Season 1: James' Story

 
The story is designed to be inserted into the main narrative with James's Story being intertwined within it. Meaning that, the things James does or say may not be below.   The story below is intended to be a burnt Jornal so some parts of the story will be missing, mainly the friendship between Dazzlikat and James. As the pages may have been burned or lost. This story follows James and characters come and go from that perspective.

James Woodwright does not own Game of Tomes
 

Prologue - The Recruiter Visits

October 31 2020

It wasn’t a particularly cold, October day. The redsmiths, at the north bank, are having a particularly busy day. James in his late 20’s, his hands browned from handling copper; it was his business of which he lived above. Open on three sides facing the river.   James hands a crate of products to a customer who ordered the items; in return, he gets a leather pouch of coins.   Many hours passed and a recruiter came by to the redsmiths.   Recruiter: [loudly] Any of you men thought about defending Canada against the undead horde?
  James looks over and smiles, a smile that implies he has been thinking about enlisting and walks over to the recruiter respectfully.   James: I have been thinking of enlisting to House Lapin.
Recruiter: [Scornfully] You, you're but a redsmith without any in fight in you, [gets louder] how do you think you will stand against the horde?
  James raises his shoulders in a form of showing his dominance.   James:[shouts angrily in high common]I’m not just any redsmith I’m the redsmith that supplies copper items to this fair town. [James pulls up his short left sleeve with his right hand] and with these meat hooks, I can wield a sword. [calms a bit and looks the recruiter over] it looks like you can take all the soldiers you can.
  The recruiter is shocked by James’s show of strength.   Recruiter: [falters] Do you know where House Lapin’s Headquarters is?
  James relaxes but rolls his eyes and points to a cathedral-sized building that looks like the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence that is diagonally across the other side of the river.   James: Of course I have!
Recruiter: Very good, here are the papers you need to fill in, and you need to buy your own equipment. There are a few blacksmiths in town.
  She rips off the forms from her clipboard.   James was abused as a child by his father since then he felt out of touch with the rest of society but has tried to fit in with the rest of society, as a result, he mingled with many classes of it. And ended up learning high common, using it with people who thought he was powerless made him feel powerful.   A few other of James’s employees enlist too and the recruiter eventually leaves. James orders Timothy a boy of 17, that he is to finish a bowl James was working on. James fills in the forms and gestures for his second in command to come over. They have a congenial conversation as James’s second in command didn’t enlist so would need to take over the business while James is away.   James then informs Simon that he needs to take charge for a few hours as he needs to get his equipment for enlisting. They both agree and James tucks his enlistment forms into his black jacket and walks out of his home and business.   He walks across a bridge, while the other side of the street people go into the headquarters of Lapin. James smiles to himself and turns right past a tavern to the blacksmiths.   As soon as James turned the corner into the blacksmith, he is welcomed.   Adam: James! What can I get you? I hope you're not coming over because I haven't fixed your fence yet. It's getting busier now people wanting weapons to either enlist or self-defence.
  James shakes his head and looks around the blacksmith’s shop indeed the shop looked a lot more like organised chaos with its axes and swords in various stages of completeness. James shows the inside of his jacket where the forms of enlisting are.   Adam: Ah I see [realisation in his face]. What are you wantin’? I have been making weapons all year.
James: A Damasus steel longsword and dagger, by any chance?
Adam: Do you know how much that will cost?
  James gets out a pouch of coins which are mostly full of silver coins.   Adam: Right, ok that will be 200gp.
  James counts out what is required but adds in more coins not for a tip but for the scabbards. He fastens the sheathed dagger to his belt, before doing the same with the longsword but on the right side, he holds the sword in his left hand feeling the sword’s weight.   Adam: You know all great and legendary swords have a name. [Adam winks]
James: [Nods and speaks in high Common] Tiger.

