A PhD in dragonology : planning (III)

“Guys?” My companion are still staring at the landscape the Library gives us after I finish the recall of my flashback. They are so frozen they look stone spelled. Maybe they are?  As far as I know, the safest way to find out if a male is under a spell, enchanted or paralysed, is to hit them in the balls.

“Auch! What’s wrong with you, princess?” Ledric is definitely not enchanted and now grab his genitals while curling himself as close to a ball as possible. So Bob must also be free. I tentatively pat his back. He reacts like if he just discovered he’s not alone here.

“Fascinating. So this is the Library. I never called it. I had no need, my intellect may be better than the average for one of my specie, but I still have enough with the standard textbooks. I guess now it’s the right moment for me to use this kind of facility. I wonder if they have Ogre books…our legends say that once we were a very proud people, with its own architecture, and sacred texts. All of that was lost after the Curse.”

“The Curse? What’s that?”  Ledric seems to be recovering the composure. I wonder how long we need to wait until he’s back to normal, when he’s silent I feel like if the world is a more beautiful place. The Curse…I remember Bob speaking about it when I was under his wing, during my first days here.

“The Curse fell over our people two hundred generations ago. The reason is not clear. Some people say we offended a God, and he threw his dragons to us. That was the origin of the Ktangoth. Don’t your people has records about on the human chronology?” I nod, but Ledric shakes with head. “Around the end of the Last Heroic Age. King Darimantes, I believe. The one who wiped out most of the dragons.”

“I see you did your homework, my friend.” Ledric twinks me an eye. I stick my tongue out to him. “I did study the Heroic Ages as you did, but I didn’t find the connection with your …Ktangoth. Sorry for that.”

“No problem. I do not know about your history, neither.”

“There’s no ‘our history’. Our people tend to fight psychologically, so to say. The most interesting thing that happened in the last thousand years is that my mother married a guy without the approval of the Council of the Five.” I try to smile after my comment.

“That’s why we use human ages. It’s not meaning we study them, though.” Ledric is oddly smooth to me after I clasped on his talk. Or was it that I didn’t stop him?


A PhD in dragonology : planning (II)

I was before in the Library. It’s an old friend, so to say. Inside the toilet, I mean, after crossing the lady’s room door connecting with it, I’m back on my student’s days. Not that was so long ago, anyway.

When I arrived to the University, I found myself on a cultural shock. Due to being an elven princess and so on, I didn’t have what most of the other students called “common sense” neither I knew about the “common ways”. I didn’t know people need to do a mountain of paperwork just to assure their academic records are treated in a standard way. I didn’t know one needs to sign for classes. Or to attend to classes, by the way.

Because of these holes in my formation and because I didn’t have anyone else to ask help for, I was somehow directed to look for the Library. I searched for it for days, without luck. One day, when I was about to give up, I opened the door of a closet looking for a coat, and to my surprise, it was there. I was invited to enter! I spent in as much time as I could, leaving it just to replenish my food and water stock and back to the benches, to study the subtleties of human society. How they eat, how they love, how to fill up paperwork.

First thing you notice after stepping inside the Library is the smell. You may know the smell on earth after a lighting strike. Or the smell of a fresh egg just boiled. Or the one spelled by old grimoires, a mixture of humidity and fungus. In other words, the Library stinks to Magic. Nothing disgusting, of course, just interesting. Second thing you notice is the light, coming out from every little crack on the room. A soft, slow, and uniform bright that is enough to let you read but not enough to make you eyes tired of. And if you open your mouth in front of a light source, and then close it, it has a sort of taste, to a very watery peach and cream, to the point I have a trauma about that dessert. But I guess it’s kind of convenient to be able get nourishment as the plants do.

If you wander around the sections, and of course you do, you will end up on the same point of origin, it doesn’t matter which direction you take. You will end up where you started, as if the Library, in its kindness, doesn’t let you leave your present studies. The sensation is that you are walking on the inside of a ballon, a sphere, covered by rows and rows of books, that tend to appear around you as soon as you need them. For me the best is that, as soon as you think you are done with a topic, the related ones seem to appear close to you. Once I did the experiment of emptying my mind while walking, so that the Library will not know where to direct me. I ended up outside it, and it took me a couple of days to find again an entry.

