25 December 2012 @ 11:09 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Fourth - Section the Sixth - Camelot 953AD  
The door hinges were well-oiled not making so much as a squeak as Gaius turned the knob and pushed one side open, stepping aside to allow me to go through first. Of course, that was only polite, but I couldn’t help thinking that he was perhaps using me as a shield.

But whether he was or not, this was what I wanted, to be a scholar, so it was only right that I should go first.

On entering the room I completely forgot about canterkerous archivists, for before me was the most amazing collection I have ever seen before or since.

Now it is true the library in Tamworth was bigger, but that was in physical dimensions, the library of Camelot was indeed smaller, but there were more shelves and each of them were packed with volumes. There was also the most amazing sense of knowledge, as if the books amassed here were from more places and on more subjects than one could imagine. Which was a rather strange sensation for me to have considering the fact I hadn’t looked at any of them and couldn’t even see the titles from where I stood. Still I was absolutely certain that I would find information in this library that was available nowhere else.

My pleasure in being able to bask in all this knowledge was rather abruptly ended by the intrusion of a very annoyed voice.

“My God, can’t I be left in peace for five minutes? I know Linus has his own collection in that chamber of his, why doesn’t he damn well use it?”

I turned to the source and was greeted by my first sight of Cedas.

My first reaction was surprise, he was extremely short, at least for a full grown man, reaching only to the middle of my chest (and I was by no means a giant). He was also rather younger than I expected though still on the other side of fifty. He had a long beard that curled at the ends and rather wild hair on his head. He also possessed the thickest pair of glasses I had ever seen, they were perched at the end of his long nose and I wondered at how they didn’t fall off. He was also dressed in a rather heavy robe for this time of year. It also appeared to be rather too big for the man, puddling about his feet, how he could walk about without tripping over it was a mystery to me.

He hadn’t seemed to notice me, instead he was peering up at Gaius, hands on hips, eyes narrowed. If looks could kill. Well, Gaius would have at least had quite a serious injury.

“Peace, Cedas.” Gaius held up his hands in gesture of goodwill. “I haven’t come here to mess up your shelves.”

“I very much doubt that,” Cedas snapped back.

“No, I promise, in fact, I’m here with good news.” Gaius was rather overselling me I thought, we had only just made acquaintance!

Nevertheless he took me by the arm and motioned me forward. “This is Geoffrey, of Monmouth, you’re expecting him I think?”

Cedas squinted and looked up at me, a frown on his face. “Why would I be expecting anyone?”

This was my cue, I immediately went ruffling in my satchel. “I have a letter of recommendation here...Bishop Maxim, in Cornwall should have written to you?” I hoped to job his memory because, of course, the letter had worked its way to the very bottom of my bag.

“A letter of recommendation? For what?” I couldn’t tell if Cedas was being sarcastic or genuine and fate wasn’t helping much either, the awkwardness continued as I grabbed a hold of the letter a few times only to have the paper slide out of my grasp.

“For a position, as your apprentice,” I continued, finally gaining a firm hold and pulling.

Of course, half the contents of my satchel was carried along with the letter and made a very loud noise falling to the floor.

Cedas’s eyes narrowed even more. “Would you mind not destroying the library, boy, there are books in here worth more than your life.”

I gulped. “Sorry, but I have the letter.” I thrust it in his direction, praying that he would take it.

Thankfully he did, pushing his glasses up on his nose as he unfolded it. I hoped that Bishop Maxim had written me a good reference, especially considering the fact we had never actually met in person. We had exchanged a few letters though and that seemed to have been enough to convince the man that I was genuine in my desire to be a scholar and to write me a recommendation in the first place.

Although I wondered if Cedas trusted Bishop Maxim’s judgement, he didn’t look like the sort of man who cared for anyone else’s opinions and I had to wonder if this was a wasted trip and what exactly I was going to do with myself if this archivist threw me out on my ear.