The Lapin Chapter

November 1 2020 - Day 1

The next morning James crosses the bridge with his enlistment forms and is suited up with his weapons. He finds himself in a queue to go into House Lapin. People who work there leaving occasionally and reentering going with their daily business and errands.   As the queue moves forward James can hear various official-sounding words being spoken. About 15 minutes later it is his turn, he hands his enlistment forms in and goes down on one knee in a form of respect and repeats the following words “I, James Woodwright, serve House Lapin to the best of my abilities until I die or am taken by the horde. I will put my life on the line for my fellow members when it is required of me.”   Harrison: Arise, James Woodwright, Member of Lapin.
  The oath giver who wears the official House Lapin uniform with a silver patch denoting a higher rank, as were the others processing the new recruits. He holds their hand out as if to say you need to go over here.   River: Welcome James, you’re in room 289, go up two the floors and to your left. You will be sharing with three others.
  James nods and goes to the next person.   Hayden: Onto the platform, please.
  James walks onto the platform that simultaneously weighs and measures his height. Hayden waves his hand for him to get off and gets a tailor’s measure to measure his waist and legs, as they write pink dust rises off the paper at the bemusement of James.   Hayden: Thank you James [hands over the measurements to James].
  James nods and walks over to the next station and hands the slip of paper to the next person across a table. The person takes a look at the numbers written on the slip of paper and retrieves the necessary parts of his uniform and hands them over to him.   Jonathan: Here you go. Ensure you're wearing those when coming down from your dormitory. [Their face goes serious] The consequences of the last person who didn’t weren’t nice to watch or hear about.
  James nods grimly and holds the parts of his new uniform as if holding a small child or infant. He follows the directions given to his dorm. Once climbing the steep stairs and finding the room James finds the other three people he will be spending time with. One of them is still in the state of dressing themselves and the others, well James thought one looked a bit pathetic as if a fight were to happen they would run and hide, another was sitting in bed reading by candlelight. A much older fellow of about 50 goes over to James.   Jeremy: Hello you must be new here, I'm Jeremy and you are?
James: I’m James.
Jeremy: Hi James [he splays his hand towards the person who is lying in bed and wraps his left arm around James in a fatherly embrace]. He’s Joel, the person who is changing is Michael [Michael attempts a wave while putting on a jumper but fails] and the person sitting other there is Oliver. James waves to all his dorm mates.
  Jeremy: That bed [points to a bed in the corner that faces Joel’s with a bedside table] is yours.
James: Thank you Jeremy [he goes for a hug but thinks against it, Jeremy understands and goes for a hug anyway]
  James walks over to his bed and places the uniform out as if there is a person there laying out each part where it would go on him. Jeremy walks over to help him and pulls out a large pink box which holds a much smaller box of the same colour from under James’s bed.   Jeremy: Your civilian clothes go in here and any jewellery or personal items go into the smaller box. Keep your money on you. They do this as if you were to die naturally in the service of House Lapin your personal items among other things are buried with you. [The others nod in respect.] The funeral of a fallen comrade isn’t just sad; it's ceremonial; it's the rabbit I feel sorry for.
  James looks confused and Jeremy continues.   Jeremy: The comrade is buried without a coffin, with their legs apart and their box between their knees. Then they have lettuce leaves sprinkled over them. The ceremony continues like a standard funeral. Once it ends a rabbit is chosen and has its throat slit, its blood is sprayed over the dead person and the rabbit itself is given a few words in respect it is then placed on top of the person's chest and buried with them. It is believed that in the afterlife the rabbit will protect and become the fallen’s guardian and friend.
  In the dimly lit pink room of Lapin’s colours, and after the poignant conversation, James nods and turns to face the wall. He strips to his underwear and puts on his uniform, first, dark grey trousers and grey socks not that much of a brighter shade. A pink collared shirt and a thick v neck jumper which is a darker shade of pink. Lastly, he puts on a pair of brown steel-capped boots.   Jeremey shows two U shaped brackets on the side of the bed, is for James’s longsword and that he should keep his dagger on him. The door is locked at night and during the day when no one is in the dorm. so that no one steals the weapons of dorm members and that it is him that has the key.   After stowing his sword and tucking his shirt in to look like a respectable soldier, James begins to relax. As he was doing so, Joel, who is around 3 years James’s senior, closes the book he was reading and tucks it under his right arm.   Joel: I need to get this book back to the library and you need your equipment to be of any use to House Lapin [he laughs jokingly] follow me!
  Both he and James go downstairs for the library, before leaving Joel and Jeremy exchange a handshake while James just nods respectfully to Jeremy. Jeremy returns to a candlelit desk and continues to write. Once they come downstairs to the lobby, they reemerge back into the lobby where recruits are still handing in their papers and swearing their oaths. They make a left turn as to not disrupt the oath giving ceremonies.   After walking through a two-storey high arch, James looks to see floor to ceiling bookcases of books, James’s jaw dropped and his heart skipped a beat he is in awe.   Joel: [low tone] like what see? The library goes on like this in a square ring only separated by the canteen. We have books on most subjects I don’t think I have ever not found a book I needed. [he smiles].
  They walk to a desk of dark wood. With a woman busy working on something on a raised 45-degree rest with a circle that has a spiral running within it.   Nicole: [warming voice] Hello, Joel. Came back to return that book I see, who is this?
Joel: Hi Nicole, this is James, our new recruit.
  Joel hands his book in, Nicole opens the cloth bound cover and waves to Joel in a gesture to say that everything is in order. Joel walks off for his next book or books James is not exactly sure which. James stands to attention.   Nicole: At ease James, we are of equal rank. [James relaxes his posture but not his attentiveness]
Nicole: We can't have you walking without the correct equipment. [Nicole leans left and opens a mid-high draw in her desk and pulls out a quill for writing it. It appears to have an ink reservoir within it.]
  James: I type faster than I can write, by any chance can I use a typewriter?
Nicole: [looks curious over James’s admission] A typewriter? You’re in Lapin now. I can give you one of these.
  She goes over to a waist-high cabinet made of a similar wood to the desk and pulls out a rectangle of metal that is hinged along one edge and is covered in the smaller circles with a spiral with symbols between the lines but in blue, similar to what Nicole was working on.   Nicole: This is what we call a laptop, this is far more advanced than the typewriter you wanted to use.
  Nicole hands over the laptop to James who once he holds it. He has rushing visions of the technology and the history of it. He sees people drinking hot drinks while they work at their devices. When he comes to, from his vision. Nicole doesn’t look surprised.   Nicole: Do you think you will be able to use it? [she holds back a smirk]
James: He places the laptop on a nearby studying table and opens up and it wakes up from being off. He logs in as if he knew how the technology works and boots up a word processor.
James: What did I just do [surprised] I haven’t used this before in my life? Nicole closes the laptop again and shows him the symbols.
Nicole: Some of the runes are knowledge-based; they sense if a person doesn’t know how to use something and gives them the basic knowledge such as how to turn it and to type.
  James nods surprised and Nicole continues.   Nicole: We can’t give everyone these powers, it would overpower them too quickly. I believe I can trust you with it [James nods]. Is there anything else I can help you with?
James: Do you have books on Mechanical Engineering?
Nicole: [Raising both eyebrows as she pulls out a paper. In moments, she draws a small circle lined with runes measuring about 6 cm. She gives it to him] hold this like you would hold a compass.
  James couldn't help play with the minor enchantment. turning in a complete circle he couldn't help the childish grin at the use of magic for something simple.   Nicole: The light will move up or down if you need to go up a floor etc.
  James took his time getting to the right bookcase. He purposely chose a wrong direction, more than once, just to see the magical compass move. It wasn’t like he hadn't seen magic, most of the military grunts like himself had an opportunity. Magic was tied to the military of House Lapin, and the Houses knew more than the others. People felt safer with the magic possessed only by the Houses. Few exceptions existed outside of that environment, such as the magical technology used in the fields instead of scythes.   Returning with his book on Mechanical Engineering, let him pursue titles on historical tax records and military knowledge. Back at the desk, where he learned of the laptop, James read about the factory application of technology while taking notes. Only to be interrupted by a burly man of around 35, and possessing the face that had seen many campaigns, who stood over James' table.   Alistair: [shouts] Recruit Woodwright, Attention.
James quickly pulls back his chair and stands at attention.
Alistair: Woodwright, after your lunch, you will meet me in the lobby for basic weapons training. Is this understood?
James: Sir, yes sir! [James salutes].
Alistair: Dismissed Woodwright.
  Alistair walks away with a rigid gait, almost marching in its stiffness. James becomes less tense and looks at the clock closest to him on the wall and walks over to Nicole.   James: I’m the new recruit, when's lunch?
Nicole: You have 45 mins, lunch is at 12. [James nods]. I would be careful with Alistair while being a Corporal he can throw his weight around.
  James withdraws the book from the library and takes it and his laptop to his dorm.   Michael: What’s eating you?
James: Basic weapons training.
Michael: ooh, who do you have? I have, Matthew.
James: Allister.
Michael: [concerned] I would worry about him, I hear he shouted at a recruit for just breathing wrongly.
  James nods, noting what has been said.   James: I am to report to him after lunch in the lobby. You going to lunch? [Michael nods] do you mind if you show me the way to the canteen? [Michael shakes his head no].
  James puts the book down on his bedside table, lights a candle. He reclines in his bed with his laptop on his lap. As he types the text on-screen releases pink dust and it dissipates into the air.   James: What’s with the pink dust thing? I know the pink must be for House Lapin.
Michael: Whenever we write in the service of House Lapin, the words are magically recorded. These words serve as magical protection. As the undead are still out there, we need to train to protect ourselves. The magic protects the building and its residents, not when we leave its boundaries.
  As the time comes they both leave for the canteen which is on the left side of the building. They tuck into some basic but filling sandwiches. After which James traces his steps back to the lobby.   James: Woodwright reporting for weapons training, Sir! [James salutes]
Alistair: Good, Woodwright follow me.
  James follows Alistair back through the library, passes Nicole and round a left corner, the ceiling drops one storey to allow the canteen to be there, and go through a door into a courtyard.   The courtyard is divided into two with a tall unclimbable wall dividing the halves with a dirt path around the parameter with grass that has been worn out from footsteps with no plants growing.   Alistair: [shout] Woodwright, go stand on that red dot.
  James follows his orders. Alistair goes to a wall that is undercover and picks up two wooden long swords with no runes from a weapons rack and hands one of them to James. He takes the sword in his left and feels its weight.   Alistair: Since you enlisted with a long sword, you are to be trained as a swordsman.
Alistair: [strict] show me how you would ready the sword for a fight.
  James turns to his side only showing his left side and taking his right hand on the lower part of the hilt of the sword. He tilts the sword slightly to his left towards.   Alistair: [irritated] That’s not how it's done, let me show you.
  He goes behind James and adjusts his right elbow so that it is closer to his chest and tilts the sword so it is more upright.   Alistair: Drop your sword [James drops it] Pick it back up. [James picks his sword back up] Show me posture again. [James moves his body into readying his sword to fight] Good, now strike me!
  James steps forward and aims, for below Alistair’s ribs, he goes too low for doing so and Alistair manages to disarm James, with the wooden sword clattering to the ground. He then lunges on James and manages to strike him on the right side of his neck.   Alistair helps James up and with his left-hand grips James on his left shoulder tight enough to cause him pain.   Alistair: That would be the end of you if you are not careful. It’s short quick strikes we need to kill the undead. [Alistair releases James and recovers enough for more training].
  They work on James’s sword strikes, while unbeknownst to him in a 4th-floor room a mysterious figure pulls back a curtain to get a better look at him.   Mysterious Figure: There’s something about him I like, can you keep tabs on him?
Amelia: Yes Ma’am.
Mysterious Figure: I don’t know why, but I see something in him.
Amelia: But he is only a recruit.
Mysterious Figure: I know, odd isn’t it.
  James was beginning to get the knack of basic sword swings. Alistair takes the sword from James and James stands relaxed.   Alistair: Your next weapons training will be here every day at 12:30 hours and will last for 2 hours, don’t wait for me in the lobby. Do you understand Woodwright?
James: Sir yes Sir! [James salutes]
Alistair: Dismissed Woodwright.
James: Thank you, Sir. [he salutes again]
  When James begins to leave the courtyard and another recruit joins Alistair.   Alistair: Cameron, are we ready again to show me .... [gets cut off from the closing of the door].
  James gets back to the lobby and begins to climb the stairs as someone comes down the stairs.   Amelia: Woodwright? [James nods] Do you have a moment?
  James and Amelia walk back downstairs to the lobby and he stands as he recognises the rank markings on the jumper he stands to attention ready to receive orders.   Amelia: At ease, Woodwright. Tomorrow you will meet me here in the lobby at 11 hundred hours. I am to be your Literomancy lecturer.
James:[nods and strains] Thank you, I look forward to it, ma’am. [James salutes]
Amelia: Your equipment will be provided. Dismissed Woodwright.
  As James salutes as Amelia calmly walks to the right, the opposite way that James came from, he relaxes and thinks “At least you're not like everyone at a higher rank than me is harsh”. He returns to his dorm and a concerned Michael looks up from a book of weapon tactics.   Michael: So, how did it go with Alistair?
James: [Strains and rubs his right side of his neck] He struck my neck a few times, I can feel the pain. There are other areas that don’t feel the same.
Michael: That good! Don’t worry it could be worse. I’m pleased he didn’t try and kill you.
James: With what people have been saying I’m surprised he hasn’t either. [he tried to laugh but it sounds more of a groan than a laugh]. I have Amelia for Literomancy, any opinions or anything I should know about her?
Michael: No, apart from I have her and she’s a good teacher, there are no tips I can give you or hints.
  James gets back to writing on his laptop. During this Michael and James have a few conversations on writing concepts and bouncing ideas off each other. At 17 hundred hours he and Michael return to the canteen for dinner. They line up in turn and a metal food tray is taken by the canteen staff and ask what the diner wants. With only one meal choice this question seems pointless to James. James sees the person ahead of him ask for vegetable stew and a roll, this person walks on to take a drink of cranberry juice.   Canteen Worker: What can I get you, young man.
James: Can I have less stew but the cheese and bread?
Canteen Worker: Sure,[she ladles a smaller portion of stew onto the larger segment of the tray and places the cheese and bread in the similar-sized segment. And hands the tray across to James.] Enjoy your meal. [James nods]
  James goes to the next area to collect a spoon and fork as well as his ration of cranberry juice. In his days of Redsmithing, he wouldn’t have expected to see a copper cup while the tray was of stainless steel he wouldn’t have expected to see his copper cups used here.   James takes a copper cup and collects his ration. After turning he sees Jeremy waving and Oliver sitting nearby. He and Michael go and sit with their dorm mates.   Michael: What was that with the copper cups. You seemed to spaced out there.
James: [half chewing on his almost solid stew] Before I enlisted, I owned the redsmith across the river. We made cups for House Lapin. I never knew what you guys wanted with them for that has been answered.[The others nod empathetically].
James: In the service of House Lapin are we forced vegetarians?
Oliver: No we are fed a balanced diet while we do eat meat we don’t eat rabbits for their obvious cultural reasons.
Jeremy: James why did you enlist? [trying to break the quietness in the air]
James: I wanted my life to mean something, while I was abused by my father it shouldn't be my life story with the fight against the undead that can be my life's story.
Jeremy: [his eyes glisten with moisture as he nods] it's been far too long since I enlisted. I can't really think what my 16-year-old self-opinion was.
James: There must have been a reason though, you don't just turn up to House Lapin to enlist.
  Jeremy tells his story as they eat some of them wipe their eyes at the story but some are stoic enough to hold their emotions tight. They stow their trays in racks and head back to their dorm for rest and relaxation.  

