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  • Rachel Rossano

Reclaiming Ryda

For the past year, I have been writing a novel about a librarian and a scribe. Yes, I know to some this sounds like the worst idea ever and for others this description would intrigue them immensely.

How about this description:

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter. Can you tell me which two fairytales I was inspired by?

From Crispin's point of view (some typos are certainly included)

“Everything you need is in here, my lord. The mid-day meal is served in the great hall. His grace’s son, Count Rodney, will come to fetch you before the even’ bell.” The lad informed me before turning on his heel and marching off again.

Would I be allowed to return? Where could I find the records I needed? Was this the only place to search? Was there a librarian who could direct me?

I was tempted to call him back to answer the many questions crowding my mind, but I decided against it. Having reached the inner sanctum of the Duke of Worthenave’s library, I needed to not make a fuss. Better to keep quiet and be easily overlooked so that I might linger all the longer.

Instead, I turned to the gate. Double hung and elegant as it was impenetrable, I was surprised to discover a heavy lock hanging open from a heavy bar clearly made to bar anyone from entering or exiting the room beyond. It was with no small measure of discomfort that I stepped through the gate and let it close behind me. I had no wish to become a prisoner.

A large circular room greater than thrice my height in diameter lay beyond the gate. On all sides from floor to about two feet below the ceiling, which was well beyond my reach, were shelves laden down with all manner of written records. Binders, scrolls, bound volumes, drawers, boxes, and files lined each shelf. Small tags hung from many of them. Each tag covered in neat writing. A wooden ladder hung by hooks on a rail that ran the circumference of the room. Above the rail, small rectangular windows nested in the thick stone walls between the top shelves and the carved ceiling. In the center of the rotunda lay a thick round carpet. On it sat a large wooden table that had clearly been made the match the shelves and five padded chairs.

I crossed to the table and set my scribe’s bag on the polished surface. As I surveyed the shelves wondering where I ought to begin my search, I came up short. Someone was singing. A woman by the sound of it.

Leaving my bag behind, I turned around searching for the source of the voice, which was how I discovered the stairs. Tucked behind the shelves opposite the gate by which I entered, they could not be seen from the gate. The narrow steps led upwards, following the curve of the stone tower wall. In the niches where the straight wooden boards of the stairs didn’t quite match the curve of the stone someone had tucked all kinds of odd things like clay jars, colorful baskets, and crocheted blankets.

As I climbed, I struggled to focus on the singer’s words. The words weren’t from my native tongue. However, the melody sounded familiar. Then as I came to a halt on the landing just outsider a second room almost exactly like the one below, the sounds fell into place.

She was singing in Saruthian.

Pale as the moon all still and lovely, The maiden’s heart longed for his touch. Still the moon hung quiet, unresponsive, Cold and unfeeling despite her love.

Blinking in the glow of the late morning light pouring in the octagonal windows above the shelves on this level, I studied the singer as she continued her work. Her honeyed voice washed over me. Perched as she was, halfway up the ladder against the shelf with a bag full of tomes strapped to her hip and a long golden brown braid falling down her back like a thick rope, I couldn’t help thinking of the ancient Saruthian tale of the captive of the rampion witch.

She was definitely fetching enough to play the role of the captive. With the long length of hair the color of honey, the color falling between the alfalfa and buckwheat honeys my bees produced at home, she could snare any man. Her form appeared pleasant as well, slender and curved in all the right ways.

As she reached the last of the verses in the poem, I fully expected her to stop. Stepping into the room, I prepared to introduce myself.

But she didn’t stop. As she set the second to last book in place, she began to sing a verse I had never seen in any of my references. My mind scrambled to translate it as she sang. Then she turned around.

A soft squeak escaped her followed by a heavy thud as the last book fell from her suddenly lax fingers and hit the floor.

“Who are you?”

Crossing the fallen book, I picked it up and offered it to her.

“The Duke of Worthenave gave me leave to search his library.”

Her eyes were green, wide, and far too perceptive as she studied my features.

“Does the moon every notice the girl?”

“What?” Confusion clouded the emerald depths a moment before she claimed the book from me and turned away to place it on the shelf.

“The girl in the poem you were singing, did the moon ever notice her?”

She briskly climbed down the ladder, ducked under my arm, and strode toward the stairs I had just used. “The usual references are down on the first floor. I will show you where the land records are stored.”

I followed her, keeping extra space between us so as not to startle her further. “That poem, I didn’t know it was a song.”

“It isn’t.” She descended the stars at the same hurried clip. “I made it into one.” Upon reaching the first floor, she crossed to the tightest packed shelves right next to the gated entrance. “This is where the land records are stored. Feel free to make use of the table and chairs they are here for the purpose.” Then she turned away, clearly intent on not lingering to visit.

“Thank you.”

She hesitated for the barest of moments before continuing back toward the stairs.

“You’re welcome.”

Which two fairytales do you think

Reclaiming Ryda was inspired by?

There were clues in the except above.

Also, would you like more?

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