The scholar approached the building thoughtfully, a sharp breeze- presaging a storm- pulling insistently at the cloak she held wrapped close about her. So this is the Library. It rose from Stormpoint's main street, impressive in its design yet set far back enough from the square proper to assume an almost self-effacing air. The lines were classical, Saro noted; but somehow they seemed a bit...odd. Odd to her 20th-century American eyes, that was; for it was the building's many tiny idiosyncracies made it seem perfectly natural in a city such as this. A study in contrasts. The sere simplicity of the tall, elegant columns gracing the front (Dorian, she noted absently) was softened by...something... Saro couldn't make it out until she stepped closer, mounting the arc of wide, shallow steps, but the supports were grown up with garlands of ivy- carved from the marble of the columns themselves. She straightened her glasses, wondering if she'd mis-seen, then- her eyes firmly sticking to their original story- bent to run thin fingers along column and carven vine. True enough, she marvelled. Such work it must have taken for the craftsman, and for neither cathedral nor palace, but a simple library. She chuckled to herself. Whoever the rulers were, who had this built, have my commendation on their priorities, indeed! Saro looked up, over the wide marble 'landing' before the door, and noticed also the windows, made not of the expansive, crystalline-smooth glass she was accustomed to, but pieced together of smaller bits of a thicker, more irregular glass. They were mainly patchworks of diamonds, no one pane larger than her hand; but here and there she could see entwining curves and striking geometrics near the edges- and dead center- of a few windows. She smiled at this other wonderful folly of the architect's. If the contents are half so interesting, this place could keep you busy for quite a while, Saro.
She paused inside the library, just through the surprisingly plain double doors. The interior was quite a departure from the massive, clean-lined exterior, to be sure; for in here, floors of wide, use-polished boards ran between tall shelves lined with books. Wood floors? In a marble building? She raised her eyebrows slightly, but went on. If vampires could run cities, well, then stone exteriors and wood interiors could go together, no problem. The ceiling, she realized, was surprisingly high; and not a stair or footstep to be found. I wonder how one manages with the books up top, Saro thought half-idly. Other than grow a few extra feet, that is.
Between shelves and door was an open space, not so very large, but wide enough to accomodate a few chairs and a table for study. Placed discreetly at one side of this space was a wide, slightly low desk. A wide, slighly low, and also completely empty desk. Saro gifted it with a curious gaze. Where's the librarian? Or any of the librarian's equipment, for that matter? The scholar walked about the desk to it's back, and found the same smooth, featureless wood of the rest. She stepped to the other side once more, and changed tactics.
"Hello...?", she called tentatively, unwilling to damage the learned, reverant silence, found in all great libraries. "Hello? Is there a librarian?" Once more, but slightly louder and more sure of herself. She had just opened her mouth to call a third- and last- time, when a young man came sauntering out from behind one of the nearby bookshelves. "A librarian?" His tone was rich and very obviously amused, but delivered in a low voice that, while not a whisper, guaranteed not to carry far beyond their ears. "That's fu- That's just grand, sweetheart. Here?" She noticed his correction, and from both his tone and his appearance guessed that the stranger was making a conscious effort not to be excessively profane, either out of respect for her (which she rather doubted), or respect for the library (which seemed a good bit more likely). He certainly didn't look like the sort to be spending his days in the library, let alone have so much respect for it, however. Black hair was held back from his face with a silver clip, large strands falling untidily to frame a narrow, hawklike face. He was wearing two earrings- small silver hoops, and both in the same ear, Saro noted. He wore a grubby white shirt, arms either ripped out or simply never sewn in, and over it a beat-up looking vest of equally grubby-looking tan leather. His pants were blue and considerably nicer than the rest of the ensemble, and with something of a shock, Saro realized that they were denim jeans. Of course, Stormpoint certainly has it's connections to earth, but....blue jeans on the natives? There's a surprise... A heavy silver chain around his neck, and a crude tattoo of- well, something- half-visible protruding from one sleeve-hole completed the look. If this were Cambridge, one glance would have called him a punk.
He regarded her with growing impatience, and finally broke in on her (she hoped!) surreptitious assesment of him. "Look, sweetheart, this is a library. And I'm here to read." With that he turned away from her, slowly, and sauntered off amidst the shelves from whence he'd come. Saro could see only his receding back, but his unhurried, arrogantly self-aware walk laughed at her silently. He seems amused...but why? Is a librarian so unusual a commodity, here? She shrugged it off, and, for lack of anything better to do, continued her exploration.
