-Inside Ernest's house-
Victoria stood in the foyer of a small but serviceable house that belonged to Ernest. On the wall in front of her were diplomas hanging in glass picture frames that had no dust on them whatsoever. It was obvious that they had been positioned to show his guests that their host was no lazy alcoholic but a university-educated man who used to be a professor at Crocus Magicka University before undisclosed problems caused his fall from grace. It also went to show that poverty was not limited to people the rich considered to be lazy and worthless, which was anyone who had not been born into their exclusive club. It was not something brought about by moral failings but was an unfortunate event that could happen to anyone in any social class or occupation.
Ernest guided her to the right and into a small room that was his living room. The hunter green wallpaper was peeling off the walls, but the floor was as clean as it could be and there was no dust around the baseboards. There was a small bookshelf sitting against the right wall crammed with books, magazines, and actual paper newspapers that were a bit mildewed but still legible. Just to the left of the bookshelf was an old leather recliner that was missing some patches of leather from the back and armrests but was otherwise intact. In the seat sat a book on magic theory, whatever that was.
"So, what brings you here, Miss?" Ernest asked her. Victoria took a closer look at the man and noticed that he wore an old gray turtleneck with black dress pants and black shoes that had been recently polished. He still had a full head of hair that had been recently cut, but it was turning gray. He was a well-dressed man for this area and looked the part of a former academic.
"I'm here because you sent for me." Victoria replied. He looked at her and tilted his head to the left.
"And who might you be?" He asked her.
"I'm Victoria Sheridan. I'm a member of the Legal Guild Sabertooth." She replied, rolling up her left sleeve and showing him the guild tattoo on her left shoulder.
"Oh, yes! I remember you now! I remember that last name too!" He told her. Victoria was clearly surprised to hear that.
"Really?" Victoria asked.
"Yes. I met two Sheridans about twelve years ago. Come into my kitchen and I'll tell you the story over a drink." He invited her. Victoria nodded and the pair went left into a small kitchen with black-and-white checkboard tile flooring.
-Inside the kitchen-
"I met two Sheridans over twelve years ago, back when I was still at the university." He started his story while opening a small, single-door refrigerator with an exterior that had been cleaned but still looked old and yellow from age.
"You did?" She asked him while he rummaged through the refrigerator looking for something. While the storage area just inside the door was blocked by his body, she had seen enough of it that she could barely make out an alcohol label. It belonged to a familiar brand of alcohol, Slatheron vodka.
"Yes. They came to me looking for somewhere to hide their daughter. She was a small, green-eyed girl with chestnut brown hair in a ponytail a lot like yours." He said to her. She heard a soft CLINK as a bottle of something was seized and pulled out of the refrigerator before it was closed with a gentle nudge from his hip. Victoria glanced and saw that he had pulled out not one bottle, but two. One was a bottle of orange juice and the other was a bottle of Slatheron vodka.
"And what did you tell them?" Victoria asked calmly.
"I told them while I couldn't hide their daughter, I could change their appearance so that the daughter could hide in plain sight." Ernest answered. Victoria was growing more interested in this story by the second. She had been analyzing his body language the entire time and everything he had said was the truth.
He paused and walked over to a small round wooden table with two wooden chairs pushed under it and sat the bottles in the center, then walked over to a cabinet just above the sink and opened it. He pulled out a wine glass and shut the cabinet, then walked over to the table. She knew where this was going.
Ernest was going to make a Screwdriver.
The former professor began to open the orange juice and vodka while Victoria watched. He looked at her and smiled.
"Sorry, Miss Sheridan. I forgot my manners. Did you want a drink?" He asked her. Victoria smiled. She unzipped her backpack and brought out the slightly cold bottle of Albino Gander, something the former professor was quick to notice.
"I brought my own. Do you mind if I drink it?" She asked him. He looked at the label of Albino Gander and smiled.
"If you don't mind sharing, I'll make Screwdrivers for the both of us." He offered. Victoria happily handed over the Albino Gander and he quickly closed the bottle of Slatheron, opening the Albino Gander to pour out the vodka for a better Screwdriver.
"Feel free to get a wine glass from the overhead cabinet." He instructed her. Victoria wordlessly obeyed, getting a wine glass and shutting the cabinet, the walking over to Ernest and setting the glass down a short distance to the right of his own. He mixed his Screwdriver, then mixed one for Victoria. His mixing was not very good, but he was doing the best he could with what he had. She gratefully accepted the mixed drink and took a sip shortly after he did, tasting the former professor's version of a Screwdriver.
Vodka and orange juice... how delightful. The mixing could use a little work, but Albino Gander was good enough to mask the shortcomings of inadequate mixing skills.
"You said that the small girl the Sheridans had brought to you looked a lot like me. What appearance did you change her into?" Victoria asked her host.
"It was so long ago, but I kind of remember changing her into a little girl with short, spiky brown hair that had two sprigs that always stood up no matter what I did and a tomboyish look." He replied. Victoria's eyes widened. That was a good description of how she had looked before she woke up one day looking like a model.
[Post Word Count: 1,095]
[Total Word Count: 5,944/7,000]