Vivienne looked over to where Adam sat on his bed depressed. She then turned her gaze back to the sheafs of paper in her hands. One paper went over how Adam could use a walking cane to help guide himself with little assistance from others. A couple other papers gave two alternatives to helping him see again! Unfortunately, it was nearly unlikely that either of them would work!
One method was to go to a Spiritualist Healer. They could fix many injuries that common medicine cannot. However, Spiritualist Healers are hard to come by. Heider Kingdom only had one, and he was a dedicated physician to the King. No amount of money would make such a man lower his status to help someone not of noble blood.
The second method was even more unlikely, so Vivienne didn’t even think about it. Looking back at Adam in his depression, a decision came to mind; “Adam, I’ll be right back. Will you be fine on your own?”
Adam dismally nodded as Vivienne left him. Left alone, the thoughts continued to circle around one question: ‘What am I to do?’ His depression washed over every thought of his, destroying any drive he had to actively seek a solution to this question.
A short while later, Vivienne entered the room with a quick knock. “Adam, I’ve brought someone to show you around Madame’s!”
Adam looked up with a confused look. “What?”
A girl’s voice rang out: “Do you give everyone that dopey face?”
Adam barely had the chance to think ‘Dopey!?’ Before an unfamiliar soft hand suddenly pulled him from the bed he had been moping on! The girl’s energetic voice continued: “I’m Susan. I’ll be showing you around, ‘kay?”
Adam could barely get out a stupified “Uhh” Before Vivienne took Adam’s hand and passed him his walking cane. “Don’t forget this Adam, you should get used to it!” After that, Vivienne practically threw Adam out the door with Susan while saying: “Have fun!”
Adam was simply shocked as Susan led him forward; “We’re currently in the dormitory, as I’m sure you know. I think we’ll head outside first and I’ll take you all around the courtyard!”
Adam could only think: ‘Why is mom making me do this?’
The garden courtyard was pretty big, but you could easily see the different gardens and statues wherever you stood. Adam, however, could not. Having little to no sense of space, Adam felt that the courtyard was huge as Susan took him around to every corner. In addition, he wasn’t trying to use his walking cane but just relying on Susan to guide him forward. Rather than understanding the courtyard more, he only felt more lost. ‘At least the ground is level.’ He thought.
Susan eventually said: “It’s kinda boring just me telling you about the flowers around us. Why don’t you tell me about yourself?”
Becoming a little downcast, he responded: “Well… I’m from the north. My dad and sister were killed by a Ghul Kommendant so mom took us here.”
Susan’s face turned a little shocked. While many orphans shared Adam’s misfortune of losing their family, none had lost them to a Ghul Kommendant. “I’m sorry to hear that.” She said. “But, uh, I was actually hoping to know what your interest are. One of the things I like to do is to dance, what about you?”
Adam became even more downcast: “I used to like watching the dancing lights of the night sky…” His mind raged; ‘Now I’ll never be able to see it again!’
Susan frowned. Adam was destroying all her efforts to bring him out of his shell! In a huff, she started dragging him to the tavern. “There are two floors to the tavern. The first floor is for the common people. The second floor, most rarely go up to! It is a VIP area for wealthy patrons.”
Just inside the entrance, there were stairwells to either side hidden from common view and guarded by bouncers. Carpet covered the steps, dampening the sound of their footsteps. As they ascended, the noise of the tavern quieted to a dull dim. When they finally entered the second floor, the only sounds that could be heard was the music coming from the musicians evenly placed along the balcony railing.
Susan whispered to Adam as she showed him around: “There are booths here that are enclosed by heavy tapestries. Only wealthy patrons can access these booths and request for private dances. Each of the musicians around here has a secret way of silently sending a message to the bouncers if any trouble occurs.”
Susan led Adam around the second floor. It was much smaller than the courtyard, so they finished touring it quickly. Unfortunately, Adam stayed walled up in his depression. He did not show any interest in what she was telling him. Susan internally agonized over this; ‘Showing reclusive orphans around normally breaks them out of their shells. Why isn’t it working with him!?’ Then, she suddenly thought of something and an evil grin spread across her face, unseen by Adam.
Adam froze as he felt Susan’s soft arms wrap around his own. “If you wanted, there is one more place I could show you that is even more exclusive than this second floor! It’s the brothel hidden at the back of the courtyard. Do you… want to go there with me?”
Susan started twirling her finger around on Adam’s shoulder as he inwardly started to sweat. It was hard to describe what he was feeling, but there was definitely something itchy and embarrassing to it! All his thoughts of agonizing over his eyes were thrown out the window as these feelings pervaded his mind. Finally, he stuttered out: “N-no, I’ll be fine!”
