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Old 12-29-2003, 11:50 AM   #11
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
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Pio’s post - Rôg

‘Mmmm . . . tasty!’

The nighthawk’s bill snapped up a fat silverfish that dared the desk top. Hidden under a thin sheet of parchment it had been chewing on, the insect wriggled hurriedly for safety on its thin spidery legs, antennae waving wildly when the plop and scrabble of the bird’s feet had first hit the edge of the paper.

The bird had spent a good half hour poking about the clerestory windows that flanked this section of the library. And at last had been rewarded with one whose grout had crumbled, allowing him to move it out of the way and enter, gliding silently down to the reading desks that lined the center aisle. A few small lamps burned low – one at the entryway door, and two at each end of the great table. He wondered what sleepless librarians wandered the halls this night, guardians of the papery treasures locked away in the maze of rooms. Thank the powers that be that the old man’s memory of this place had been so clear, so precise.

In the shadows of the stacks he changed to his two legged form – more convenient for browsing through the dusty rolls of vellum piled one upon the other in the small cubicles. The leather bound tomes he ignored. The old man had been specific – it was a small, single, yellowed piece of parchment; the edges crackling into dust with age. He had rolled it loosely, he said, securing it with a bit of red string.

Ah! As if that would help him in this search!

He was colorblind – the red of the string would be so much grey to him, indistinguishable from the other dusty strings that wrapped round the myriad of rolls. Nothing to do but sort out the larger rolls from the smaller, the single pieces of paper from the others, and begin.

It was nearly dawn when he found the one he sought. Rolling it up carefully, he left himself enough of a loop to carry it securely


The flight back to the Inn was torturous. The roll of parchment caught the vectors of the breezes in odd ways, slowing him down or sending him flying in odd directions a he tried to maneuver with the cumbersome burden. A clutch of small brown wrens took advantage of his plight and dive bombed him unmercifully, trying to knock him from the sky. He grew tired and frustrated. Folding his wings tight against his body he dove toward the ground, a feathered missile, the wrens spiraling just above him, and straight into the midden of the Inn’s kitchen.

Peels of potatoes mingled and ripened with those of apples. The head, skin and bones of fish, slimy tops from the garden carrots, half eaten bits of bread now mouldered in a pungent stew. In one of his other forms he might have enjoyed the tangy mess he found himself wing deep in. But now his feathers were sodden and stuck together, his beak stained red from some castoff beet it had chanced into, and on his head, like some limp cockade sat a bit of old kale. Disgusting! And to make matters worse he could hear the birdish laughter of the wrens as they sat in the leaf bare plum tree at the corner of the Inn.

He stood up in the midst of the oozing mess and found the window the Innkeeper had pointed out to the young woman just last night. He pressed tentatively against it, feeling it give way. Reaching in carefully, he unlatched the door and opened it quietly.

A trail of ripe compost marked his journey through the kitchen and up the stairs to the room he shared with the old man. Aiwendil, sat up in bed as his companion entered the close confines of the room. His eyes watered and his nose wrinkled at the stench.

‘Open the window,’ he gasped, drawing the bedclothes up over this nose. ‘By the One, you stink!’

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-07-2004 at 11:35 AM.
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