Chapter 5
Papers, Please

Vigau, Arielle, Bonaventure

Three days had passed since Gally first awoke in Giger's bed. Slowly but surely, she was taking to her new job as Giger's housekeeper. The cooking and the cleaning quickly added up to rather full days even in such a small cottage with only a single resident. Unlike actual animals, the three familiars did not make much of a mess by virtue of their magical nature, which was a small mercy.
While she was working, she wore a plain black calf-length dress with an apron and a kerchief for her hair. Giger had ordered her some glasses to help her see better, but it would take the lenscrafter at least a week to finish grinding the lenses to match her prescription. She had tried wearing an old pair of Giger's glasses in the meantime, but it seemed to do more harm than good and so she muddled through in her slightly out-of-focus world.
It was the middle of the afternoon and Gally was dusting the bookshelves in the living room when Giger returned from his latest outing. Prissy could be heard darting down the the stairs to greet him.
"Giger! Giger!"
"I'm home," Giger said, catching Prissy as she jumped into his arms.
"Welcome back, Giger," Happy said listlessly from his usual spot on the couch.
"Welcome back, Mr. Giger," Gally said as well.
Giger held up an envelope with his free hand and said, "I've got something for you."
Gally set down her featherduster and asked, "What is it?"
Prissy climbed up on Giger's shoulder to permit him the use of both hands. He then pulled out a small booklet from the envelope.
"I got your papers all sorted out," he said. "This is your passport." Giger then handed Gally the passport and told her, "Make sure you know where this is at all times. Your name is Galatea Garmont. You originally come from Elantin in Montrose. If anybody asks, your father was a trader and your mother is a laundress from Senri."
"Montrose? Senri?"
Giger sighed.
"It looks like you're going to need a geography lesson."
Giger went to his bookshelves and sorted through several scrolls in the corner until he found the one he was looking for. He then spread it out on the reading desk and motioned for Gally to come closer.
"This is a map of the world," he said. "As you see, it's mostly empty. The Southern Wastes extend up to the equator and the Northern Wastes down to about 54 North. There are twelve nations. Here in the center is Nylos and this little one to the east of it is Bonaventure. That's where we are. Vigau is about here, in the County of Arielle. The County of Montrose is here in the southeast. Bonaventure is ruled by Prince Philippe VIII and Arielle by Countess Ariana, the widow of Count Stephan.
"I'm not going to give you the full civics lesson, but it's like this: after the War of the Thirteen Thrones, the League of Noble Houses was formed. All the greater houses send representatives to the League Parliament here in Belmondo in the Tri-Border Region. Some say the League Parliament is the true power in the world and others say it's just an empty forum. I really don't care about the politics myself, except where it concerns me.
"And that leads us to the important point. Thirteen years ago, there was an... incident. There was an Abomination and it nearly destroyed half the town. The League got spooked and issued the Mage Ban. All practice of magic was outlawed. The guilds were disbanded. Registered mages were put under restriction. That's the reason for all the secrecy. That's why we have to be so careful. It's why you have to be careful."
"Why?" Gally asked. "What'll happen?"
"To enforce the Mage Ban, the League formed this group called ARCANUM. Their agents are called Witch-hunters. They're in every town and city. There are detectors all over the place. If you use any magic, the detectors'll go off and the Witch-hunters won't be far behind."
Gally motioned to their surroundings and asked, "How are you able to get away with all this? I mean, I've seen you use magic here."
"I've got my tricks," Giger said with a confident grin. "Anything I do here in the house doesn't get picked up by the detectors. Unless they bring a detector in here or another mage, we'll be fine."
"Another mage?"
"Some mages work for ARCANUM. They'll bring them in on problem cases."
"What do we do?"
"You need to remember," Giger said, drumming the familiar beat. "I need the knowledge of the Ancients."
There was not much Gally could do to cure her amnesia, so him constantly telling her to remember never served to accomplish much of anything except to annoy her. She was looking at her new passport and she could not help but feel how quaint and primitive it seemed. She did not give voice to this thought, though, lest Giger get the impression that she was recalling something more than she was.
Though she still had trouble completely grasping the world around her, she did know that this, like so many of the things Giger did, was illegal. It could not have come cheap.
"How much did this cost?" she asked.
"Plenty," Giger replied. "It comes out of your check, but now that you've got it, I can actually let you go out a bit more."
"Is that wise, Master Faulkner?" Ramstein asked.
Ramstein did not usually join them in the living room, but he had a perch by the bookshelves for when the mood struck him. Giger was just as surprised to see him as Gally was.
"When did you get here, Old Bird?" he asked. "Well, if I keep her cooped up in here all the time, she's going to go crazy. Besides, the more I treat her like a normal employee, the fewer questions people will ask. And at any rate, there may be something here in town that can trigger her memories."
"I would like to see something besides these four walls," Gally said.
"We could probably use some groceries anyway," Giger said. "How about we visit the market tomorrow?"
"I'd like that."
"I'd like that too," Prissy chimed in.
"Sorry, Prissy," Giger said, "you know you can't go."
"Boo."
"Are the detectors really that much of a danger?" Gally asked.
"I haven't made it this long by being careless, I'll tell you that."
And so Gally awaited her first trip outside with a mix of excitement and fear. Part of her was eager to see the larger world, but all this talk of Witch-hunters and such had her afraid of what might happen. She remembered the one Witch-hunter visiting a couple days ago. The slightest mistake is all it would take. If Giger got caught, what would happen to her? She did not much want to think about it. All she could do was follow Giger's lead and hope that he was at least half as good as he thought he was.