Chapter 11: Answers of a different sort
Following the maester through the city was a wonder in itself as despite his win in the pits only the day before seemed to draw less attention than the presence of this man, they could take no more than ten steps before some soul would approach them asking to be blessed or returning a blessing of gratitude to him. The journey was a short one made all the longer by the offerings which the maester had piled into Tajaars arms as they walked. As they approached the grounds of the library the maester began to tell him of the library and its beginnings “this is the only part of this city not built and owned by the Hatch’s, the best we know it was built by the wizards to lock away some of the spells and magic they did not want the realm to interfere with.” although Tajaar could see little of the building due to the piles of foods and wears he clutched onto, losing grip as the maester piled on more and more on the top of the pile. Stopping only a few feet before the grounds of the great library at a home for the poor on the outside of its limits to offload the food and clothing bestowed upon them. The maester picking out various items as he passed them out to the occupants now gathered at the doors of the building, keeping a section of items for the clerics and pages of the library although a kind hearted they cannot live without food or clothes to keep them warm in the cold halls of books. Reaching the two giant doors carved from the whitest marble and granite fittings held into walls of marble higher than any of the surrounding buildings, possibly one of the biggest buildings in the city standing alone with space enough for several ogre to lay about its grounds before coming into contact with anything else.
The doors of the library were made all the more glorious as once upon them you could see the finely carved spells and incantations of protection spreading over the vast marble, as they rose the inscriptions turned into depictions of magic users and their previous endeavors. “Open the doors then Tajaar staring at them all day will not get us inside,” the maester proclaimed, not wanting to disappoint he took to the handle pushing with all the strength he could muster, they did not move but an inch. The maester watched for a while longer before laughing, it seems he is not without a sense of humor after all “amicus” he called out and pushed the door with the smallest of his fingers as both doors slowly opened, “the hound will have to wait here I am afraid, it’s not a place for magical creatures such as yourself if you were to enter you may not be able to leave, such are the scriptures that magical things may enter but not leave the great library,” Sola sneezed and sniffed circling the ground before settling into a ball facing the path leading to the gates of the library. Tajaar consoled his friend before entering alongside the maester the doors closed behind them as they entered into a vast hallway stacked high with books and trinkets so thick you may never tell what the walls looked like.” Maester you have returned what news from the council?” came a squeaky voice of a boy coming of age cracking and breaking as he spoke from behind one of the many stacks around the room. ” What else do you expect from the lords Korell? More work for us more than we care to deal with, have Gorgon move his ogre back down to the south gate and have them bring up more rocks for the masons they can do less damage there.”
“I guess the archers will be happy for the practice again with the dark forest animals venturing to the north bridge without the stench of the ogre to keep them away. Still we could do with the meat for dogs and the peasants.”
“You sicken me Korell, what makes you think the dogs would eat meat from the dark forest.”
As the maester and Korell talked about the matters of court and duties to be carried out Tajaar found his eyes wandering over the library in awe at all the intricate trinkets that filled hundreds of oak shelves, thinking to himself the wonder of the knowledge that could be contained within the books, scrolls or even some of the ancient parchments held within the library walls. The giant stone arch ways reaching high towards the ceiling with carved oak wood carvings of magical creatures decorating either side of the marble columns loomed high above them, vast rows of wooden bookcases filled with knowledge for men and creatures to absorb of all manner of topics including war, magic, and creatures alike filled every space available, books stacked on the floor raised almost as high as the shelves they had been plucked from, some even placed in such a way that they made a makeshift cubby hole offering the once reader a little privacy from the other users of the library.
Between these rows there were tables holding trinkets and ornaments with various designs and sizes dotted about the rooms covered by a thick layer of dust, mounted on the walls out of reach were some smaller shelves containing what looked to be journals, more books bound by string almost as if they are not meant to be read and potion vials filled with colourful liquids some of which glowed or sparkled as he peered at the bottles and vials. Studying his surroundings further Tajaar could see scorch marks around the room where spells had struck the stone leaving behind their marks of various colours and depths, the wizards that once lived here had clearly not given much thought to fire and its way of finding its fuel to spread its will to damage and ruin all in its path. Stone lecterns still had books placed upon them open paged as if the library had suddenly been abandoned many years before.
With a short gaze and the look of a man who had meant every word they smiled and headed to the back towards the chamber of clerics on the west wing of the library. ” Retrieve the records for the battles of the past thirty years let us see if we can make use of what the wizards left behind? They may prove to be useful yet, that is the best place to find out more about where you are from Tajaar, shall we sit and drink for a while and discuss the company you were lead here by, an interesting group of charters to say they least one might say.” Reaching for a bottle off one of the many shelves swiping the books off a small table with his free hand then kicking a bunch of books and papers to reveal a bench gesturing for Tajaar to take a seat. Reaching inside his robe he pulls out a pair of small goblets slamming them to the table he uncorks the potion bottle and begins to pour, filling the goblets swiping them from the table he urges Tajaar to drink. “ you would think me a fool maester if I did not question the contents of this goblet,” Tajaar replied while accepting the goblet. The maester chuckles “out of all the men in these cities I am one you can trust, this bottle contains my finest treasure, ale from the cities of the south not a small fortune of gold never the less a bitter sweet taste.” smiling back at the maester while raising his goblet to clink their drinks together as the goblets touched they called together “laetificat”.
“Now Tajaar you must tell me all you do know about how you came to be here” the maester asked while pouring another goblet of ale from his bottle. Explaining he did not know much about who he was much of his past before being tossed into the pit for food was still very hazy, even the skills of fighting was beyond his understanding he felt like a passive man unwilling to raise a sword at best, yet if he had to raise it he would. The maester began to question about the hound and how they came to be together the story was laid out before him of how they had camped and the creature came and rescued them, all the while the maester’s eyes were transfixed on Tajaar pouring drinks as the conversation went by. The conversation broke when Korell entered the hall stumbling across a pile of books sending several stacks clashing into each other causing a great mess and plume of dust to rise from the far side of the room, sighing the maester calls to him “That reminds me Korell have you seen Xeon since we sent him to the library store of scrolls? I hope he wasn’t eaten like Karmac.”
