The Caretaker, part 5: The Scholar
Part 5 – The Scholar
Lady Kira Marash glided into the room. There was no other way to describe it. She was dressed in a gown of shiny black cloth, mirroring her raven black hair that was put up with the mark of such casualness that it would have taken the Lady’s maid at least half an hour. Golden cords were sewed on her dress in the curling fashion of Asuria. In her ear shone the many golden earrings of that land’s nobility. Lady Kira was dressed for battle, but one that would have to take place in a ballroom. She lacked, at least to Rannol’s struggling senses, the restrained and, even Rannol had to admit this, a certain dullness that suited scholarly life.
She gave Rannol a cool but uncomfortably suggestive smile. “It is an honour to meet you, Lord Caretaker.”
Again, there was that slight emphasis on his title, one that he resolved to dismiss as a Asurian linguistic confusion. Trying to ignore the nervous flutter in his stomach, he tried to look his most formal and dignified as he answered, “Indeed, my Lady, the honour is all mine.”
Rannol had not been trained to face this noble lady. Politicians, yes, and even magicians, maybe. But not this lady of nobility and grace. His face turned red with the impropriety of it all. True, there were many females among the scholars and lecturers during his years of study. But they seemed the normal kind of women, those you could have a serious discussion with or even a less serious one and perhaps a lot more fun. But this lady had surely no place within the Library of Mova. And how was he going to tell her without causing offence. Suddenly he wished for Aribald’s presence.
The lady Kira approached the desk unhurriedly, her eyes taking in Rannol’s discomfort as well as the myriad of colours that shone through the high windows of the hall. “I will try to study diligently, my lord, and use up as little of your precious time as possible. You see…,” she gave him another of her smiles, “I am well used to the workings of a library. But of course every library must pale beside this Great One.”
Rannol could not decidecon whether she spoke with well-masked contempt or plain admiration. He chose, for his own peace of mind, that it was the latter. “You will find the Library of Mova all that any scholar would wish for.”
He heard the pride in his own voice and nearly winced as he saw her expression. This surely could not be mistaken for anything else but disdain. He drew himself up once more, looking for the armour of his office.
“However, it is not without rules that we offer study at the Library. We must make sure that those who partake of this Library’s knowledge, will deal with what they learn in a way that will not abuse its trust, nor its power. We can make no exceptions, not even to a noble lady like yourself.
She gave him a cool stare. “For sure, my lord Caretaker, I would not want to be exempt from such rules. Knowledge can be, after all, a dangerous power to wield.”
Rannol knew he had lost another round of battle and he was quickly losing count of how many he had lost that day.
The Lord Arikis saved him from further defeat by announcing their departure and he gave an inward sigh of relief for once when Aribald reentered the hall and ushered their guests and newest scholar out through the door.
-> Go to part 6: Off with the Finery.