Subject: Boys Guild Chapter 23, Gay, Adult/Youth, Sci fi Fantasy This story is a work of fiction. It never happened, it never will. The characters and locations are all make believe and any resemblance to any place or person, living or dead, is simply in the mind of the reader and totally unintentional. Situations and sexual activities of the characters are fantasy, don’t try dragon riding at home. The story is also the first in a series of stories about Kind Draviad’s Realm. Please let me know if you enjoy by email to nicholas6996 (at) hotmail dot com Copyright 2018-2019 by Nicholas Nicholby, all rights reserved. Not to be distributed or duplicated without express written permission of the author. The author hereby grants the Nifty Archive a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, and non-cancellable license to use, modify or alter and edit copy for clarity or style, reproduce, display, make compilations of and distribute the work. Please help support NIFTY with a donation. You may click or mail, the address information is found at the top of the story listings. Hosting, bandwidth, registration and active programming all take resources and every little bit contributed helps keep this wonderful resource alive. The Boys Guild Chapter 23 – Committee Backtracking, Fritjof Stumbling while Draviad Strolls The Wizard’s tower room was abuzz with extra people. The chart table was being poured over by two naval lieutenants as well as the Admiral, the Wizard and the Subaltern. There was a new table set up near the windows where an accountant was sorting the miscellaneous papers into about a hundred different stacks. The ship’s log seemed to be in a self actuated loop on a large dictionary stand. A page would turn on its own and any numbers on the page would fly into the air and then begin to sort themselves out into different columns on a virtual chalkboard. Occasionally a small bell would ring and the accountant would pause in his work, come over to the chalkboard, look at a flashing number and then peer into the book itself. Usually he would scratch his chin, hem and haw a bit and then grab the number and pull it to one of the growing columns. Very rarely he would drop the number back onto the page and tap it twice. When he did a small ribbon would appear hanging down from the book as a page marker. Zekial had taken all these changes in during the few minutes that it took the Wizard to realize he and Abhi had appeared. At that point further perusal became impossible as the Wizard very effusively greeted Abhi and was introducing him around the table. Very soon the main doorbell rang and clapping his hands the Wizard caused the door to open. The same kitchen boy as before was astounded to see that he was coming through the door he had used earlier into a completely different room. This one with a towering stack of wobbling paper slowly spinning each time the Wizard moved. The wide eyed boy quickly laid his tray on the small table the Wizard caused to appear directly in front of him. He turned to run and get his flagon when it floated past his head and joined the tray. Just as he was about to make a mad dash away from the madness the Wizard appeared at his side and took his arm companionably, “Come look at the view! I thought you might like to see where the castle eagles nest.” The boy had no option but to be almost dragged to the massive windows. What he saw made his heart race, his bowels clench and his brain threaten to melt down. There outside the window and across the vast space of the Castle Bailey he could see the Eagles aerie of haphazardly stacked sticks. Suddenly it appeared to be directly outside the window just inches from his face. Three rather large chicks were spreading their barely feathered wings and jostling for airspace for their wide open beaks. That the beaks were razor sharp was clearly obvious in the detritus of fur, bones and unrecognizable gore scattered around the nest. Fighting to maintain the integrity of his stomach the boy managed to pull away from the Wizard and make a streak for the doorway. He didn’t really care what level the ground on the other side was, he just wanted out-of-here. He managed to return to the kitchens and when he had barely slammed the door behind himself and heaved a great sigh of relief he was stunned to see everyone turned to stare at him. Suddenly they were changing into giants and he had a very strong compulsion to open his mouth and ribbit. Needless to say he fainted. The Master Cook shook his head and vowed to remember to use the newly arrived ghost peppers on the Wizard’s dinner next time, this was the third boy that would probably never be able to deliver to the tower again. Of course consoling the boys and calming their nerves had its advantages. As the investigating crew finished their snack Abhi joined them at the chart table and watched and listened as the