Katakan Bay was a bustling city, its port the destination of many a trade ship from other nations the world over, and its subsequent taxes on goods brought from overseas a guarantee of full coffers and a prosperous economy.
Dietrich had wandered its many bazaars and trade markets in the past, discovering every manner of commodity, from largely commonplace to the exceedingly rare and often counterfeit.
Today, however, was not a day for shopping. With his master's papers securely in the breast pocket of his gray and blue robes, the young apprentice had made his way from the Librarium to the docks that their soon-to-be-guest had arrived at a short time ago. The evening horizon was painted across the sky, tinges of orange and red reflecting off the rich blue ocean beneath.
Though he was admittedly intrigued about meeting a scholar from the far north, and a student of an arcane art few were granted privy to, Dietrich found his mind drawn towards the current subject of his studies as he walked onto the pier. Other people occasionally had to dodge around him as he absentmindedly walked, the occasional curse thrown his way, but he ignored them.
The Treatises had offered insight, as he expected, and a solution to the current problem, but still more obstacles presented themselves.
Staring into the ocean, the water merely a few feet away beneath the wood and stone foundations that comprised the pier, he shook his head in frustration, finally looking to the boat that carried his new charge. To his surprise, the ship had already begun offloading passengers, all manner of travelers passing by him as he approached a sailor watching the pier.
"I'm here to meet someone."
"Heh, ain't we all?" The sailor chuckled, spitting on the pier and raising an eyebrow as Dietrich produced his master's letter.
"The person I'm here for is a guest of House Elzen. She's quite important." He coolly explained, though to his surprise, the sailor burst out in laughter.
"Hah! I don't even have to guess who that might be. Girl in the white robes, seasick the whole voyage!" He guffawed, shaking his head. "Almost fell overboard a day into the journey. Don't think that lass ever even saw a real boat before this one!"
"That's most likely her. Where is she?" His eyes twitched, looking to the ship.
"Oh, she's up there still. Probably shaking in her boots!" Dietrich shook his head, passing the sailor as he continued his laughter behind him.
Passing by a few stragglers, he paused as the sound of retching caught his ear. Mere feet away, a young woman dressed in white robes with etched red sleeves was dry-heaving over the edge of the boat, her blonde hair messed up as she weakly gripped the railing. After a few moments of listening to her, Dietrich rose a hand to his chin, coughing purposefully.
"O-Oh! I'm so s-sorry." The girl's eyes widened as she turned her head, an apology exiting her lips before she'd even properly seen him. He recognized the typically pale skin of a northerner, vivid blue eyes red with stress set apart from the snow white cloth of her robes.
"No need to apologize. Ocean travel can be disagreeable to some." Dietrich shook his head. "I don't suppose you happen to be from the Pillars?"
Her eyes shot up at the mention, a look of realization coming over her as she moaned in despair.
"O-Oh dear…you're my escort for House Elzen?" She turned bright red with embarrassment. "I feel absolutely mortified for you to see me like this."
"As I said before, there's nothing to worry about. Given the rather isolated nature of your home, it's not surprising that this sort of travel doesn't agree with you." Extending a hand with a friendly smile, Dietrich nodded encouragingly. "Dietrich Winzler, apprentice at the Librarium of Katakan Bay. Pleased to meet you."
She hesitated, eventually taking his offer with her own gloved hand.
"Katrina Fares." Clearing her throat, she smoothed her robes out. "I'm a scholar from the House of Astrals."
"I don't believe I've heard of that. I do apologize, I only know the barest of information about the Pillars, truth be told." Dietrich admitted, opting to exaggerate his ignorance about her home. "My, uh, assignment to meet you here was only given to me hours ago, in the midst of study, otherwise I'd have prepared somewhat more thoroughly."
"Oh, it's quite alright. Mine is not a particularly famous realm of study, I admit." Katrina blushed as she retrieved a small leather briefcase and a larger bag of what he assumed was a change of clothes, following Dietrich as he led her off the ship.
"I can sympathize. My master thinks my projects are curiosities at best and little else." He winced at the grinning sailor as they passed him, though he did his best to hide it from her.
"Is that so? Well, I think I'd very much like to hear about your work, in that case. From one curiosity to another." She smiled encouragingly. Dietrich found his own face turning red as he cleared his throat.
"Well, it seems that I'm to be your chaperone through your forays here, so I imagine we will have quite a lot of time to do so. Have you travelled much?"
"Oh, heavens no, I've been around a few of the northern isles doing research and conducting minor expeditions, but I've never been this far from the Pillars." Her eyes had long since parted from Dietrich's, and as they walked through the still-busy streets of Katakan Bay, she was taking in every sight she could with childlike glee. "I'd heard stories about ports like these…the smell of salt, the vendors…it's so different from the cold, stone halls from up north."
"Just make sure to stay close…and keep an eye on your belongings. It may be prosperous here, but it's still a port town with many sticky fingers." Dietrich advised, eying a group of young children passing nearby with suspicion. "Lot of smiling, friendly people here who will be equally happy to rob you of every last coin."
Though he found her excitement at this new experience entertaining, and even inspiring, Dietrich couldn't help but find himself uncomfortable. Few scholars from the Pillars were ever allowed so far from their halls, and never for anything but the most important of callings. He was content to keep out of the world of politics, whether it be the lords of Derza and their power plays for the favor of the king, or the varied cadres of mages, sorcerers, and charlatans that greedily curried their political sponsor's attentions and support, but involvement in something like this was like to cause more trouble than Dietrich was interested to deal with.