William Buckan

Chapter 13 Episode 2 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Deviatka pressed him for the latest news on the Vatterbroch manuscript. "There is nothing to tell, truly, Karl," lied Adewole. "I am not finished with the translation, and it is as likely to be a fantasy or a religious treatise as some fantastical engineering project. I am following the manuscript's trails into related books--we have had to dig deep in the protected stacks, and even then many of the works referenced are missing. I presume they no longer exist--lost for all time, sadly."

"Sad, indeed," said Deviatka, "but can you really tell me nothing more about the manuscript? You cannot share what you have done so far?"

Just then, Wirtz buzzed in with the brandy tray, said goodnight, and left. Adewole shifted in his chair and poured himself a larger than usual glass. "Why are you so set on this, Karl?"

Chapter 13 Episode 1 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

Oktober 5th

Adewole put on his spectacles and opened the notebook to the addendum containing Vatterbroch's spells--the section he'd had trouble believing before Alleine, and so had left until the end. As he worked, he rewrote the mixed runic style into the standard script used in Old Rhendalian, adding diacritical marks denoting different pronunciations. He'd explain them in an appendix--if he ever published. This was not the usual scholarly project. Occasional murmurs came from the little spirit in his satchel, and he reassured her in the same low tone. It was rather comforting in a way; his sister Ofira used to interrupt him as he worked.

First he looked at the music for the incantations. Its notation sprang from the same source as Dumastran music; a modern musician, unless specially trained, would be hard-pressed to follow it. He hummed a few lines, thought better of it, and returned to the spells themselves.

Chapter 9 Episode 1 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

September 23rd

The young Chorister serving as Melody Hall's gatekeeper was apologetic but firm: "The Choirmaster cannot see you, nay, he will not see you."

"But why not?" said Adewole. "Has a bad report of my character come to him? If so, I wish to address it with him, not through third parties."

"Nay, nay, you have the wrong of it, sir. Choirmaster Chandler turns away all from Dunalow."

"Why? What has happened?"

The baby-faced girl frowned. "Have your own folk not told you? Summon from Dunalow stole a Duet, sir--Poole, the creature. That 'un's the prince of all lies," she muttered.

Adewole must have missed some crucial events while buried in books. "But no one can leave the island without an autogyro, and there are few places to hide here. Surely he has been caught."

"He has not, else your Major hides him, the false deludin' man. And here I am, made a fool, Duet and heart stole together!" Color mounted high on her cheeks, and her eyes were puffy. "Now go along, sir. The Osters speak well of you, but Choirmaster says no one from Dunalow in the Hall ever again, and that's fine by me."

Chapter 8 Episode 1 | The Machine God | The Drifting Isle Chronicles

The next day, Deviatka and Peter left for their tour; Corporal von Sülzle went with them at Berger’s insistence, leaving Wirtz behind to care for Adewole. At first he thought it was a bit much, a whole corporal to himself, but once he’d filled two packs with his dictionaries, reference books, blank books, notepads, inks and pens Adewole appreciated Wirtz’s help lugging it all over to the Library.

Mr. Buckan had set up the rare books room as an office. He gave Adewole a key. “You must keep it locked at all times, Professor, even when you are in here by yourself. The books in this room are invaluable, irreplaceable, as I’m sure you realize.” A lightcrystal brightened the room. A sole stool provided the only seating at the long trestle table.

“I’ll send a barrowman to East Camp for a proper chair, sir,” said Wirtz. “You deserve better than that.”

“It does not matter,” muttered Adewole absently, his attention focused on a single book, lying on a goathair felt pad atop the table. Its binding looked like old books he’d seen bound in ostrich leather, its raised bumps a dark, dull shine against a creamy background.

Judging by the covers, the books spanned some three hundred years. Most were bound in cow leather, and he assumed they were pre-Rising. Some were bound in something else—goatskin, according to Mr. Buckan. He indicated the sole book on the table. “This one is particularly fragile, sir. It is bound in frog leather. I, ah, I should not be letting you handle it.”

Adewole pulled on his cotton gloves, never taking his eyes off the thin book. “I shall be quite, quite gentle, I assure you.”

“Your gentleness was never at issue, sir,” murmured the librarian. Adewole looked up at the nervous tenor in the man’s voice, but he had already left the room.

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