So everything inside the Library revolt about your thirst for knowledge. And if you don’t really know where to start your research, a Librarian will come to you. Librarians are all similar, or at least, I didn’t manage to distinguish one from another. There are more than one, since I saw two at the same time, but I don’t know how many of them they are. Maybe they are brothers, maybe they are mirror images, avatars of the concept of the Search for the Unknown.

I feel warm inside, the Library may be welcoming my return. I look around for a Librarian, but I see none. I know what we want, but maybe later I can try to call one. Speaking of which, maybe I should tell Bob and Ledric how this works, they both just stand  like 50 meters away,  looking to the sky, where shelves and shelves of books seem to be hanging out amongst clouds.

A PhD in dragonology : planning (I)

We were heading to the Library after our little get-together, in search of maps to trace our first experimental search for dragons. Everyone has heard about this big lizard, that mysterious flying hunter, or an enchanted swamp covered in an eternal mist that are usually linked with the creatures. But those legends are not enough for a researcher, we all agree, that we must search to prove that all of them are dragons, or not. And the only way to demonstrate that a dragon is a dragon is by analysing it. And for that we need to travel. Unfortunately, this probably means the need to travel with Leric…

The Library is a non-euclidean orbiting space, which means we know the area the Library can be located, but not it location. You don’t go to the Library but the Library to you, or you are already there. Also, we can find it based on rumours. The last gossip about the location of one of its doors is from yesterday.  The board says that there is an entrance to the Library close to the toilets of the University Mensa, which explains why I find myself suddenly munching a turkey-mayonnaise-tomato sandwich after opening my eyes. Yes, I had a nap again, or more precisely, I spaced out. Leric was speaking about his kingdom, what he was going to do once elected, so and so, in such a pedant way I was not able to resist the weight of my lids.

I look around the table. Where is our muscle? There he is! Bob is shaking a scared librarian, that is running away of us as potential visitors. Librarians are fragile entities, connected with the Library and always overwhelmed by the requests of the users, by the constant flow of information. It is said they carry such a lonely live that they end up either vanishing in thin air or involuting from a humanoid shape onto wild animals, like dogs, feral cats, squirrels and similar.

“The entry is on the ladies room.” Bob didn’t seem to be surprised at all, also not annoyed. Hard as a rock, loyal as the sun. Leric definitely was pleased by the perspective, as a pervert that he is. “Don’t worry about entering there, my prince, your honour is under my wing. Lord Fumbledore will also support us if we break some unwritten rule by need. Or I believe he will, as far as he can.”

Leric takes the first step, and he crosses the ladies toilet’s door. After him, Bob disappears. When it’s my turn, I find out that I really want to pee and the bathroom inside may be gone.

A PhD in dragonology : debriefing (IV)

“You showed us you seem to have very noble aspirations, prince Leric. And your speech was so clear that you almost convinced me you are not that piece of garbage I met back in the Council of The Five.” He doesn’t stop smiling. I look at Bob. He seems to be absent, currently digging off the dirt of his nails. A gesture that I know he does because he cares about his hygiene, not like most of the ogres. In fact, he even tends to smell kind of…nice, like to blossoming flowers or something like that. Once I observed him carefully distributing some drops out of a little vial onto his neck. When I asked about it, he told me it was called eau de cologne and was given to him once as a present for his bodyguard services. But I divagate. Does Bob know about what happened between me and Leric at the Council? I seriously doubt it, since people don’t speak about the Council as freely as they speak about…the Parliament of the Nine Nations, for example.

“Princess Aletea, please, will you tell us something about you, so that we can move on and close this chapter of my life, please?” Leric again. He’s so annoying. But this time, Bob is looking at me with a face that seems to say ‘don’t let him win, just tell him your story and let’s go together to prepare the party’. So I start.