“I expect not maester he is a clumsy forgetful yet resourceful fellow although a little nosey. Most likely he is lost track of time in their reading about some nonsense the wizards have written a long time pass, obsessing over some theory of grand evil and terror.”
“I see and how does that differ from our current predicament? Nevertheless after you finish here ring the chamber bells he has been down there a week already. Don’t forget to send word to Gorgon about the ogre or Hatch will have them set up camp on our grounds again and you will be on fowl duties.” Korell dumps the pile of scrolls and books in front of them bidding them a good day, “I shall attend to my duties maester,” taking off disappearing as quick as he could between to large rows of books.
“At least thanks to the efforts of Korell we still have light and warm sunshine during our summers, but these damned windows and manageable winters. No thanks to the commander If he had his way we would either freeze in the depths of the winters descending from the mountains, or be boiled in some lake of fire and brimstone by trolls and evil demon minions. All the while he sits with the lords of evil merry joyful laughter as they consume vast amount of dungeon ale whilst gauging on roasting flesh of the surrounding unfortunate slayed creatures that had perished because of them.”
" Sounds like an evening with the keepers with their pit fighters and animals as they scratch and howl from cages waiting for their pound of flesh. Knee deep in filth and rotting hay, food and bones.” Tajaar replied.
" You know they love their fighting and the creatures they pit are their unfortunate catches from the forest they would be killing each other anyway, maybe it’s not so bad as watching them kill each other stops us killing each other. While the forest keeps the commanders and generals busy we seem to have plentiful peasants to work the fields and livestock not forgetting driving the council’s mad with their petty quarrels in court.” Hearing another crash as another pile of books and scrolls wobbled and then fell the maester and Tajaar looked at each other slightly drunk thinking the situation was scary yet all they sum up was some laughter, then a second thud and more of the books piled in the same area fell again, time to inspect the noise they thought getting to their feet slightly wobbling heading deeper into the library in search of the noise and falling books. The dust cloud of ash and paper growing thicker with each thud and fall of the books, the air was becoming so dense they both began to cough and sputter, noses running. Spotting the falling books two rows over from where they were dashing to them trying desperately to see through the thick cloud taking hits from falling debris and scrolls, the pounding getting stronger each time. The maester takes an entire book stack to the head knocking him clean to the ground calling the damming of the great gods, shaking off the cruelty of the unseen hit with all his frustration raising his hand he calls out “patet”, as if all at once the columns and stacks of books shift off to reveal a door steeped in webs and dust busting open a thick fog rolls out the door way broken and disturbed by two bodies covered completely in white and gray powder.
" Not a moment too soon for us maester, I fear we would have died of suffocation from dust on the books and scrolls from the Great Library. We just lost a group of six in the lower vaults of the libraries when we sent them to clean out the dead man’s scrolls they decided to use enchanted brooms and feathers but they are running amuck down there. Those scrolls are one suspicious gift from the wizards I would rather not received more like a twisted torture for taking their old lair. I swear they knew what they were doing, with their sometimes evil sense of humor I wouldn’t put it past them.” Korell and Xeon lay amongst a heap of thick dust piled halfway to the ceiling on the other side of the door clearing their throat sneezing and coughing. Raising one eyebrow at Tajaar the maester giggles saying, ” They are a wicked lot, but they do control the ways of magic better than us. As you two should know the more magic essence you consume the crazier you and it become. The wizards have basically given their body to magic effectively replacing their core and soul to an entity of pure mana. Enough power is contained within to drive a hundred men crazy enough to eat their own shoes whilst singing of maidens that steal their souls in the depth of the night like sea maidens calling ships to the rocks. As for those dead scrolls the knowledge they contain must serve us better than the wizards otherwise they would not have given them to us.”
Korell shakes his head in disbelief at the maester’s comments snapping back with a question of ” Why would someone seek to exchange themselves for power and lose themselves in the madness of that energy it hardly seems worth it?”
" One can see some benefits Korell, I know some of the master wizards are more than two centuries old and I have heard their leader is almost double that. He was two hundred at the times of the great wars at the end of the ten year struggle he disappeared into the white wood. If he lives today he would be a being of four hundred at least. Think of all that knowledge you could consume in that time to a being like that, I bet they can foresee many things before they even come to be. I recall of being able to see no new history events written or otherwise all from only old stories hidden deep in the great libraries of the realms and forts scrolls. All would seem to him like tales retold each time with more valor, destruction and devastation.”
" A sobering thought maester, we shall attend to the tasks of the council of the workers guild then clean this up we have yet to deal with the cleaning tools loose down there, if we leave them for a while longer we might just cut short the summer’s work.” Korell answered back now wiping his face shaking off the layers of dust dragging Xeon to his feet making their way towards the door a cloud falling from their cloaks as they made their way out.
“It appears Tajaar I have much to deal with here and must call an adjourning to our conversation but i do however know if you need more information about the mess you seem to be in now I would seek out the Fragar’s who are currently torturing your masters for coin they owe from the fight you won, the master of beasts also called upon me last night for advice and potion for killing of some sick beasts in his cages, we usually receive their organs for our potions in return yet we have received none with a rumor of you and your hound being poisoned the night before the fight. I not being a betting man, would think he has some information that may yet clear you.” thanking the maester for the information and his time still unsure of what to make of his gestures and antics he makes his way out of library and towards the pits to speak to the keepers.