The lights inside the keep were low as usual, the hallways scarcely lit, the common rooms only drenched in dim light reflecting off the basalt walls. But it was warm, the volcano rthe keep was built into saw to that. Only a few parts extended out of the rock, providing daylight for the rooms inside. The scholars study room was one such room. Five of the brothers in the scholars division were crowded around a table, discussing the plans spread out before them. Their cloaks and hoods were hung on hooks next to tge door, one had left his in his chamber. Leif glanced into the study, the walls made of basalt quaders reflected little light back into the room, seemed to swallow the light. But they gave off the warmth of the sun, heating the room even more. There was a lot of dust in the air, Leif could see in the rays of light shining through the windows. All the parchments, papyrus scrolls and folios, they lost part of themselves to become dust. Better than to turn into mold he thought watching the silent dance of dusty specks in the light. “Brother!” Theobald turned the corner seeing Leif in the door to the study. “Brother Theobald.” he greeted, bowing his head. “Doesn’t it fill you with joy that your plan is set in motion?”

“It does,” Leif glanced back to the knights around the table. “I just had hoped that it would be me who sets out to sea.” it was hard voicing his anger in such calm words. “I can understand, but you have to understand the decision, a seasoned knight, who knows how to speak with a golden tongue is better suited for this mission of yours.” Leif swallowed anger, enough to still his hunger for the day he thought. “What if the young races made it?” Theobald looked at him in a puzzled manner. “The bane. What if they restored the bane?” Waving away the idea with his left hand Theobald took anoher two steps to the study. “The dragons destroyed the sandtrees, without honey from their nectar, without their roots, the bane can not be restored.”Turning to face the study as well Leif sighed. “There might be other ways, you read the ancient reports, the sandtrees had spread their pollen with the winds that drifted north and towards the sea line between continents.” he shook his head. “What if they did?” Theobalds face was laden with thought when Leif took a look at it. “Maybe the young races did manage to recreate the bane, most like they did not. It is not you who will sail, understood?” disgruntled Leif took a turn and left the.older knight standing in the hallway in front of the study. It was not often that Leif wandered to the dome in the knights keep. Gazing off the railing made him dizzy. Oil lights lit the large structure, showing countless rails, levels and rooms beyond. The numbers of knights the keep could hold was higher than anything he could count, the nunber it held was around nine hundred. “Leave me be Theobald, I’ll be down there, seeing if I can find lost treasure of thought in the depths of our keep.” he glanced over his shoulder to Theobald who had come after him. “If you wish.” the old knight sounded hurt, he had been Leif’s mentor aince he had joined the scholars of the order. Only the sounds his shoes made on the basalt ground as company he descended into he keep. There were guarded doors on every floor, those that lead to the gateway, formed by liquid fiery rock. Each of the guards had a horn, meant to be sounded if trouble arose on the other side of the locked and watched doors. He avoided that side of the dome. Also the lowest floor was to be avoided, a few scrawny old knights stood, or rather sat, watch there.There amongst thousands upon hundreds of thousands of skulls. The wooden medallions on leather strings handlging below their lifeless grins. Their bodys long gone into the fire, their ahses long gone to the soils in the farms. The farthest back one went he more likely it was to find the wood and leather had also turned to dust over he thousands of years. Leif frowned. He had no objection of his skull staying in the dry heat of the orders graveyard, but pointlessness in which his talent was wasted in his eyes made him angry and sad.He took a turn away from curious eyes and paced slowly through living quarters that had been empty for close to two thousand years. Just long enough until watch was changed. The lantern he held was giving off warm orange light, although he had to admit, warmth was the least of their problems. The doors to he sides of the hallways were open, or half open, if they were closed they were not locked and Leif wohld leave them open after entering the rooms behind. A bed, a table, two chairs and a trunk. Standard issue chambers. Ever now and then a large room with several tables and benches, a small common room for the knights around. Most of the furniture would turn to dust if touched, although the dry heat preserved the wood better than a damp cold would. Sometimes he found a trunk still worthy of the name, although he wouldn’t put anything too heavy in it, or sit on it. Mostly he went in the old chambers to read.Like their wooden medallions, which every knight had, many carved their names into the bedposts. Name, date of birth and date when joined, followed by name, date of birth and date when joined. sometimes he thought of moving down there, but it would’ve been too far off. He liked the company. And the thirty or so names in his bedpost, followed by his own, were like friends. The further down one went, the shorter the lists of names, only one level above the cemetery he imagined things were differently. The oldest and most frail of knights guarding the cemetery lived there. As the watch changed he slipped up again, careful as not to be noticed, he knew ways out of the keep without being noticed. Probably every knight knew them. Back in the day when celibacy was not enforced by mandatory becoming a eunuch some of the brothers had found, and made, sneak ways out of the keep. He was glad for these ways.Once outside he took to the woods, he’d wait the two days out, better than to be furher upset by the plans he helped set in motion, and especially the changes made to these plans.Music drifted across the yard of Eric’s farm, the sun was already setting behind the storm clouds, winds gusted across the land in furious manner. Only a few people had set out to Eric’s for the harvest festival, all relatives of some sort. Leif’s maternal cousins and their husbands, their children. An aunt he barely knew, allegedly a widow, but Leif wasn’t sure and he would not stop by to ask. The greater harvest festival would be in the villages great hall below the rock, one woukd not have to fight the elements to reach it, unless of course it was Eric and Thorsten going there.

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