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Albert’s Story
A biographic recollection, by Kvarno Goldeneye

Since the time I moved to Lumaria I haven't been picking up my pen as frequently as before, things have been very busy, but when I heard of this competition I decided it was time again. I will try to portrait a man that has meant much to me but which I too often forget these days as I am constantly confronted with new happenings. A man I perhaps owe everything to. The man I speak of is Albert the Scribe. I will also be reproducing a work of mine that was lost ages ago and it will be enclosed in the story

The Ugly and Unwanted

'Twas a day of bad weather. The streets of Britain could almost be compared with the canals of Vesper. It had rained the entire day. Those who could, were inside but many did not have a home and as many public places quickly filled there were those who still had to spend their time in the wet streets. Lord British Guards saw to it that only those that 'deserved' a place under a dry roof received it. It was often the poor dressed only in the gray robes, that the healers kindly distributed out for free, that had to suffer the rain.

Albert had since long locked the library and it was as usual rather empty. 'If the scum doth not come here and appreciate the library at other times they will not come for that reason now. The library is a shelter only for those who seeketh knowledge and not just for anyone.' Said he and turned to the boy he had taken as his apprentice. When doing so he noticed the young boy holding a book that he did not recognize. He turned around once again facing the door and put his finger to his chin. He raised an eyebrow. The boy could then see him start pulling in his hair and assumed the old Scribe must be angry over something. 'Be thou well ?' the boy asked. Albert mumbled something incomprehensible as an answer, turned around and quickly went over to the boy and grabbed the book he held in his hand. He then turned his head around in all directions like a hunting wild animal searching for its target. His Grey beard swept back and forth and his eyes looked vicious and staring. It was all together a humorous look and his apprentice had to swallow his laughter. The old scribe ignored this and found what he was looking for which was a chair and went over to sit down in it. He put the book in his lap and stared at it. The title said 'The Bard. by Kvarno Goldeneye' The boy left the spot he had been standing in for so long, to try and get in a position where he could observe Albert and his reactions better. No word was said and when Albert opened the book he did not express much. The boy looked upon Albert and how he would react, in fear. He had never heard Albert make a positive comment on anything. For him there seemed to be no good and the boy had not wanted Albert to see this book, as he was as of yet unsure himself of how he felt about this work and was not very keen on having Albert decide his opinion. He watched the old Scribe as if he wanted to go over there and ask to have the book back, but didn't dare to. Albert paid no attention to his observer and started reading.

'There was once a Bard

His music was awful.

'Twas as bad as music can be. It had no harmony or continuity and still it had no variety either. It was a sound but a sound that could not be comprehended, unless heard. Few were the people that could listen to it without putting their hands over their ears or run away.

The Bard came upon a village. He traveled alone for none wanted the company of his music. In this village there was a Tavern which he gladly entered, thinking that in the tavern there must at least be someone who enjoyed his fine music. For the Bard himself thought of his music as being of the greatest kind. He entered the tavern with a smile on his face saying 'Greetings jolly drunks! Who wants to hear my lute or my old flute?' 'Hurrah! some music be what this place needs!' screamed someone. Happy over this as the bard was he quickly put his lips to his flute and started playing and an awful sound it made. The Tavern was emptied in a few seconds. 'Gahh I'd rather listen to a pig being tortured' said one of the men as he ran out.'

Albert was interrupted in his reading by a knock on the door. He at first only lifted his eyebrow. But soon knocks of many hands were heard and the rain that hit the roof hit it with more force then ever. His apprentice was only standing there in confusion, so he closed the book and with angry staring eyes he went over to the door. 'Who be it that knocks!' he screamed 'The Library is closed!' Albert heard a soft pleading voice from outside, it was a females voice 'Oh please, oh please, kind thee let us shelter in there or we will freeze to death out here'. Albert answered a strict 'No!'. He heard how some of the feet out there made their way back down the steps, but the voice continued its pledge 'Please don't let me die..please' He could hear her teeth hitting against each other. Albert stood quiet but he did not move away from the door. He scratched his head. The girl went on 'Please..'