November 2 2020 - Day 2

After a good rest, James changes into his uniform and goes for breakfast of fruit and oatmeal. He goes downstairs to continue writing, enjoying the magic effect of him doing this. Before doing so a superior addresses James.   Private: Woodwright, I understand you have Litromancy later with Amelia am I right.
James: Sir, yes, Sir.
Private: Woodwright, Pray tell me when your lecture starts?
James: 11 hundred hours Sir.
Private: Good you have enough time.
James: Awaiting orders sir! [James salutes]
Private: You are to go to the greengrocer on Lumber Lane and collect his taxes. He has a backlog of at least two payments. Go collect it and deliver it to finance.
James: Sir Yes Sir! [James salutes]
  James leaves House Lapin armed with a dagger on his belt and goes to Lumber Lane and heads for the Greengrocer. James opens the door into it from an old cobbled street and a bell rings.   James: Are you the owner [he addresses a man in his 40’s]
Greengrocer: [Scared] I am, I only have a few employees.
James: It's ok [he attempts to calm the person] I’m only here to collect your taxes.
Greengrocer: I have been through hard times.
James: Look, I’m only following orders. I'm here to collect your taxes and I will be off.
  The Greengrocer gets more scared scrambles for the money on a shelf under an analogue till and gives it to James hurriedly.   Greengrocer: Here take it and leave me alone!
  James takes the pouch of coins and takes a look there is a mixture of copper, silver and a few gold but mostly silver. He closes it again and tries to make a respectful posture to at least try and calm the shop owner. As James leaves the shop with his collected taxes he can hear the shop owner shout through the door “Don't come back!”. James ignores this and goes back to House Lapin to drop off the taxes.   Once he has he checks the time through the protective glass to see he has enough time to reach the lobby.   Amelia: Are you ok, Woodwright?
James: I just had to collect some taxes from a store [he looks down as if sad]
Amelia: It’s ok, Woodwright, these things happen it's not our fault if they don't pay their taxes on time.
  James appears to feel a little better but still not fully recovered from his ordeal. Amelia takes James right into the other end of the library and into one of the private rooms. On a table that has a leather top, stands a raised writing platform and a circle of plastic of about 5cm that appears to have a mechanism. James is shown that it can draw circles but not just that with each rotation of the mechanism he would be able to draw a spiral within the circle that has 1cm guidelines for the runes and other characters to go into.   James’s first task is to show he can use the mechanism correctly since he is a redsmith he has little difficulty in doing so. Amelia is pleased with James’s progress with this. He is then told to copy runes into his spiral with a pencil. He is told that if he is successful that he will see a ball of light about 2 cm across lift off from the completed circle. He completes this and is told to put three activation runes into the spiral once he does instead, the paper lights itself in a glow not too dissimilar to a candle. Amelia congratulates James on his process as a newbie and he rubs out the activation runes so the magic code can be changed, the light disappears from the page.   At the end of his class, he manages to learn two out of three of the spiral runes he had to learn in the class.   Amelia: Woodwright, at the end of your first session, do you have questions?
James: Two, ma’am, what books should I read and can I keep my work so far so I can cross-reference it?
Amelia: [Amelia is surprised by his interest in Litromancy and him wanting to improve.] There are some basic books you can read. I will write a few down you can read [she writes a list of three books]. I would advise you not to go any level higher when you finish them, literomancy is dangerous if you don't know what you're doing but for cross-referencing it is fine [she smiles proudly].
James: Thanks ma’am. [James takes the list and his rune work]. I assume that these lessons like my weapons training happen at the same time each day in the same room?
Amelia: Woodwright, you are right about the time. You are to wait outside of the room and wait for permission to enter. At the moment I want novices to come into my sessions cold and to not know what they might be learning.
James: Yes Ma’am.
Amelia: If that is all, Woodwright, you are dismissed.
  James nods respectfully and leaves calmly he takes his work upstairs to his dorm. He leaves it there and goes back down for lunch. After his lunch, he reports to Alistair for another session of weapons training.   Alistair: Woodwright, three laps of this courtyard, go [he claps][James jogs around the courtyard]. Left-hand floor.
  James touches the floor with his left hand and this swops over to his other hand during the course of his three laps.   Alistair: 5 jumping jacks go. [James 5 jumping jacks].
  While James does this Alistair goes to the weapons rack and takes two wooden swords and hands one to James. Once he holds his sword he instinctively takes the ready sword pose, at the astonishment of Alistair.   Alistair: Woodwright, you may not be in top form in the field of battle. You will be tired and you might have been running. Now defend yourself.
  James instinctually backs off missing Alistair's sword swing. Alistair goes for another swing but this time doesn't move his body but his sword stops him getting hit. James tries to disarm Alistair and fails. This goes on for 30 minutes and Alistair improves James’s sword skills.   Mysterious Figure: So, what do you make of him?
Amelia: He’s curious and wants to improve, It’s rare to hear a student want to improve themselves outside my sessions.
Mysterious Figure: And to see his sword skills increased this much this quickly.
Amelia: He certainly shows promise. I don’t know what you see in him though.
Mysterious Figure: I feel his skills will be useful to us at some point.
  As James leaves his weapons training, the curtain falls back, and James walks back into the library more sweaty than the last time. He returns to his dorm and changes his clothes after having a shower he takes the list of books with him. He comes down to the lobby and has his attention taken by one of his superiors.   Hayden: Woodwright, tonight we are expecting a delivery from a Dazzlikat. You will wait for them outside House Lapin. Once they give you the delivery you are to take it to the fourth floor and leave it. You will do this after your evening meal. It is advised you go armed. [James nods] Woodwright, do you understand?
James: Sir yes Sir! [James salutes].
Hayden: Woodwright, Dismissed.
  James walks to the desk where he and Nicole were introduced. Since time has based Nicole is stationed somewhere else.   Librarian: Recruit, can I help you?
James: Yes Sir, do you know where these books are? [shows the list]
Librarian: Certainly, [he gets up with a groan and shows James where they are]
  It was not worth plotting out a compass spiral to the books as the books were nearby. As there are multiple copies on basic Literomancy, James takes one of each he can. He goes back to his dorm and finds Jeremy sitting at a desk and James shares a few kind words with Jeremy. James sits in bed and looks up his light spiral which failed for him and cross-references it with his.   James: That's it! [he looks at the page of the book, a few of the runes have straighter lines than the ones he drew and assumes this is where he went wrong]
  After a cold dinner, he follows some of his dorm mates upstairs and takes his sword from its brackets on the side of his bed. He pulls up his jumper in order to fasten the scabbard to his belt. He ensures that his uniform is up to standard and bids his dorm mates a good evening.   He finds himself back in the lobby and walks out the door. He respectfully holds his hand behind his back as other members of House Lapin are leaving and coming back from their duties. The river peacefully runs under the closest bridge to House Lapin without a care in the world. A woman wearing patchy chainmail carrying a crate with a stack of books comes to the front of House Lapin.   James: Dazzilkat I presume?
Dazzlikat: Of course, here's some supplies and the words that the Head of House Lapin will desire. [Dazzlikat puts the crate down for James to pick up]
James: [James picks up the crate and looks sheepish as he asks his question] Dazzlikat? Do you come from around these parts?
Dazzlikat: I do, I am just not sworn allegiance to any of the Houses. Why?
James: [James blushes. The dripping oil on Dazzlikat’s chainmail calms him down slightly] Do you want to go to the tavern at some point?
Dazzlikat: [She is slightly surprised by James’s question] Don’t you have duties you have to perform?
James: Yes, but I do have spare time. As long as I write and perform duties it’s fine.
  Dazzlikat nods and they organise themselves to meet up tomorrow after James’s weapon training. They bid each other farewell. James picks up the crate with stacks of books and takes it up to the fourth floor when he gets to an ornate door he leaves the crate outside the door. Before leaving he hears a rumble of activity in the room and decides to leave quickly and quietly as possible.  

