Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Welcome to my sanctuary. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. In the magic of Teagan’s Books, today it’s both Wednesday and Thursday. I’m combining my response to a writing challenge from D. Wallace Peach with Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion. https://nofacilities.com/2022/01/20/old-wethersfield-business/
What can I say? There was a door in the story I wrote for the challenge.
TBR Pile Challenge from D. Wallace Peach
Since fairly early in my blogging career, Diana Wallace Peach has been one of my indie role models. When I saw this challenge from her, a response quickly popped into my head. Here is the information about Diana’s challenge. You will find lots of other responses at her blog too. Here is the response that immediately came to mind when I read Diana’s challenge.
Theatre of Bardic Rumination
The letter came at last. On the back of the envelope was a blob of green wax, sealed with the royal crest. Beulah Andraste swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. Hands shaking, she ripped the paper while trying to open the missive.
“Look at you, woman!” Beulah’s reflection chided her. “Nervous and weak-kneed as a girl. You’re teasing yourself. What foolishness for you to apply to be the Great Drake’s reader. You already know that envelope contains a rejection. And worse still to be accepted! As soon as your dried-up old voice creaks, the old serpent will roast and eat you.”
“Don’t be silly,” she told herself.
“Silly? You know there is a reason why there are frequent calls for new readers! And just look at you. The Great Drake collects more than just books. It hoards beautiful things. Shiny new, pretty things. You are old and disgusting,” came the reflections of her true thoughts.
Turning her back, the old woman walked stiffly to her table. She glanced at the single bookcase that held her treasures — twenty or so books that she had read dozens of times.
She had not applied in hope of the posh accommodations, or the status and admiration accorded the royal readers. No, Beulah simply desired to read the books amassed by the Great Drake. She sat down on the hard chair and perused the letter beneath the royal seal. She gasped!
“Beulah Andraste, your application has been processed. You have been accepted to the Theatre of Bardic Rumination (TBR). You will report to the palace at first light tomorrow to begin your position as reader to the Great Drake. Enter at the servant’s gate and proceed directly to the underground chambers of the Great Drake,” the letter decreed.
The old woman barely slept; such was her excitement. She muttered “So there!” to her reflection. Then she packed a small bag of her meager belongings and strode purposefully to the royal compound. If her joints ached that morning, she didn’t notice.
Three times she had to show the acceptance letter as proof of her right to be among those of importance and rank. Each time she was eyed with disdain and disbelief, but none dared question the Great Drake. They were too fearful of their fate if they annoyed the creature.
Head held high, Beulah walked the empty and progressively darker, threatening, and ever wider corridors. Her worn shoes slapped lightly on the stone floor as she passed broad gates and doors, behind which were treasures of immeasurable worth. She never strayed nor hesitated at those rooms, but kept on toward the specified chambers.
Finally, she reached a vast round door. It was green and carved with the same sigil that made the seal on her letter. Lifting her hand to knock, Beulah wondered how the rapping of her fist could be heard through the thickness of the door. Before she could touch it, the door rolled aside.
Pleasant warmth came with the air from within. However, it was tinged with sulfur. For the first time she wavered. She reminded herself of what she had always wanted — endless books to read. Straightening her back, she entered the chamber.
The room was so large that the harsh sound of the amazed breath she drew echoed. The sound reminded her of how unworthy and undesirable she was. However, the marvel she saw drew her forward.
The chamber was walled by bookshelves, from floor to the ceiling that vaulted high overhead. As far as she could see to left and right the walls of books extended. More volumes were stacked on tables and even on the floor, with only narrow trails in between.
However, a rounded metallic barrier stood waist high, blocking her from the area. She rested her hand there, looking from side to side, as she tried to spot an opening. The surface should have been cool, but it was oddly warm. Abruptly she realized that she had taken for a textured carving was actually scales.
She drew back her hand as if scalded. Slowly the barrier moved, arching above her head. A tail! The triangular shape at its end tapped with impatience.
“Do come in,” a deep voice rasped. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Stumbling over her own feet, Beulah hurried under the gigantic tail. Protectively it surrounded the book-filled chamber. She turned her head toward the voice. Illumination flooded the area. Then she saw the drake’s head. His maw was big enough to take in a wagon and team of horses.
“Are you ready to begin?” his question rumbled. “I’m quite eager. When I studied your background, I thought perhaps your years might have made you more cautious… To be blunt, I hope you will show a little more sense than previous readers.”
“Why, if I may ask?” Beulah replied in a respectful and slightly fearful voice. “I mean, if it pleases you, Great Drake… What happened to the other readers? How were they… um… lacking in sense?”
At first, she thought the sound was thunder, but it was a chuckle. The giant jaws curved into a smile.
“The TBR doesn’t only stand for the Theatre of Bardic Rumination, Beulah Andraste. It represents the body of works I have collected here — TBR is To Be Read. They persist in sending me clumsy readers who manage to overturn the piles of books. Often, they injure themselves,” the Great Drake explained disdainfully. “Do tell me that you are as careful as I hope.”
Beulah suddenly realized just how tall the endless stacks of books were. They towered high over her head. Many of them looked haphazard and unsteady. She took a step aside as one pile swayed. Glancing at the drake, she nodded.
“I understand. What would you like me to read first?” she asked, mustering her courage.
“Good. You are as eager as I. I’ve had a longing to hear that blue one. It’s the third book from the bottom on that stack just to your left,” he replied.
Beulah took a deep breath.
“Third from the bottom… with a hundred stacked on top of it,” she thought, and hoped she didn’t topple any books while trying to get to the blue one.
I hope you’ll visit Diana’s blog, Myths of the Mirror. Learn all about her marvelous fantasy books and find more responses to this fun challenge. Wishing you an easy coast down the other side of this midweek hump! Hugs on the wing.
Meanwhile, Journey 12 in my Dead of Winter series is available.
Thanks for spending part of your day here. I’m grateful to everyone who is reading this story. If you aren’t already, I hope you’ll be part of the extraordinary, layered world of these Journeys.
I love to hear from you, so friendly comments are encouraged. Hugs on the wing!
Dead of Winter — All the Journeys
Universal Purchase Links
Journey 12, Goddesses
Journey 11, the Sumelazon Escarpment
Journey 10, Pergesca
Journey 9, Doors of Attunement
Journey 8, The Lost Library
Journey 7, Revenant Pass
Journey 6, The Fluting Fell
Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls
Journey 4, The Old Road
Journey 3, the Fever Field
Journey 2, Penllyn
Journey 1, Forlorn Peak
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 and 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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