Admiral lead the voyage backwards from the day they had determined the ship had crossed the terminator coming towards Liivka. As they entered the third chart south of the terminator Abhi began to see countryside and shorelines that he recognized. With a deft hand he began drawing in changes to indicate a more accurate rendition. He labeled some harbors with different names or added a name missing from the chart. Twice he noted off shore islands or reefs which did not appear on the maps. One seemed to be penciled in already with a death’s head beside it, someone had not been so lucky sailing that area it appeared. As the charts corresponded with the catch count codes Abhi confirmed that it appeared his kingdom coincided with the notation of “ABR”. He related that while he was the only survivor of his people, the raiders had indeed gone aboard the ship with many other captives by using his docks before everything was put to the torch. Asked why his kingdom had fallen to so few raiders he thought for a few moments, “There must have been either something put in the air or in the water. All the bodies I saw as they dragged me to the ship looked like they had just fallen where they were. At the Palace the raiders broke into the main hall during a ceremony and none of the guard responded to the call. It was like the city was already dead, and suddenly everyone around me was too.” He estimated for the Admiral that there were maybe 20 raiders at that point who went aboard, there were others who stayed ashore and he could confirm the catch count concept in that the next moon was a continual short sail, put in near shore to load prisoners followed by another short sail. The pattern repeated and about half of the boys were added during this time. Eventually the ship put in and the onboard raiders debarked. The ship then sailed for some time before making a port where more prisoners were brought aboard during the deep night. This repeated too until the rescue here in Liivka. The only thing that Abhi could add about the raiders was as they disembarked he had heard one call from the long boats that Eagor, or Viegor, he wasn’t sure which, thanked them and wished them continued good hunting. From the ship was shouted a reply, “I’ll tell Fritjof of your help!” “Fritjof,” the Wizard mumbled. “Stealer of the Peace. We know that name, yes Zekial? That will be of great help Abhi, we will see if we can find out anything about a Viegor. And it seems Fritjof has another thing to answer for.” “Zekial, return Abhi to the Sentinels please. Stay the night if you wish, I will be elsewhere in moments as I review these names and other things with those sequestered at Molly’s. Gentlemen, continue your researches. I will return in a few days if I discover anything of interest,” and he was gone. As if bereft of its master, the stack of charts gave a mighty shudder and slowly reoriented itself. To his deep chagrin the stack now seemed to be following the Subaltern. Fritjof couldn’t believe how quickly his businesses in the town seemed to be draining into the middens. He had just returned after a few days trip to move some funds and suddenly he was greeted by a string of disasters. He’d barely set foot back in Liivka and the tavern sent demanding the gold. He was continuing to fume over the bill for ten gold at the tavern connected to Molly’s when his suspicions had proved correct and those foul oafs had created a total bollocks of a situation. What with a man’s reputation being tied to both how quickly he paid and how completely he retaliated he hated to admit it but he’d had to pay. He was not falling for any damn bait and switch escort either, he went to both pay and deal with those blundering oafs personally. Finding Sweet-Pea had appeared to be a little bonus but now that endeavor seemed to be obliterated by Miss Molly’s outrageous further billing and the dire news concerning the slave ship. Some time had now passed and from what his henchmen reported Miss Molly and everyone in her insane house had been magically captured and were probably even now joining the ship’s Captain in spouting lies about him like Sweat-Pea’s mouth had spouted blood. The next disaster had been when some flicking horses tail of a Castle Inquisitor suddenly seemed unable to provide him with a few prisoners from within the dungeons. For a few years now he had found that people softened up by the official disciplinarians of the Castle made excellent workers in the deep mines of the Northern Reaches. Lousy rations and the slim possibility of escape seemed to be almost a dream job to someone who had seen the rack and the iron maiden at close hand and knew they would be seeing them even closer very shortly. A few coins in the right hands had created a small hole in a deep sewer grate and no one seemed to wonder why the body count out hadn’t matched the head count in for the dungeon. He had