The pantry entrance to my lair was too close to the kitchens. I was sure both Elm and Lea would be there, sowing gossip about the morning’s lessons and then waiting table. And Scribe FitzVigilant would be at the table. No. I went to my bedroom and carefully divested myself of Careful’s finery. As I set the lace aside, I reflected that she had been kind to me. As had Revel. It suddenly occurred to me to wonder what I could do that would show them I appreciated that. Well, in a few days my father had promised to take me to the market. I knew that Careful had admired my little bottles of scent. I would get one for her. And Revel? For him, I was not sure. Perhaps my father would know.
I set aside my new tunic and the heavy stockings and crawled back into my short one and my old leggings. Feeling much more like myself, I slipped into my old bedchamber and from there into the labyrinth of wall tunnels. I went by feel this time, needing no light. When I came to my den, I smelled the warmth of the sleeping cat. I touched his lax form, once more bundled in our cloak. Then I stepped over him and made my way to my father’s true study. There I filched a candle, kindled it at his hearth, and chose a scroll about Taker Farseer, the first King of the Six Duchies. It was in my father’s hand, probably his copy of some older writing. I wondered why he had it out on his desk. In my den I made myself comfortable with my cushions, the candle, my blanket, the cloak, and a warm cat. I had thought only to share the cloak’s warmth; I had never realized how much heat a cat could generate. We were quite comfortable there, and when he woke it seemed only fair to give him a share of the hard bread and sausage that had become my noon repast.
“I haven’t any here. But I’ll get some for us. I’m surprised to find you here. I shut the pantry hatch the last time you left.”
This warren is full of holes. Where a rat can go, a cat can follow.
Most of the time. There are many small ways in. And the hunting here is good. Mice, rats. Birds in the upper reaches.
He subsided and crept back under the cloak, where he snuggled his body against mine. I resumed reading, amusing myself by trying to sort the flattery from the facts in this account of my ancient ancestor. Taker had arrived, dispatched the savage wretches who had tried to fend him and his men off, and had, in his lifetime, transformed Buckkeep from the crude log fortification he first raised to a stone-walled fortress. The castle itself had been many years in rising, built largely from the tumbled stone so prevalent in the area. Much of it had been available as perfectly carved blocks.
My father had made some notes between the lines of that section. He seemed interested that Buckkeep Castle had evidently been raised first as a timber stronghold on top of the tumbled stone foundation of a more ancient keep. It had been rebuilt in stone, but he had inked in several questions as to who had built the original stronghold of worked stones and what had become of them. And to one side, there was a little drawing of what he believed had been standing as stone walls when Taker first arrived. I studied it. Obviously my father believed that there had been a great deal of castle there already and Taker had only rebuilt what someone else had torn down.
The cat sat up a moment before I became aware that my father was in his study. As he closed the doors and then opened the hinge-catch, the cat vanished in a furry streak. I snatched up the cloak, rolled it into a ball, and thrust it to the back of my cupboard. There was no time to hide the scroll I had taken from his study before he came down the passage, stooped over and bearing his own candle. I looked up at him and he smiled down on me. “Well, there you are!” he said.
“Yes,” I agreed.
He folded his legs and, uninvited, sat on my rug beside me. He waited a moment and when I didn’t say anything, began with, “I missed you at noon. You didn’t come to eat with us.”
“I wasn’t hungry,” I said.
“And after a long morning among so many people, I wanted to be alone for a time.”
He nodded to that, and something in the set of his mouth told me he understood that need. With the back of his forefinger, he tapped the scroll. “And what’s this you’re reading?”
Face it squarely. “I took it from your scroll rack. It’s about Taker Farseer and how he first raised a fortification on the cliffs above Buckkeep Town.”
“Um. Long before there was a Buckkeep Town.”
“So. Who had the ruins belonged to?”
He furrowed his brow. “My guess is that it was an Elderling fortification. The stone is the same used in the standing stones near there, the Witness Stones.”