Sep 16, 2019 10:19 PM
A Rebecca lands in Scriven
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And the castle appears before her, without a sound or breath of wind to announce its arrival. 

The silver capped towers shine, brighter than they have any right to be in the fading evening sunlight. 

The front doors are open.

 

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And she traipses in.

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The entry hall is big enough to fit a normal house. 

There's a fountain in the center. Bright fish swim in the water. Bright trails of light follow them wherever they go. There's the faint sound of music. It seems to come from every direction at once. It's barely noticeable until you start to focus on it and then the barely audible melody turn into a performance around you, bright flutes, proud horns, gentle and persistent drums, and soft voices singing in what seems to be no language in particular. 

The throne room is directly ahead, through a set of double doors tall enough to allow a giant entry, but there are many other doors in the foyer, both grand and unobtrusive.

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...she wonders if she needs to maintain the fish or if they are magic fish. She guesses she will find out because she doesn't know what fish eat.

Rabka explores the castle, cooing along to the music.

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Many of the rooms in the castle seem to exist for no reason except to be beautiful or strange or wondrous.

There's a ballroom where empty suits and empty dresses dance together. Invisible hands are set on silk waists and shoes move across the marble floor, attached by nothing but air and the knowledge of where legs would be. 

There's a hall with mosaics made of broken glass, designed to look like you are under the sea.  Brightly colored fish dart by, changing the color of the fragments as they go. Occasionally, there is a shadow across the glass as something large passes by, far above in the nonexistent sea.

There's a room full of paper songbirds. When they sing, you can watch the musical notes drift out of their mouths. Other birds swoop by, snatching the notes from the air and then singing them out again, mixed into new patterns. Occasionally a bird will run out of notes and crumple. Occasionally a bird will gather so many notes that it can no longer hold them and will lay a paper egg.  

But there is practicality mixed in with the extravagance. 

The left side of the castle contains the guest wing. Each room is unique. A few are meant for children.

There's a room with a tree containing a cradle. It sways softly and constantly in a nonexistent breeze. There's a flower growing out of the wall next to the door. A caretaker can tuck it behind their ear, and hear everything that happens in the room while they're away.

There's a room with a crib made of a sea shell. It is coated in mother of pearl and big enough to hold a child. In this room, the sea can always be heard. A sandcastle builds and falls and rebuilds itself in the corner. The sand always stays nicely where it should be. There's a small seashell by the door here and one needs only to hold it to their ear to hear their child.

There's a room where the cradle is a cloud. The ceiling is painted like the night sky. It matches the true sky perfectly, except for the unusual frequency of shooting stars. A small cloud will follow the caretaker when they leave. It unobtrusive, hiding in corners or beneath chairs, unless there is  trouble.

There's also a room with a simple wooden crib. It seems to be a concession and not one made happily. Everything in the room is almost purposefully dull. There is a mobile above the bed. From it, hangs simple circles painted with dull colors, blue, red, green and something that might be yellow, if yellow was sad. There's a plain wooden bracelet by the door. It reports the sounds in the room completely accurately. The volume is not adjustable.  

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Yep, Rabka lives here now. What a good castle. She feeds Cathei again and puts her in the cloud crib and runs out with the cloud following her to see everything else.

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Not all of the guest rooms were made for people who were human shaped.

There's a room with a bed big enough for a giant. It would take a ladder to get up onto the mattress. Each of the pillows are big enough by themselves to be Rakba's bed.

There's a room filled with water. The water politely stays inside when the door is open. A stand of thick green kelp sways in front of the door, obscuring the view of the rest of room.

There's a room filled with knee-high golden grass dotted with wildflowers. The air smells very faintly of honey. Tiny golden bees pollinate the flowers. One lands on Rabka's head. If she takes a closer look, she'll find that the bees are made of gold with wings woven from silver thread.

 

Past the guest rooms, there's the secretarial wing of the palace.

A stream threads through the rooms in the secretarial wing. It bubbles and gurgles and climbs stairs and the occasional wall without any difficulty. Boats float on the stream. Their sails are written messages. They travel both ways, disregarding the directions of the current. Empty boats huddle in ports between the rooms, waiting for new sails. The ports are all equipped with blank sails and pens.

Half of the boats seem aimless now, wandering back and forth, unable to find the person to whom their message was sent. A herd of them follow Rabka when she passes by, trying to give her messages addressed to a dozen absent or ambiguous people.

There's a wall of keys in the secretarial wing. When Rabka passes by, some keys strain against their hooks, eager to be used. Others hiss at her if she comes too close. 

 

 

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She reads boats!

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To the twenty-third footman of the Marquess,

There's going to be a twenty-fourth footman soon if you keep forgetting to polish the spoons. 

The fourth butler


To the Sunday morning scribe,

PURPLE ink. Purple. Not blue, not dark red, and stop it with the lavender. It needs to be purple. Dark, proper, royal purple.

Also, stop transcribing people's sneezes. It's undignified. 

The judge of the Marquess's tertiary court 


To the eastern gardener,

The lilies of the grave have started unfurling their petals at twenty minutes to midnight. They've been blooming at thirty past for years. They clash dreadfully with the fire orchids if they're open at the same time.

If you have a spare minute, I'd appreciate you coming to take a look.