just renegotiated his mine agreement too, he was supposed to deliver three workers each moon and here it was a late waxing moon and he had nothing. Just as he was coming to grips with this calendar obligation the fool he had bought on the King’s Privy Council had proceeded to self destruct over some small spat with the fricking Wizard of all people and gotten himself first chained with the slavers and then instead of having the decency of expiring while chained to the rail the fool had hot footed a stolen horse directly to Frijtof’s secret country estate screaming all the way about how he was an important man and so ill treated. The cretin was now drowning his sorrows in Frijtof’s fine wines and forcing the cook and butler to send wagons off to retrieve his household and buy every expensive thing he could dream off. Oh Frijtof would love to send his Thing along with the wagons to show the man what ill treatment really could encompass. He wouldn’t be happy until his Thing had settled the account with the oafs too. Actually he wouldn’t be completely happy even then until Sweet-Pea had replenished his gold and that cold bitch Molly had paid his entire purse back as well as for the song she undoubtedly had sung. The only problem was he hadn’t been able to locate the Thing now at all. And each one of the days since the fall of Molly’s had been announced by the unceremonious discovery of one of his men’s bodies splayed on the stable floor. It hadn’t mattered that he had fled each safe house in succession, another body, wearing only the cryptic mark of Olin had appeared each morning now for three days running. Frijtof wasn’t really surprised that he woke this morning to a house empty of all his minions and underlings. Nobody seemed dull enough to try for four days straight. Frijtof grabbed a stale roll as he wandered through the kitchen. He wasn’t even going to check the stable. Screw it all, this house was done anyway. He headed for the docks. The Dark Magician he had contracted was due on this morning’s high tide and hopefully they could get the new house warded and be well along with both his retribution against that bitch Molly and maybe even into the spells he wanted to use to send his string of bad luck along to others. He whistled as he paced towards the quay never noticing the urchin in the alleyway across from the house. Or the one in the gutters two blocks on. Or even the one simplemindedly splashing in the pile of horse poop near the docks. He was of a similar mind with Molly, children should be unseen and unheard. It was a life long viewpoint that was soon to prove unhealthy. The Hide Boy wiped his nose with his hand, then wiped his hand with his britches, then wiped his britches with the doorpost on which he was leaning. Realizing, he quickly wiped the doorpost with his hand and then wiped his hand with his shirttails and by then there was pretty much nothing more that really needed wiping, except perhaps his nose again. All the while he had been fidgeting and almost scuffing his feet and trying to decide if he needed to run to the middens, run to his shelf in the Boys Guild or just continue to hope that Zekial might show up and quickly turn him into a toad or a lizard or something which could scurry away. Meanwhile the Scribe Boy had straightened his own hair with his own hands, then pulled on the tails of his smock to try and straighten the now well dried ink stained garment and done his own little shuffle as he tried to convince himself that the summons to return to the Scribes Guild and bring his friend was a good thing. After all, he realized that now that Clipper had been found there was no more need for him to be assigned to the Boys Guild and he would probably be expected to resume what had previously been interminable scribe like practice. That same boring practice now loomed as exhaustingly drudgerish tedium since he’d had the real life experience of recording and even evaluating the stream of information the boys of the Guild had rushed to impart before they whirled back away to whatever their own lifes tediums entailed. Working with his new friend to annotate the map and discussing with Cobar and Tomas the possibilities of every datum iota toward the ultimate solution of the investigation had been thrilling. Exploring with his new friend in the cozy confines of the shelf of the Boys Guild toward orechasmic revelations of their own bodies had been, well, orechasmically gratifying. He smiled a little at the wry understatement his own mind had created. But now he was recalled. The Hide Boy had been specifically included in what wasn’t really an invitation. The two of them were taking what they each in their own fashion thought of as perhaps their last moments of comfort together even if they both could imagine far better ways to be together and to gain comfort. With an almost dismal sigh the Scribe Boy reached