The scholar stopped in front of one crazy-quilt window in the rear of the library, looking back over shelf upon shelf of books. Well. That was certainly interesting. Her tour of the building was near complete, as far as she could tell- the interior was partitioned into so many rooms (large and small), nooks, and dead-end aisles she really couldn't be sure. And what a place it had turned out to be, too. No shame to it's elegant (if unconventional) facade, the interior of this place was posessed of the same amalgam of classic themes and whimsical elaborations. All beautifully crafted, too, and of fine- if not exceptional- materials. Wood shelves held the rows and rows of books, staggering quantities of them. Not so many as in Boston, true, but for a...place like this? Amazing. And those shelves- so much nicer than the horrible metal ones they use at home... She mentally trailed off. At home. Was Cambridge home any longer?
Her reverie was broken by a sound, some sort of muffled thump. Confused about the question and uncertain of it's answer, the woman was more than happy to hurry towards the general vicinity of the disruption. She walked past the end of several isles, the ascetic simplicity of the smooth, straight lines broken by a little light carving, visible only as a pattern of shadows poured into the carved-out areas. Unable to resist, she caressed the wood in passing with one light, scholar's hand. She glanced down each isle quickly as she strode by, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. She soon found it- a boy, of perhaps twelve years, was wrestling with a big stack of books. As she watched, another fell from his arms with a good solid sound, joining the cause of the initial noise on the floor. The child sighed, leaned over, and tried to retrieve his fallen booty. Saro hurried down to him, and bent somewhat akwardly (You never were long on grace, Saro.) to pick up his two lost volumes. Straightening, she took from the top of his stack a third which teetered precariously atop its fellows. He looked up at her, completely nonplussed. "Hi, lady. Thanks."
She smiled involuntarily at him, and replied in the tone she used when speaking to other adults. She had had some experience in being talked down to on account of age, and had never appreciated it. "Well, sir, can I help you find a table for these?" He nodded, and silently led the way. It was just as well that he did, since Saro was still pretty unsure of the geography of the place and her young friend seemed to have a good idea of it. Indeed he must have, for he knowingly snaked his way through the rows of books to a plain and sturdy table, late morning light falling brokenly over it and its two attendant straight-backed, wooden chairs. He deposited his load, then watched intently as Saro followed suit. This done, he opened the conversation once more, with all the innocent inquisitiveness of his age. "Thanks. I'm Bastian Smith. Who're you? Are you a vampire? Johann says there're a lot of vampires here. You're pretty. Do you have fangs? Can I see them?" Saro blinked and took an involuntary step back in the face of this torrent of wide-eyed commentary. "Ah...pleased to meet you, Bastian. My name's Saro. I'm not a vampire." She smiled slightly, not at him, but at the thought of it. "Sorry to dissapoint you. See?" The scholar widened her smile, 'til it clearly showed her white, straight teeth, canines blunt and powerless.
"Aww..." Saro had to be amused. Dissapointed, and a little relieved. He'll get over it. "Well, that's okay.", he reassured her, mistaking her expression for chagrin. "What are you reading?", the scholar inquired, seizing this opportunity to speak. "Stories. Hero stories. About Bashar and Pletus Ari and cuChullain and all the rest." Here was another surprise. Althought the first two names were totally unfamiliar to her, Saro recognized cuChullain. "The Hound of Ulster", she said quietly, straightening her glasses absently. "Yes! That's right!", Bastian agreed with somewhat more enthousiasm. So you know a hero of his, eh, Saro? Perhaps he'll forgive you for not being a vampire, for this. His unbroken stream of conversation - if an exchange so one-sided could rightly be termed that- interrupted her thoughts. "I'm going to be a hero. One day." He paused momentarily in careful, deliberative consideration. "Or a city guard.", he pronounced finally.
"Well, maybe someday I'll read hero stories about you, Bastian." "Yup! I'll bet you will. And I'll read about you, too." Saro interjected gently, "I doubt that part." Unphased, her young companion simply shrugged and jumped into one of the chairs. He picked up a book, feet dangling inches above the floor, and regarded her one last time. "Thanks for your help, lady. You're nice. I hope I see you again. Johann'd like you." And with that heartfelt- if unconventional- valediction, he propped his book up on the tabletop in front of him, leaned his head on one hand, and began to read. Well, Saro, it seems you've been dismissed. Continue?