November 3 2020 - Day 3

James is in his Literomancy class looking over some runes and their meanings with Amelia. These symbols swop between Greek characters and Nordic frequently. They have a congenial discussion on the ethics of Literomancy and its uses with paper.   After his Literomancy class, he walks out the door and goes to the tavern to meet Dazzlikat. They have a meal together and have a laugh together. They go their separate ways and decide to meet up on a weekly basis.   For James’s basic weapons training, he and Alistair go through sword technique and how to block with one. After the weapons training, James hears his official name.   Harrison: Woodwright, Attention! You are to deliver these messages; they are important official messages that Sable, our House Head, wants to be delivered. Don't let them leave your sight and deliver them to who they are intended for with honour.
James: [Tries to look honoured] Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir! [James salutes].
  Harrison gives the wax-sealed messages to James to deliver and dismisses him. The first couple of messages were of people he knew of or know. So these weren’t hard to deliver. Others were, however, thankfully James found the addresses on the back which made his task easier. He looks at the address of one of the messages and sees it is for Adam the blacksmith.   Adam: Thank you, James, I have been gettin’ more of these recently from Sable. Not that I'm worried I have a stockpile of steel. It's good to be busy.
  James agrees and goes for a hug but goes for a handshake instead.   Adam: How’s that dagger servin’ you?
James: [pulls out his dagger] It's serving me well, I haven’t had to use it yet.
Adam: It's the fact you have it on you that matters.
  James agrees they depart so that James can deliver more of the messages. When James gets back to House Lapin it is around 16 hundred hours. He returns to his dorm and takes the book on mechanical engineering and takes it back to the Library. James then spends some more time on researching and writing enjoying the effect his writing has.  

January 14 2021 - Day 75

James wakes up and has his breakfast and gets lost in his thoughts about his Literomancy class, trying to phrase a question ready so that it does not sound forced or manufactured. He then decides to not worry about it.   At his Literomancy class, they work together on a square of copper using the same patterned spiral and James asks his question.   James: Ma’am does all the runic symbols have to be in a spiral?
Amelia: [surprised] Not all, some items can be etched so that it is divided into segments and has a runic instruction. Why do you ask?
James: Well you have taught me to make a circle on the item and do the spiral and then insert the runes to hopefully get the intended result. I was wondering if there is an expectation to the rule where one doesn’t have to make a circle and do the spiral. [James picks up the mechanism]
Amelia: Well if the item is circular or circular by nature you don't need to do the things we have been doing but you will need to make markings on the item so that each runic instruction has a start and an end.
  James nods mentally notes this. He gets back into inscribing the copper square, once he adds the activation runes given separately by Amelia. He finds the copper heats under his hand in a pleasant warmth and he checks with the other hand with the amusement of Amelia.   Amelia: At a later point we will go through those runes again and we can make an amulet of heating using what you learned from the copper sheet.
  James is pleased by his progress and nods to Amelia.  

January 15 2021 - Day 76

James walks past several shelves of House Lapin’s Library as he makes his way to his basic weapons training.   Alistair: Woodwright, I have been training you for over 2 months. I’m pleased that I have managed to build some muscle on your meat hooks.
James: Yes, Sir thank you, Sir.
  Unbeknownst to James a member of House Lapin has entered the courtyard with a wooden sword and is standing behind him.   Alistair: I have a test for you, if you pass, you are no longer in basic weapons training.
James: Thank you, Sir, what is my test?
Alistair:[slyly] Look behind you, Woodwright.
  Spinning upon his heel, James's hair stands on end as he sees Michael, his dorm mate, holding a wooden blade in an attack position.   Alistair: You are to win the fight against Michael, to proceed to the next level of your training.
James: Yes Sir!
  Michael and James clash swords and fight after some light bruising and a few strikes to the head. James ultimately won his training, albeit he was seeing stars and was dizzy. When the training test was called off Michael lifted James right arm to drag him off.   Alistair: You have passed your test.
James: [dazed] thank you sir.
  In the infirmary, James is having his concussion attended to.   Infirmary Attendant: What happened here?
Michael: Weapons Training.
Infirmary Attendant: [exacerbated] Not again. Ok, sit him down. [James is sat into a chair.] What’s his name? [Michael replies]
Infirmary Attendant: James can you see me [Turning to regard the attendant James's vision blurs, and his momentum carried him to the floor. He felt a desperate need for air as his vision faded]
 

January 16 2021 - Day 77

James is lying in an infirmary bed with a bandage around his head asleep. A woman comes into the infirmary and goes slowly to his bed so as to not wake him.   Mysterious Figure: [whispers] I know you’re going to pull through this James. I know you're going to do great things while in the service of House Lapin. I just know it.
  An Infirmary Attendant walks in from her lunch break.   Infirmary Attendant: Ma’am what are you doing here, it took me 30 minutes to calm him enough so he could eat and sleep, he needs to rest.
  The Mysterious Figure nods and leaves.  

January 30 2021 - Day 91

In the early morning, James stirs in his sleep and turns over a few times. He is attended to by the infirmary Attendant and given a few basic tests on his recovery he passes a majority those tests.   Infirmary Attendant: Thank you, James. I am going to discharge you but I am going to suggest to your superiors that you take it easy which means your weapons training will be postponed for a while and given light duties.
  James looks disappointed by this as he has passed to the next level of his training. She hands James a clean set of uniform to wear.   Infirmary Attendant: Through here if you please to change. When you're back in clean clothes I will want to check the bruising under that bandage.
  James goes into a private room so that he can change clothes and tidies himself up ensuring his uniform is up to acceptable standard and goes back to his infirmary bed which is already being changed for its next occupant. The attendant removes the bandage and his bruise is almost gone.   Infirmary Attendant: Alistair knows not to expect you after lunch. [James nods] it is advisable to go to your dorm. Someone has been keeping tabs on you; they feel sorry for hurting you. [James shakes his head in a way that implies that they shouldn’t].
  They shake hands and depart. James soon arrives back at his dorm and knocks on the door. He hears a come in he isn’t exactly sure who from. As he passes the threshold of the doorway everyone in the dorm cheers but Michael who looks sullen. James approaches him and puts an arm around him.   James: I understand it's fine, you were following orders. You had to make it as realistic as possible to make the training more difficult as to why I would want to strike you normally.
  Reassured through James' words Michael pulled him into an embrace celebrating their bond of friendship.  

February 12 2021 - Day 104

James comes downstairs to the lobby and sees another person giving orders to another.
  Jonathan: It is important to scout you make it to the edges of the territory of House Lapin. We must see if the undead has reached us yet. It will be a long week trip to get there. Here are some rations. I presume you know how to hunt. [The scout nods and Jonathan gives a large pouch of rations too]
Jonathan: Scout dismissed.
  At the sound of the two words, the scout salutes Jonathan and marches off to their destination. Jonathan is pleased to see James and notes that he is well and leaves to go upstairs for his duties. James walks right for his literomancy class. At the end of which they make another square of copper with runes that makes light and heat.   After lunch, he goes to his weapons training and is shown a training dummy as he trains with it. He is shown that his strikes are shown. As he has a much shorter session he goes back to the lobby and walks out the door to await another delivery earlier than his first.   A stout man with thinning grey hair wearing chainmail with yellow accents carrying a crate with books and lemons on the top approaches House Lapin’s entrance.   Greg: I take it you’re the person I deliver these words and supplies to?
James: Yes I am, are you ok you look a little stressed?
Greg: I have been doing some writing on the way here. I just need to clear up some plot holes. [James's facial expression changes to a more relieved].
  Greg hands the crate and supplies to an unsteady James who is surprised by the weight of the crate. James nods to Greg and re-enters House Lapin and goes up to the fourth floor to drop off the supplies and books. As he does so a superior to James walks past him.   Hayden: No more lemons! We have too many already, what do they expect us to do with them, make a meringue?
James: [James chuckles to this]. I'm sure we can use them medicinally as well.
  James continues his journey upstairs to drop off the supplies.  