Susan mentally screamed: ‘Success! Now there’s one more place I can take him to fully break his shell!’
She pulled away from his arm but continued to hold his hand. “That’s fine, then. But I have one last place to show you!”
Adam had a bad feeling and wanted to resist, but that soft hand holding his own compelled him to continue following her. After a walking across the courtyard and then going through a few doors, Adam’s ears were greeted by a room that easily echoed any sounds produced within. At the same time, he could hear the faint splash of water. He started to ask: “Where- Kyaaaa!” Adam jumped as a girl started screaming! A stammering voice echoed out with a splash of water: “S-Susan, why did you bring a boy in here!?”
Adam froze in shock: ‘Where did she take me!?’
Susan only giggled: “Oh, come on, Helen, he can’t see you. He’s blind!”
Susan’s remark was like a splash of cold water on him. ‘Blind…’
Then a literal splash of water fell across him and Susan, breaking his thoughts. Helen rose up slightly as she threw water out from where she was bathing and said in an angered voice: “It doesn’t matter that he is blind, he’s still a boy! Get him out of here!”
‘It doesn’t matter?’
Susan giggled: “Oh my Helen. You’re so brazen, showing your body like that!”
With a small scream, Helen sunk back down into the bath. Her voice turned flustered: “J-just take him away!”
Adam’s face turned slightly red in embarrassment as he finally started to get where he was at. He tentatively asked: “Susan, are we in a washroom?”
Susan nodded and proudly said: “Yup, this is the women’s bath! I suppose I should lead you to the men’s and get someone to help you change into some new clothes… unless you want me to help you!”
“N-no!” Adam quickly said while thinking: ‘This girl is crazy!’
Susan had a pleased grin across her face: ‘This is too much fun!’
Thankfully, Susan led Adam out of the women’s bath without more fuss. Only a moment after leaving, Susan shouted out to someone: “Hey, Alfred, come and help me out!”
Adam heard a new voice that sounded like a boy close to his age: “What are you doing now, Susan?”
“Hey, don’t make it sound like I’m getting into trouble! I was just showing Adam around! Can you help him change into new clothes? He got a little wet.”
Alfred noticed Adam’s blindfold and how Susan was guiding him forward. He sighed: ‘What kind of trouble was she getting this poor guy into?’
“Yeah, I’ll take him.”
Adam found himself being guided forward by a new hand that didn’t feel as nice as Susan’s soft hand… but, her hand came with a terrible price. Alfred spoke to him: “I’m sure you heard, but I’m Alfred.”
“Hi, I’m Adam.”
“I hope Susan didn’t get you into too much trouble. She can be crazy at times.”
Adam nodded in agreement: “She was nice until just a little while ago. She wanted to take me to the brothel place and then took me into the women’s bath.”
Alfred’s steps faltered. “That crazy… did anything bad happen?”
Adam shook his head: “There was a girl the bath that yelled and splashed some water on us, but nothing really bad.”
Alfred sighed: “Well, let’s get you changed. And just a little advice that I think you’ve already picked up on, avoid Susan! Thankfully, she only has another year before she turns sixteen and becomes an adult. Then she will finally have to leave Madame’s and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief!”
“G-got it.” Adam replied while thinking: ‘Alfred’s intense in his own way too.’
Madame’s always kept a fresh set of clothes available to the orphans, so it was easy to find a spare set in the men’s bath that Adam could use. Alfred then led Adam back to his room. This time, though, Adam started to use his walking cane: ‘I don’t want to be led around by someone like Susan again!’
Entering back into his room, Vivienne greeted him: “Adam, welcome back. Wait, where’s Susan?”
Adam shook his head: “She was too crazy, mom.”
“She took me into the women’s bath!”
“That’s… different from what I was expecting, are you okay?”
Alfred put in: “I helped him escape Susan before it was too late.”
“Thank you for helping Adam. What was your name?”
“Thank you, Alfred.”
“It was no problem, I know what it is like to be Susan’s target. I need to work soon, so I’ll be leaving.”
“Goodbye Alfred!” Adam said.
Alfred left, leaving Adam and Vivienne to themselves. Vivienne said: “I spoke with Jannette. She’s forming a plan to help you play with the musicians at the tavern.”
“Yes. The biggest thing is that they play a lot of songs you don’t know. Since you can’t read sheet music anymore… you’ll need to spend some time memorizing the songs by listening to them.”
It would be a long and hard process, but at least he wouldn’t lose his chance to play music due to being blind! “When can I start!?”
“Right now, if you want! Your music teacher is ready whenever you are.”
Vivienne led Adam over to the tavern while he continued learning to use his walking cane along the way. The tavern was just as busy as always. Vivienne threaded Adam through the tables and headed toward a flutist.
