It hardly seemed as though it had been a year already. As he grew older, Lannik found that time was evermore fleeting. Passing weeks blended seamlessly into one-another as the sole resident of the Gorathian homestead worked diligently to maintain his home�s relatively clean nature. Whole seasons whipped by in an instant, observed from his spot at his writing desk, nestled neatly up against the sill of a tall and narrow arch-topped window. The fairer weather marked the time for the elderly male to begin his preparations to travel north into the city, and so he did just that, neatly tucking his necessary belongings into two large bags.

     The sun had barely begun to rise the next day when Lannik stood in his foyer, both bags settled behind him. Patiently, he waited by the solid oak door of his home, its transom allowing just the slightest spill of light in from the dawn outside. With his arms folded across his chest, the grey-haired man stood still until he heard the quiet thud of hooves against earth, then the stone of his walkway. Turning the door�s handle and pulling the solid wood towards him, Lannik dipped his head in greeting to the two men that hopped down from their mounts in front of his home. Wordlessly, the two men–less than even half his age–strode into the home, retrieved his bags, and saddled them up on the horses. The only words spoken came long after the horses had been loaded, just as Lannik began to step back into his home. 

     �A rented room at the Lamb. Under the name �Merrigan�. Deliver it all by tonight, and pick-up will be no later than week from today.� the older man spoke, straightforward and stern. There was a brief silence before he spoke once more, genuinely. �Thank you.�The planning couldn�t have been better, all things considered. The rented room was within walking distance of the mage district, but not so close as to cause suspicion. He was just another balding scholar in well-kept robes in the kingdom�s capital for intellectual growth. 


     On the first day, his sights trained on everyone. He took in faces, habits, mannerisms, routes. Each potential candidate was catalogued via something memorable about them; the woman with the platinum-blonde hair. A young man with heterochromia. An older student, a tutor perhaps, with a pronounced gait–a leg injury he surmised. Any would suffice, truly. What mattered most was how approachable they would be. How easily he could bridge the gap.  After some quiet observation, one finally caught his eye. A young woman. Bright, it seemed. A stern face, serious features, and presentable. Alone, most of the time. Electively. A recluse, or an outcast? He didn�t know. It wasn�t yet safe to assume. He�d figure that out with time. 

     The next day, she had the same schedule. She walked the same routes, had the same classes, and continued to seem to be reaching above her station. She would do. It was always a shame when talent had to be sacrificed, but solitude made for a far safer target. Lost in his thoughts, Lannik watched in through a window as she exited her lecture. It was then that her eyes met his for a moment. At that moment, Lannik felt as though his plan could fall through at any moment, that she might point him out to her professors or classmates. Flaring his nostrils, he let the look stay for a brief second. He didn�t want to immediately look away and scurry off like some discovered stalker. No, instead he kept his eyes trained on her briefly before turning away and walking back to his rented room. 

She would do.

Author Zaanthe
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