Study Break

Moonday, 20th of Rova, 4707

This morning I was sitting in the Quarterfaux Archives in my favorite alcove when I slowly became aware of an angry whisper coming up from below. Rising from my chair I walked over to the balcony and looked over to see a long faced man berating a group of workers in dusty coveralls. Three of them had stopped their work to look sheepishly at their feet while their boss weathered the angry man’s hushed abuse. The combination of rage and restrained volume seemed absurd and I couldn’t help but snicker. Thankfully the librarian was too preoccupied with the work crew to notice. They were discussing the large mosaic pillar holding up the roof of this wing of the Archives. It stretched from the main floor all the way up to two stories above me, tall and straight like the branchless trunk of the wystl trees back in Kyonin. Instead of the pale yellow trunks the pillar was a mosaic of rune etched mirror glass set in a spiderweb of silver moulding. Below the crew boss seemed to have finally taken enough abuse and was trying to explain her work orders which were something about repairing a handful of cracked tiles. She said they had already made a good start and could be out of the library in less than two hours if left to their work. The librarian was seething. Still in his biting whisper, he described the various functions of the broken rune tiles now lying scattered on the marble floor. They were wards variously preventing and enhancing certain magics in the Archives. It was a few more minutes before two armed men arrived and showed the three workers out the door. With what passed for excitement in the dusty Archives over I settled back into a high backed chair and picked up Marsel’s A Grand Campaign, The Shaping of Modern Taldor. I was reading a survivor's account of the final siege of Koor but now having trouble concentrating so I knew I was done for the morning. I picked up the book and started over to return it to the shelf when years of battlefield instincts pricked to life. My eyes scanned for an ambush before my conscious mind registered why; four workers had come in but only three left. It was a fuzzy, muddy realization that kept slipping through my mind like a swamp eel through wet fingers. There was some kind of enchantment magic at work here. Anger stirred me to action, my mind is my own.

I took the winding stairwell two at a time as I went down to the main hall. I immediately noticed the gated door of the restricted section was ever so slightly ajar and just had a bad feeling about it all. Yelling at a nearby librarian to get the guards I ignored her protests as pushed the gate the rest of the way open and started down the stairs. I realized I hadn't even a dagger to draw as only the guards are allowed armed in the Archives. Down forty feet or more I passed through an open door and stumbled into pitch darkness. A dark so thick it drank all light from the stairwell torches. Above and behind me I could hear heavy boots and the jingling of chainmail. The next several minutes are a daze to me until a sickeningly sweet voice let me know I wasn't alone.

In my fingers scrape rusty.

Now at the bottom of the stairs the guards gathered and swore at the darkness in front of them.

But the voice continued and it set me shivering. Songs bloody and crusty.

Their angry barked orders ignored the guards moved into the lightless room as I flailed helplessly with no weapon.

Knives flick and they weep. My chest tightening I stumbled backwards and bumped into a table. My hand came away from its surface sticky and wet.

Putting little ones to sleep. Then I heard a sound like a slurp, like a spear being withdrawn from a fully impaled man.

To awaken the damp and the musty

There was light and voices when I awoke. I was circled by a handful of staff and one wary guard, sword pointed threateningly at me. The floor of the room was slick with blood and more dripped lazily down from the table I was propped against. On the ground lie two corpses and in a chair at the table a third, the last in fine clothes. All three had faces carved up in grotesque mockery. Smiles cut ear to ear and a large hole cut in the middle of their face.

It was hours before I was cleared and released. While still waiting I heard the chief archivist say that three books had been taken from the room during the murders. One was called A Critique of Jinn Etiquette. I couldn't pronounce the titles of the other two let alone spell them for this journal but I understood from the librarians they dealt in lifting powerful curses.

Study Break

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