Albert interrupted her 'I do remember that voice' Albert looked up into the ceiling with an expression of pleasure on his face. 'Thou dost know how to care for a grumpy old man' said Albert and laughed. He then picked up a key out of his pocket and started to open the door. The young boy went away in a corner, he did not want to imagine what it was that Albert had been thinking about. He heard how the door was opened, how the person outside entered and how the door was quickly closed and locked. He could only hear their voices. He heard Albert's voice say 'He he. 'Tis thee! Well I suppose thou art hungry. I will make some fruit cake.' He could then hear how Albert quickly went away and how he then used the stairs to get to the top floor. The boy went over to a shelf near the entrance, he hid behind it looking at the girl through a hole in the wood of the shelf. She was young, not as young as he, but still not old. She had a scar on her chin, it told him much of the sort of woman she was. She did not seem to notice him and was looking at the walls, the ceiling and all the books. The boy was not looking at her anymore though. To his surprise he saw that the book he had written was laying on the floor. He clasped his hands and prayed that the girl would not catch sight for it. His prayers were not answered however, the girl picked up the book without expressing too much interest. She looked around quickly in all directions and then put the book in her back pack. The boy was sweating, this could not be happening he was thinking. As if giving up hope he turned around and sat down leaning towards the bookshelf. Because of this he did not see when the girl once again opened her backpack, slowly picked out the book and opened it to the page which Albert had marked with one of his enormous 'dog's ears'. The girl was not good at reading and looked on the words in confusion. She attempted to read it out loud. 'In te he e tav tavern.. wa.. was noo one le..le..left expect except a.a..a ma..man dress..ed iin' First now did the boy react. It was the book she was reading, he quickly stood up again. This, the girl seemed to have heard for she looked up from the book and the boy quickly paralyzed. When hearing nothing more she continued reading. 'ani.. animal hids hides hides…animal hides. Te Bard stop p stopped his muse ic and look ed on te the man. He fon..found te sigt.. sight off..of him barbari..c' The boy was now once again observing her from the hole in the bookshelf. The girls face suddenly turned from hard concentration into anger, she threw the book on the floor. She then stood there observing the library once again. After a while she started walking. A gracious walking style that was pleasant to observe. The boy stood still, in fear that she would walk over and look behind the shelf he stood behind. She walked slowly past the shelf he was hiding behind, which was to the left of her. She walked all the way until she stood against the west wall of the Library. She stood very close to the wall indeed and the boy saw her only from behind, he could be mistaken but he heard a sound from where she was which sounded as if she was licking the wall. He turned away from her in disgust after having made this observation. What did Albert see in this girl he thought and felt grateful when he once again heard Albert's steps from the direction of the stairs. 'I shalt bake the finest of fruitcakes. Tis soon done!' said Albert as he came down the steps. The girl jerked since she was unprepared for his sudden arrival, she looked at him with a grin. Albert grinned back and said 'Aye well I shalt bake three fruitcakes' He noticed the boy stepping towards them from behind the bookshelf. 'Three??' said the girl in confusion and turned around as she heard the steps. As she saw the boy with the yellow eyes her expression turned from confusion to hatred. She then turned around again putting on a false grin 'I had no idea we were three.' The boy now had eyes only for the book, he was standing there looking at it. This was his chance to get it back, it was laying there unnoticed by the others. 'Aye we be three' said Albert and was looking at the girl in a slightly irritated way, whereafter he turned to see the boy. He noticed that he's yellow eyes were looking at the book on the floor, when seeing this Albert quickly went to pick it up, he then began mumbling something for himself as he commonly did and went upstairs. The boy didn't dare to express himself in any way since the girl was looking straight at him. She looked in his yellow eyes for some while and then turned away. 'Who art thou? What dost thou want with an old scribe like Albert?' said the boy suddenly. The young girl turned to look at him and her scarred face expressed a perverted form of pride and said the single word 'testament'. The boy turned away from her, he did not want anything to do with her.

Instead he went back among the bookshelves and thought of 'The Bard' Who was 'The Bard?' His first thought was himself. He had just began practicing the lute it was only some days ago a traveller had kindly given it to him. He had been practising it and people were of course annoyed at the horrible sound, but 'twas not the same as with 'The Bard''. For 'The Bard' isolated himself through believing that his music was as fine and harmonic music could be. Therefore 'The Bard' could not be him. He then turned his thoughts to this girl. She felt pride over the most horrible acts as 'The Bard' felt pride over his horrible music. Her ability to read letters was about as good as 'The Bard's ability to read notes. She was closer to being 'The Bard' than himself. She did unlike 'The Bard' know the faults of her art, but unlike himself and like 'The Bard' she was proud of them.

At the same time upstairs Albert was making his fruitcakes. He mixed flour, water and fruits of all kinds, not bothering to peel or pre-prepare anything in any way. He then let the mix dry over the fire as he once again opened the book called 'The Bard'. He noticed the book had been slightly damaged and wondered why. But 'twas not long he thought of this and began reading instead. He continued from where he last had been interrupted.

