodemus held onto the door handle to prevent her from leaving.
"Just look ok? Just look." He asked, his voice getting softer, almost desperate.
"I already saw it. You think you're clever, right? Having a store simply named supplies." Abby's words intentionally cutting, and though she wasn't a cruel person or a mean one, the man had angered her. She just wanted to leave, even if she had nowhere or idea of where to go.
"Did you catch the full name, not just the last part that said supplies? Look again." Nicodemus asked, probing, guiding her.
"Fine, I'll look, and then you can stay out of my way, and let me be." She responded irately towards him as he nodded, moving away, letting her open the door and peak out. Abby glanced up, past the words reading supplies. The man was right; supplies were just part of the name.
When she saw what it said, Abby dropped to her knees and cried. Nicodemus tried to gently guide her back into the store, away from prying and unfriendly eyes that might see something and raise concerns.
The name of the store was "Ruthiare's Supplies." The man was right. They were family.
"I didn't mean to make you cry," Nicodemus said awkwardly, trying to diffuse the situation, uncertain how to respond to her emotions. "Believe what you want to believe, leave if you want to, but you don't have to. You've got a place here. You can follow me to the back, and you can stay in your mom's old room. I've tried to keep it like it was when she was just a girl."
Nicodemus motioned with his head for Abby to follow him and turned walking away. He grabbed hold of the cloth curtain that separated the shop from the rest of the building and held it open. He turned away to see if Abby was following him. "Come on now, don't just stand there, follow me. We've got a lot to cover and not a lot of time to do it."
Not yet moving Abby asked him one question. "Is this where my mother grew up? Running this store with you?"
"Ha, no." Laughed Nicodemus as he held the curtain, leaning against the wall, knowing Abby would follow. "She grew up here, but it wasn't always a shop. This used to be the adventurers guild, back when that was still a thing. Back before the Empire outlawed guilds. This is where your mother learned the basics of being an arcane mage. You want to know more? Come along."
"Yeah, I guess I do." Admitted Abby as she did a light jog to catch up with him and passed through the curtain.
Nicodemus smiled, and with a word towards the Homoculous's Abby had created, instructed them to lock up shop.
"First things first, let's head to your mother's room. It's downstairs in the basement in the sparring quarters."
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