The Were-Squirrel

Library

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The Library of Anvard rises around you. Reddish wooden pillars like twisted tree-trunks support the roof at even intervals, long bookcases in rows between them. The room is warmly lit by a multitude of round hung lamps, like globular fruit. The air is heavy with the sweet and musty smell of books, old and new. Hundreds of volumes line the shelves, and a few spaces between trunks have been left open for tables at which to reading and write. Thick pillar candles can be used to bring a little more yellow light to late-night researchers in these places.

The room appears to be well-dusted and well-kept, its contents carefully maintained and repaired throughout the years.

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You can go: Hallway <W>

Contents: A Row of Bookshelves.

 

Haft is on his hands and knees at the far end of the first set of shelves, in view of the door.

Dalia comes walking from the Hallway.

Megren steps into the doorway but stops before fulling entering the room when she sees Haft in this vulnerable position. Her whole face screws up, mouth all off on one side, eye squinted, nose and brow wrinkled.

Haft shifts, trying to peer into a space between two books on the lowest shelf.

Megren creeps up until she is right behind him and then says loudly, “Whatcha doin’?”

Haft brings his head up sharply in surprise, then yelps as it connects with the shelf above.

 

Megren’s shoulders come up in laughter and surprise, but she quickly reaches out to catch a couple of books that have seen fit to tumble in return for the jarring. She misses one.

Haft shifts so he’s sitting on his bottom and looks up, ruefully rubbing his head. “Biscuits and battledores, Meg…”

Megren covers her mouth once she’s sure the books are steady and takes a step back out of his way. “Sorry,” she says, the grin audible in her voice.

“Will be next time I loosen the cap on yer salt cellar,” he mutters.

Megren says, “You wouldn’t.”

Haft says, “Would if I could spare the expense.”

Haft turns his attention back to the bookcase.

Megren asks, “What /are/ you doing, though?”

Haft says, “Squirrel. Behind the books.”

Megren’s brows draw together. “What?”

Haft says, “It ran in from outside. Think it started up the tree in the kitchen garden. Didn’t even know they had a nest there.”

Megren makes a sort of sucking sound with her teeth. “Best to shut the library door, then.”

Haft says, “Why? It’s out I want it.”

Megren says, “”Yeah, but out the window, right? Not running around and up the stairs into the princes’ rooms.”

Haft’s lips twitch, and his eyes twinkle a bit. “I’d pay good money to see them after it.”

Megren lifts her hands, “So long as its on your head.”

Dalia knocks softly on the door, before entering.

Haft says, “Hmm, perhaps not. Hullo Dalia.”

Megren exclaims, “Afternoon Dalia! Shut the door? We have a squirrel. It /is/ just the one I hope. Not got a nest in here or anything?”

Dalia nods, and shuts the door. “Not a talking one from Narnia, I hope?”

Haft says, “Might be a nest in the gardening section. “Walnuts and their Ways” or whatever…Sef or Sadie could tell you.””

Megren glances at him to see if he’s joking.

Haft returns her look. “What?”

Megren goes toward the gardening section to look.

Dalia wrinkles her nose, “Walnuts and their ways?”

To Dalia he says, “If it’s a Talking one, it better speak up before it gets smashed under a bestiary.”

There is a scuffling from behind the books at the opposite end of the shelf, away from Haft.

Dalia looks taken aback at Haft’s comment. “Smashed?”

Lanisen comes walking from the Hallway.

Haft says, “Didn’t say I was gonna smash it. But some of these books are heavy.”

Haft sighs and begins removing them one at a time.

Megren says, “I wouldn’t try catching it if I was you.”

Haft asks, “Why not?”

Megren asks, “You’re liable to get a month in the infirmary?”

Haft is kneeling on the floor of the library, removing books from a lower shelf.

Dalia moves other to window, setting down a piece of a afternoon snack from her pocket and makes clicking noises.

Megren stands a couple of steps back from him, her hands on her hips. The door is shut. “Just put some food and a ramp under the window and make the rest of the room undesirable for hanging around.

Dalia moves other to window, setting down a piece of a afternoon snack from her pocket and makes clicking noises.

Megren glances at Dalia, who has already started doing just this. “See, Dalia’s got the idea.”

Dalia grins.

Lanisen opens the door, looking slightly puzzled to find it shut, and peeks in. He pauses in the doorway, trying to figure out what he’s seeing.

Haft says, “Fine by me.” He removes a few more books, giving the creature ample room to escape the shelf, then steps away.”

Megren looks up at the sound of the door and says quickly, “Close it!”

Lanisen obeys hastily, stepping inside and pushing the door closed with his back. He looks from Haft to Dalia to Megren, asking silently.

Megren points toward where Haft has opened up a pathway. “Squirrel.”

Lanisen repeats, “Squirrel?”

Megren shrugs hugely.

Haft says, “Ran in from the Inner Ward.”

Dalia and moves away from the window a pace, and makes a few more ‘clicking sounds.’

Megren says, “Might be better off to stand away from the window and be loud so it wants to get away from us.”

Angry chittering is heard from behind a set of books on Pig Husbandry.

