Sitting in the Library

April 30, 2008
By Jessica Noble, Victoria, WA

I was sitting in the library. My safe place, my place; the large dark room, with its high ceiling that only the bookshelves can reach. The large and the small books, the thick and the thin ones, the ones that fall apart when you turn the thread bare pages and the ones that still shine, the dust and the musty light, the large chairs and the ever burning fire. This library, the old library, situated in the back hall of the old castle I call my home. The castle that’s in the middle of a country at war, with a boy on the throne no older then I, 15. I’ve been living here for the past 3 months, yet have not met him other then when I first arrive, and that was just formalities. Socially, personally, I have no idea what the boy who’s running my country and living in my home is like. Just that he’s the man who ordered my father to battle, where he died, fifteen years after my mother died in childbirth; and he’s the man who took me in after I was orphaned. Politically, in the sense of running a country, he’s incredible. Since taking the throne 3 years ago: he ended a war that killed his father, he rebuilt farms and cities, and he took a country that was on its knees and pulled it until it stood tall. And from fleeting glances I get from the many times he intrudes on my reading, a good idea of what he looks like; tall and lanky with wide shoulders, short brown hair and dark thoughtful eyes.

Sitting in my library, the one that was supposed to be torn down, but the king saved because he felt it belong in the castle, I think it’s because he uses it as a sanctuary also. I was sitting on the hearth beside the ever burning fire, staring at a large dusty book that no one has probably looked at in over fifty years. I was supposed to finish it by tomorrow’s history lesson, but I couldn’t get into it. I kept thinking about my old home. The fire had reminded me of my home. The large farm where I could run free, where I didn’t have to look proper all the time, where me and my two older brothers learnt to sword fight, much to the distaste of my grandmother who raised me and my brothers. Usually at this point I’d run off, not wanting to be seen here, but this time I decided I was done running.
“Hello, your majesty”, I said calmly realising he was too deep in concentration to notice me. He nearly jumped off the floor at the sound of my voice.
“Hel-hello,” he barely stammered out. His low voice resonating around the dark room. He’s dark eyes where jumping around the room and he seemed to stand on edge expecting an attack at any moment.
“I wasn’t expecting visitors tonight. I would have cleaned up.” I said gesturing to the many piles of books laying on tables and the floor and the completely empty room. “I thought maybe tonight I would get a bit of a rest, you know, entertaining all these guest is hard work.” I said laughing, hoping to lighten his mood. The look on his face was one of exhaustion, mentally and physically. No boy should look like that. And it work; it was almost like he melted, his shoulders dropped and his jaw stopped clenching, his eyes stopped searching and his arms and legs fell into a much more natural position. A low rumble vibrated through the air to me, he was laughing, and slowly a smile crossed his face. It was a painful smile, unused and unnatural but it was a smile.
“I would guess they would.” He answered as he walked over to a large red armchair and stood behind it with his arms on the back.
“Your majesty looks as if he needs privacy and quiet, so I shall take my leave now.” I said laying my book down.
“It is not privacy or quiet I seek, but to be free of expectation and pressure.” I stopped getting up and looked at him, that was very personal for him to say to me. He smiled once more, “Before today I had accepted that the beauteous book nymph had decided herself above me and refused me the joy of seeing her face, so I must ask why she has decided to show herself to me now?”Ah, so he had heard of my nickname. I spend so much time in this library that the guards and servants had begun to call me a book nymph.
“Even book nymphs gives a worried man his space. And you could have ordered me forth at any moment, so I must ask, why you never ask to see my face, where you afraid the stories did not match?” I laughed, teasing about the beauteous nymph comment.
“Never would a man command the presence of a nymph, who knows the mischief she do,” He fainted scared and laughed, “I had fear the face would not match the stories of unprecedented beauty, but know I see the stories did the face no justice.”
At this he got up and gave me a flourished bow,
“your humble servant, king Dorian the II, but you may call me Dorian milady.” Rising he had the look of a mischievous young man, and less of a tense king. Slowly I stood up from my seat with as much grace I imagined a nymph to have; with that image in mind I returned him an elaborate curtsy,
“Lady Kian Stronheld, nymph of this library and duchess of the northern province Losdyn,” adopting a playful teasing smile on my face I picked up my lavender skirts and swished them around my sides, “you may call me…….. “ Suddenly he jumped over to a phonograph, pulled a very used looking record form the shelve behind it and placed the needle down on top of it, almost immediately, a beautiful orchestra filled the room.
“Kian, I hope” he whispered. My heart thumped, and I wondered what exactly I had gotten myself into. Bowing he offered me his hand.
“I fear for your toes, my king” I shuddered stepping backwards; dancing with the king was a very frightening thought.
“Dorian, I said you may call me Dorian; my friends call me Dorian, and fear not for my toes, I had my shoes reinforced years ago. I’ve danced with more than my share of awful dancers, and may I say, you my beautiful book nymph, surely cannot be one of them.” His dark eyes were staring right into mine. My heart was pounding. This meeting had gone from friendly to frightening much too quickly.
Shaking with fear, and nerves, I turned and rushed out of the library, disrupting many servants but seeing the look many turned to look back to see I if was being chased. My limbs where shaking all the way as I rushed down the long hallways, with their gleaming wood floors and their many paintings and tapestries of kings and conquests past. Usually I stop and look at each, surprised at how much detail can be put into each one, but today I rushed past without a glance.
Shaking I pushed open the doors to my rooms and slammed it shut; waking Evret, my maidservant.
“What’s wrong” She asked her long brown hair tied and braided as usually. Seeing me so badly shaken, she rose her small frame out of her cot and came over to me, standing absolutely frigid by the door.
“I talk to the king today.” I whispered.
“So you finally let him see the book nymph” Evret was the one who started this nymph stuff. “Did you do something stupid?” Evert knows me too well. She knows everything about, being my maidservant and friend for five years now, I wouldn’t expect any less.
“No…… I just left” I was to confused by what happened to try and explain to Evret.
“So you talk to the king, and then just left?” She asked with a look of disgust and disappointment on her face. “Did you forget you manners, milady?”
“I was polite” I whispered not completely trusting my voice, nor my legs. I slowly walked over to my wooden chest at the edge of my bed and sat down. “We had a very nice conversation.” I realized I was acting foolish and probably looked and sounded like a little girl, but being around the king is a lot more nerve racking then I thought it would be.
“Well then shall I suggest we go to dinner? I am most refreshed now and would love to have mine, but of course I can’t eat till after you….” Normally no servant would dare to speak to their lady like this but; Evret is only one year older then I and she’s been with me through everything. She gestured to the door, sighing I got up, tugged at my skirts, pushed my hair behind my ears, and set off to supper.