“Yes, it’s my turn. Sorry also I don’t feel so encouraged to tell you how I arrived here, and what am I doing. But I will try to be brief. ” I stare at both of my interlocutors looking for some kind of approval, but I find empty eyes. “I want to break free. I want to break free from the lies of the system that tell us how to live… and love. I only search for enlightenment, not fame, neither titles, just falling in love with what I do.” Oddly enough, a strange music comes in my mind during my dramatic break. “And I have to be sure when I walk out that door, I’m going to be free. Yeah!”

They stare at me, eyes as big as owls. Did they hear the music also? But probably it’s that my speech was not enough, so let’s give them more.

“I’m a princess. In principle everyone of my sex would like to take my position. Nice clothes, you may live in a palace, eat fancy dishes on overdecorated tables, meet la creme de la creme. But you don’t know what is to live with the thought that the only thing people wait from you is to have a gorgeous wedding and get pregnant as soon as possible, so they can speak about it. I hate it! I hate it as much as I hate Leric!” He shouts an ‘eh!’ that sounds a little bit forced. At least I see he’s paying attention. Actually I’m happy I can tell them how I feel. “If I manage to get my PhD, I will not be free, but my people will think of me at least as an equal to Leric here. It’s my right to fight for that chance! I want to be the first Queen with a PhD!”

And when I stop, they clap, sincerely and noisily. And they smile to me. I feel warm inside. And that’s good. Maybe it will work, the whole party thing. Maybe we will make a good team, after all. Despite of this woodenhead of Leric.

A PhD in dragonology : debriefing (III)

“That’s a nice title, my friend.” I wonder what’s going on between these two. Bob is not stupid, and certainly knows how to choose his company, so I don’t understand why he’s in such a good relation with Leric. Actually of the whole talk of Bob the only new information I got is the title of his thesis. I decide to attack.

“If you are such a good friends, and since I know you pretty well, Leric, I think you should be next. Tell us your story and be sure I will interrupt you if I consider you are lying, embellishing something or simply, I don’t like what you say. Do we agree on that, Bob?” Bob cracks up. Good, another point for me. Leric waits until Bob is calmed down again to start.

“I’m not going to repeat what we all know, that is, who I am and where do I come from. Instead, I’m going to focus on the why.” This time it’s me the one cackling. He waits until I’m done. “I’m a prince, as Aletea is a princess. A prince needs to be proud of himself.” He starts to wander around, doing what he does when he speaks in front of a crowd, that is, acting. “And he needs to set up an example for his people, an example of wisdom, of knowledge, of intelligence.” He looks at me, and I feel his eyes perforating my soul. “I’m not a dumbass, as princess Aletea here seems to think. But also, I’m not a wise man, at least, not yet. I know what it takes to be called a wise man, and I’m not in hurry but I think it’s time to start gathering knowledge. “Another dramatic pause. I look at Bob. He seems to be absorbing Leric’s words, but not as a follower, which is very good, but more as a judge. Is he considering him as something else than a colleague? I need to dig out more about what are these two doing together. “…other than books.” I was so deep in my thoughts that I think I skipped a part of his monologue. Never mind. “The University and his PhD program is exactly what I was looking for. You are given a subject, and you are asked to perform experiments on the matter, as well as reading as much about it as possible, to end up writing what is, at the end, a book about the topic. A book that, if well formulated, can become not only a reference on the theme, but an immortal reference to your way of work. This is what I want to achieve. This is what I must accomplish. This is why I’m here.”

We have no other choice but to clap after he bows at the end of his talk.

