Jan 2009

Chapter 85Of Messengers and Massages

The castle was quiet for this time of the evening. Even the dining hall felt emptier than usual. Of course it was still fairly filled with students but it wasn't as noisy as always. Or I was just being paranoid. Deirdre followed me patiently through the corridors until we ended up at the Master's room. I would rather have had Deirdre join me inside, but it didn't feel like a possibility.

We didn't have to say anything so I just knocked at the door.


Opening the door I found the room almost the same as yesterday. Again a lot cleaner and organised than I was used to. But it was harder to tell. Twilight had come and the master, apparently, found it not yet dark enough to make some light. The master, writing at his desk, was the same as yesterday. He didn't look up as I entered and finished his sentence before I was granted any attention.

He didn't look happy. "You're late."

"I apologize, Master."

He frowned disapprovingly. "No excuses?"

I tried to read his face for surprise of my presence. But it looked like he fully expected me to be here. That made me wonder, obviously, if he had anything to do with the Twilight cult directly. Maybe he had just been appointed here without much knowledge of what was going on. Though that seemed unlikely.

I took a short breath. "None that would interest you, Master." I was curious what he'd respond to this.

"Very well. It is a shame this unpunctuality blemishes your otherwise decent reputation so far, Taran."

I looked down appropriately. In a way I was glad he didn't appear to be part of the assault on me. To fake a little shame and guilt was easy compared to the anger I would have felt when he had been part of it.

"Nevertheless, I do have a task for you." He looked down and opened a drawer. There was a simple envelope he retrieved. "Please deliver this to the silversmith off the main street. Do you know where it is?"

While I'd never been inside there, I definitely knew where it was. "Yes, Master."

He handed me the letter. I didn't have my bag with me, so I just placed it underneath my outer layer of clothing. The Master didn't appear to care.

"I apologise for not having anything more prestigious or explorable, but... things have been changing lately it seems."

I smiled, the tone of his voice nearing kindness for once. "I have to take the grand with the small."

He nodded, not smiling back though. "You may leave."

I bowed my head and headed out of the door. I heard him starting to light a candle just after I opened the door. It sounded like he was using some flint and focus to get the flame of the candle going. When I closed the door behind me, a glance confirmed that he had a candle going. The light of it, as a soft scent, was noticeable through the crease of the door. Until I closed it.

Deirdre looked at me expectantly. "So?"

I flashed a simple smile. "We're going back into town."

While we made our way out of the castle I explained it 'all' to Deirdre. There was not much to tell but she was curious anyway. Our voices felt like the only ones alive in the corridors, even though there were many hushed voices everywhere. Especially around the dinner area downstairs. What was kind of strange was that I didn't notice any guards outside. I didn't remember seeing any when I got in either. Strange.

We made our way through town to the silversmith where I was supposed to deliver the letter. The store was mostly dark, but the door was not locked yet. I knocked, but after no answer I pushed the door open gently. There was no one in here either, so I headed in towards the door in the back. Suggestive sounds were emanating from behind it. Very carefully I pushed the door open and, fortunately my worst thoughts were not confirmed. Mostly.

The smith was giving a woman, who looked to be enjoying herself, a foot massage. They both looked at us frightfully when we opened the door.

I smiled a little at the startled pair. "I've got a message"