37 - The Library

After the blast, Archie was flung violently, spinning further in time, the bounds of his local space loosening with the burgeoning temporal dilation. With a streaking whump, and while trailing smoke, he blew through a roof, scattering tiles everywhere. He had been lucky the constructors of this particular temple had been cheap with materials in places of little interest to the average acolyte. He bounced, rolling twice across a smooth floor. A side door imploded in his wake, and splinters danced in the sunlight. Sliding, blinking from the sudden re-emergence into the Ionian day, Archie winced as he was yet again implicit in the demolishing of a table laden with fruit; the vender had set up shop most enterprisingly along the side of the great columned building. Hungry devotees waiting in line would sneakily trade bits of their offerings for a light snack.

Archie came to rest with a small sign cleverly marked Get Your Apolls Here stuck over his head, lying now against a rather robust column. The vendor had ferociously legged it, fearing a vengeful message from one god or another.

People wearing, er, fashionable bedsheets(?) in and around the temple had scattered. Inside the space, some bulls, and a few cows, magnificent and luminous specimens all, stood in front of a ceremonial pedestal and accompanying celestial fire. They were looking at the freshly opened door and their distracted minders with rather relieved expressions and incrementally sunnier dispositions. As one, the cattle walked backwards out the door, not trusting any of the moaning priests for a moment. Poor beasts, Archie thought as he removed the sign from his head.

One of the beleaguered and be-sheeted characters dusted off, rose from an embarrassing tangle beside the altar and began gesticulating at Archie as he lay aching outside the great temple.

Archie gathered he was being chastised, and in fact, being lectured with the exact number of cattle that had indeed escaped, judging by the frantic counting and hand horns gestures, and mooing sounds.

At a loss for anything else to say, and impressed with the accounting efficiency of the priesthood even when strewn across the temple dais, he soothed in earnest “You have proven yourself most skilled in numbers”. This was certainly a well-received compliment he’d used on Au, though in this case, his placations were not understood or received with grace.

After some much angry yelling, and some prodding with spears, and investigation by very important people, Archie was able to trade some basic scientific facts and mathematical proofs for some grapes to eat, and a room with no covering on the windows. He became very popular indeed. He spent years in the city, trying to remember all his school lessons, and transcribe them for the nice people who kept giving him grapes.

And, after some time, he was able to recreate a shepard’s version of the Double Lambaste, with nearly all the effects promised by the original version, and a slight gamey kick.

He was several doubles deep one afternoon, dreaming of an Old Jardinian days now long past, when there came news of an attack on his adoptive city by some very mean spirited, but impressively organized people. Studying the situation in earnest, a tactical trance came over him as he finished his fifth shepherd’s lambaste. The tapestry of action that unfolded in front of him was reminiscent of the Obliterball escapade in Sodden some time ago.

It was clear that the attacking naval vessels were expecting a rebuttal in kind, and not a simple harnessing of the most common energies. With a group of students, admirers and hangers on, he directed them around with all manner of household mirrors, military shields, and serving platters according to the symphony of motion that played out with ineffable clarity in his mind. A rousing victory for his side, a tremendous result, one that remained as legend for years to come. It was not enough to save his city however.

There were rumours of an escape to a great library in another part of the world. Perhaps some fragment of Old Jardinian thought and culture existed in this library through Archie, though after years of decline and a final destruction, the question of that particular branch of Jardian ingenuity has been lost to time.

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