'In the tavern was none left except a man dressed in animal hides. The bard stopped his music and looked on the man. He found the sight of him barbaric. The man slammed the pint sized glass, which he held, in the table and screamed 'Continue play!' The Bard sighed and said 'Alas, he only enjoys my music as he dost not understand it, as he understands nothing else either, he sees it as being as good as anything. The others can comprehend other music but not as great music as mine. Alas my condition is hopeless, but I will play for those who listen.' The man only uttered a confused 'Huh?' at this and then began to try to sing to the music which the bard once again started to play. He stopped playing when the man was sleeping soundly, leaning his head to the table. 'Alas if he truly had understood it he could not sleep to it, but had stayed wide awake in fascination for as long as it was played' said the bard and sighed. He went to go and play outside but as he put the flute to his mouth he caught a conversation between two monks which interested him. 'Have ye heard of the evil spirit in the forest?' said the first. 'Alas, I have.' Said the second. 'It takes the form of a well formed woman and attempts to trick young men into the forest'

Albert made a stop at this point to drool at the thought of the spirit he just read of. He then continued with excitement as he thought things had been rather lame so far.

'Aye, we must keep all young men away from this sinful spirit' said the second monk. The Bard thought over what the monks said and for him there was but one thing to do. He knew that in the village he could not gain one person that was willing to listen to him. He went over to speak to the monks. 'How be thou so certain that this spirit be evil?' 'She dost not dare to go near any symbol of the virtues. Thou better wear one round thy neck to be safe' Answered the first monk. 'Mayhap she merely dislikes the shape they form.' answered the bard. 'Nay that is not so. Do not think of leaving the village.' Said the second monk. 'Why I care not for my life nor my soul. What be it worth if none listen or care to what I do. None heed my music and just maybe..just maybe will this spirit listen to it…' The first monk stopped the bard from continuing by saying 'Well, dear bard we would both love to heed thy music. Play it to us and we shalt listen' But when the bard began playing the two monks quickly fled its frightful sound.'

Albert paused and looked out the window. The rain was still falling heavily outside, he could see how people were avoiding the open streets, hiding under what protection they could find, avoiding these streets which they normally would walk and thrive in and at every chance let the sun smile at them from the open sky. He snorted, they think they have it better than me. There they are walking in the sun not able to understand the grumpy old Albert who sits alone in his library. He grinned and said out loud '..and now they get what they deserve'. Then he laughed so it could be heard even down stairs and went back to reading.

'So the bard decided to head into the forest, since he now knew for certain there would be none in the village with an ear for his beautiful tunes. He went at a time when he thought he was not seen and wandered a bit into the forest, before he started playing. He played his music and his own ear enjoyed it, no notice did he pay to the birds that fled the trees around him. The high grass straws bent away from him to open a path, this he thought to be one of natures welcoming gestures, but it was only the grass that attempted to flee his music. After walking a long while, his legs grew tired so he sat down on a stone and continued playing. He sat there a while, before he suddenly could hear steps. 'Twas soft steps almost undetectable and only shortly after they were heard could he see, a nude female creature, step out from behind a tree. The bard stopped his music and as if paralysed he watched this essence of nature which he thought it to be. The nude female stood still by the tree and after having looked at her a long while the bard once again played his flute. He played if possible worse than ever before and seeing the creature stood there still by the tree constantly looking him in his eyes with a smile on her face, made him, loose control of his playing, but also happy. When he came to a point where the music was ill played, even to his ear, he stopped and asked with great enthusiasm and tears in his eyes 'Dost thou like my music?' The female creature started walking towards him with her arms stretched forward and said, in a voice that the bard himself almost admitted to sound better then his flute 'None hath ever played music with such passion and involvement, every tune can be enjoyed for tis not possible to guess which would come next and tis truly the greatest music, that mother nature ever heeded.'

The bard was now truly happy, he knew this not to be a lie. It was not simply something said to make him happy, 'twas the truth and this spirit was the only one to understand him, so he did as her and walked towards her with his arms stretched infront of him. Before they met and hugged a voice screamed out 'Stop!' 'Twas the monks. They were standing there holding up the symbol for Spirituality and said 'Come back bard her love is not mixed with truth she will give no justice to thy music. The evil spirit will feed itself on thee if thou dost not show the courage to stand against it.' The female creature backed at the sight of the symbol and then began to run into the forest. The bard was angry 'Thou hast scared away the only essence that could appreciate my music and accused it to be false when thou has no proof. Is that thy idea of compassion?' after saying this he fled into the forest. The monks looked for him but could not find him. Not until the next day was he found…'