The dark haired goddess I walked in on just stormed out of the room. Sitting by the fire she had glowed and her voice sounded like water running over rocks, smooth and perfectly happy. Her small nose and delicate jaw seemed to be ready to break at the slightest touch, yet her eyes and mouth where smiling, laughing and showed a will of iron.

I had heard stories of the duchess Kian, and achieving the nickname the book nymph had made me curious about her. Besides fleeting glances, this was the first time I say all of her at once, and the first time I had the courage to talk to her, no I flirted with her. I flirted with her! Shocked I sat down on my red armchair and stared at where she had sat. I flirted with Kian, the book nymph, the duchess every male in this castle wanted to marry, not just for her vast lands and riches back in Losdyn, but for her uncanny beauty. Now that I had seen it for myself, I realised exactly why everyone went crazy when she decided to come to court, which was extremely rare, and had never succeeded in getting to talk to her.
I knew who she was. Why didn’t she think I knew? Because I didn’t know she was an orphan? Is she really an orphan? Is that really why she ran off? Sighing I found that her smell was still on my shirt, what a lovely smell, I breathed deeply. Too many questions about a very mysterious woman.
A knock resounded through the library, waking me out of my stupor in rushing me back to the present. Reluctantly I got up. I have duties to fulfill and entire countries to befriend. Opening the large wooden doors to the library I saw my advisor and best friend, Sir Orpheus of Canfort.
“Sire, you’re wanted in the conference room.” Orpheus said with a smile.
“Ok, alright then, I’m coming.” Grumpily, knowing that I was going to have to deal with some unhappy noble or an argument over land or something of the sort, I followed him down the hall.
The next morning Evret woke me to the smell of eggs and bacon.
“Mmm, rewarding my fast diner last night? I could get used to this over porridge and toast.” Smiling I pushed myself up from my bed. The goose feather blankets surrounding felt like a warm cloud, “Do I have to get up?” Evret just smiled and ran off to pull out my clothes for the day. Grumbling I rolled out of bed to find the wooden floor freezing cold. Quickly I ran over to my little table and chair where my breakfast awaited. Seeing the pile of eggs and slices of bacon, I started eating in a very un lady like way.
“Milady must remember her manners today, Kian. You’ve been request to go riding with the king this morning.” Evret said a smile on in her voice, from my dressing room. My fork stopped halfway to my mouth. Riding? With the king? Damian? Never!

“I can’t believe I’m doing this” I muttered angrily to myself. Rushing down the great hall I through open the doors to the yard and walk, rather quickly, towards the stables. The large imposing buildings were made entirely of wood and hosted many dozen horses at any given time. As I entered a refreshing cold was over me and the familiar smell of the horses and their tack surrounded me.
“Hello there, lady Kian! How do you fair this glorious morning?” Stephen the stable hand smiled down at me from the hay loft, his ruffled orange hair surrounding his pale face dusted with many freckles.
“Good morning Stephan!” I called happily up to him, “It seems I need a horse this morning! Would Spadder be up to a run” I had taken him out yesterday morning and I always fear that I will over exert him.
“Spadder is always up for a run! I’ll get him saddled up right away milady!” with that Stephens face was replaced by his feet and he landed beside me a graceful crouch.
“You know one of these you’re going to get hurt and then who would take care of all these horses?” I said with a laugh. I t was a six foot drop from the loft to the stable floor and Stephen had yet to use the ladder to get down, with his balance and coordination I doubt he ever would..
“Why I would do it anyways!” He smiled and ran out the door. Spadder was kept in the stable over.
I own and stabled four horses here, a glorious pinto named Spadder, an arabian named Reanne, her young foal, Ripley, and a strawberry roan named Razz. Walking down the stable Reanne reach her chestnut and black head out of her stall.
“Hello, my beautiful mother,” I whispered softly stroking the black strip down her face. Suddenly Ripley, her identical daughter, neighed, scaring me half to death. She wasn’t yet tall enough to reach out of the stall. Laughing I reach down and gave her the apple I brought for her. Continuing down the stable, I saw Razz in her newly cleaned stall munching, as always, on her hay, her beautiful red coat shining in the morning sun light. Continuing down the through the stable I saw many familiar horses still in their stalls and began to wonder just who was going to be on this ride.

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