Maxwell Checks In on Merrigold
Maxwell felt out of place in the Greens, walking between the minor nobility and the upper level of the commoners. Neither one felt like his people. He had taken care to hide himself, listening to Rexus’ advice about the need for them to move as secretly as they could now. Corthos had made certain to shine a bright light on them all, and while he understood why he felt the need to announce himself, he also kind of wished that it would not have been so blatant. But today…this was something he had chosen to do for himself. He sipped at the tea that he had been served, privately enjoying the fact that he could afford something like that in a place like this now. His eyes watched across the street and down a bit, carefully observing the doorway of Anton Clothiers. He had watched a handful of people going in an out as the business day had started, almost missing Merrigold initially. He hadn’t realized it was her until she had come back out, talking and laughing with a dark haired and bespectacled girl. That was when he had heard the name ‘Maisie’ – the name that Merrigold now went by, for whatever reason. At least according to Lena.
He listened closely as ‘Maisie’ and her friend spoke, or at least as close as he could from down the street. Merry seemed to be in good spirits, laughing and talking to the other girl animatedly as they set out displays in front of the windows. He finished his tea and walked down towards the Clothier slowly, ambling along at a casual stroll. He pushed the door open to find the dark-haired girl waiting inside, and she greeted him warmly. “Welcome to Anton’s, the finest clothier in all of Kintargo. What can we help you to find, m’Lord?” Maxwell smiled at the title. He had spent some time working with Lena to make sure that he could pass for some noble in the greens, and it looked like she had been correct when she told him it would work. He bowed, a little clumsily. “My name is Connor Laurent. I seek to purchase a dress for my sister, but would prefer to see how it is made first. After all of the accusations that have been thrown around regarding Kintargo’s labor, I would appreciate the peace of mind.” The girl stood, bowing as she spoke. “Of course! My name is Vivian Albright, and I’m Lady Anton’s eyes and ears when she is not in the shop. I would be proud to show you around and put your mind at ease.”
Maxwell nodded, Following behind Vivian as she led him through the shop. Admittedly, her talk about the fabrics and sewing techniques was incredibly boring, but he refrained from making many snarky comments as she led him towards the back. She opened the doorway to the artists chambers, three girls hurriedly moving back and forth to various dress dummies. He nodded and smiled along as Vivian talked, his eyes glancing over them each as they were introduced before locking on to the girl Vivian introduced as Maisie. There was no doubt that it was Merrigold, and he had to admit that she looked happy – if a bit nervous. He bowed to the girls as they left the room, Vivian still prattling on about how happy the girls were to have employment with Isadora and how personally she took the health and well-being of each of the girls. It wasn’t until the tour had concluded that he asked any questions to Vivian. “The one you said was the newest girl. Maisie?” Vivian nodded. “I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen her before. Where did she come from?” Vivian tilted her head slightly.
“She was sent to us by a friend of Isadora’s. Her family was raised in Varisia, I believe. She’s very talented.” Maxwell smiled as he spoke. “It must just be a feeling. I swear I’ve seen her before. Perhaps I was wrong, I’ve never left Kintargo.” Vivian laughed and shook her head, leading him back to the main room. After several minutes of halfheartedly answering questions, Maxwell found a way to excuse himself from the conversation and depart the store. Merry looked happy – she seemed content, and the girls with her seemed nice. She had a job and had hardly even noticed him. Maybe Rexus was right – Corthos would just have to get over this. After all, Corthos always talked so much about freedom, he would understand…he had just wanted her to be free in the end, and she was. He’d get over it.
Back in the store, Vivian laughed while she spoke to Maisie. “He was so convinced he’d seen you before. It was the strangest thing.” Merry laughed meekly, suddenly not feeling in such great spirits as Vivian continued. “He could have sworn he’d seen you. He was very interested in your history.” She laughed it off. “Maisie has an admirer, I think!” She turned and headed back towards the front to greet another customer, and Maisie sat back down. It felt like a heavy stone was settling in her stomach as she thought of Charmaine’s words. They can never know. You aren’t one of them. You don’t belong there. You’re nothing, you’re beneath what they consider society to be. I understand why you did what you did. I love you for the sacrifice you made. But them….they will tear you apart and throw you back. So be on your best behavior, work your hardest, and avoid anyone from your past – no matter what. “No matter what.” Maisie sighed deeply and picked up her needle, her hands trembling.