CHAPTER 2

With the risen sun, the mists cleared from the city. Its golden rays ushered in the morning across the scale-like rooftops of the pre-industrial landscape. The humans began to emerge from their homes, ready to attend their daily routine of reporting to work for their wages.
As the light peered through the windows of Alexander Tordill's residence, his bed was empty and unmade. Instead, the dawn's only company was an old photograph on the nightstand depicting a middle-aged man with dark hair and a bushy mustache posing in front of an aeroplane decorated with strange gizmos that appear to be installed for the device's benefit. The light continued to illuminate the room, revealing framed newspaper articles lining the wall, each with various headlines pertaining to the "the legacy of famed inventor Jack Tordill".
A worn desk sat in the back corner of the room, just to the right of the articles. A myriad of books were stacked roughly against the back side of the desk, all discussing topics of Ymroi history and technology. Papers containing blueprints, sketches, mathematical equations, and very complicated notes were strewn about the surface of the workstation. A vacant inkwell rested among the papers, and its pen was laid out over the notes, already dried up with ink blots dripped onto the parchment below.
Alexander Tordill stood in his drawing room fixing the top button of his heavy brown longcoat that he always wore out in public to combat the mildly chilled climate of the city's suburban districts. Tordill always favored the color brown; to him, it not only matched his eyes, but brown was the color of adventure and exploration: two things that always excited the child within him.
After making sure he looked presentable, he reached one final time for the water bowl he brought out of the bathroom and dipped his hand in. With the other hand, he briefly removed his thin-framed glasses and, with the other hand, ran his wet fingers through his evenly-parted brown hair.
He then put his glasses back on and gave one last tug to his coat before looking down at another family picture of him and his father, Jack.

"This could be my chance," Tordill said to the picture as if the image of his father was listening. "Then again, it could also be the end of my career."

Glancing up to the ceiling, Alex let out a sigh.

"Goodness…I hope I know what I'm doing…"


At this point of the morning, the streets of the Machlud District were bustling with city folk. The cobblestone streets clacked and clocked with the sounds of horse hooves and formal footwear as the crowd of finely-dressed men and women made their way to their destinations.

"Alex!" a voice called out from across the road, trying to carry across the carriages that rolled on past. Tordill's attention was drawn to the voice.

As the carriage passed by, Alex saw that it was indeed his good friend and colleague, Alistair Slocombe: the heavy-set academic with sandy hair, glasses, and his finely kept mustache, and dressed in a formal suit whose cloth almost had the texture of burlap.
Alistair waved as Alex made his way across the street to greet his friend.

"So, are you ready for your speech today?" Alistair opened the conversation as the two began walking together toward the Machlud College.

"I hate speeches," Alex chuckled, "even when my father gave speeches to his investors, I was always sitting bored in the back of the room."

"And to think, you're doing the same thing today," Alistair jested.

"I know…thanks for reminding me," Tordill playfully replied.

"Just remember, this isn't your standard class lecture, Alex. You're trying to persuade this audience, not educate them. These people may not know everything that you know about Ymroi history, but they are fellow Academics. Just don't patronize them."

"I'll try not to….tempting as it might be."

"Listen, Alex," Alistair smiled as he stopped in order to gain Tordill's full attention, "I know you'll do well. You're a smart man…your father would be proud of you."

"I certainly hope so," Tordill answered, giving a half-smile, "He wasn't too proud that I became an Anthropology instructor after Engineering School."

Alistair knew better than to press any subject with him. Whenever Alex had his mind set at the end of a conversation, any continuing to console him or change his mind would only further irritate him.
Instead, he diverted the subject to the standup sign outside of the convention center auditorium.

"Would you look at that, Alex?"

A sign stood by the door that read:

TODAY'S EVENT:
"Ymroi: The Lost Heritage"
with
Professor Alexander Tordill

"How does it feel to have a public sign with your name on it?" Alistair laughed, nudging him with his elbow.

"As long as it isn't a 'Wanted' poster…"

"Well!" Alistair let in a huge, waking breath as he extended his hand to shake Tordill's, "I suppose this is where I leave you. I have a few things to prepare for next semester's curriculum so you professors won't have to make up your own class material. It all has to be approved by the rest of the board of deans. I will try to make it to your speech, though."

"Thank you, Alistair," Alex smiled, shaking his friend's hand.

"Don't worry," Alistair winked, "you'll do great!"

Despite the suppressed anxiety that he was feeling, Tordill felt a wave of confidence come over him as he tightened his grip on the briefcase he was carrying.

Yeah…..I can do this!