They had to wait until the current song was done. When the song was finished, applause rang out while she finally spoke to them: “Hello, Vivienne. And you must be Adam, I’m Julianne.”
“Did you bring your flute with you?”
“Good, we prepared a song that you know. Why don’t you join in when we start, and we’ll go from there.”
Julianne picked up a small colored sign and flashed it over to a well-dressed man. He was the conductor of the musicians and communicated to everyone with a few small colored signs to indicate which song was to be played next. The conductor saw Julianne’s sign and flashed his own for the other musicians to see.
Julianne described the process to Adam during the small wait before they started the next song. Vivienne left Adam with her and sat down nearby. When the song started, many of the patrons were surprised by the song. Madame’s was known for it high class, which included high-class songs. The current song was more rambunctious than high class. It was a song Adam remembered playing at The Dancery.
With the void from being blind surrounding him, Adam’s memories started filling the space around him. He was back in the Dancery and everything was still fine. His father and sister were there, having fun with everyone else. Before he could truly enjoy the memory, the song ended and everything faded away.
Tears came to his eyes as it all went away, as customary applause for the song echoed out. Julianne talked to Adam normally, unable to see his tears: “Everyone at Madame’s needs to earn their keep. For you, Adam, you will need to work hard on memorizing new songs as you will be a musician. Can you do that?”
Adam nodded his head. “Yeah.”
“Let’s start by having you listen…”
Adam continued working with Julianne for a few hours before it was time for dinner. Adam was surprised by the quick passage of time. The rest of the night slipped away from Adam in a similar manner and before he knew it, he was falling asleep in bed.
The next morning, Vivienne woke Adam up early. “With everything going on, we never had a chance for a proper visit to the baths. Let’s go wash up!”
Vivienne led Adam down toward the baths. There were quite a few people already up and heading to the baths themselves. Vivienne saw a familiar face and called out: “Alfred!”
Alfred turned around and saw Vivienne and Adam. He pulled away from the other boys he was with. “Hey, do need some help getting to the baths, Adam?”
Adam sighed: “Yes, just don’t lead me to the girl’s bath.”
Alfred laughed: “Don’t worry about that!”
Adam grinned as Alfred lead him forward. Adam could bathe himself, he just needed to find some soap and the bath itself. Adam heard a new voice: “Who’s that, Alfred?”
“This is Adam. Adam, these are a couple of my friends; Bruno, Clyde, Derek and Franklin.”
Adam rose his hand by instinct to wave to the others. “Hi.”
Adam couldn’t see them, of course, so he was waving in the wrong direction! Derek couldn’t help a quick snicker when he saw this. It didn’t last long as Bruno quickly bopped his head. Derek shouted: “Hey!”
Derek tried to get back at Bruno, who started valiantly flailing his arms around to block his strikes! The two quickly fell into play fighting one another with similarly silly antics. Hearing what was going on, Adam asked: “What just happened?”
Alfred shook his head with a wry smile: “Just some idiot causing a commotion. Happens all the time. Come, let’s get to the baths.”
The warm baths were relaxing, but Adam didn’t stay too long. Alfred had to hurry as he needed to work. Not sure what to do, Adam just stood outside the baths, waiting for Vivienne to come back out. While he was waiting, he heard a familiar gruff voice: “Doing anything Adam?”
“Hansen! Not really. Just waiting for my mom to finish.”
Hansen grunted: “Come with me, then. It’s about time for you to start training again.”
Adam was surprised: “How can I train, I can’t see!”
“Doesn’t prevent you from doing exercises like push-ups or sit-ups! You were stuck in the wagons the whole way here, don’t stay cooped up inside all the time too! A strong body is always useful and it will be too late to regret it later.”
Adam wasn’t sure, but Hansen took his hand and led him forward: “I promised your father I’d train you and I’ll be damned if I don’t follow through!”
Adam was once again surprised: ‘Dad…’
Any reluctance he had disappeared. Hansen took Adam behind the dormitory and started him on stationary exercises. After hearing Hansen mention his father, Adam had been filled with some vigor. Unfortunately, his body couldn’t keep up! Adam quickly found himself exhausted on the ground. He spoke to Hansen: “I don’t understand -huff huff– I used to do more than this without getting tired!”
Hansen grunted: “You wasted away on that wagon. We gotta rebuild your strength.”
Adam couldn’t believe it. All the strength he had gained training with his father had left him. But… the aching pain in his limbs was familiar. It was just like when he trained with his dad. Adam suddenly heard his mother start screaming her head off at Hansen: “What are you doing to Adam!?”
Adam couldn’t help but smile. ‘I don’t know that mom will ever get along with Hansen, but… This is home now.’