up and pulled the bell rope and then held his hand back and down a little and felt it grabbed almost crushingly by the Hide Boy. It seemed a whole candle span but in actuality was barely a well sniffed sniffle and the door was swinging open and one of the other senior students was biding them enter. “Come on doofus,” he sneered, “the Teaching Master is waiting and you’re going to get it good I bet.” The door had opened into the public rotunda where of a morning thirty or more scribes sat at thirty or more tables arranged in a great circle and transacted the business of scribing for the general public who invariably wrung their hands or their hats and shuffled their feet and were as over-awed at their surroundings as the Hide Boy was now. His gaze first went up and up and up toward the far off ocular opening where light poured in and illuminated myriads of dust motes. Following the shaft of light down and toward the East where it failed to really penetrate behind the columns holding up the roof the Hide Boy’s mouth dropped open. In this room could be killed over a hundred cattle at a time and he shuddered to think how long it would take him to haul all the hides thus made in a single day. He walked, well was pulled mostly, across the room and towards another great door as he gawked. His mind though speculated on the strange phenomena of the central hole in the ceiling and the even stranger lack of a more reasonable hole in the center of the floor. He subconsciously managed to steer the Scribe Boy around where such a hole should have been. As the three of them approached the great door the Senior Scribe Boy lead them tangentially away and towards a much smaller door hidden behind the columns of the Eastern side. This door lead through a short passage with doors either side which most obviously lead toward some type of interior middens. The odor suddenly caused the Hide Boy to stop which stopped the Scribe Boy which seemed to have little effect on their guide. The Scribe Boy understood immediately and called the guide back and carefully handed him the two large scrolls and the large sack of other parchments as well as the well emptied ink pot and was in turn now led by the hand through one of the doors. The Hide Boy was again stupefied by what was presented before him but managed to observe the Scribe Boy reach out izmit escort bayan and flip up a beautiful stone panel which ran the short width of the room. The Scribe Boy then rucked up his smock and shoved down his britches and stepped forward with his lance and stones hanging into the space created behind the stone panel. The Scribe Boy’s stream gradually rose as the lance rose in appreciation of being the object of attention from his friend. The Scribe Boy finished and slightly swatted the Hide Boy’s hand which seemed to be heading his way and giggled, “Piss now, fun later.” Grinning back the Hide Boy rucked up his own shirttails, separated the slash down the front of his own britches and exposed his own inked up and plumped up lance. He took a tentative step forward and held it almost over the opening not sure that some imp or insect might not jump out of the darkness and try to claim it as their own. Necessity over rode trepidation however and his own stream splashed against some backing wall but fell down not back and seemed to silently disappear. The Hide Boy idly wondered just how deep this midden hole was to make no sound of stream meeting lake of pee. Re-straightening his smock and britches the Scribe Boy held his hand back out to the Hide Boy who re-sniffed his nose as his own shirttails covered the slit on his ink stained britches, took the offered hand and followed out the small door. Their guide was not amused that the Scribe Boy resumed carrying the two rolled scrolls but left all the other stuff to him to now carry. They entered the door at the end of the small hallway and this time even the Scribe Boys eyes opened wide in wonder. This room was the classroom, he had spent innumerable days and hours scratching first chalks to tablets and then broken quills to scraps of horrid parchment. Slowly he had worked his way from the front short tables to the back taller tables with misshapen feathers but with decent quills used on rebleached parchments. All but two of the tables were gone now. At the side stood the Teaching Scribes’ table on its platform with its Shame Stool at one end and its Fame Stool at the other. Crosswise in the middle of the floor was the tallest of the tables with its three stools facing across the room at the Master’s Door. Around the back of the room from one side to the other were all the student stools in a great line from tallest on the West to smallest on the East. “Ah, Excellent!” exclaimed the Lead Teaching Scribe. “Cal, quickly unroll your parchments on the table. You boy,” he more or less jerked his head at the Hide Boy, “stand down at