February 28 2021 - Day 120

At dawn, the scout returns. Wearily and fatally injured they moved sluggishly and staggered to the bell on the left side of one of the arches in the lobby and rang it hard as they could mostly everyone nearby heard it. James woke with a start and hurriedly put on his uniform and took his sword for defence purposes. When he got to the top of the stairs of the lobby, he could hear the scout say.   Scout: [Scared] They’re here the undead, are here. [They stump to the floor and die].
Sable: [Authoritative] you two [she points to high ranking personnel] move the body to the chapel ready for the ceremony tomorrow, someone clean the blood up. You two [points to James and Jonathan] barricade the door just in case. We don’t want our magical protection to fail us.
James: Yes, ma’am. [James salutes].
  He shuffles passed a sea of people. He has a thick post of wood passed to him by Jonathan; they manage to drop the barricade to the door with a thump.   Sable: [Authoritative] you two [she points as two other people] since you seem the most awake stand on guard until normal activities resume for the day.
  Everyone else went back to their dorms to either get some sleep or some hushed conversation. James thought back to what Jeremy said when he enlisted, “I should go feed the rabbits in the morning after my breakfast” James thought.   Much later in the morning James has breakfast in the canteen and goes back up to ask for rabbit kibble. With something to feed the rabbits with, he goes into the other courtyard adjoining the weapons training area, wooden training weapons clashing. He goes over to a rabbit hutch, the rabbits sniffing the air eager for what James has. He spreads the kibble out and tops up their water. He tries and goes for a particular brown rabbit who hops away but James manages to catch the rabbit. He manages to calm the rabbit enough that he can sit on a bench with the rabbit on his lap, stroking it gently as he speaks.   James: [Addressing the rabbit] I bring bad tidings, another person of House Lapin has died the first while in my service.
The rabbit sniffs a bit and rolls onto its back.
James:[Stroking the rabbit's chest and hands a leaf for the rabbit to enjoy] I'm afraid one of your friends is going to die soon.
  The rabbit sensing this flops back and sniffs the air more aggressively. James laughs not realising its meaning and picks the rabbit up and returns it with its friends. James returns to the lobby and a line of his equal ranking members.   Sergeant: Woodwright, where have you been?
James: Tending to the rabbits, sir!
Sergeant: line up with your other comrades. [James does so]
Sergeant: As you know a scout has died with dire information. In the afternoon we will go through a drill at 16:00 sharp.
James and others: Sir Yes sir! [They salute].
Sergeant: Dismissed.
  It being 11 hundred hours meant James going to his Literomancy class. He walks to the door and awaits Amelia to come along to unlock the door. James works slower than normally.   Amelia: Woodwright, are you ok, you seem distant?
James: The scout’s death was the first death I saw, something you don’t forget, and with the coming ceremony...
Amelia: you’re feeling sorry for the rabbit and a little apprehensive, over your place in the ceremony [she interrupts].
James: [James nods]. yes ma’am.
Amelia: It's nothing to worry about. I'm sure the rabbit feels sad too.
  After James finishes his weapons training he tries to relax in the library reading more for his Literomancy studies. At 16:00 he reports to the lobby and the drill continued. He was given a wooden analogue for his sword and a person dressed as the undead came in as James followed procedure and fought off the undead trying to close the door and lean on it closed while others were trying to pull it open again. They manage to close the doors and barricade them.   At the end of the drill, everything was reset and James handed his wooden analogue back. And given orders to guard House Lapin, he goes back upstairs to his dorm to get his sword for his guard duty and guards for two hours.  

March 1 2021 - Day 121

Today would be a sombre affair even with his lessons and training cancelled for the ceremony he still felt sad. After his breakfast James walks to the chapel with everyone else who does not have active guard duties and sees his fallen comrade, his pink jumper still darkened with his blood. The body moved on to a platform so he can be carried to his grave.   The comrade is carried off with James in the line of the procession with his head bowed and his hands crossed in front of him holding a golden ceremonial dagger. Another holding his box to be buried with. They walked to House Lapin’s cemetery. With a hole already dug.   The ceremony starts and James holds back tears as he slightly shakes. He misses the first two segments of the ceremony, lost in his memories of his fallen comrade. He manages to catch the vocal part of the ceremony. As it gets to the end of the vocal part James ready himself with the ceremonial dagger in his left hand. He steps to the edge of the grave and is handed a grey rabbit. The rabbit shaking and trying to get free from James’s grip he manages to slit the rabbit’s throat as it shakes its life away. James manages to get the rabbit’s blood on the comrade’s body and say a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet although getting the quote wrong, but the sentiment was still there. James backed off a bit so that he could place the rabbit on the scout’s chest as he gets up, dirt is shovelled over the body and James begins to sob.  

March 5 2021 - Day 125

In the morning James awakens shaken as if awaking from a nightmare he couldn’t escape his dorm mates asked him if there was anything wrong. He replied that he heard a march from outside. The reply made him shiver to the spine, it was the undead hoard a battle would begin at the end of the day. The Undead would ensure they could not be spotted in daylight or be interfered with before the battle.   So while safe to go out, it would still be a good idea to leave with a weapon if someone did not return before dark.   James’s day was full of training and getting ready for the fight that may be coming their way later. At the end of the day just before the evening meal it was advised to him to have a wash, James who didn't understand smelt his underarm soon understood the reasoning behind him needing to wash.   After his evening meal, an analogue bell rang continuously signifying a call to arms. As James already had his sword with him he readied himself for the battle that may ensue later.   James comes into the lobby and stands in front of the stairs and three lines in from the front lines. A rumble is heard outside as everyone hears marching presumably the undead hoard the guards to House Lapin come in and barricade the door making them the zeroth line to House Lapin’s army. 3 hours go past and no one hears anything major. A few scrapes against House Lapin’s doors and that's about it. 15 men are left downstairs to stay on guard and to raise alarm if they breakthrough.

A House Falls

March 6 2021 - Day 126

As the morning broke, the world felt different, one of the houses fell, James knew that for certain. As he made his way down from breakfast to research rune definitions. He heard a much softer bell while this was not the alarm bell this was still intended to create attention.   Announcer: House Apis has fallen. [They ring the bell and repeat their message another two times]
  James while pleased it wasn't his House to fall he still felt sorry for those that had fallen. The house James was part of and the fallen was close in an alliance. It was just difficult to know if you’re the ones marked to be on the chopping block.   After his research James was posted on guard duty for two hours and was allowed to miss his Literomancy class. After his guard duty of 2 hours and lunch, he proceeded with his weapons training. After which he returned to guard duty.   James: [James spots a member of the undead] Smith [he points to the undead trying to not be spotted.] Isn’t that one of the members to House Apis?
Smith: Where [she spots the undead] it could be [looks again] it is…
James: That means [he interrupted himself] that we don’t just die we can also get drafted into their ranks. [James is taken back by what has fallen off his lips].
  By the time they realise this to act the undead have hidden away.  

March 7 2021 - Day 127

In a meeting with him, Smith and a superior.   Superior: I understand you let a member of the enemy get away yesterday.
James: Sir it wasn’t just that it didn’t attack us.
Superior: That's no excuse Woodwright. You didn't tell us earlier.
James: Sir it's not just that when we fight the undead and our house falls it appears some of us get drafted into their ranks. I don't know many or at what proportion, but that seems that way.
Superior: You mean you didn't say this earlier and held military tactics for us to use and you didn’t tell us early enough is this right smith.
Smith: That's right sir.
Superior: Right then you two are to be on the night guard shift for two days and your duties are on hold with double weapons training perhaps that will teach you.
  James and smith bow their heads in remorse. The two night shifts were hard on James while he had no duty tasks he still had weapons training, he walked slowly around House Lapin at night he felt of his body imploring him to stop and rest but continued dutifully in pain.  

April 15 2021 - Day 166

After a busy day of lessons and training, he is sent out to await a delivery for House Lapin’s supplies. About 30 mins later in the mid-afternoon, the stout man with yellow accents comes back with a crate with a stack of books and lemon leaves on top.   James: Hi Greg. I see you’re back with a delivery for us again!
Greg: Do you think you will be able to carry the crate this time?
James: [James shows his muscular arms] Sure I can, training has been hard but we can't have weak fighters, for the fight against the undead.
  Greg hands the crate to James who bobs down to make the transfer easier.   Greg: Before I forget, the lemon leaves are for tea making, I wouldn't put them in the meringues [he smiles Jokingly and James smiles back getting the joke]
  As James returns to House Lapin Hayden comes down the stairs and doesn't make a comment but helps James with a few items that have fallen. He then goes to the fourth floor to deliver the supplies and books.  

August 7 2021 - Day 280

As James returns from to House Lapin from his duties he stops outside the entrance to go in and looks above the entrance of the door and notices that there is an impression above the entrance it wasn't a hole in a wall but rather where gear could go in. James starts having ideas floating around his head.   Later that day he walks past Alistair who seems to be pleased to see James.   Alistair: Ah, Woodwright, there you are, don’t come to your training session, you are to train with someone else tomorrow.
James: Sir yes Sir. [James salutes]
 

August 10 2021 - Day 283

James apprehensively got out of bed as he heard the marching the previous night and he knew what that meant after tonight another House would fall. Battle preparations were already beginning in the lobby of House Lapin and the streets were quieter than normal the moment almost balanced on the edge of a knife.   James spent his day training with a dummy practising flourishes to break blocking, in an attempt to distract him from the battle later.   His lunch was eaten pensively, his mind going through tactics and ways to fight the undead. He knew he didn't want to die and he especially didn't want to be drafted into the undead that made his hair stand on end.   Later that night James took position and readied his longsword for the battle. This time it was different: a deliverer was late making a delivery to House Lapin, James squinted to see who it was, his eyes went into shock as guards filed out to help out.   James: [Shouting] Dazz, run, drop the crate and get to safety.
  Dazz hearing this tried to run but before she does a blade much like his own runs through Dazzlikat’s chest as she dies quickly her skin tightens unnaturally and her eyes turn yellow as if she aged at a faster rate. James screams in terror of what happened to his friend.   The remaining guards that can run back in do and the door is barricaded another nerve-racking night ensue as rumbles and grumbles can be heard from outside.

