The central entryway of the Lyceum was less exciting than she would have hoped. Instead of opening up to a vast expanse of books, she found herself in a relatively bland room foyer that was populated by nothing but a small, albeit full bookshelf, a small writing desk, and a thin robed man with his face buried in a tome behind it. The door closed behind her as she entered with an echoing slam. She winced at the loud interruption, but the man didn’t even lift his eyes up out of his book to address her.
Esmina floundered for a moment, lost at what she should do. “Um… Hello?” she asked. Her voice was quiet, but the stone walls made everything in this room amplify all sound.
The man lowered the book to reveal a younger face than she would have expected. The wrinkled face of her imagination was replaced by a bony cheeked face that held a goatee of thick but sparse hairs. He perhaps a decade older than her, as indicated by his widening grin.
“My my, we have a visitor!” His voice was high in pitch and spirit. “What brings you to the Lyceum, milady? Errands?” Then, he frowned, placing a quill in the book to hold his place as he closed it and set it on the desk.. “You’re too well dressed to be a servant, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
“Why would I mind being complimented?” she said. “But please, don’t call me ‘milady’.”
“Forgive me, I simply speak before thinking. It’s a familial disposition, I’m afraid. In any case, I am Bookkeeper Tavis Laethis. It is certainly a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Esmina tugged her dress as she curtsied. “Esmina Rhaun, daughter of Lord Berold Rhaun.”
“Rhaun, you say? My apologies, but I don’t believe I’m familiar.”
“We live in a small estate outside of town. My father manages a farming hamlet called Graywood.”
“I see, I see. So. How may I be of service to you, Esmina Rhaun of Graywood?”
“Well, I consider myself something of a self-taught scholar, so I had always dreamt of coming to an established place of learning such as this.”
Tavis nodded in approval. “Good, good. I could certainly show you around if you like. What areas of study do you prefer?”
“I would love that,” she smiled back. “I hate to say it, but I don’t really have an area of study. I don’t get much access to many books where I live. My father doesn’t really approve of my studies. Though one of my servants gave me a journal of scientific studies in Thornwall for my birthday.”
“All the way from the Sanguine Archipelago? My my, I should like to take a look at that. Is it on your person?”
Esmina shook her head. “No, but perhaps I could stop by tomorrow before we return. I don’t have much time on my hands.”
“I understand,” he replied as he stood from his desk. “Well, why don’t you come this way. I’m certain you will be delighted by what we have.”