the second X on the floor. You can count to two and know an X?” he suddenly made eye contact with the Hide Boy. Not daring to nod and trying not to whimper the Hide Boy moved toward the Xs and wondered which direction to start counting to find the second X. Relief flooded his brain as he realized he was really glad they had stopped in that midden room and since there were only three Xs on the floor determining which was second proved easy. Having unrolled his parchments the Scribe Boy was crossing fingers and toes in support of his hopes that the Teaching Scribe would not take one look and send him post haste to the Shame Stool which his bottom knew so well. “Acceptable,” the Teaching Scribe more muttered than said and his own relief flooded the Scribe Boy. The midden hallway door was flung open with a resounding bang and a boy came running toward them, “They are entering the Master’s Study!” he announced to the room and then managed an aside, “You are so dead now!” “Quickly, re-roll the parchments. Stand on the first X. Graf, put that bundle on the last X and you two take your stools.” Since the guide and the messenger both bolted for their stools the Scribe Boy figured out he was supposed to do the re-rolling and the X standing. The sounds of shuffling feet and snuffling noses as well as whispered voices and even the occasional slap drew the Hide Boy’s attention to a space behind himself were more boys than he could count were streaming into the hall and forming up in front of the long line of stools. He quickly saw that the slapping sound was to the heads of a few of the boys who seemed to have been caught pushing and shoving within the line. He did wonder if this was a boy killing floor since the line of jostling youngsters overseen by the five or so much larger Teaching Scribes reminded him of the cattle in the chutes within the abattoir. He shivered from his head to toes at the thought that not enough meat would be generated to make the effort worthwhile. “Stand Still!” the Lead Teaching Scribe barked at the line of boys. There was a barely perceptible change as the 75 or so boys made an effort to stand as still as boys can. “Sit tall!” the Lead Teaching Scribe again barked and there was a massive wave of shuffle-shuffle, scrape and then silence as bottoms from largest to smallest parked themselves. Both the Hide Boy and the Scribe Boy shuffled and then looked to each other. Where were they supposed to sit? They barely had time to consider it when the large doors to the Master’s Study swung open and two King’s Guards followed by two King’s Pages entered and stood to either side. The King’s Herald entered and banged his staff upon the floor causing each and every boy in the room to straighten up and sit a little taller. “Kneel for here stands Lord of Malfox, Right Hand of Ashton, Keeper of the Harbor…” King Draviad strode into the room and waving the Herald be quiet he went directly toward the table where the Lead Teaching Scribe and the three Scribe Boys knelt. The Hide Boy had rapidly looked at everyone else dropping to one knee and more or less melted to the floor between his boy and the sack of dross parchments. “Rise,” King Draviad said quietly enough for those directly at the table to hear. As the Lead Teaching Scribe and the four boys at the table rose there was a rustling and then a sharp whack from the back of the room as some of the other boys thought they should rise too. They were quickly back on their knee. “So, tell me who we have here?” King Draviad smiled at the boys behind the table while talking to the Lead Teaching Scribe. “These, Your Highness, are our most accomplished apprentices, Ig and Graf,” the Lead Teaching Scribe said. From across the room hurried the Grandmaster Scribe who brusquely brushed past the Lead Teaching Scribe and crossed in front of the King and stood almost on the same X where the Hide Boy was nervously alternating between puddling himself once again on the floor and staying on the X despite the man almost tackling him to the ground as he blocked him from the King. One of the King’s Guards and one of the King’s Pages were almost instantly between the King, the Grandmaster Scribe, and the Teaching Scribe. The Hide Boy would have wet himself as he saw both of them with hands on sword and dagger and eyes unshiftingly boring into the men had he not taken care of excess fluids earlier. The Grandmaster Scribe gasped and instantly prostrated himself toward the King. With no other thought than terror all 5 of the others at the table followed suit. “Majesty, I humbly beg your most gracious pardon,” the Grandmaster Scribe said toward the King’s boots. “I merely wished to introduce to you our most advanced and exceptional apprentice whom you had requested to meet.” One hand waving the guard down and the other hand clasping the page’s shoulder the King said, “Boy’s rise, Cyril stand attentive