A PhD in dragonology : debriefing (II)

“Sorry Princess Aletea if this sounds repeated to you, but I feel myself forced to give some context to my story. In addition and since I’m the first, I must set up some kind of standard. ” His direct apology to me tastes like honey. It means he’s still on my side and that this idiot of Ledric didn’t have yet a chance to…intimate with him. I smile to him, and he smiles me back. We were such a good pals, both of us. That, Ledric will never overcome. “So. I was a very small orc already when I was born.” Great line to start with, but not for a promising short story. “My parents wanted to discard me, but at the end, they didn’t bother, and they kept me with the rest of my siblings. But I didn’t grew stronger than the Ogre average, more the opposite. Therefore I was the most common chosen target of all the bullies of my Ktangoth, my horde. In order to overcome the difference on muscular power, and fiery, I turn my back to the usual entertainment for my kind, that is, pillaging and massacring and decided to learn how to read human books first, how to write in alphabet after it.”

“Did id work?” Of course it id. He’s here, Leric your dumbass.

“At the beginning, no, of course. Then by observation and using the scientific method, at the early age of 50 winters I learned all the weak points of my bullies, and I managed to control them, my manoeuvre resulting on being left alone. That after a while I found out was not anymore what I wanted, so I left my Ktangoth to pursue an academic career.”

“Did you come here first?” Please, stop interrupting or we will never get to the point.

“No, my friend, I’m just an ogre, so I can’t simply apply for a Master here. I needed some credentials, some Vater Veritas, that I managed to find after employing myself around for a while as a bodyguard, as my lady here well knows.” I know, and I’m very grateful to him. Isn’t obvious Bob is as sweet as a piece of cake, as strong as a diamond, and as wise as… a… a… an owl? “My academic father is Lord Fumbleround, of course. He supported my application as a student. Yes. I know what you are thinking. I’m an ogre, I can’t even fit in a school desk! But I can!” As a demonstration, Bob embeds himself in one. It looks ridiculous, a little bit like packed meat, but he’s right, he can sit. “Of course I played by the book. I passed the entrance exam, if you are asking yourself that, two winters ago. Since then, everyone who was not filled up with prejudiced about my kind managed to teach me something. And Lord Fumbleround, of course, sent me here to join you on your research, since it overlaps with my subject of interest. That is…”

“That is?” Leric seems to be enjoining this, I will definitely let him talk next.

“Dragonic mithos in a Ktangoth and its influence on the Ogres.” Of course, dragons.

A PhD in dragonology : debriefing (I)

“Lord Fumbleround sent me here, of course.” Of course he did. He does not need to know what happened back then. Leric sticks his tongue out, then smiles to me sarcastically. ” Why should I want to meet such a presumptuous, egocentric, ragged-looking, shaggy, buttehands, and, and, and, and…as the woman known as Princess Aletea?”

“You will need to write better than that if you want to get a PhD, Leric.” Bob seems to be confused, dubious about which side to take. “I’m an adult, therefore I will not discuss with children like him!” Bob extends his muscular arms, grabbing with one hand his head, with the other mine. For a moment, I think he’s going to force us to hug each other, and I resist, but I stop resisting when I see the upset face of Leric. I’m tempted then to give up resisting and hug him, just to hear him cursing again.

“Leric. My lady.” Bob stares at me first, then at him. “We are here in a temple of knowledge, and as such, we should not fight each other without having a good reason, or the Gods will bless us with the curse of eternal Ignorance. I say each one of us should state the aim of his presence here, as well as how the Destiny brought him or her to the current point in our space-time.” Bob adjusts again his small glasses over his nose. To do that, he releases me, and I use the chance to step back. He does realise it and releases Leric also, that performs a move opposite to mine. “Very good. So, who wants to start? If no one, I humbly request the honour to be the first one speaking in this parliament. Do any of you have something to say against it?” We both nod. “So please have a sit, it’s going to be a long story. I hope not as long as to make you bored, but long enough to keep up you interest. But before I start, a few comments.  First, if you don’t understand any of my expressions, please stop me. Sometimes I speak in riddles without realising it. Second, if you want to go to the toilet maybe now is the moment…”

“Start your story for Gods sake!” Smiling, I gently hit Bob’s abdomen, and he smiles me back. A point for me, a minus one for the dumbass of Leric. I think I’m going to enjoy this party after all.