It seemed that hours passed before Cedas finally looked up and squinted at me a bit more. “Maxim seems to think you have the smarts and enthusiasm for the job, I did give him very specific instructions.” He paused. “I was expecting someone a bit older. But then they do say the young are good for moulding.”

I had a sudden imagine of him treating me like clay and banging my head against a table trying to put it into proper shape, but I couldn’t let my imagination run away with me.

“But Monmouth, in Caerleon? I didn’t think they had much in the way of scholars there.”

“No sir,” I answered. “That’s why I had to look elsewhere to continue my studies. Bishop Maxim told me that Camelot’s library is the very best.”

For the briefest second I thought I saw a proud smile grace Cedas’s face, but it was gone in a flash and I had to conclude I’d been imagining it.

“It’s a one of a kind establishment, certainly. And not for just anyone, I want someone who’ll respect my work and the work contained within these volumes. I don’t need any puffed up young jackass thinking they know what’s what.”

“No sir,” I said quickly. “I know that I have a lot to learn. And I’m willing to, if you give me a chance.”

Cedas grumbled to himself, then refolded the letter stuffing it into his pocket. “All right then, I’m willing to give you a trial.” My face must have lit up because he added rather sharply. “Just a trial, mind you. You’ll be completely at my beck and call, no sass back, no commentary. I give you an order and you obey it no questions asked, you go that.”

“Yes sir.” I promised.

“Good. Now pick up all that and take it through into that room over there.” Cedas pointed to a door on the far side of the room. “That’s where you live now. And if you don’t like it, you can leave now.”

“It’ll be fine, sir.” I promised despite not having seen it, after all I wasn’t about to be turned away from my destiny now.

Although, I briefly reconsidered when I entered the so-called room...cupboard would have been more appropriate. There was indeed a small ‘bed’ inside – although that’s a generous description – and even a tiny window, but with the door closed I barely had room to move. I wondered if I’d actually be able to spend the night in here or if I’d suffocate.

But Cedas had made it clear that if I made any complaints I could leave, so I tossed my satchel onto the ‘bed’ wondering exactly where I was going to put the contents of it.

I turned to leave and nearly ran into Gaius again who had come up behind me.

“Good lord, and I thought Linus was hard-hearted, my room is practically a chamber compared to this.”

I made a face. “We can’t all be so lucky I suppose.”

Gaius grinned. “I wouldn’t worry, it’s not as if you’ll spending much time here.” He gave a chuckle. “You’ll be spending most of your time in musty old bookshelves instead.”

I rolled my eyes, but I appreciated the fellow’s sense of humour nevertheless.

It was a relief to get out of that ‘room’ and that was only after a few minutes. Cedas had returned to his table and was writing away, I wasn’t entirely sure how to get his attention. Should I just speak up? Cough? Or was it better just to wait until he looked up and noticed me?

Gaius solved that problem for me, perhaps a bit too obviously, by rather loudly announcing he had to return to his own work for the Royal Physician and wishing me luck.

Cedas glared at him as he left with a cheery wave and peered at me once more.

“I’m in the process of cataloguing at the moment, making sure everything is still here and that it’s all where it should be. Nobles and courtiers often just help themselves without any regard to where things go. It’s a bloody mess.” Cedas explained and then picked up a rather tatty and sad looking book, pushing it across the table towards me. “Here’s the second volume of the catalogue. Get to work on it.”

That was the only instruction I was given, but I figured I was supposed to go to the shelves the volume pertained to and check to see if all the books listed were there. If they weren’t...well, I wasn’t entirely sure what I supposed to do then, but I’d cross that bridge when I came to it, I decided.

Though I wondered if I was actually going to get to do any scholarly work, I hoped Cedas wasn’t just going to treat me as a librarian, as much as I loved books, I was more enamoured by the knowledge they contained than just handling them.

But I was an apprentice and I supposed I needed to start at the bottom.
Current Mood: hopeful