A House Falls

August 11 2021 - Day 284

The next morning James awakes to hear the information bell and changes into a cleaner set of uniform and goes down to the lobby before having breakfast.   Announcer: House Meles has fallen. [They ring the bell and repeat their message another two times].
Announcer: Sable, Head of House Lapin, to make an address at 12 30 hours. [They ring the bell and repeat their message another two times].
  Before James could return upstairs for breakfast, he hears a shout of attention from a familiar voice.   Alistair: Woodwright, since Sable wants to address us your training session with me will be at 14 30 hours do you understand, Woodwright.
James: Sir yes sir. [James salutes]
  After lunch James and others return to the lobby he stands as if a battle is to begin but will his back turned to the door. The guards do not move from the doors. As members of House Lapin file in. The higher their rank the closer to the stairs they are.   Sable: After two battles and our Great House stands our scholars have been researching [murmurs in the crowd] We need to find the Iron Tome. [Sable Pauses] The Iron Tome is what will save us from the undead. [whispers].
Sable: Your usual duties are kept your extra actives like researching in the library are terminated, everyone needs to research where the Iron Tome is or where it can be found as priority A. [salutes are given as a matter of respect]
  Sable nods and makes her way back up the stairs. A hive of activity ensues as the members of House Lapin make their way back to their dorms. James thought deeply about the Iron Tome. “Humanity must have already got it, already if we know about it”.   After an unsteady weapons training. In which he was struck one too many times for James to count. He made his way to the library to scout it out. He wanted to know where each thing was and didn't want people knowing what he was looking for as clearly to them he didn't know himself. He made his way through the bottom floor ring of the library next he did the first. As he didn't find what he was looking for on the first floor. He intended to look tomorrow on the second floor for it. His stomach was growling at the sound of the stomach. He felt weak and made his way to get some dinner. Just hoping it wasn’t vegetable stew again he needed something more substantial.  

August 12 2021 - Day 285

In James’s Literomancy class he seems to not focus on his work copying runes from a book to a page. Amelia senses this and asks him.   Amelia: Everything ok, Woodwright, you aren't normally this unfocused on your work?
James: Just have my mind preoccupied with something else.
Amelia: Which is?
James: What if humanity knows about the Iron Tome, that's why we have words for it.
Amelia: That's why people are looking it up.
James: No, I mean if we knew about a place we wouldn't be looking it up in an atlas where it is but rather how to get there.
Amelia: [shock by James's intuition] go on.
James: What if humanity already knows about it and we have our dealings with it. Like a House had it then they had a war with them and took it from them as spoils of war …
Amelia: And they passed it onto someone else? [she interrupted]
James: Yes, there are only another 4 Houses left so instead of looking at the history of the book. Look into the government records, we would make records on this type of thing like taxation records nothing would be more exact.
  Amelia smiled and didn't give anything away to James.   Amelia: I wondered why I could see you walking around without a rune compass.
James: I didn't want to give away what I was looking for.
  After an enjoyable lunch, James makes his way to weapons training and greats Alistair for his next session.   Mysterious Figure: I see you have some news about him? [she points to James]
Amelia: Yes, Ma’am. He has a sense of intuition that I wasn’t expecting.
Mysterious Figure: Go on.
  Amelia explains.   Mysterious Figure: Ah I see, a bright lad I see.
  James has fallen and given a hand up. Alistair shows him the move they have been learning during the session. After the session, James goes back upstairs to wash and change. Once back he goes to the second floor of the library and looks around he finds what he is looking for. He looks for a volume 1 and goes through these, as his personal project.  

September 23 2021 - Day 327

James wakes up eager to look at the next Volume 243 but first remembering he had to look after himself, something he had to remind himself. After a breakfast of watery oatmeal and fruit, he made his way back to the second floor of the library and to Volume 243 of the set of records he was going through.   Sometime later, when he was in the middle of the book, he was running his fingers down the list of entries examining them carefully when he got to one.   James: [Whispering] There it is?   James noted the books' location and the record details, as well as any other details he thought, were helpful. He made it downstairs to where he first met Nicole. Found a spare chair and table and wrote a note to Sable about where to find the book to check his findings. He knew he couldn’t go to see her unannounced so decided to old fashionably seal the note with wax and give it to a superior who could see Sable unannounced. James knew that she would be busy with the running of House Lapin so she would not reply as quickly as he would have thought.  

September 24 2021 - Day 328

At 11 hundred hours James waited outside for his Literomancy class to start; he was a little too eager to begin. Today they were working on the Amulet of Heat which would forever emit heat when worn. The tricky part was to make it not emit heat when it was not worn and held. They worked on the runes together managing to get the heat part to work but James was still finding the exception to the rule runes difficult to inscribe.   Amelia: It is fine Woodwright, you will get it eventually.
  James nods and thanks Amelia for another interesting session.

The Brass Gear

January 12 2022 - Day 438

It wasn’t a particularly good day; another house was going for the chop soon. At the realisation of this James' heartbeat quickened as he broke out in a cold sweat. James’s usual duties resumed today; he would have his literomancy class and his weapons training. The only thing that will change is his recreational time. This would be spent training with someone else. Until he remembered the gear-shaped impression he found atop House Lapin's entrance mid-last last year.   After his breakfast, he found a ladder, found some spare paper and pen as well as a ruler he was going to use for taking measurements. He noted these down and made a mental note to show this in his Literomancy class which wasn't that far away in time.   Amelia unlocks the door to the room they will be doing their one-hour session in unbeknownst to her James has his measurements in his pocket ready to bring out.   Amelia: Woodwright, today we will retry making the Amulet of Heat. I believe we have worked on each rune. So that we should be able to make a successful version today.   James nods in recognition on what the session will be about but Amelia detects James’s insincerity in this mood.   Amelia: What's the matter, Woodwright? You look like you have ideas of your own.
James: Well [he pulls the parchment coloured paper with the measurements and unfolds it and flattens it out on the table]
Amelia: What is this about?
James: Well there’s a gear impression above the entrance of House Lapin. I thought perhaps it could have something go in there that would aid in protecting House Lapin further.
Amelia: Something like that would need a lot of runes. As you asked before the object is circular so it's not the runes that are the problem. It's whether you could inscribe each rune in, to make each instruction clear that's the point.
Amelia: You would need a gear of that size for it to fill in the hole, and I'm afraid House Lapin doesn't have the funds to spend on a recruit's musings.
James: That’s the point before I enlisted I owned and ran the redsmith across the river. I can supply the funds myself.
  Amelia likes the idea and makes a deal with him that if he can get a Brass Gear made she will help him with the inscribing it. James shakes her hand.   Amelia: Do you mind if I copy your notes down?
James: Not at all.
  Amelia copies the details of the gear in almost a photocopier manner.   After his weapons training, James takes his measurements to a Brownsmith to get the gear made. He instructs the Brownsmith to get the item delivered to House Lapin under his name. They agree on payment and the look of the gear. James walks back from the Brownsmith knowing that the gear will take three days to produce.  

January 15 2022 - Day 441

It was a particularly rainy evening outside House Lapin as the guards leave their posts outside House Lapin they come back in after defending themselves. The rumbles continue as parts of the arch come away from the wall missing people’s heads. “There must be more undead out there,” thinks James, as he remembers how Dazzlikat changed, he shivers. The evening continues with few scrapes on wooden doors and bangs on the windows.

A House Falls

January 16 2022 - Day 442

The next morning James awakes to hear the information bell and changes into a cleaner set of uniform and goes down to the lobby before having breakfast.   Announcer: House Chiroptera has fallen. [They ring the bell and repeat their message another two times].
  At this point, a man and a woman come through the doors of House Lapin. James holds back the idea that they might be husband and wife. The man, dressed in a tactical vest, DMstretch, attracts the attention of James.   DMstretch: [Shakey] Where can I find the Head of your Great House?
James: Sir, you may find her upstairs.
  A superior to James makes his way hurriedly to DMstretch and asks him to follow. The woman, Nathalia, is ordered by DMstretch to guard outside House Lapin but first talks to James.   Nathalia: Do you like being here, soldier?
James: Yes, I do all these books, I couldn't think of a better place to be, in these dark days. I’m James by the way, but my superiors and equals call me, Woodwright. [They shake hands]
Nathalia: I better be at my post with my bloody axe.
James: Yes, it was good to meet you.
  Nathalia walks off and relieves a guard on duty. James has his attention taken again over to Nicole.   Nicole: James you have a package waiting for you. What would you like done with it, it's rather heavy?
James: Can I pick it up just before my Literomancy class?
Nicole: [Interested] of course.
  James goes back up to the canteen to have a filling breakfast. Walked back down and collects the heavy package from Nicole and puts two sheets of notes over the top and waits for Amelia to arrive, holding the heavy package. What felt like 5 minutes Amelia came along to unlock the door.   Amelia: I take it you have the gear?
James: Yes, I have it here. [James puts the package down on the desk with a thunk]
Amelia: Shall we get started?
James: [eager] Yes of course.
  James unwraps his own package, revealing a shiny Brass Gear of 6 inches wide by 2 inches deep with its bevelled teeth it clearly looks machined. They work on where the dividing lines should go on the gear for each runic instruction, marking this with a whiteboard marker.   They work on each segment working out the length, height and width of House Lapin and the time start and end for the enchantment as well as what type of enchantment it should be. These runes are written on paper as to not spoil the gear for its future enchantments. They could easily change the runes on paper but not on the brass as it would have a memory of what it would become magically, even if not engraved.   After the session and both copying each other's workings out, they decided they would lock the Brass Gear in the room and continually use the room from now on. Amelia gives a surprise to James by handing him a message.   It reads.

