“Welcome, weary traveler, to Mademoiselle Maddie’s Mansion of Mystery! …Oh, it’s just you, ‘Nine.” Maddie lit a lamp and set her crystal ball on the wide oaken table she used for her sessions. “Come in. I’ll put some tea on.”
One-Oh-Nine (’Nine for short, not that anyone knew what her full name was supposed to mean anyway) sat at the table and looked around. Nothing much had changed since the last time she was there a few weeks earlier. There were perhaps a few more spiderwebs. About the same amount of dust. “This is hardly a mansion,” she said, to nobody in particular.
A tuneless humming emanated from the kitchen, and before long, Maddie re-emerged, pushing her way through the beaded curtain with a tray. She set it down on the table and poured some tea into two cups. “What brings you by today, ‘Nine?” she asked, sliding one of the cups down to the other side of the table.
“I was nearby,” ‘Nine answered. This was technically true, as she had a tendency to go on long, aimless walks when she got bored. Today, she’d brought a notebook with her and sketched every cloud she saw, cross-referenced with her notes on the weather and wind speed.
Maddie smiled. ‘Nine could be hard to get a read on sometimes, but ultimately she was sweet and usually had some interesting factoid or story to share. “Well, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you like,” she said, sipping on her tea. “I’ve got a reading scheduled in a half hour, but you’re welcome to look through the archives while I take care of that.”
The archives were what Maddie called her cellar, specifically because it made the room sound nicer than "the place that I need to clean out.” Every knick-knack Maddie had stumbled across in the past several years had ended up down there, not to mention all of her books, most of her receipts, and a delightful array of spiders that decided to claim it as their home.
It was one of ‘Nine’s favorite places in the whole town.