external image man_in_library032912.jpgThe interior of Sarsfield Library lived up to every expectation Tugg had come up with from the building’s exterior. The outer walls had been as ornately decorated as the finest works of art that Lord Jorrel owned, and the entire construction rivaled in size, if not exceeded, Lyonhall itself. The inside felt like an entire other world from the bright and crowded streets of the city. An expansive room, with massive shelves forming formidable corridors which led back into the gloomy heart of the building. Scattered sunbeams trickled through windows set high in the walls to dimly illuminate the room, through which motes of dust lazily danced. The warm, still air and the musty smell of paper and candle wax tickled Tugg’s nose. He sneezed, breaking the muted spell of silence through which he had walked enrapt.
Tugg, by Lord Jorrel’s side, approached one of the library’s sages, a wizened old man in plain robes with skin that looked as dry as the paper he pored over. Tugg’s sneeze had rewarded him a glare from the librarian, who then turned his attention to the lord.
Jorrel presented the librarian with a small piece of paper. After a moment’s scanning, he handed it back, before leading them straight into the heart of the shelves. Tugg recalled his initial feelings upon entering King’s Landing, of being swallowed whole by some massive beast. The narrowness of the passages between shelves made him feel even more dwarfed than he had before, especially when he looked at their contents. Row upon row of leather-bound tomes and neatly-bound scrolls stared down at him. The weight of so much accumulated knowledge was vertiginous, and Tugg almost tripped as he craned his neck to gaze at the highest shelves. Fortunately, no one appeared to have noticed his clumsy stride.
They paced up and down various aisles, the librarian moving with a purposeful pace. Occasionally he would stop and inspect a book or two, before selecting one, adding it to a growing pile in his arms. When Tugg thought that the spindly scholar would surely collapse under the weight of another tome, they finally exited the shelves and the books were deposited on a table in a booth set in the library’s side, with a thick curtain at the entrance to provide privacy to those studying within.
“These should thoroughly cover the topics you requested for study, my lord,” the librarian humbly indicated the stack. “Should you require anything, you have merely to ask it.”
“Certainly,” Jorrel responded politely. “I believe my son has some topics that our Maester wished him to research while in the city. Bradyn?”
Tugg presented the list that Maester Tian had given him back in Lyonhall, prompting another brisk walk through the bookshelves. “And will the lordling require anything else?” the librarian asked when books on various topics had been deposited in a booth for Tugg.
“That will be all, thank you very much,” Tugg replied by rote. ‘Fancy-talk’ was becoming more habitual recently.
As the curtain closed, Tugg felt a sense of relief. The immense stillness of the library was intimidating after his life in the streets, whereas the closeness of the booth reminded him of the feeling of studying with Maester Tian. With the books before him and no eyes upon him, Tugg felt at peace for the first time in recent memory. There was no one to tell him how to sit, no one he had to convince that he was someone he was not, no one yelling at him or calling him a failure.
As Lord Foote had the night before.
That evening, Tugg had added a note to Maester Tian’s list, an additional request for when he was at the library. Now that he was here, he looked through the stack for a book on the topic he had requested. Perhaps if he could learn more about House Foote, he could learn how to impress the lord who had called him a failure last night.
Who had called Bradyn a failure.
The book declared itself The Historie of House Foote of the Westerlands, by Maester Seward. It was quite long. Tugg traced each line of the book with a finger as he read. The reading was not as dry as some of what Maester Tian had Tugg read, but he struggled concentrating even so. Reading about the Footes reminded him of his embarrassment by their lord the previous evening. Lord Jorrel had acted kind, but… if one lord thought that Tugg portrayed a weak Bradyn, wouldn’t others? Surely Jorrel was having his doubts about bringing Tugg to King’s Landing.
Over the previous months, Tugg had been mightily fearful that someone would call him out on his true identity, and Lord Jorrel would be forced to cut him loose (or worse, cut his head loose). Now that someone was claiming he didn’t look the part, however, Tugg found himself curiously mad. He would hate to be misrepresented by someone impersonating himself. It was therefore not fair to Bradyn for Tugg to sully his image.
Tugg would show Lord Foote. He would show everybody. With renewed vigor, he took to studying the tomes that Maester Tian thought would help him. He would prove that Bradyn Eisengold was the greatest young lord that the Westerlands had to offer.