Albert stopped there as a nasty odour reached his nose. At once he became reminded of the fruitcakes which he had totally forgotten. He quickly removed what looked like three blackened sponges from the fire. He picked up one of them tore off a small piece of it, put it in his mouth and chewed with difficulty, but did at the same time nod, as if he was pleased with its taste. He then took all three fruitcakes and headed downstairs, leaving the book open on the upper floor. When he came down he said 'The food is finally ready.' The two others both felt disgusted by the smell of the fruitcakes and the boy who was in deep thoughts about 'The Bard', wondered if Albert perhaps was as bad at baking, as 'The Bard' at playing flute. To the boys surprise the girl said 'Oh what wonderful smell, I have been starving for days and could not imagine I would be eating such a delicious fruitcake as this seems to be!' He looked at her when she said this and saw that she was obviously not being honest with her opinion, something he had thought Albert to hate. Albert did though not seem to notice this and his old face turned red and his tongue could not utter a word, so overwhelmed was he by the comment. Instead of saying something, he put the fruitcakes on the floor and went to get a table stored away in a corner. The boy saw this and went there to help him lift it. While doing this, the girl was left alone with the fruitcakes for a short while. Things were quiet while the males were moving the table and when it had been put in place the girl put the three fruitcakes on the table. 'These truly smell great.' she said. Albert waited by the table, while he let the boy go to get three chairs, as he himself was old and grey and did not stand physical work well. When everything was ready, they all sat down and looked at each other a few seconds, whereafter Albert said 'Well everyone let's eat'. The boy looked at what was below his eyes. 'Twas nothing but burnt fruit, mixed with burnt dough and some white flour that had not yet mixed with water, was it even eatable? The girl looked at her fruitcake in fear. Albert looked at his and wondered what was the matter with the others, whereafter he pressed the so called fruitcake in his mouth. The others only watched him eat. The boy constantly turning his head, to look at his own fruitcake which he at some points took a small bite of. The girl though, looked at Albert in a tense way, constantly holding her eyes at him. Albert happily chewed and swallowed. But after this he began to look less well, his face turned slightly red and the intensity of the red color increased with time. Both the boy and the girl showed a worried look. Albert held up the flat of his hand to them and said 'No need to worry, I'll be fine really' after saying this he stood up and turned around. The boy turned to look at the girl who constantly held her eyes at Albert. When Albert, then started to cough the boy would jerk in his chair. The girl stood up and went over to Albert to bring her arms around him. 'How is it with you? You don't seem well at all.' she said. 'I be fine rea…' Albert was interrupted by his heavy coughs. 'You have to get some rest. I'll lead you poor old thing' said the girl and started to help Albert towards a bed, which at that time was situated in the northern part of the library. The boy expressed nothing but fear and shock. He put his hands over his face and asked himself 'What foul fate were they suffering?' Albert was the closest he had to a family, he had taught him to read and write, if it hadn't been for him he would still have been in the streets. When he took away his hands again, he found himself looking at the fruitcake, but now he looked at it in more than fear. He looked at it in fear of death. He raised from his chair, since he felt he had to be where Albert was, but when doing so he noticed the girls backpack laying on the floor and sticking out of 'twas an empty bottle. A bottle of the kind that alchemists tend to use. This sight struck something frightful in his memory, the fact that the girl not long ago had said the word, 'testament'.

Albert was laying on the bed trying to calm his coughs, the girl was patting his head. 'I…think' He was interrupted by his coughing again. 'Don't say anything thou needs rest' said the girl. But Albert continued ' I think I'll d…'.

The boy didn't know what to do he wanted to be with Albert, but at the same time he feared what this girl was capable of, in his frustration of not knowing what he should do or believe he ran upstairs. When he came there his yellow eyes, looked around and caught sight of his own book. He went over to it and read the last few lines of it.

'Not until the next day was he found dead. The question was who 'twas that murdered him. The evil spirit? Tis easy to lay the blame on the unnatural creatures. The ones who truly are to blame are the people of the village who could not sacrifice themselves to appreciate the bards music, when it meant so much to him. How happy would he not have been, for only a single positive comment? It would hath saved his life.'

The boy cried. He knew now who 'The Bard' was and he decided to take all the blame for Albert's death and swore, that from now on he would attempt to always encourage and appreciate.

The next day Albert was found dead and all his belongings went to this girl, who he on his deathbed had signed his will to. She disappeared mysteriously, after she had received Albert's belongings which was less than she had hoped for. Two new scribes had been hired at the library and the book 'The Bard' disappeared the night Albert died and hath never since been seen.

The End There are no clues in the story to who 'the girl' is or what she is called. I think this would be unfair, since tis my belief that she gave Albert a quick death that he could enjoy. He was a good man with an unique and manysided character. As for myself I think I inherited from Albert, what held true value and this was something other then gold or wealth, it is instead the memories of him, the things that he taught me and the way he formed me and for this I am very grateful.


Avalon: City of Destiny is an Ultima Online player-city, located on the Baja Shard.
Submit news and other Avalon-related information to ministers@avaloncity.org. 1999.

 

Avalon: City of Destiny is a player-city, located on Ultima Online’s Baja Shard.
Contact the webmaster at www.hurm.com/contact/. © 2000.