Part 1 – The Final Day
It was the hour before dawn. Eryl woke out of a habit he had perfected over fifty years. He no longer jumped out of bed as he was wont to do when he was younger. Rather, he carefully sat up in bed and willed his aching bones to carry him through another day.
And this was a special day. It was the crown on his life of study and at the same time the end of his labours.
Dressing in his velvet robes, he went through the ritual with more attention than usual. It was, after all, the final day he would don the robes. After he was dressed, he walked over to the golden jewellery box that stood on a pedestal near the window. Before he opened it, he looked out to see the first rays of the sun that set the courtyard in an orange glow. He was later than usual.
Reverently he opened the jewel box and took from it the one item it contained; a golden necklace that supported a green, oval shaped stone. Today, he would wear this jewel for the last time and during the ceremony he would pass it on to his successor. Carefully he draped it around his neck, touching the stone like a lover.
With one last glance around the chamber he had called home, he shut the door with a soft click that echoed louder in his mind. Sedately he walked through the orange world of dawn, nodding his head to those who had risen early like him. The path lead from his living quarters to what had been the object of his care for fifty years: the ancient Library of Mova. Approaching the huge gilded doors never failed to inspire him with awe and, as he had done every day for fifty years, gave a thought of gratitude to the man who had installed a far more sensible door next to them.
“Good morning My Lord Caretaker!” Aribald, his secretary, greeted him as usual.
Eryl smiled. “Morning Aribald.”
Together they completed the daily ritual by walking towards the study: Eryl in front and Aribald, carrying a thick, leatherbound book, behind.
As he sat himself behind the heavy wooden desk, his fingers lingered a moment on the writing stand before he took up the quill, opened the ink bottle and dipped it deliberately in the black ink. Aribald had placed the diary in front of him and opened it on the last blank page it contained. Bowing without being seen, he left the room silently.
Thus Eryl began to write:
Today is my last day as Caretaker. I, Eryl Lewin, have fulfilled this duty with pleasure and alacrity. But to ensure no knowledge will be lost and the Library of Mova will have a caretaker for all the ages that is to come, I will pass my duty on to someone I deem suitable for the task. With the title will come the Caretaker’s Key. With it, my successor will have access to all the knowledge of the Caretakers that have come before. And as it is my duty, I have added to this great treasure. Today, I will hand over my contribution to this great Library and offer it in the hope that it will prove valuable in the ages to come. I humbly bow my head to the ancient lore masters, knowing that my contribution can only stand in their shadow.
As for my choice, I can only vow that I have sought and tested diligently. I believe that I have chosen the right person. He is curious and intelligent, thorough and strong. May he keep the eternal flame of knowledge burning. May he be a better Caretaker than I have been.
Eryl Lewin, Caretaker of Mova
He replaced the quill in its stand, blew gently on the words he had written and when he deemed them dry enough, closed the book.