Bloodsticks - Chapter 9
The pungent odor fills the air and guarantees that I'll have some privacy. Slapping my dried bread right next to it, I flick out my dagger and cut a chunk off, popping it into my mouth. Mmmmmm. Tangy.
This is the second award-winning work of Höbin Luckyfeller, and the second book in his Field Guide series. The script is hot and fresh and we also have a new cover for the book!
When Höbin is contracted to research the popular game of chance, he quickly learns the truth surrounding its history is anything but. Circumstances unfold faster than he can anticipate, pulling Höbin from his assignment and thrusting him into the shadows of intrigue, magic…and murder.
Paid subscribers can access the entire archive of this series from the beginning, along with other stories and every article I’ve ever written. If you aren’t a paid subscriber, you can access the archive for free with a 7-day trial OR earn a paid membership by joining the referral program!
Chapter 9 — Castle Andilain
The village turns out to be further north than expected. I’m forced to find a ride with a farmer taking grain to the capital. Not ideal, but my escape was timely and I’m able to get to Castle Andilain by nightfall the following day.
The ride in the back of the wagon allows me plenty of time to ponder, work out some details, and construct a plan of action to best use my time here. Once my notes are complete, I do the only sensible thing left to do.
I catch up on sleep.
There seems to be tension among the castle servants when I arrive. Most humans have a difficult time coping with the mental intimidation we gnomes exude…and I refuse to be ignored. No one seems to want to stay in the same room with me, but I follow the servants like a shadow until they turn me over to the castle soldiers. I would never bother King Robert unless I had to. Instead, I present my royal invitation as an International Historian…and smile. It’s fun playing that trump card. A gift from the King for helping solve the mystery of the Shrunken Heads.
Anyway, after a few nervous glances, I’m presented to the castle steward, in charge of accommodating guests like myself. I am immediately assigned a comfortable room with a gigantic bed, fireplace, and a scribe to assist me in my work. Best part is, King Robert is flipping the bill…as I’m considered his guest.
Note to self: Send the king a nice gift basket with his favorite mustard pickles.
No use trying to wear myself out on my first night—it’s too late to start my research. I have food brought to me instead and settle in for the evening. Full stomach, a warm bed…I’ll think better after a good night’s rest.
Living in the Black Market has messed up my internal clock something fierce. I’m up before dawn, which isn’t a problem, other than that it’s four hours before dawn. As soon as the scribe arrives, I send him on an errand as I wait for breakfast. I decide that the young man would benefit from getting the exercise I don't want, as I don't actually need help in the research department.
“But sir,” he complains.
“Just do it,” I repeat.
“What if they turn me into a bug, or a toad…or set me aflame?”
He really looks nervous, the poor kid, but I can’t help but laugh at the notion. “The mägo will not set you aflame. Call down lightning and fry you where you stand, maybe, but they’d never actually set you on fire. That would be rude.”
His mouth drops open.
“I’m kidding! Oh, for….RELAX! My research requires access to some of their records, but since I know that’s not likely to happen, I just want to talk to someone from the Order. Anyone who has knowledge of enchantments, specifically having to do with enchantments used in gambling.”
It takes a little more encouragement, but he finally leaves…just in time to enjoy my breakfast of cold meat and cheese. Mmmmm.
Within the hour, I’m standing int he lobby of the Royal Archives—one of my favorite places on the planet. It’s the candy store for historians the world over. Not only is this impressive library one of the finest hubs of written information, it’s an experience — centered within the greatest structure ever constructed by human hands.
Commissioned to be built by High King Gaston shortly after they crowned him in 5232s, Castle Andilain housed all that was good among the human nation. At its center is a library, designed to preserve important information. The Royal Archives became the heart of the castle’s construction, which took three generations to complete. Five hundred master craftsmen, fifty architects, and two thousand laborers united to build the pinnacle of human society. The project lasted 112 years. The Archives itself are twelve stories high, contain over 230 million books and items of reference, including charts, scrolls, maps, rare geological items and complete family works.
If you have the royal consent to step within these walls.