here with me. Grandmaster make your introduction.” The four boys very tentatively stood and glanced between the Grandmaster Scribe and the Teaching Scribe for direction but could see nothing but their balding pates. Cyril however was giving them encouraging smiles even though his hand was still firmly planted upon the haft of his shining dagger. Somehow the Grandmaster Scribe knew not to rise and although seething with anger that these stupid whelps had caused him this embarrassment he told the boot, “Majesty, please allow me the great honor of introducing our most advanced apprentice who has worked with the Wizard’s assistant on the recent unpleasantness.” King Draviad clasped Cyril’s shoulder a little tighter and gave a hearty laugh, “Well sir, methinks the Wizard might take a little issue with part of your statement and the Master of Protocol would take much issue with your form of introduction. But we are not here for formal matters, only to better our own knowledge. Boy, I see you have some izmit sınırsız escort scrolls and the look of one familiar with ink, have you a name and will you show me the results of your work?” The Scribe boy opened his mouth and managed a kind of croak. To the bemused smile of the King and the encouraging nod and wide grin of the Page he tried again, “Cal, Majesty. I am Cal. May I unroll these?” Cyril’s hand left his dagger and reached out for one scroll and deftly assisted the still flustered Scribe Boy in unrolling them both on the table. Reaching quickly across ruffle of his tunic skirt without disturbing his skin tight white tights Cyril drew his dagger and used it to securely pin the xrossing edges of the parchments firmly to the table top while telling the boys on the other side of the table to make themselves useful and hold the edges to prevent rerolling. Cal’s eyes went wide again at the sudden thunk of the knife embedding itself deeply into the table. He glanced at Ig and Graf who were looking horrified eyes at the Grandmaster and Teaching Scribe thinking of the years of occupying the Shame Stool that would follow the marring of the table top be it by intention or accident. The Hide Boy noticed that once drawn the dagger’s hilt was never far outside the touch of the Page’s hand even as it was just standing there and almost vibrating. Cal’s entire body stiffened and then inexplicably relaxed as the King’s free hand clasped his shoulder and pulled him along with the Page together so they could all peruse the parchments. “Tell me of these arrow points?” the King asked. Swallowing his squeak Cal replied, “The boys of the Guild would scour the city during the course of their daily endeavors Sire and then they would hasten to report. I would make note of each item and sort them into various categories then between reports Cobar, Thomas, Zekial, others and I would discuss them and further refine the categorization and the importance of the information.” Pointing to the headings Sightings, Clearances, and Strange Occurrences Cal continued. “These were items of final importance in these areas my Lord.” “And what of this map?” “Well my friend thought that since we had it and we were dealing with a large number of varied locations of incidents that we should perhaps collate the relevant locations and determine if there were any underlying patterns,” Cal used one hand to point to an arrow point item and the other hand to point to a location on the map. “We had many more datum in our raw data than in this final list of most important items, Majesty,” and a toss of the head indicated the sack of materials on the other side of the still prostrate Grandmaster Scribe. “Very interesting, and one of your friends here had this idea?” the King looked at Ig and Graf standing on the other side of the table. “No sire. Well, yes sire,” Cal quickly left the table and grabbed the Hide Boy’s hand and pulled him over in front of the King. “Ah, I see. And who might you be son?” the King looked a smile at the Hide Boy. “Ash,” the boy managed to squeak out. At the King’s raised eyebrows both boys froze solid but Cyril spoke up, “Sire, this is the Hide Boy from the Butchers.” “Ah,” the King said. “And what activities do you pursue in your undertakings, lad, that gave you the idea of visualizing the data?” Ash, the Hide Boy looked wide eyes at first the King and then Cal, the Scribe Boy. Seeing his confusion Draviad gave another laugh to help release the tension. “What do you do?” he gently prompted. “Oh!” Ash looked to the King and then the Page. “I takes the hides out from the killers and skinners and rolls them in the salt and lye and makes the bales of salted hides for the tanners. I just imagine lots of things while doing that and I just kind of imagined what we might see on that big picture of Liivka.” “Well, I think your brain has grown from imagining just like your muscles have grown from hauling heavy hides