  Recruit Woodwright,   Show this message to Alistair, to get him to postpone your training. I request the honour of your presence.   Sable Aradia, Head of House Lapin.

James: [Surprised] Sable wants to see me! I’m just a recruit!
Amelia: Well with all the work you have been doing, it must have helped!
James: Right! Have you seen Alistair recently?
Amelia: I haven’t our paths don’t cross that often.
  James nods as he loads the Brass Gear into the lockable cabinet for safekeeping. James thanks, Amelia for the session. After lunch, he goes to an eager Alistair and shows him the message Alistair that tomorrow's session will not be any easier and wishes James well for his meeting with her.   James leaves the courtyard and makes his way to the fourth floor he knocks on the door to be allowed in. From the other side of the door, James hears a low voice allowing him to enter the room. He tucks in his shirt before going in.   James stopped hesitating in combat after all the training he'd faced over the months in service to House Lapin, but in this one moment, he froze. His instincts abandoned him as his heart began to beat out of his chest. There in front of him stood a Rabbit the size of a person if the person needed to duck beneath most of the archways in the room. At seven feet tall this creature stood over him by a head and a half at least. It had a man pinned by his arm as its claws dug into his flesh. It used one claw to swiftly gouge four runes.   James couldn't begin to help the soldier, but in the next moment, he caught sight of a silver patch, denoting a higher rank, on the man's upper arm. When his feet moved they didn't carry him away or at the creature to defend the officer; instead, his feet hit the wall behind him as his back pressed firmly to the stone wall. On his left, a female soldier with the same silver patch stood calmly. She looked bored as if the large rabbit was a normal sight in the halls of House Lapin.   James pulled his dagger out to defend himself should the rabbit turn on him, but he fumbled the weapon when a crash came from his right. The rabbit turned to regard him and its ears pulled back. James raised the dagger but still couldn't move from his position against the wall.   The next moment caused him to lower the point of the sword and made his head spin, as the fur and rabbit features receded into a woman in her mid 30’s with dark brown hair. The man staggered from the room trailing blood as he held his jumper against the freely flowing flesh. James adjusted his footing as he beheld the scene before him.   James: [Scared] Is that what's going to happen to me?
Sable: [sympathetic] No, that’s a rite of passage to higher-ranking members. You are not high enough to have that ritual yet.
James: [curious] So what were you doing to him then?
Sable: [Shows her scarred lower arm] I was sharing my powers with him so he can turn into a were-rabbit.
James: [Understanding but still scared] right, how come you can change on a whim?
Sable: I can turn whenever I like, I just need House Lapin to stand or have a piece of it with me. I didn't request you up here to discuss my power to you, but rather your plans for the gear that my associate and I are interested in [she points to the other person who stood calmly before Sable’s transformation].
  They walk over to a more expensive-looking table than the table used in Literomancy class which has a half-eaten meringue on it and look over plans that Amelia copied. He wasn't exactly sure who Amelia gave the plans to.   Sable: What's your thinking with the gear?
James: Each about 5 months or so a battle starts with the undead regardless if we are the house with fewer words we still get attacked. Hence the death of Dazzlikat. [James looks sad for a bit and returns to what he is saying]. So with the gear which Amelia and I are going to inscribe with protection runes, the undead won't bother us.
Sable: Interesting, there's one problem with that. If we are the House with fewer words we are going to get attacked away.
James: True, but with protection, people can stay in the grounds and not get hurt. Security and safety together was my plan.
  At the realisation of this Sable’s eyes widened in amazement. She brings out the book that James found the details about the Iron Tome and turns to the page which it is mentioned, they discuss this further. After the congenial, if a little sad conversation they go their separate ways, Sable returns to the table to finish the meringue.   James goes downstairs to the library to write in the service of House Lapin before he went through the archway in the lobby he found that a piece of the arch had fallen away it must’ve not been structural. James looks around to make sure he isn’t being watched and pockets the piece. “That will be useful for later,” James thinks, remembering what Sable said to him earlier.  

January 17 2022 - Day 443

James waits outside the door for his Literomancy class. Amelia comes enthusiastically and unlocks the door and hands the key for the cabinet to James. He takes the Brass Gear out of the cabinet with their workings out. Since the instruction lines have been engraved they worked on one of the segments ensuring that they copied the runes with a whiteboard marker then checking twice and engraving. At the end of the session, they managed one hard and long instruction.   Amelia: Woodwright, I hope you realise this process is going to take around three weeks.
James: Yes Ma’am.

The Brass Gear Activates

 

February 9 2022 - Day 466

James is at a table with a more intricately decorated gear with its runes nearly finished. He works on the last activation rune working the metal away with the engraving tools. Once he finishes the rune the air becomes still as if not moving spatially or temporally. James begins to panic thinking he has permanently frozen time in House Lapin.   He remembers that he can move so that can’t be the case and looks down at the Brass Gear where there are runes the grooves look molten but James tilts the Brass Gear to see if this is the case which it is not. He is informed by Amelia that the Brass Gear is loading its magical program. When the melting look ends the Brass Gear has been enchanted and should last a reasonable amount of time.   Amelia steadies a ladder for James who is in the entrance putting the Brass Gear into place with the stone and metal grinding together it fits well and securely. A soft pink light emanates from it.  

June 20 2022 - Day 597

James awakes apprehensive of the day it is around another five months later since the last House fell which meant another one will fall tonight.   In James’s Literomancy class they continue with the copper amulet. Amelia manages to work around James’s learning difficulties in the subject and they are successful in getting a copper amulet enchanted with heat runes and when James or she put it on they feel comfortable temperature-wise, not feeling too hot or too cold. James is told to keep it and decides that when he is not sleeping he will wear it.   After his dinner of beef stew, he trains with Joel and Michael giving him a challenge not to be struck by too many foes. At 18:00 they are called into duty to protect House Lapin from the undead.   Unlike the previous nights in which the undead tap on the windows and scrape the doors to scare their potential meal or draftee, they can’t even make it to House Lapin, being stunned that they can’t pass a barrier. They congratulate James and Amelia on their work and they go to bed realising that they are not the House to fall.

A House Falls

June 21 2022 - Day 598

James comes downstairs from being asleep, puts on a clean uniform and walks downstairs he hears the announcement coming down the stairs.   Announcer: House Avis has fallen. [they ring the bell and repeat their message another two times]   People seem to cheer as they hear the news, James understood why but he wasn’t that happy. It just meant that two houses remained House Lapin and Mollusca. James didn’t really know where they were. Just knew they were west of him.  

November 25 2022 - Day 755

That evening Sable comes downstairs to an awaiting James.   Sable: We are awaiting a delivery from Greg [she makes hand movements at her shoulders implying the Greg with the yellow accents].
  James nods and walks out awaiting the delivery as Sable passes James, DMStrech and Nathalia go with her. Sable replies she is on important business and that DMStrech and Nathalia are to accompany her. They leave, about 30 mins he sees a figure walking towards him as if about to make a delivery to House Lapin. The light behind James fades as the Brass Gear’s magic runs out.   Dazzlikat is walking toward James at the last second James notices this. As if he heard House Lapin rumble, if it were going to fall he runs to the opposite side of the road and close to the bridge. Dazzlikat runs at him and pushes him against the barrier of the bridge. Causing James’s back to make a painful sound against the barrier of the bridge and James whimpers. James goes for his dagger and pulls it out at the ready. Dazzlikat using her long fingernails digs them into James right wrist, which causes him pain he screams and lets go of the dagger and screams more if he were to die.   Dazzlikat: [shouts] Shut up, I like you.
James: I like you too [scream] when you’re not trying to kill me and eat me for your next meal.
Dazzlikat: No I really like you, [she shows her yellowed teeth]
  James screams some more. As if hurt by James’s incessant screams. She punches him in the jaw. James goes unconscious, and Dazzlikat loses grip of James as he is pushed off the bridge into the river. Upon hitting the water James awakes underwater and fights to get to the surface and coughs and splutters. At this point, he is 25 meters away from a distressed Dazzlikat.   As James is carried away from Dazzlikat, he sees a log and swims over to it and passes out on it. The river takes James south to the States and he washes up near two people who recognise James’s uniform and go and help him up. They find a way to portal James to Japan where he is needed.   At the other end, he falls through the portal entrance in Japan in front of people who are wearing a casual purple uniform. As a still passed out James is carried to a car and transported to House Mollusca.