Dalia asks, “Maybe clap your hands loudly?”

Haft claps obligingly, lips set.

Lanisen stays standing quietly where he is by the door, but he glances around the library with a quick assessing look. He looks at his shirt, and then the curtains and a tapestry, then makes a face and slips back out through the door, closing it quickly behind him

Megren pulls off her wrap and moves toward where the squirrel is hiding, not too close. She whips at the ground with it, making a “chit” noise.

Dalia makes a few more clicking noises.

Haft looks at the bookcase doubtfully.

Megren says, “Where’s Nathen?””

Haft shrugs. “Ain’t seen him.

Megren says, “I don’t know if squirrels eat books.”

Haft says, “Hadn’t thought of that.”

Lanisen steps back in after a moment, his jacket over one arm. He shuts the door and pauses briefly, then asks, “Where’s it at?”

Haft says, “Same place it was, or I wouldn’t still be standing here clapping.”

Megren points a little ways from where she is hitting the ground with her wrap, trying to startle it out. The squirrel makes another angry chittering noise.

Lanisen glances at Dalia, then steps forward to join Megren and Haft, peering interestedly at the bookcase.

Haft eyes Lanisen’s covered arm. “Maybe I should get my gloves…can you grip through that?”

Megren glances at Lanisen again, with new eyes this time. “There’s probably falconry gloves in the equipment room, or somewhere for when the horses or dogs get sick?”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders, shaking his head a little. “I don’t think– um.” He pauses. “If there’s any in the kennel I don’t know where.”

Megren hands her wrap off to Haft. “I’ll go ask around.”

Haft stares at the wrap like he’s not too sure what she expects him to do with it. “Right.”

Lanisen moves to the end of the bookcase and crouches down, peering into the cavity Haft emptied of books. He unfolds his jacket and holds it out in front of him with both hands, ready to catch anything that comes flying out.

Dalia snickers

Megren slips out the door.

Haft asks, “So if it leaps over the jacket and tries to eat your nose, I suppose I’m supposed to stop it?”

Lanisen asks, “What’s it want with my nose?”

Haft asks, “Tastier than your hair?”

Lanisen crouches down a little further, trying to see in. “It’s a squirrel, not a werewolf,” he murmurs, then straightens slightly. “Hey, if we… hm, if you take out some books on that side, and then stick somethin’ in there and make some noise, maybe it’ll spook and bolt out this side and I can get it?”

Dalia walks out to the Hallway.

Haft kneels down to remove more books as istructed. “Dunno, I’m kinda keen to see if you’ll turn into a were-squirrel now.”

Lanisen gives him a brief, mildly exasperated look. He shifts to sit on his knees, holding the jacket ready and watching the opening as keenly as any terrier.

Haft says, “Sorry,” then starts poking into the opening he’s just created, Megren’s wrap over his own arm.

Lanisen waits, keeping very still. His eyes go sharp at a scuffling, scritching noise of claws on wood coming from behind the books.

Haft says, “After all this, watch it be Tiny.”

Lanisen snorts out a breath of laughter.

The squirrel makes more noise but shows no sign of emerging.

Lanisen suggests, “Bang on the back of the case or somethin’.”

Haft reaches around with his free arm to rap against the wood.

Lanisen shifts and waits, moistening his lips.

The squirrel decides that it has had quite enough. With a small shriek, it launches itself toward Lanisen.

Lanisen’s face winces up and turns slightly to the side. He raises the jacket to catch the squirrel. There is a brief scramble, and when it is over he has a bundle of furiously squirming fabric. He sits back, carefully gathering up the corners so that the squirrel can’t escape, and breathes out, “Okay.”

Megren knocks at the door in case the squirrel may be headed that way.

Haft calls out, “We got him!”

Megren slips inside. She is wearing an archery wristguard with a fencing glove over it.

Lanisen gets to his feet, holding the bundle gingerly away from him. “Anybody want a friend?”

Megren sucks in a breath and winces sympathetically. “The window, the window,” she says, heading that way.

Haft says, “By all mean, the window.”

Lanisen wastes no time in following after her, slipping his hand under the jacket to support the little animal. The bundle alternates between stillness and frenzied struggling, and he looks pained and regretful.

Megren lifts her hand toward him to assist if he should need it.

Haft rises to watch the proceedings, dusting himself off.

Lanisen carefully sets the bundle down on the sill and lets down one corner of the jacket. The squirrel sits still for a moment, blinking and shivering, and then takes off like a shot out into the ward.

Haft lets out a breath.

Megren claps Lanisen on the shoulder.

Haft says, “Thanks for the help. That was a good idea.”

Lanisen gives Haft a quick grin and lifts his shoulders. “You did all the work.” He glances back at the half-emptied shelf and sighs, then turns to start replacing the books.

Megren follows, removing her glove as she goes.

Haft replaces a couple of tomes, but leaves the bulk to Megren and Lanisen. “If you two have this well in hand, I should get back to patrol.”

Lanisen says, “Thanks for squirrel-scarin’.”

Megren looks up. “Oh, of course, Haft. Have a good shift.”

Haft says, “Uh…any time.” He nods to Megren and heads out.

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