26th day of Julius, 1669 AV
“Pardonez moi, monsieur. Could you direct me to an inn?”
Josephine smiles at the Avalonian man as he turns around. The crew of Mercurio drops her trunk on the gravel and returns to the task on unloading the merchant vessel. The middle aged man returns her smile, and answers in broken Montaigne.
“Very few travel here, miss. There is no inn.”
The young woman’s face clouds over. “A boarding house? Hotel? Hostel?” As she continues receive negative responses, her voice climbs and becomes slightly whining. “I’ve come to work with my uncle, but how am I to find him if I don’t have anywhere to stay?”
“Who is your uncle, miss? And why is a young woman traveling alone in such a dangerous part of the world?”
“I did have an escort, one of my mother’s servants. But she took sick on the voyage and did not recover.” Josephine’s face brightens. “But my uncle is none other than the world’s most famous detective, Hugo de la Plume! I’ve come to learn from him and assist him in his work. Someday, I hope to be as skilled and famous as he.”
The man’s eyes widen at the name, and his non-committal smile widens greatly.
“Well, dear lady, you are very lucky. Not only do I know who you mean, but I am well known to several of his close friends here. I would be happy to make sure you reach him, and insist that you stay with me until then.”
The young woman looks uncertain. “But sir, I’m not sure it would be proper for me…”
“No, no, I insist. My wife would be most upset if I allowed you to spend the night without a safe bed.”
“Oh! You’re married. Well, in that case, I’d be happy to accept your offer.”
“Then it is settled. Come along, miss. I shall send someone back for your things.”
The girl accepts the older man’s arm and begins to stroll down the unpaved street. “My name is Josephine. Josephine de la Croix.”
The man bows and smiles. “A true pleasure to meet you Josephine. Archibald Shea.”
“But most just call me Shea."