Professor Keyes' Office
"Sweet Lady- Enter!" Gustav had time to bark out, even as the handle turned and a flushed, overexcited youth popped in. He was panting heavily, dragging a hand over his sweating face, ginger locks pushed out at crazed, sticky angles.
"Prof-Prof-Professor... the press... someone... with magic... d-d-don't... know..." the teenager gasped out, almost doubled over as he tried to catch his breath, wheezing.
Gus was on his feet, moving closer so that the boy wouldn't have to waste precious breath trying to project his voice.
"Easy now, lad. What about the press? Someone's done something to it with magic?" the engraver questioned, the firmness in his gruff voice something for the student to hang onto, some certainty. The boy nodded vigorously and hissed out, "Bad. Can't... stop it."
The professor gave the younger galdor a friendly pat on the shoulder. "You're all right, lad, I'll come along now. Whatever's wrong... well, I might be the only one who can stop it. You did right coming to me. Catch your breath there for a second," the man explained briskly, all business but definitely worried as well. Fionn was trying not to stare, wondering what in Vita was going on and doing his best to appear as if he was still conducting his search. In truth, he was curious about the situation at hand, wondering what could be done to a printing press - he assumed that's where the issue lay but he knew that there were other machines that could be referred to as 'press' - that warranted this level of excitement. He also wondered if Gus was really the only one who could rectify the issue, especially given that it involved magic; the professor didn't like to use magic.
There was a second to understand the implications of the engraver's statement about going with the student, realising that the man couldn't be in two places at once, before the man was beside him.
"Fionn, tell Miss Amberleigh that I have to reschedule because I have to deal with this tomfoolery and don't know how long I'll be. Make sure you dig out that book that I asked for; it's for her to look at anyway."
And with his piece said, the man turned away, ready to leave as if he hadn't just given Fionn permission to be in the company of a young woman. Alone.
"But Gus, I- How can I- Do you really trust me with a-a-a-" he stuttered out, tripping over his own tongue as he struggled to voice his thoughts, breaking off because they sounded ridiculous to him.
"With what? A young lady? You're giving her a message and handing her a book, Fionn. I think I can trust you with that. I think I can trust you with more; you're sister is a young lady too," Gustav chuckled, shaking his head and walking off. As he went out the door, he called back over his shoulder. "Chin up, lad. Don't worry so much."
The door clicked shut, leaving the blond alone in the room with some unexpected nervousness. Swallowing hard, he went back to his search, trying to reason with himself.
Niamh was a girl, he'd been around Niamh and he'd been trusted to be around her, alone. Was it because she was his sister and they didn't think that anything inappropriate would occur? That he wasn't depraved enough to do anything with his sibling. Or maybe it was because she was galdori. Having magic didn't mean that you were invulnerable, Fionn knew that. He knew that gollymancers could have their concentration upset without disastrous results and he knew that casting took time. If push came to shove, he thought it'd be easy enough to overpower a galdor if their casting could be interrupted. A lot of galdori were soft and while he'd come from the same mould, he was stronger, his endurance was higher and he was predisposed to violence. Not that he wanted to smash galdori in the face; some of them were actually all right and for everyone else, the dire repercussions just wouldn't be worth it.
It irked him though that he couldn't be trusted alone with passive women but it was apparently deemed all right for him to be around galdori women. Basically, he wasn't allowed to be alone with a woman who might not be repulsed by him simply because he didn't have a field.
Regardless of what the galdori thought, the passive knew that he wasn't going to do anything. He'd been working with Gus for a few months now and he knew that Fionn wouldn't do anything horrible to this Miss Amberleigh. He was fond of pointing out that the boy was "a good kid" and the servant often doubted the truth of that statement, he had to concede that he wasn't all bad. So no, it'd be fine, everything would be fine.
Succeeding in finding the book, he set it down on Gustav's desk before realising that there wasn't anything else that he was meant to do. In his hurry to leave, he hadn't provided him with any other tasks and he hadn't discussed what he might do following Miss Amberleigh's visit. Presumably when the student was there, he would have given the passive some task to keep him occupied but for the time being, he was idle and had legitimate reason to be. Things were tidy in the office, the passive having already cleaned it earlier that morning and so there really was nothing for him to sort.
Considering what the timepiece said, he had some time until the girl showed up and she'd no doubt want to leave as soon as she realised that there would be no meeting. Who'd want to hang around with a scrap after all? So he basically had the room to himself for the next while aside from a brief minute while the galdor girl was here. In that case...