And continue she did, through the book-lined maze, with no clear intention. Evidentally she hadn't covered the whole of the place before her meeting with Bastian, for there were several rooms she was quite certain she hadn't seen before. Eventually she concluded that she should simply concede temporary defeat, and begin her quest in the books rather than continue her quest in the building. Now, then. A card catalog, or the equivalent, as that Hell's Angel you spoke with earlier seemed to nix the prospect of a librarian pretty effectively. But where? I don't remember having seen anything... The scholar shrugged and walked on, more briskly this time, no longer meandering about to get a feel for the place but searching for something very specific.
She found nothing. Nada. No trace of anything even vaguely resembling an organzing centre for the yards and yards of books filling each room. Simply more books, the occaisional chair or table or window, and a few more delightful embellishments she was too pre-occupied to appreciate. Once in a while, a fellow library-user, though these (from the books they all read) had been somewhat more sucessful in their own missions than she had been, thus far, in hers. She stopped in an empty room. (Come to think of it, they've all been empty, recently. Those people must have gone home or hidden in some out-of-the-way rooms or something.) The scholar rubbed tired eyes, knocking her glasses askew, and leaned carefully against one of the solid shelves. She was tired, due in a small part to the physical toll of searching the same place for hours, but mostly to the mental exhaustion such a fruitless search engendered.
"How hard can it be? All I want to do is find out a little of the Cathedral's history, its upkeep. That's all! That's all..." Still taking slight support from the accomodating shelves, she whispered her plea involuntarily to the books only inches from her face. A pause, silence heavy as the last traces of her voice faded from the air. Then a shifting, a rearrangement of the very atmosphere, it seemed to the woman. A tingle running under her fingers, where they brushed against the books- she jumped back, frightened. A sense of seeking, confusion, more seeking. Then, with a final, self-satisfied air, it all- whatever it was-settled itself once more into reverent, waiting silence.
Saro paled slightly, regarding the shelf she'd been drawing support from just moments ago with wide, uncertain eyes. She whispered, softly and tentatively. "What in the world...?"
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come..." The woman crossed herself reflexively, her simple prayer softly whispered as she investigated the shelf.
What had happened? Magic was her first thought, with an eyebrow slightly raised to herself. Magic? Who would ever had thought you'd seriously consider that as an explanation, Saro. But why? A spell to- I don't know- keep you from leaning on the shelves? Don't be ridiculous! She shook her head, reaching up to brush a few vagrant strands of dark hair from her face. Still...she cautiously approached the shelves, wondering if there might be some sort of tripping mechanism or something- anything to indicate what had just happened. Of course, she thought, it could have been totally unconnected to what you did. But it just...seemed...to be targetted towards you. As unscientific as that may be. She drew near the shelves, examining them with lithe fingers and grey, glasses-framed eyes, The shelves themselves appeared undistinguished, made as they were of plain, fine-grained wood, well-joined but otherwise unremarkable. The contents were another matter entirely. Saro slid a few books out of the shelf in the area she'd been leaning, to see if there might- unlikely as the prospect was- be something hidden behind or under them. She found only more smooth and polished wood, and moved to replace the books. As she did, she happened to catch the title of the top book- and paused. The Architechture of the Medieval Cathedral, a fat, official-looking tome with a blue cover, lay in her hand. A coincidence, the scholar told herself. Nevertheless, she checked the next book down in her small pile. The Church in Rhydin and it's Environs. Only a coincidence, she repeated, with somewhat less conviction. Quickly the scholar checked the other two books that she held. A thin paperback, which looked to have been printed by a tiny, primitive press, bore the simple legend Churches. Hm, she mused. Succinct. And the last- An Essay on Religion among the Realms. The Realms? The scholar shrugged it off, a small, incredulous- and totally delighted- smile lighting her face. Well, Saro, seems you've found the 'card catalog'...
