Irfan had always loved learning new things. The first time he visited the city library in Veltar, the capital of Ertval, he was in love. He couldn’t afford the fees to enter the scholar’s section of the library but was able to read many works in the very small public section. One day a scholar approached him while he was reading.
“Excuse me, are you Irfan?” The man asked, hovering over Irfan’s shoulder to see what he was reading. “Ah, one of Alan Zwest’s works. A study of plant cross-pollination. Are you interested in plants?”
Finishing his paragraph and putting a piece of wood on the scroll to mark his place Irfan looked up at the scholar. “No, I’ve just already read every history scroll in this section of the library. Thought I’d expand a little.”
The scholar nodded. “Yes, I heard you were cross-referencing historical documents. May I see your notes?”
Irfan blushed. “Y-yes.” He reached for his pack and pulled out a few loose leaves of parchment. “My handwriting’s a little hard to read. Haven’t had much practice.”
Reading swiftly the scholar read both sides of the sheets of parchment. Irfan had the feeling he was looking for specific words or phrases. There was no way he could actually read that fast.
“Yes, so I need an apprentice.” The scholar handed the parchment back to Irfan. “I think I’ve found one. I’m Gref, by the way. Gref Histal.”
Unable to hide his awe Irfan almost yelled in excitement. He caught himself, and whispered, “you’re a great writer. I’ve read all your works that are here.”
Gref smiled. “Well, I take that as a yes to being my apprentice?”
“Don’t say that again. Come, we need to register you with the librarian.”
– – –
The dusty scholar’s library had become Irfan’s home long before he became an apprentice scholar. It felt weird to be in the castle’s library. Everything was so clean and the spines of the books actually showed the title easily, without having to run a finger over it to feel the title. He had the suspicion that either nobody used this library, or the king had people replace the gold leaf on the spines so the books looked like new.
“This is where you will spend your time studying what the king wishes you to study. You’ll find that he’s very talkative and will befriend you quickly. That’s one of his strengths, and I’m sorry to go.” The previous king’s scholar smiled at Irfan. “My eyes have gotten to the point that even my own, large handwriting is hard to read, so I’m happy to give up the position.” He nodded at the inkwell on the desk. “I’ve spent many a year using that well. The pen has been replaced many times, but the well has been steadfast.”
Irfan smiled back at the scholar. “Yes, I’ll take good care of it. The king already told me to get started on the history of the tensions between Aliaz and Zentar, so it’ll see use tonight.”
The scholar chuckled lightly. “You don’t start until the morning. Oh, to be young and overeager again.”
“Anything to start off on the right foot.”
– – –
The king had chosen Irfan as a chief participant in the ritual gem combination.
“Taika will be there. I know you have feelings for her.” The king teased. “I’ll have you stand next to her during the ceremony.”
“Great, now I’ll be even more nervous.”
The king let out a hearty laugh. “You’ll do fine, Irfan. Just say your line, and get that sketch I know you’re going to want.”
Irfan nodded, “you know me too well.”
– – –
Irfan nervously approached the table in the center of the throne room. He barely heard the words from the other participants in the ritual, trying to remember what he was supposed to say.
Taika elbowed him lightly and he realized it was his turn to step forward. He set the stone in its place and took a quick sketch of the table, causing a few chuckles in the crowd before stepping back and rotely delivering his line.
Setting her part of the gem down in its place Taika questioned aloud if that was all, right before an explosion of energy erupted from the newly whole gem. It knocked her back into Irfan who was already in the process of falling to the ground unconscious. The impact brought him back to consciousness and he was able to regain his footing and keep Taika from falling to the ground.
“Are you okay?”
“I am now.”
Irfan blushed slightly. “Uhh, can you stand by yourself?”
“Yes, but I’m comfortable enough here.”