The Caretaker, part two: The New Caretaker
Part two – The New Caretaker
There was an insistent knock at the door.
“My Lord Caretaker?”
Rannol’s eyes shot open and Rannol himself was wide awake in an instant. Through the window that offered a view to the courtyard, the first rays of the sun where already showing.
He jumped out of bed and hastily draped the velvet robes around him.
“Just a minute! I’ll be right there!”
He flicked open the jewellery box and firmly took the green pendent in his hand. It throbbed a welcome at him. Quickly arranging the necklace around his neck, he indulged himself one look in the mirror. He never had one to look at and the magic had not yet dispersed. Then he threw open the door.
Aribald looked a little flustered as he wrapped his hands tightly around a shiny leather-bound book.
“The old Caretake was never late, my Lord.”
A world of accusation greeted Rannol in that one sentence. He coloured but gave Aribald a level stare.
“There was no need to come all this way, Aribald. Yesterday was an exhausting day.”
Rannol snapped his mouth shut, determined not to offer any more excuses. With more force than was called for, he shut the door and walked with lengthy strikes towards the entrance of the Library. Aribald, already out of breath from his unaccustomed excursion to his new master’s quarters, could barely keep up.
He stopped as he reached the two giant doors that glittered in the morning sun.
“Do they ever open?”
He looked around to see Aribald still struggling with the stairs that lead up to the door.
“Excuse … eh … me?” Aribald managed, trying to wipe the sweat from his brow without loosening the hold of his precious book.
“The doors, Aribald, do they open?”
Rannol gave them an experimental push.
“No indeed, my Lord!” Aribald looked scandalised.
Rannol blinked. “They don’t? Then what are they there for?”
Aribald seemed at a loss. “Only on special occasions, my Lord. They open on special occasions.”
Rannol frowned. “And yesterday was not a special occasion?”
Affronted silence answered him and with a sigh he decided to let it rest. It seemed bad policy to antagonise his secretary on the very first day of his new job. Resigned, he walked towards the little side entrance and with a last regretful look at the sunny courtyard, stepped into the dusky gloom of the Library.
Aribald led the way towards the Caretaker’s office and lay the book on the ancient wooden desk. The stiff new binding protested as he opened the first blank page of the book.
“Your diary, my Lord.”
“Thank you, Aribald.”
The secretary bowed stiffly and walked out of the room.
Rannol never glanced at the book. His eyes took in the room as he slowly paced along its walls. Next to the door hung a painting of a serene forest.
“A painting with nothing but trees? Really!” He made a mental note to have it removed.
Next to the painting was the first of many bookcases. His finger ran along their backs as he read their titles: ‘Modern Bolder for Linguists’, ‘A History of the Royal Houses of Therand’, ‘Medical discoveries of Vayas of Meloran’.
“An odd assortment of books,” he murmured and lifted ‘Elemental Powers’ from its shelf. On the cover of the book were four symbols, traced in gold.
Intrigued, he opened the book and started to read.