Involuntarily, she hugged the books to her breast, spinning around once in a transparent delight better suited to a wonder-struck child of six or a love-struck child of sixteen than to a twenty-something PhD. Recalling herself, she quickly sobered and, blushing for an audience of books, self-consciously brushed her dissarranged hair back into some semblance of order. "Well." She spoke aloud, to keep herself on track for the most part, but also simply for the sound of it. It was to be taken for granted that a library would be quiet, but here sound carried very, very little. She knew for a fact that there were others using this building, yet none of the ordinary muted busy-sounds she was accustomed to hearing were audible. "You should be getting to work, you've wasted the entire morning already and the first part of the afternoon, too." She returned Architecture to the shelf-space she's taken it from. An idle habit, Saro, with this arcane librarian, she chided herself. Magic...I don't know. I just don't know... For an educated 20th-century woman and the daughter of an educated 20th-century couple, Saro wasn't entirely sold on the whole magic thing. Intreagued, yes. Scared out of her mind, when she let herself really think about it, certainly. But positively convinced of the existance of magic as other than a Vegas side-show, no. Well...but anything this useful for research can't be bad, she contented herself. Besides, you're an educated woman. "Any technology sufficiently advanced will be indistinguishable from magic." Don't remember where that's from, but it's true nonetheless. Nothing to be alarmed at... And you, Saro, ought to be doing something more productive with your time, she finished sternly.
She set out to do just that. The architechture book she'd already returned to it's space on the shelf, feeling that, fascinating as it might be, it probably wasn't terribly pertinant. The others she kept, and added to their number two more from the shelves, both with forgettable, academic titles. Arms laden with these treasures, the woman wended her way through shelf after shelf in search of a table to work at. She soon found one- under yet another of those ubiquitous pieced-glass windows. An afternoon sun sent honeyed light over the table and the books and the arms of the scholar who set them down. Having deposited her load, Saro sat and pulled paper and pen- and ink- from the light backpack she'd has since before arriving in the city. She carefully set the ink and pen aside, and neatened the sheaf of blank pages she held. As she did, something smaller fluttered free. It revealed itself to be a folded sheet of paper, which, sharp crease upward-facing, made a creamy tent on the table in front of her. She picked it up, curious, and smoothed it open. "You are welcome, of course." She read the first line, realizing immedietly what it was. A response to her thanks, from the Cathedral's silent guardian. She must have accidentally picked it up when she had grabbed a handful of paper from the desk that morning, in her impatience to be exploring the library. She puzzled over it now, as she had when first she read it.
"You are welcome, of course. Indeed, we are all to serve, not to be served...consider me always at your disposal as long as you serve what is true, noble, good, and virtuous......."
And that was all, save for the 'address' on the reverse of the sheet. ...serve what is true, noble, good, and virtuous...What does that mean? Saro squinted to make out the words through the glitter of dust motes torched by the late sun. "Isn't that simply the same thing, said four different ways? But no, it wouldn't be, would it. What is true is not always good. Or virtuous, or noble. It is simply true. The same holds for the others, I imagine. So what do you serve, Saro, hm? The great god Knowledge, for sure." Here she laughed softly, at the picture she must present. A woman alone in the library, arguing etymology aloud. Had there been anyone to hear, Saro was sure, they'd think her positively daft. But there was no one, or at least, no one who bothered to do more than glance bemusedly and walk on, and so the scholar turned her mind back to the letter and the question to which it had brought her. Did she serve what was true, noble, good and virtuous, as the mysterious epistle asked? Well, Saro, she answered herself. You try, I think, but it's seldom so clear-cut as that, now is it? But you try. In Cambridge, in Rhydin, and now, in Stormpoint.... This research- it's truth you're after, no? "But is it good?", she whispered. "Does the...Sexton...", she thoughtfully ran a finger over the rough, thick paper, looking down at the crisp characters beautifully inscribed on it. "...want to be known?" She thought; and after a time, she shook her head, as if to clear it, and picked up An Essay on Religion among the Realms.
She was true scholar and a researcher, serving truth above all, and so she read. Were one to look down a certain aisle of books, one might see a hunched, dark-haired figure poring over a stack of books. Were one to look long enough, though, one might also see this figure, from time to time, pause and look to a small, folded piece of paper, wondering.
Saro let the book she held fall the few inches to the table, joining the jumble of stacked and strewn books adorning its top. She pulled off her glasses with one hand, reaching up with the other to rub her eyes. She was exhausted. Granted, she hadn't been laying stone or chopping wood or plowing fields all day, as she knew some had, but she was as tired as they nonetheless. And about as sore, she thought wryly, as she stood and stretched gingerly. Ah, well, Saro. You've only yourself to blame for that. Leaning over a book all day-, she drew a sharp breath as she discovered a particularly sore muscle, -is better for the chiropractor than the researcher. After a moment, when she had worked sufficient of the kinks from her body, she picked roughly half-a-dozen volumes from the haphazard collection in front of her by the simple expedient of grabbing two of the tipsy book-stacks into which it- the collection- was 'sorted', Valiantly suppressing a rather substantial yawn, the scholar headed downstairs to the singular desk she'd been so puzzled by on her first visit here.
