Walking down the cobbled streets so late in the night was not something to be encouraged, not when miscreants in the likes of thieves and pickpockets were known to skulk in the shadows. But the bastard son of Lord Cato Argentine held no fear as he walked with languid steps, almost like he was taking a merry stroll in the garden. If his father knew just how often he visited a particular antique store by sneaking out of the house in the dead of the night without any guards, he was sure his chambers would be bolted with chains. It wouldn’t be the first time it had happened before.
Of course he could have done this in the daytime, when danger was less rife, but Mathias Camlo Argentine preferred to go about his business when there was little to no crowd, if only to escape their prying eyes and gossip-laced whispers. Gypsy-born child; such a terrible fate to have something so questionable diluting a noble’s blood. If he were to be an illegitimate child, better he be born of a common woman, was what they said. Even till today, when it has been years since the last gypsy tribe, his mother’s people, had been driven out, most of the villagers still held their reservations against the Roma due to their ignorance. It was only because his father had no other sons that the situation forced his hand to acknowledge Camlo as his, if only to keep the inheritance of title and estate out of reach from his greedy nephews.
Personally, Camlo had no care for all of these issues. Wealth and titles mean nothing to him. His desires were simple and of the highest priority thus far was to have freedom to walk beneath the stars unencumbered (hence why he would often sneak out at night). Much like tonight, when the night sky glittered as though precious diamonds were stitched right across it, it was the best time for him to be out and about.
With his head tilted slightly back and his bottle-green eyes hardly breaking away from the stars, Camlo maneuvered a corner in such a sure-footed manner that one had to wonder if he didn’t have an extra set of eyes somewhere. It wasn’t long before he reached his destination, pushing open the richly carved wooden door so gently that the bell overhead barely tinkled. Sticking his golden head in first, Camlo instantly met the eyes of an elderly within the shop who merely raised a bushy grey brow.
“Snuck out again, did you?” the man asked, a rhetorical question to be sure. With a sheepish, little smile, the blond eased his lithe body into the small yet cosy shop and gave a lazy shrug of his shoulders, and that was answer enough.
“How are you, Arthur?”
“The same as last week when you asked, and two weeks before that,” was the chuckled reply. Antique Arthur, or so they called him both on account of his antique wares and the fact that he seemed pretty ancient – no one could remember the time when he hadn’t been around – was as thin as a rail with a slightly bowed back and a twinkle in his eye. He was truly a wise man, and many of the villagers looked up to him, often seeking advice. Years ago, having observed a much younger Camlo wandering about alone at night, he invited the boy in and despite their age gap, the blond and the old man became good friends. Plus, it was a good way to keep watch over the youth who was forever with his head in the clouds. Camlo who had zero awareness for danger just worries him.
For the next hour, they chatted as usual until the old man thought it best to shoo Camlo home since it was getting even late. But just as he was about to take a step out, a glint in the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned his head around in the direction of that odd gleam so quick, strands of gold whipped about his face. The sudden movement startled Arthur, who blinked at him before frowning.
“Whatever is the matt -”
“Arthur. What is that?”
The words were spoken so softly that the antique seller had to strain his ears to hear. Camlo had lifted a hand to point at the object he was referring to, causing Arthur to turn to look at it. A confused look came over his heavily lined face and he reached out to retrieve what looked to be a brass handle hidden behind a dusty old tome. He carefully pulled it out to reveal an ornate hand mirror. Turning it over, no one could deny the talent that went into the intricate engraving topped with a smattering of crimson-toned gems. The reflective surface itself was flawless without a single scratch or mark.
“Oh, Arthur…” Camlo breathed, luminous eyes widening as he took in the sight. “It’s beautiful.” While he had come across many other hand mirrors, there was just something about this one that intrigued him. Without even realising it, he was reaching for the item. Arthur relinquished it from his grip, allowing Camlo’s graceful fingers to curl about the handle.
“How odd. I could have sworn I never had this in my inventory…” the old man muttered to himself in a puzzled tone. But all of Camlo’s attention was on the mirror and the sound of the other’s voice became muffled. He slowly brought his other hand up to gently caress the side and back of the mirror, surprised at how warm it was to the touch. There was just something about the mirror that absolutely fascinated him. It was like it was calling out to him…
Oh, so Arthur was the one who was calling for him. The blond shook his head to clear the sudden cobwebs and turned to the elder with a chagrined smile. Arthur who was quite used to the young lad’s sudden trips into a deep reverie only shook his head before he once again shooed him out of his shop.
“Take it with you since you are so infatuated with it.”
“Oh! But Arthur! I can’t! At least, allow me to pay for it -”
“Shush, my dear boy. Just take it and go. I don’t even know where it came from. Let that be a gift for all those times you’ve helped me out with my shop. Now, off with you!”
And that was how Mathias Camlo Argentine came in possession of such a mysterious artefact. That very night as he laid in bed, he cradled the mirror close to him, curious about its history. Softly, sleepily, he murmured, “I wonder who you belonged to in the past…”