The Decree, Part 1
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It has taken my three years to complete The Decree, and I would greatly appreciate feedback in the comments section. This will help me determine whether or not I should officially publish my novel. Thank you for your time and support!
I eased open the great oak door and the scents of forgotten books, lighted torches, and a hint of mold wafted through my nose. I’d been acquainted with these nostalgic fragrances since I had become the College’s apprentice bookkeeper those eight years ago, and those smells have always been welcoming to me.
I took in a deep breath and strolled into the dimly lit staircase the door had opened to me. I descended down the worn stone stairs and into the basement of the College. My thoughts ambled as my feet instinctively skipped the steps abundant with cracks and those a bit too damaged to safely put all my weight on.
The thought of only one week until my entrance exams dominated my attention. I had always taken education seriously, but this is what all of my years of learning were amounting to. The College was incredibly prestigious, and only accepted those intelligent and hard-working enough to fulfill the demands of working toward further instruction in any field. I have had the desire to become an ambassador for His Royal Highness since I had obtained knowledge of that occupation. They traveled throughout Amorel to do the King’s business; such as resolving conflicts between cities, managing financial issues with the bazaars of The Sands, and paying respects to families of fallen soldiers. Much like what an ambassador had to do for my family when I had just reached adulthood. My poor brother…
My thoughts wandered down that melancholy road and I nearly tripped on a mossy step. My breath caught in my throat as I lost my balance and I frantically grabbed for the wall. The stones were uneven, and I managed to find a hold in the wall to pull myself up. I halted my descent to the school’s underbelly to allow my palpitating heart to slow, and my breathing to return to normal.
“Is that you, Laurolee?” called a booming voice from down the stairs. “Are you quite alright? You didn’t fall, did you?” I replied that I was perfectly sound, and a smile crept onto my face at the remembrance of my jolly family friend that was the master of bookkeeping. I took care on the last flight of steps and saw Mr. Valledor in the center of the room at his rather worn desk, attending to an abused volume. There were many torches, so I could clearly see the book had suffered water damage.
“Goodness, someone must have left this in the rain. I can’t believe how it became so wet!” I chuckled to myself at his incredulity and took my seat across from him at his desk.
“What others are there?” I inquired.
“Well, there’s one rather horribly burnt navigation manual, and two others that only have a few pages ripped out. As you can imagine, we certainly can’t repair that,” he smiled. “You may keep the latter two if you like.”
I looked at him with amusement, since we both knew it was merely a jest. We were told to throw away the books we received if they would not be mended. Which were always nearly all, so I’m not entirely sure why Mr. Valledor’s position in the College exists at all. But I did not have the heart to ask him, for he truly loves his work and really tries his best, poor thing. I devoted my time to this apprenticeship for two reasons. One, to become familiar with the College. Two, to spend some time with my dear friend.
“But enough about the books,” he said, looking up at me through his half moon spectacles, “how about you? I know you must be excited for your wedding in a few months time.”
I started from my seat. I had nearly forgotten about Sir Balmont’s proposal to me a few weeks ago. To be frank, I was entirely wrapped up in my studies. To immerse myself in knowledge was far better than thinking about my uncertainties. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married so soon, and to someone I didn’t really know all too well. All I could desperately hope was that my scores were good enough for my acceptance into the College, and I could therefore postpone the wedding until a later date. A much later date, with any luck.
“Well, I’m not sure that I-”
“Ah, speechless with thought, I see.” He laughed, and I felt myself deflating. He hadn’t heard me. It seemed his eardrums were aging just as quickly as his hair was disappearing.
I picked up the volume that was labeled as a guide to local plants, and I realized nearly half of it’s pages had been unmercifully torn out. I placed it on my right, to remind myself to throw it away. Once I realized the other book was just as badly ruined, I gave up any attempt to try and fix them.
I sighed and rested back in my chair, watching Mr. Valledor work to save the manual. Again, the thought of the fast approaching test day weighed heavily on my thoughts. I had studied every day, and sacrificed so many things to achieve this honor of applying for the College. Not many ladies have been accepted, but I intend to be one of those rare exceptions. I had imagined myself countless times being asked by the King himself to be an ambassador, but the more I thought about the likelihood of this occurrence, the more I feared it would be impossible.
The King was very notorious for being a volatile individual, and has appeared to the public, on several occasions, to being more of a tyrant than a fair king. I also despaired in the knowledge that I would more than likely be executed for these thoughts if anyone was ever to hear of them.
Thinking about the King made my thoughts drift to the Devilkind rebellions on the east side of the Mountains. I had never before seen a Devilkind before, but the King said they are merciless to Human prisoners and are hateful of the Human race. His Highness proclaimed they are abominations and should be dealt with, but another thought that would probably have me killed expressed the improbability of his accusations. I’m not sure how much time had passed by when the door to our work place had opened.
Mr. Valledor glanced up to me to comment, “A visitor. Must be important.”
Then he promptly continued to examine the book in front of him.
I smiled and waited for whomever the visitor was to appear around the corner. We didn’t receive company often, so I was interested to discover the identity of the person. My curiosity was piqued even more when I realized it was a messenger. One who wore Silstead Palace garments.
“A message from His Royal Highness to a Miss Laurolee Rosark.”
I stood and said in a shaky voice, “I am she.”
A message to me? Could it possibly be about an ambassador position? Or is it something about my thoughts? But then I laughed to myself about the notion and the messenger handed me the letter.
I nearly tore the parchment from nervousness, but the messenger was the epitome of calm. I hastily scanned the letter and realized I was not in any danger of execution. I sighed, and the man in front of me remained still. I wasn’t going to be executed, but I was still downcast when I read the remainder of the message.