It had been nearly a fortnight, Saro was fairly sure, since that first visit. In the intervening time she'd figured out a few more things about how it worked. Well, more precisely, about what worked. She still didn't know how at all, simply that certain things seemed to be rules. For example, books 'returned' at the desk were always promptly replaced in shelves. You never saw it happen- or at least, Saro never had- they were simply there, and then you turned for just a moment, or closed your eyes for a fraction more time than an eyeblink, and they were gone. Just like that. And could immedietly be found by that strange and wonderful book-location method. (Not a spell, she reminded herself. You don't know how it works, therefore it's still a method.) The method itself, she had also discovered, was not perfect. It didn't eliminate the work part of research entirely, simply rendered the physical tracking-down of books obselete. You still had to be very tricky with what you asked for. Asking for "cathedral" books got you books with "cathedral", "church", "religion", "abbey", and slew of related words in their titles. It did not get you books with "house of worship", "temple", "sanctuary", "rectory", or many others. The system seemed strange and sometimes arbitrary to a researcher experienced in a much more prosaic system, and it fascinated the scholar no end.
The books themselves were of no less interest to her. Printed on cheap and luxurious papers of all descriptions- plus several substances she didn't recognize as paper at all, bound in leather, paper, and even a few in thin wood covers, they were as fascinating for their physical selves as for what they contained. But what they did contain... More information than she would ever have dreamed possible; and less of that than she had ever thought was actually useful. Still, even with the reams of non-pertinent and superfluous information she'd had to wade through, the scholar had still managed to fill a sizable stack of papers with notes. Notes, and ink blotches, she amended as she leafed through them, having returned the books to the desk and herself to her table. Your handwriting's as poor as ever, Saro.
She yawned again, this time unable to stop herself. It had been easy to slip back into old habits here- doubly so, because here she had no librarians ordering her out at set hours, or classes waiting to be taken- or, later, taught. Within a few days she'd found herself leaving the library late, late at night, so caught up in what she was doing that she wouldn't even notice the velvety fall of night until exhaustion forced her to it. It was lucky that the rectory was so close by. This was not, it was clear, a town for a lone mortal to wander after dark. And so, each evening, her slight figure hurried acrost the main square to creep as quietly as she could up to her room.
It was very dark this night, too, she noticed without much surprise. It was easier to miss the falling of night than one might think, for along with its other amenities, the library boasted a strange- but highly effective- lighting system. Tall, slender cylinders glowed at one end and slowly dissapeared, so very much as candles did that Saro did not notice that they were not until she'd been there several days. But there was no distinct flame, no fire of any kind, no heat. (Of course not, she'd marvelled at the time. Live flame, with all these books? The fire hazard would be amazing.) Every night, when dusk had just decided to turn dark, these...whatever-they-weres....would silently begin to cast their muted glow from where they were ensconced in wall-mounted brackets about the rooms. The light was steady and only slightly dim, and she was able to read quite well enough by it to forget entirely about what it meant, that nighttime had approached and was quietly proceeding on her journey.
She noticed it now, though, with something of a start. Well, Saro, you've done it again. How late is it? Midnight? One am? Two? And you still here with the books, instead of in bed where you belong. She smiled sleepily, at the sameness of it. Cambridge, Massachusetts or Stormpoint of Three Lands, she'd still forget sleep and meals to pore over obscure books in search of even more obscure information. She found it comforting, a little, and yawned again. Her papers full of notes were scattered about the table top like blown leaves or wayward children, and she gathered them up into a thick, untidy pile. As she did so, a few of the words caught her eye, reminding her of what she had learned. She'd found surprisingly little informatoin on the city itself (and had resolved to pay Samantha a visit, as much to see her as to look through any records that might be in the Castle), but she'd had some little luck as far as Church history was concerned.