The western gardener

 

One of the sails is a detailed list of the menagerie's weekly expenditures, including but not limited to, twelve pounds of acorns, one bottle of valve oil, seven spools of blue thread, two pounds of living ants, half a pound of salt, a dozen mother-of-pearl buttons, twenty pounds of raw antelope, three pounds of lime peels, and a cask of unfermented wine.


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This is all hilarious.

Has she seen the whole palace yet?

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She has not.

There's the Marquess's wing, which will refuse to allow her entry.

There are the east and west gardens. 

There is the library.

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- oooh a library. This should have occurred to her but it didn't! How is the library organized?

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The books are arranged by theme, but the themes constantly change. The books can't quite decide where they want to be and are constantly switching shelves. They don’t do it when Rabka’s looking, but if she turns her back, she’ll hear a suspicious flapping of pages and a book that was shelved under ‘the enjoyment of childhood’ will suddenly be shelved under ‘things found in the hollows of trees’.

Occasionally, a book will feel so indecisive that it will tear itself in two. Then both halves will limp their way over to the circulation desk to wait with other ashamed, indecisive books for a bookbinder who will never come.

Whoever made this place seems to rather strongly believe that one should be able to get lost in a library. The library is a warren of small interconnecting rooms with no obvious organization. Many of the little rooms are themed around the shelves they contain, the books on bees are in a room that looks like a beehive and always smells sweet, the books on 'the sensation of flight' are in a room whose walls are painted with slowly moving clouds.

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What a neat library. Rabka doesn't venture too deeply in; she doesn't want to get stuck. Although she supposes it is now particularly safe for her to be trapped in a library, even so she prefers otherwise.

She looks at the indecisive books to see what they are about.

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There's a novella about a woman made of soap. No matter how hard she scrubbed she could never get clean, but each time she bathed she got smaller and smaller and smaller.

There's a book filled with beautiful illustrations of flowers, carefully labeled with the date and location where they were found. Each flower has a handwritten poem beneath it. No two poems share the same handwriting. Each poem is about loss, of a child, a partner, a sibling, a parent, a friend. Some are brutal, some are melancholy, some speak only of loss, others speak dwell on treasured memories. A few of the poems convey enough grief that they seem as if they could make even the sky and the earth and the air weep.

There's a book that tells the story of a bird who flew out of fairyland and pretended to be a human for a while.

There's a textbook that starts as a history of fairyland and ends with as in-depth investigation of the lifecycles of wyverns. It strongly denounces the widely held belief that wyverns are born from books. 

 

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Well, if she ever wants a wyvern for anything, that'll be wrong.

She skims section names and titles therein.

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Things that were once lost

The Spindle and the Butterfly
The Sound that can't be Heard
The Completion of Nightmares

Misplaced trust

Dread of Drowning
The Wind Gave Her Wings
Scream at the Sea
A Hatred of Breathing

Things born from chance

The Keeper of Lost Paths
The Quandary

Reflections

The Shadows that Gather
Autumn's Gate
Pain without Glory

 

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Gosh. These are not the most informative titles ever. She flips through Autumn's Gate.

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According to the book, autumn's gate appears in pools of still water, when autumn branches create rough circles against the sky. If you dive into the gate, you'll enter a reflection of the world. It will show you a world without your biggest regret. You can stay there until Autumn ends and sometimes, take things back with you.

The book is filled with stories from those who claim to have traveled through the gate.

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Huh.

She might have an easier time finding useful stuff in reference materials, can she dig up anything like that or is it all storybooks?

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She can, if she keeps digging. There's more far more fiction than non-fiction here, but both exist. 

After she's looked at a few more books, she might begin to notice a pattern. All books that have some sort of truth to them have a gold symbol embossed on their spine.

The symbols vary. A stylized eye seems to represent first hand accounts, biographies and histories, stories of what people have experienced or claimed to have experienced. A stylized leaf represents books of naturalism, descriptions and explanations of the flora and fauna and magic of fairyland. Three circles represent books of a more analytical nature, there's the occasional book of pure mathematical theory as well as books on economics and magical theory. A footprint represents a genre of books somewhere between travel guides and anthropological texts, there are vivid descriptions of the various people of fairyland and the places where they live. A paintbrush represents guides to and collections of the various arts of fairyland, painting, music, magic as well as many others. There are more symbols, but they appear rarely and are harder to categorize. 

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Oh cool! That's handy. She suspects footprint books and leaf books will be the best for getting basic needs.

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Many of the books are irrelevant to her, but in the easily accessible parts of the library, there's a handful that could be useful.

 

Leaf books:
A collection of unique magical plants. Each appears in fairyland only once. 

A study of types of pgymy dragons, ranging from fingernail size to the size of a large dog. Along with the dryer details, the books rates their intelligence and suitability as pets.  


Footprint books:

A detailed survey of the fashions worn on the moon.

An overview, full of illustrations with their accompanying written descriptions, of the architecture and craftsmanship of the floating city of Naut. 

A travelogue set in the silk city of Lelyn. The author focused heavily on the local food and restaurants. 

The memoir of a fairy child raised by wyverns. The details of her adoption and the rest of her early years are filled in by her older wyvern sister. 

 

 

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A pet dragon might be neat for Cathei later but would be a bit much right now. Food and clothes and baby stuff are all handy, though. She reads a few things into existence and gets to work colonizing a human-friendly corner of the castle.

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The cloud will alert her when Cathei wakes up.

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