Stigr was pouring over the histories in the royal library. As the chief historian, he was expecting to be reading out historical decrees to the king and his court. While, on occasion, he was required to give context to a law for a ruling he was rarely needed in the throne room. He was required to be there whenever the king held court, but he was mostly left to his own devices during the day. He was currently doing some research for the king, but that wouldn’t take too horribly long. He had another matter to attend to afterward.
After a few hours, Stigr got up to look for the king’s scholar. “Excuse me, do you know where the king’s scholar is? We were supposed to have a meeting, but I don’t see him around.”
“Oh, must have been the old scholar. He retired yesterday. Let me look at my notes here.” Irfan started shuffling through a few sheets of parchment. “Ah. Here it is. A meeting with the king’s historian, Stigr.” Irfan smiled at him. “I’m the king’s new scholar, Irfan. Pleased to meet you…Stigr I assume.”
“Yes, well. Did he leave notes as to where to look for the answer to my question?” Stigr was a little put-off. He didn’t know that there was a replacement in the works, but he did realize that the old scholar’s eyes were quite bad. “I hope we get to be friends. I don’t know my way around the library well enough to find books without the titles, but give me a title and the relative location and I’ll be good.”
“Yes, well.” Irfan stood up with a parchment. “There are specific instructions on how to get this tome, so I think I’ll go with you.” He paused for a moment. “If you don’t mind that is.”
– – –
“Ah, here we are,” Irfan called out. ” It was on this end!”
Stigr smiled slightly. “Of course. That end of the aisle.” The note had been very specific about getting into the vault and getting to the right aisle in the vault but was very non-specific about where in the aisle the book was. Stigr approached Irfan’s end of the Aisle. “So, does it seem like it’ll have some outlandish ancient remedies?”
Blowing the dust off the cover, and consequently entering a coughing fit, Irfan flipped the book open to the first page and read. “The Book of Ancient Cures by Kerfin Ervan. Looks like it’ll have some weird stuff in here.” Irfan slid down the ladder and handed Stigr the book. “My recommendation is to check modern books about whatever you plan to try in here. I wouldn’t trust it by itself.”
Taking the book while nodding Irfan responded, “Agreed. I wouldn’t want my wife to get worse because I didn’t fact check.”
“Oh, I hope you find what you’re looking for. If I can assist in any way let me know.”
“Thanks again. I would like to chat more in the future, but…”
“I understand. As it was before the library remains open to you without needing to inform me…” Irfan paused a moment. “Except back here. I would prefer to accompany you back here in any future visits. If I am unavailable feel free to return, however.”
“I will.” Stigr exited the vault, carefully cradling the tome.
– – –
After hours of research and work, Stigr finally had a tincture he was certain would work. He dripped some of the tincture onto a slice of bread that was softened by water and fed it, piece by piece, to his bedridden wife. He would continue to do so until she got better or worse. If she got worse he would discontinue the treatment and research another, but it never came to that. She was well within the second month of treatments when she finally started to get better. By the time the king had called for his court to convene at his son’s castle she was well enough to travel.
“My dear, I am coming with you. I haven’t left home for over a year now except for treatments. If I don’t go with you I will go insane!”
Stigr smiled at his wife. “I was just about to invite you to go with. We leave tomorrow.”
– – –
Stigr and his wife were standing near enough to the gem to catch glimpses of the ceremony and were not distracted by someone sneezing, though they did hear it, as the king’s sorceress placed the last piece of the stone in place. She said something about expecting more, then the stone seemed to explode. Stigr tried to jump in front of his wife, to block people falling backward onto her. He saw people turning into dust and turned to check on his wife but blacked out before he could.
Awaking to a damp cloth on his forehead Stigr opened his eyes to see Simisola, the king’s physician, attending to him.
“My wife, did she make it?”
“I’m sorry, Stigr. I don’t see her.”
“Well, if she became that dust at least she went quickly.” He sounded resigned as if didn’t believe that she would stay healthy.
“That’s one way to look at it, I suppose.”
Stigr sat bolt upright and stared into the corner of the room. Then he felt light headed and slumped back down.
“What is it?”
“I thought I saw myself in the corner, but I’m probably just seeing things.”
Simisola turned to look and saw nothing. “There’s nobody in the corner. Maybe you should sit here and rest for a while. You don’t have any major wounds.”