"The Catholic Church," one source wrote, " was a part of Stormpoint almost from the city's inception. Indeed, the City itself- with its well-designed streets, its modest but well-attended religious building, and its pious, hard-working citizens- is a great monument to the Glory of God in the Realms." That source was quite old; as was obvious from the passage she'd jotted down. Stormpoint might still have hard-working citizens, and given the small but steadily growing congregation that the priest had, some of them were indeed pious, but... Saro thought that the rather narrowly devout writer (one Tomasso N'Ari) might somehow have difficulty, even in the broadest of terms, of describing this modern city of a vampire Queen as a "monument to the Glory of God" anywhere. She was inclined to dismiss much of N'Ari's "History of Religion in the Realms" as pro-Catholic propaganda; but certain details she had been able to find echoed in enough other sources to be able to accept them as quite likely the truth. "Stormpoint in unique amongst Realm cities in having included amongst its founders a strong number of the Christ-worshippers...". P. C. Devilla. "It had been noted by the illustrious and highly estimable Doctor Tehgn that a small but historically signifigant role has been recorded to have been played in the founding of certain of the communities in the northern areas of the Known Lands by those who profess to a deep conviction in a three-faced God, most prominent upon the intellectual map these the towns of Cevil, New Europe, Tella Dagra, Pointe de Tempeste..." Saro had found the author, the 'estimable' self-appointed Chief Historian of the Known Lands Robert Traina Eugust to be full of hot air and strangely attatched to the run-on sentance, but thorough in his work nonetheless. Further, torturous reading had revealed his "three-faced God" to be almost certainly the Christian God, the holy Trinity being interpereted by Eugust as three faces.
There was more along those lines; and a surprising number of records from Stormpoint's blossomming. It had apparently been about for quite a long time; for many years a small fishing villiage, growth blocked by politics in the surrounding regions. Even after it began its rise to a major city, it rose unsteadily, alternating bouts of improvement and construction with periods of general indifference on the part of the rulers and small cultural backslides on the part of the city itself. The first true rulers, King Termoth and Queen Sella (or Temoth and Selia, or even- rather preposterously- Dermot and Estella, depending on the source), had , in various fits of improvement, had presided over the building of- at least- Stormpoint Castle, the Library, a great stone watchtower/lighthouse, and the beginnings of the grand Cathedral. Of these, only the lighthouse was not present in its original splendor, as it had been damaged severely by gales and erosion, and later partially deconstructed and used as a munitions base for a certain notorious and unpopular later ruler. Her last trace on it, a diary entry from about two dozen years previous, read: "We played down at the Tower Rocks today. Mom was worried, but we were very careful. Nici fell in the water once, but he dried up pretty well and she never knew. Nici says there used to be a huge tower here, with a big, ugly dragon in it, but the priest says it was only a lighthouse..." It went on in that vein, a delightful change from the heavy-handed, painfully verbose prose churned out by many of the more official (and officious) historians. The scholar did wonder how the personal diary came to be in the Library's Archives, though, but...oh, with so many strange things, surely this was hardly remarkable.
She had discovered more, of course- could hardly have spent so much time on it without having done so. Fascinating as it was, though, knowledge would keep. For now, Saro just wanted to get her materials straightened out before she headed to bed. She left the books and diaries, her pen and ink, and whatever paper was unused behind on the table; experience had taught her that everything would be as she had left it on the morrow. Her notes she kept with her, as she brought them to the rectory night after night and back to the library morning after morning. Safe as it might be, the scholar wasn't prepared to risk that much work on the caprices of the building and its various mysterious helpmeets.
She pulled a dark cloak about her shoulders awkwardly, fingers clumsy for want of sleep, and tightly clutched to her the sizable pile of scribbles to which her notes for two weeks had amounted. And, tracing her way carefully through the erudite maze of the building to its front entrance, she swung open a heavy, magnificent door just enough to slip through into the night. The square was very dark, she noticed without much surprise, stars clear-cut and brilliant and totally foreign. She would have recognized the patterns they made, were she in another place. Were she in another place, she would have been able to relate their ancient stories. But this was Stormpoint, and so she quickly cast her gaze down again and traced her lone way through the night, trying not to think of what- or who- she might be sharing that night with.
Saro sat at the same table she customarily took, a big one, pushed against the wall underneath a pair of whimsically glazed windows. No matter where you were in the Library, there was always adequate light to read by, she'd found; but nonetheless she preferred sunlight. This morning there was plenty of that, bright morning light that warmed the table and the books it held. The woman at the table smiled at it, carelessly rearranging her glasses and doodling curlicues and spiraling waves in the margins of her notes.