The blond hunted out his drawing paper, the little bundle that Niamh had gotten him a bit thicker now, every inch of the used paper well filled. There were sketches upon sketches, drawings almost overlapping each other. There were also plenty of dirty marks from pencil rubbed around on his hands and the eraser, which had worn thin in some spots from repeated passes as he tried to remove incorrect lines. He'd kept everything, progress in his skills evident over the various pages, the young man evidently getting used to pencils again, experimenting with shapes and shadows. It was something that the middle Madden was quite self-conscious about, not keen for anyone to see what he saw as childish and inaccurate representations of basic shapes and everyday objects. Gus did sneak a glance every now and then, the young man tensing when he knew he was being observed but the man only made the occasional comment, complimenting some parts and making recommendations about others. Niamh was always eager to see them as well but the passive tended to keep his artwork to himself as much as possible, fiercely protective of it.
As he set out fresh paper and went to look for something to use as a model, Fionn didn't worry that anyone would see it. Gus would know what he was up to when he came back but that would be it. He didn't have to worry about anybody else copping what he was doing and sticking their nose in his business. Knowing his luck though, Niamh would put in an appearance and that'd scupper that notion.
Placing a chair by the bookshelf and his drawing materials beside it, the youth went to look through Gustav's completed whittling works, finding a depiction of a woman who he thought was meant to be Alioe. The overall form had hourglass curves, the figure tapered in at the waist and accentuated by a broad skirt. The dress had subtle lines here and there, very few really that gave the illusion of flowing material, flowing freely in the skirt and draped organically over her torso. The hair flowed too, the eyes given the impression of wavy tresses, tricked into seeing the curve and flick of locks and individual strands. If he concentrated, he could pick out the individual lines that had been notched into the wood and the way it had been shaved, the texture added to it truly spectacular. One hand partly clasped a small orb, which he thought was meant to be Osa, and the other held an unusual fan, beginning with a crescent, transitioning into a circle before transitioning back into a crescent. A fan of Benea's phases, seeming to convey its cycle. With an accessory like that, how could it not be Alior? There was only the suggestion of a face, sometimes seeming to bear the expression of wisdom, other times a sleeping countenance but largely unknowable: a goddess' face.
Fionn set the piece on the desk, sighing with admiration as he settled himself in his seat, admiring the curves and lines, the way light played across its surface, dappling it with light and shade that added such unimaginably depth to it. He wished he could make something like that, that he could be that good. That was a worthy devotion and what he was about to attempt felt almost sacrilegious by comparison. There was no way he could do that beauty and grace justice; he certainly couldn't replicate it.
You have to start somewhere...
So he set to work, at first trying to draw out the overall hourglass of the body with a hard pencil, the marks light on the paper but too artificial, too poor at conveying what was before him. He rubbed it out, trying again, trying to let his hand move more freely, to sketch rather than outlining it with care. It took a few tries for him to get something he could be happy with, the marks of his previous attempts not quite gone in spite of his erasing because they'd impressed themselves on the paper. He sketched out some of the other shapes. Oblongs and imperfect circles and wonky quadrilaterals to add in the approximate locations for arms and moons and head and hair. He began to erase little bits as he added in details and from there, it seemed to go to hell for him. Things ended up out of proportion, shading too flat or dark in appearance. He huffed out a frustrated breath at even the small bit he'd filled out, displeased by how badly it was going. He hadn't expected to be very good at this but-
The knock on the door gave them an unpleasant surprise, the passive having allowed himself to get lost in the process, so utterly absorbed that he'd forgotten that he was actually meant to be waiting for something. His drawing materials were dumped unceremoniously beside the chair as he hopped to his feet with a breathless call of "Come in!"
Fionn was in motion, moving to the desk to retrieve the book that he was meant to give to Melody. "Miss... Amberleigh?" he hazarded, running a hand through dishevelled blond hair and inadvertently leaving a smudge of pencil lead on his forehead. "Gus- Professor Keyes offers his apologies but he had an urgent matter to attend to and he's afraid that he'll have to schedule another meeting with you."
The boy had always liked to read. He'd read a lot before he came to Brunnhold and he'd had a chance to read again since he'd become Gus' assistant. The young man had also spent a fair bit of time around galdori since then, listening in on their conversations. It... sounded as if it was creeping into his speech. He was suddenly very conscious of it and it was definitely why the colour crept into his cheeks.
The passive turned the tome over in his hands, clearing his throat awkwardly, glance flicking upwards before skittering away. He spotted the sketch on the floor by the bookshelves, all too visible from where he was standing. "He wanted you to have this," he added, shuffling a little to the side, less than subtle in his attempt to block the drawing from view before thrusting the book out in front of him.
"Uh... here you are then."