The bustling streets of Galbadia were filled with chocobo-driven carriages hurrying their way past one of the most poverty stricken areas of the city. The air was filled with noise and energy as fruit and vegetable merchants were busy shouting their wares on the foggy morning. Amidst the noise and movement was a blur of raven black hair quietly weaving in and out of the crowds. The hair belonged to a frail young woman who was desperately seeking a new job, like many others. This was the employment district and the times were not good. Nobles and royalty had been taxing the poor in such a way that most of Galbadia's people could no longer afford to buy food or pay for services. The current government of Galbadia was supposedly ruled by a Witch but the poor folk of the country did not know the half of it nor did they care. Those were myths and stories that meant nothing in their world, a world where finding tomorrow's dinner was a real concern.
The blur of black hair finally stopped at a building labeled "M. Agency", hoping against all hopes that she was not too late as she entered. A middle-aged man with light hair and a perfectly curled moustache sat behind the first desk inside. His fine clothing and powdered face suggested someone well off but not necessarily a noble. He cocked an eyebrow at her approach and dipped his pen into an inkpot, taking up a fresh leaflet of paper to write on.
"Good day sire. Are there any jobs for someone of my stature this week?" the young woman asked as she loosened the scarf which had been covering the top of her head.
"Name and age." He asked in a deadpan voice.
"Rinoa Heartilly. 26 years old, Sire." She watched with interest as he lazily scribbled her name and age on the paper and quickly looked through a stack of finer looking papers. He paused at one and raised his eyes, looked at her once, then back at the paper.
"Do you be having any experience with cleaning? Housekeeping? That sort of thing." He trailed off into a mumble as he skimmed through the paper.
"Oh, yes sire. I had been working as a maid at the Trepe Manor for four years until last week. I'm willing to learn anything if need be."
Rinoa fidgeted with her scarf and began dragging her feet. Various nervous habits were kicking in as she watched the man with anticipation. Rinoa had worked at the Trepe Manor as a live-in maid and believed she would be there for the rest of her life. That was until the recession made the cost of the maids' upkeep a serious burden and they could no longer be paid. Rinoa had no home to go back to so she had been staying at the Trepe's during her job search. Rinoa honestly didn't want to ever leave the Trepe House but desperate times meant she was only a burden to the kind family.
Lesser nobles were taxed far more than those above them. The Trepe house was one of those lesser nobles because the head of the House, Lady Trepe, refused to marry anyone her mother had tried to arrange marriages with. Lady Trepe was an independent woman who wanted to find a man equal to her and fifteen years of callers, balls and parties had yielded nothing to her favor.
The man suddenly picked up another paper and Rinoa stood at attention. He scribbled a few things onto it and handed it to her. Rinoa looked at him questioningly.
"Do clean yourself up before going to this address between three and six o'clock tomorrow. Greet the current keeper accordingly. Oh, and bring this. It's the recommendation from the agency. The client is a very… peculiar man of sorts… and you must understand his needs. Should you meet his… requirements during the interview you should be set." The man cleared his throat many times as he continued to drone out the instructions and Rinoa nodded, trying to follow his words and put them to memory.
"Thank you, sire!" she enthusiastically chimed as he finished. She made her way out of the building, wrapping the scarf around her head once more.
Rinoa adjusted her glasses and read the small piece of paper as she walked away from the busy district and back towards Trepe Manor. The address given was far from the city and she would need Lady Trepe's help in getting transported there.
When Rinoa finally reached Trepe Manor, she knocked three times loudly on the mahogany door. Moments later the door slowly creaked open to reveal one of the older servants of the house. Rinoa walked in and quickly made her way to the servant's wing but the dignified sound of Lady Quistis Trepe's voice called her back into the hall. Upon hearing the voice, Rinoa walked back and stopped in front of Lady Trepe. She lowered her head, waiting to be addressed.
Quistis Trepe was a woman in her thirties whose presence could command and she was wearing a fine red gown trimmed with lace and gold. Her blonde hair was done up and golden strands holding pearls were carefully beaded through it. Rinoa recognized the necklace Quistis currently wore as one of the family's treasures. The blonde looked down at the shorter woman, smiling.
"Rinoa." Rinoa looked up at older woman. "How did it go?"
"Tomorrow I have an interview with a new Master for the role of Housekeeper. I must dress appropriately and the address is quite a ways off, My Lady."
"Understood, I'll have Nida take care of your ride."
"Thank you My Lady, I am ever so grateful." Rinoa lowered her head once again.
"Best of luck to you. Have the dining room cleaned as soon as you are changed. My associates from Winhill are giving a courtesy call at eight o'clock." Quistis made a slight nod and strode back into the main wing of the house.
Rinoa raised her head, watching the older woman's retreating form. She quickly walked down the hall to her own room and closed the door. She observed her room while she exhaled a long sigh. The room was tiny but it was home. She had a small wooden bed, a rusted wash stand, a mahogany dresser and a small window looking out into the gardens. Rifling through her closet, she took out one of her best dresses. She picked out a simple brown and white dress made of velvet and trimmed with some damask, a trend among the common folk in Galbadia. Having lived the life of a maid for years, she had no use for the few dresses she owned other than the uniforms and peasant's clothes for shopping. This dress in particular had not been worn in two years and she wondered if it had grown too big. Not having much to eat meant her size had slowly shrunk over the years.
Rinoa looked at her reflection through the small dresser mirror and stood up. She held the dress against her body and frowned. She fumbled for her glasses and put them on to get a clearer look. Her hair had grown dull with years of not properly taking care of it. Her skin was pale from doing nothing other than working day and night. Her body was scrawny and weak. Determined to change herself, Rinoa decided she would look her very best for the next day. She didn't care if she couldn't get the job; she just wanted to become a new woman and no longer the shadow of a woman who she saw in the mirror.
I will repay the Trepe Family for all their help. I will be someone who isn't just a burden to them. Someday I will.