West Collins Telmarc
West Collins Telmarc
Gene Y. Holiberry
Strathan ni Colin
And on down the page the names continued, to the last two entries, separated by a horizontal row of dots.
A list of Stormpoint's spiritual guardians, the Bishop of the time heading each section, the clergy under him completing it. It had taken a very long time to compose this one sheet of paper. Saro thoughtfully added a slightly sloppy array of curling vines to one corner of the sheet as she recalled.
Records were spotty for much of Stormpoint's history, but especially those pertaining to the Church. The ruler before Samantha had been, among other unsavory things, a great despiser of religion. Especially Catholicism. When he'd wrested control of the City from it's rulers, Loren and Katrana (descendants of the original Termoth and Sella), he'd confiscated all Church property and persecuted the sole remaining priest, one Michael Chytraeus. He hadn't quite known what to do with the Cathedral, but he did have whatever records he could find pertaining to it and Catholicism in general destroyed. Saro had no way of knowing how many ledgers, accounts, and other records-books had been lost, or how much information she was still missing. What she did know was that the usurper- the self-styled King Daman- lacked a scholarship to match his destructive urges. A few accounts, as well more than a few incidental references, had been preserved in the Library. Hard to find, granted, but there for anyone with sufficient experience and patience to find. There were, too, some references in the rectory's study as well. Saro wasn't quite sure how these has survived Daman's reign; the most rational explanation she could come up with was that they had been misplaced in some out-of-the-way corner of the Cathedral where Daman hadn't bothered to look, and later- fairly recently, because Daman had only been deposed about 5 years previous- someone- The still-unidentified Sexton? A parishioner?- had found them and returned them to the much-depleted rectory library. Saro looked down at her paper, noticing the thumbnail sketches framing the words with a slight smile. These flights of wild reminisce are getting you nowhere, she thought, and turned her attention to where to go with the information, as opposed to where it'd come from.
She had more information than just names; another sheet held the same list, enlarged to include the names of all religious persons who had spent some time in Stormpoint, not just the permanent clergy. (Those names she'd been able to find, that was.) Next to each name was a description of some sort, whatever she'd been able to find out about the person. Their ecclesiastical rank, contributions they made to Stormpoint, even other religious institutions they'd spent time at- if she could find it. And a third list of names…those who had spent a long time at the Cathedral, and something about their deaths. Most were buried in the small church graveyard, though one, Telmarc, had left Stormpoint for another, warmer clime on account of health (two of his letters were tucked inside an old book of sermons), three had been lost at sea while going on pilgrimages of undetermined destination, one had left the clergy- whether his choice or not, she didn't know, and four more had, for small and sundry reasons, been buried elsewhere. There were five names unnaccounted-for. Theodore Malinow, James McKee, Cayle Granten, October Smith (October?, Saro had wondered at the time. Poor kid.), and, most recently, Michael Chytraeus. She thought about this for a minute. Cayle Granten, she thought might have done something rather indiscrete, such as commit suicide. She'd not found anything specific, but one of his Bishop's slim accounts-books had survived, with a rather dark, quite indistinct reference to him; and a note that he had "gone". She noted this in parenthesis by his name, with a set after that of Michael Chytraeus as well. The last priest before Father Selnecker and the only one the City boasted at the time of Daman's conquest, Chytraeus had probably been killed as a part of the mad King's cleansing of all religious 'taint' from his newly-conquered City. The other three, she had no idea. There were no headstones for them, and as far as records went they might have simply faded away into thin air.
She yawned, and stretched her arms above her head, arching her back to work out kinks. She had another sheaf of papers, much large than these three sheets, to outline the history of the Cathedral itself. Soon she'd be ready for a talk with the priest, to give him the information he'd be so patient in waiting for. Soon. She didn't really hold out much hope of finding more, but she wanted a few more days to check up on the names. Everything fit, all her information, except for one piece- the Sexton. She strongly suspected he was a man of God who'd spent much time in the City- otherwise, why such a strong tie to the Cathedral? But who was he, who…
Saro rose and gathered up her things, setting out to the more populated quarters of the City. There were certainly older people around, perhaps even a few brave souls who'd stayed through Daman's reign, and she knew from experience that older people loved to talk- especially about their youths. I just hope they remember a certain priest, or rumours of a strange presence in the Cathedral, and not their first kiss or their second-grade teacher's ruler...
© 1999 Stormpoint Writers Guild
All rights reserved