It took several minutes after knocking at the door before it creaked open a crack and a wizened, cloudy eye appeared. A thin, reedy voice inquired, “Yes? Who’s there? Speak up, I haven’t got all day.”
“Uncle Eldrid? Eldrid Tremaine?” Now that he was here, he was feeling the pangs of trepidation, though he couldn’t put his finger on exactly why. Unease at the circumstances he found himself in, he supposed; visiting long-lost relatives was a new occupation for him after all.
“Altman Dolet? Is that you, boy? I’m pleased you accepted my invitation. Come in, come in!” The door swung open, revealing a short, stooped man, thin not just with age but of build, long grey hair spilling out of a dusty old hat of a fashion that had passed years and years before. He was dressed simply, everything with a faded look about it, from the soft leather slippers on his feet to the brown trousers, vest and light coat worn over his shirt.
They stepped into the foyer and the man—Tremaine—crinkled his eyes in puzzlement. “You didn’t travel alone? No, I suppose you wouldn’t at that. Well let me introduce myself then. I’m Eldrid Tremaine, Altman’s great-uncle.”
“Uncle, I believe you know Kaylene Aynesworth already? And this is my friend and fellow Academy graduate Deman Buxton.”
“Kaylene! Why it’s good to see you again, it’s been months. And Deman, did you say, nephew? It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, I’m sure.” Altman frowned and looked closer at his aged relation; his eyes were more than merely cloudy, he was well on his way to losing his sight to cataracts unless he missed his guess completely. “Come in, come in, is that all of you? Come on in, autumn’s cold may not bother you young folk, but it passes right through my bones, it does. Let’s get some food and drink in you and maybe Kaylene will grace me with the story of how she came to know my most impressive nephew.”