Monday, October 6, 2014

Day Seven-Sixty-Five: On the cusp of storytime

Logan woke up in a hard, cold bed. It was, after a moment’s confusion, more than he’d expected - given his most recent memory, he’d expected to be dead.

Sitting up and rubbing his head, he looked around. He was in a small, darkened room, apparently storage for a collection of busts, covered paintings, and bits of old furniture. The room was so crammed with junk that only a narrow path between the bed and the door provided space to walk. Logan’s things lay at the foot of the bed, piled neatly, and he quickly dressed himself. Who’s been looking at me half nude, eh?

Pausing a moment to try and peek through a boarded-up window - the boards were so tight that the gesture proved largely futile - Logan tiptoed up to the door, wincing a little as his head buzzed with a dull headache. He still felt a little weak, and his lungs burned uncomfortably. Pressing an ear to the door, he listened for sounds on the other side.

No sense being stupid, he thought, gripping his sword. Yeah, sure, they left all my pointy stuff behind, but that doesn’t mean I’m not in trouble. Could be they’re just really stupid jailers. Like that one time in Cramston, when that old woman tried to lock me up for -

Logan’s reminiscence came to an abrupt end as the faint shuffle of footsteps floated through the door. Fingers tightening on the pommel of his sword, Logan stepped away, looking for a good spot to hide. The room was so full that he couldn’t find anywhere, however, and he was hunting for somewhere to perch instead when the door clicked open. Only the familiar voice kept Logan’s blade in its sheath.

“Well, now, how’s our patient?” it asked, old and friendly. “Hmmm, is he awake yet? Let’s see, now, maybe I should read him another… oh my. Hello!”

Though the figure beyond the open door was silhouetted by candlelight and indistinct, Logan recognized the hunched posture at once. He took a deep breath. “Robert! Holy hells, it’s you!”

Tottering forward on his cane, Robert the Librarian nodded politely. He looked a little older than the last time Logan had seen him, the fringes of hair on his wide head even less pronounced, but aside from that the elderly librarian appeared as healthy and helpful as ever. The only real change Logan noticed was the hunk of grey masonry, dangling from a piece of string around Robert’s neck, and he suspected what it must be based on Robert’s personality alone.

“It has been a long time, my prince.” Robert bowed, ushering Logan out of the storage room and into a wide, dusty library. “I’m sorry we couldn’t provide more adequate accommodations, but m’lord’s manor has not been treated kindly over the past year.”

Taking stock of the library via what little light was available, Logan cocked an eyebrow. “S’okay. I’ve slept worse places, dood. How you been, Robert?”

“Very well, thank you!” The librarian pulled Logan to a table nearby, one laden with a small plate of cheese and bread, as well as a cup of fresh water. “I have kept busy. M’lord’s library requires constant tending.  He is much cleaner than your father’s subjects, but I still need to reorder his stock on a regular basis. He likes to read, bless him.”

Seating himself and grabbing a hunk of bread, Logan bit and chew. Crumbs tumbled down his tunic. “Who’s this ‘m’lord’ - “

“Hunch over your plate, please,” Robert said.

“Oh.” A small part of Logan’s old rebellion bubbled inside him, and he grinned. “What if I don’t, eh? Must feel like right blasphemy to let somebody eat in your library - “

Robert’s face darkened, which, given the lack of light, was quite a thing. His eyes bulged, turning into fierce moons, and his fingers tightened dangerously on his cane. “I am making an exception. Do not test my patience, young man.”

Logan’s smile vanished. He quickly hunched over his plate, mumbling a quick ‘sorry’. That was enough to put Robert back in a good mood… though he scoured the ground for crumbs, plucking up three with a pair of tweezers. Logan remembered why he’d so seldom goofed off in Robert’s library, or at least compared to most other places in Castle What’sThereToDoToday.

“Quite a taskmaster, isn’t he? I’ve known military commanders with slighter backbones than this fellow.”

The voice surprised Logan, and he turned to face it. Across the library, seated in a beaten wingtip chair, was a suit of armour. Logan thought he’d simply looked in the wrong direction - at least until the armour’s helmet tipped upward, revealing gaunt cheekbones, a long, white beard, and cold, piercing eyes.

“M’lord!” Robert cried, clutching his heart. “You shock me again! I do wish you would announce yourself!”

“That’s no fun at all.” Rising from his seat, the old knight hobbled towards Logan on a cane - though Logan could tell from slight variations in the man’s movement that he didn’t really need a crutch. “My name is Pagan. I trust you’ve heard the name before?”

Logan nodded, swallowing a hunk of bread. “Yeah. Dragomir told me about you. Raised a bit of a ruckus over land. You were the judge for my dad’s trial, too. Can’t say I’ve been wanting to meet you much.”

Pagan chuckled, seating himself in a chair beside Logan. “Could you fetch me some apple cider, Robert? I’m parched.”

“I believe we’re out of apple cider,” Robert replied. “And you will have to drink whatever you get outside the library.”

Pagan arched a busy eyebrow, then pointed at Logan’s mug. “Why is he allowed to eat and drink in here?”

Robert’s smile skittered away, replaced by a brief frown. “This is a one-time exception,” he hissed, then wandered away to sort books.

“That man frightens me at times,” Pagan mumbled, watching Robert go.

“Imagine hearing that when you’re a kid,” Logan replied. “Where are we, anyway? Last time I saw Robert I was in a library a hundred miles away. Kinda doubt we walked all the way there, in the last… uh… however long I was asleep.”

“Half a day.” Pagan shrugged. “Robert found you dumped in the library this morning. I can’t honestly say how you got here, and I was anxious to hear your side of the story. I have… suspicions.”

“Mmmm. That’s two of us.” Gulping down a mouthful of water as carefully as he could, Logan drummed his fingers on the table. “First, answer my question. Where are we?”

Pagan sighed. Setting his cane against his thigh and rubbing his cheeks, he began to talk. “We’re in the corpse of my poor old manor.”

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