around,” the King smiled at Ash while giving an approving look and pat to the boy’s well muscled shoulders and arms. “Tell me Cal, the Grandmaster Scribe seems well pleased with your work. Was it he who recommended you for this task?” “Oh no Highness, he was probably shocked, it was the newest Master. We had just finished his lesson on Logics and when Cobar and Tomas came and told us all about the kidnapping and asked for help with the investigations he gave me the ink pot and some old parchments and told me to go make the arrow points and see if I couldn’t reason it through.” Pointing to the still kneeling Lead Teaching Scribe the King said, “You, go and send me this newest Master.” The Lead Teaching Scribe quickly went to the youngest and littlest end of the student line and sent that Teaching Scribe scurrying toward the King. Stopping behind the table and trying to make no appearance of threat the young man knelt to the King. “Rise. Tell me of yourself and of this boy and why you thought he might be of some help in this matter,” the King said. “Highness, I am Daniel Hopfer, newly made Journeyman and Teaching Scribe. I have found Cal’s mind to be most attuned to logics and thoughts.” Glancing with a fond smile at the boy he continued, “It may be because he sits so often on the Shame Stool for his penchant at spilling ink and dribbling splotches from his quill, but he has learned far more than the others as to reasoning. I was surprised to hear the Grandmaster refer to him as our best and brightest, but I would certainly agree. I am most pleased to be able to assess this, his work.” “Good, well then come, let us look closely at this compendium of arrow points and amalgamated rota of datum and locus.” The men and boys began a quiet study and discussion of the documents. Several times Ash raced to the sack of supporting documents and retrieved something to further explain the boy’s thinking. Finally the King motioned the Guard to bring the sack and turn its contents out on the table. As the King seemed to be satisfied with his review of the astounding documents created by these children he noticed one stained and dog eared sheet which had fallen from the table top. After reaching for it and glancing at the various jottings he showed it to Cal and Ash and asked about it. “That is the spurious list of sightings Highness. These were reports of girls with red ribbons who might be being taken away, but the times and places were all wrong and we could not verify any of the first few so we listed them but they wouldn’t figure in our deliberations,” Cal explained. “The girls were too old mostly,” Ash offered. “May we take this sheet?” the King got a nod of approval from Cal and Ash both. “Good, Cyril guard this and remind me of it later when we return to the castle.” “Of course, Highness,” Cyril tightly rolled the sheet and slipped it into his tunic. The King faced Ig and Graf who had watched closely all that happened but never were asked to participate. “I hope you boys can learn from Cal’s example. Please have this all gathered and delivered to me at the Wizard’s Tower within the Keep.” Turning to the still kneeling Grandmaster Scribe the King said, “Thank you for your hospitality here. I am sure you will expeditiously see to the elevation of this Apprentice to Journeyman, I would venture this work to be of almost a masterpiece level of both form and function. I also believe the perspicacious discernment of young Teaching Scribe Hopfer would indicate a Master’s hold on his charges skills and abilities. I expect you will be joining the other Masters in celebrating his elevation forthwith.” Turning away from the Grandmaster the King continued, “Master Hopfer, Journeyman Cal, Ash, please accompany us as we now pay a visit to this Boys Guild I have heard so much about. Cal perhaps you can lead us on a more direct path from this room. I have no more need of being impressed by the Scribe Guilds chambers as magnificent as they might be.” As Cyril retrieved his dagger he quickly motioned to Connor, the other page, and whispered, “Take Ig and Graf and the scrolls and sack directly to the Wizards tower and allow them to give them to no one other than the Wizard, his apprentice or assistant.” He waved them away as the King was already following the Guards who had hurriedly flanked Cal who was leading Ash and the King through a doorway to the side of the building which opened directly onto the street. At a shrill whistle from the Guard there came a tromping of feet and twenty more Guardsmen were wheeling around the corner and formed up around the King and his party. “Ah, well done again lad. Now lead us on to the Boys Guild and we’ll see if perchance we can surprise young Tomas, and Cobar.” Ash grinned up at the King thinking how shocked and amazed everyone at the Boys Guild cafe would be.

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