The Molluscan Chapter

November 26 2022 - Day 756

James awakes to see himself in a room with him in a tall leather-backed chair facing a fireplace with a purple blanket over him. A foreign-looking woman across the room sees that James is awake. He looks outside to see that it must be around 16 hundred 45 hours.   Woman: [Surprised and shouting] He’s awake [Goes out of the door and continues to shout] someone gets CoffeeQuills and Sable.
James: [Murmurs] What’s going on, where am I.
Woman: [Trying to be calming] Stay here, please, everything will be ok.
James: Why can I understand you, you’re not speaking English?
Woman: Everything will be explained when Sable and CoffeeQuills come over.
  James relaxes and agrees to wait, he feels unnaturally cold and sees if he still had his amulet on he felt nothing around his neck and presumes he lost it. About 30 minutes later, after warming himself by a fire two women and a man enter the room. One of which he recognises as Sable albeit Sable in differing coloured clothing without the patch on her upper arm of her clothes. These clothes looked less military in nature. James almost thought the war between the living and the undead had been won. He feels around in his pocket for the piece of House Lapin and finds it and delicately lets go of it as to not allow it to fall out of his pocket.   Sable: Everything is going to be ok. I assume you have questions?
James: Yes Ma’am.
CoffeeQuills: [Relaxed] We are less militaristic here unlike in House Lapin.
James: Thank you for the information? [James trails off as if not knowing the person.]
CoffeeQuills: I’m CoffeeQuills, Head of House Mollusca and you must be James, a survivor from House Lapin.
James: Yes, that means that House Lapin fell recently?
CoffeeQuills: [Unison with Sable, Yes] But you are most welcome here.
James: Thank you, while my loyalties stay with House Lapin my loyalties extend to the living.
CoffeeQuills: Thank you and your questions?
James: Yes, where are we apart from House Mollusca?
CoffeeQuills: You’re on the Molluscan Isle also known as Japan
James: [nods] What happened to me?
CoffeeQuills: You fell out of a portal, we looked at where the portal came from and you came from Washington State. You fell out of a portal unconscious in Tomakomai and you were transported to Otaru. [James nods]
James: Why can I understand your members?
CoffeeQuills: You have runes on your temples that allow you to understand what is said to you.
  James nods and replies that he has no further questions. CoffeeQuills informs him that he will have a bed to rest but unlike House Lapin, he will be sleeping in a room with another 25 men, of varying ages. James nods finding this agreeable.   He is shown into a room which has a double high ceiling much like the House Lapin’s Library but with bits of wallpaper falling off the walls. James is shown his bed. He puts his now ragged jumper at the wooden footboard of his bed. He asks CoffeeQuills if it would be possible to eat privately as he feels shaken up and it might be a good idea to be away from others, they agree with the exception that Sable sits with him as a friendly face he can at least have a conversation, this is still agreeable to James.   At dinner they sit in a room of about 5 metres by 5 metres that are lined with books, at a display unit there is a large piece of a sea creature labelled as “Giant Squid Beak”, James quips “Imagine the calamari from that” they laugh a bit from that.   They eat a type of soup that they are told contains carrots and fish which both of them enjoy. During their meal, they discuss recent events. Sable especially asks how James got so wet waiting for a delivery and he tells the parts of the story he knows.   That night after reading and light writing with other survivors and members of House Mollusca. They separate for bed. James is given a change of clothes for sleeping, he turns the light out amazed that the Molluscans have managed to get electric power through the building and he tries to get some sleep.   Once he falls asleep he finds himself back on the bridge walking across it back towards House Lapin. The sky's ablaze with fire as if a war has happened, his vision is drawn towards, House Lapin. The closer he gets the more ruined and on fire the building gets. His uncontrollable dream self keeps making his way to House Lapin. He gets to 5 metres of the building's entrance and looks up; he sees a large version of Sable in human form looking down on him pointing at him, with her eyebrows furrowed and her eyes like slits.   Sable: [Loud and booming] You allowed House Lapin to fall!
  James wakes up bolt upright in bed and holds back a scream and rubs his head trying to relax, his spectacle wakes a man to his right who looks sympathetic and goes into another room to go make something he returns. He holds a cup and saucer of hot chocolate.   Man: This should help, you had a nightmare?
James: [nods] of my House falling.
Man: That seems natural if they carry on though, I would seek help from the Infirmary.
  James agrees, sipping on the hot chocolate and allowing the drink to relax him. He has shaky sleep for the rest of the night.  

November 27 2022 - Day 757

James woke up the next day not well-rested as he would have been if he was sleeping in House Lapin. James got dressed in the simple but casual clothes he was given. He followed the other men towards the canteen. Passing on the other side of the corridor came Sable. Upon the sight of her, James finches and Sable asks if he is ok and he explains he has a nightmare of which she was in, Sable reassures James and they continue with their business. James continues to the Molluscan Canteen to have breakfast.   After which, he is posted with another House Molluscan to shadow them at the bay collecting shipments from other parts of the world and ensuring that they don’t have any issues, such as undead stowaways. The day morning goes on uneventfully, and they go back to house Mollusca. James brings up that some of the Molluscans while not on duty, are not wearing casual uniforms. He has it explained to him that if someone is not on duty they don't wear their uniform unlike in House Lapin. James thinks this is a good idea and asks when he is not on duty can he go buy some clothes relating to what he was wearing before he enlisted with House Lapin. Both parties are in agreement.   Later that day, after lunch, he is taken to a western clothing store where he picks out a set of black cargo trousers, orange t-shirt, black jacket, and a maple leaf pendant. Since it is also winter he picks out a jumper and scarf that will go with his clothes.   He puts the change of clothes in the chest at the foot of his bed, goes into the library and researches a few things but nothing of importance.   After his dinner, James goes to bed earlier than he normally would, but after about 2 hours in he starts having a vivid dream.   Standing outside the entrance to House Lapin, James awaits a delivery from Greg. As Greg crosses the bridge, he waves eagerly to James. Greg carrying a crate with lemons. James enjoys this memory and dream.   As Greg presented another crate to House Lapin, he apologised for the excess lemons. Since the harvest yielded a surplus. James assurances of the supplies' usefulness included suggesting they will use the excess for medicinal reasons.   Greg, in passing the crate to James, changed. Greg's skin tightening and desiccating showing his bones. His eyes recede and turn yellow as James’s screams echoed across the landscape. With a negligent toss, Greg tore the box from James' hands. The fresh corpse of Greg lunged to grab James’s shoulders and held James' face close to his frightening visage.   Greg: [Scary tone] The Living will. Not. Win.
  James wakes up in a panic. The man from the previous night stirs but doesn't wake up. James goes over to a window to look out to a peaceful ocean view. Attempting to relax, before going back to sleep.  

November 28 2022 - Day 758

James wakes up more tired than he went to bed. He makes his way to the canteen for breakfast. After this, he is given a benchmarking test to show off what he can do with his sword. James performs well enough and they give him more training to keep his skills up to standard.   After his benchmarking test, he is posted with another person who does the same role as yesterday. This time a few zombies leave the cargo ship and they rush over to attack the zombies. The person who James was posted with reports this to CoffeeQuills. She orders more guards to be posted at the bay. One of the guards will be James.  

Dec 10 2022 - Day 770

While James is stationed at the bay he starts to sway everyone thinks this is to stay upright in the strong wind this becomes not the case when James falls over and looks very tired on the next change over, they take him to House Mollusca’s infirmary. So that he can rest and be observed. As if his nightmares needed a cue, he starts having one as his physical self shakes and turns.   The infirmary attendant comes to James and calms him as James wakes he is relieved to see that it is the same person that treated his concussion.   Infirmary Attendant: Hello James, good to see you again. I hear you’ve been having nightmares. Can you tell me about them and how long you have been having them?
James: I have been having them since I have been staying in House Mollusca. They centre around House Lapin. I haven't reported them because of confidence issues and not knowing where the infirmary is.
Infirmary Attendant: Thanks for your honesty James [James nods in agreement]. If you don’t mind, I have brought someone to have a conversation with us. So I can come to a conclusion about your treatment. [James nods his agreement to this idea]
Infirmary Attendant: If you would like to come out. [Sable comes and out and takes out a seat by James’s infirmary bed]
Sable: So these nightmares, what happens in them?
  James explains one of his nightmares, they go through them he intentionally goes from mild to severe.   James: In one of them, I am walking back to House Lapin and you appear [James indicates he means Sable]
Sable: What did I do in your nightmare?
James: Well you are a large version just a bust of yourself and an arm above a ruined and burning House Lapin.
Sable: Right, ok. What do I say if anything?
James: [Rubs head to calm himself] You point down at me and say I'm to blame for House Lapin falling.
Sable: You don’t really believe that do you?
James: Well, there’s the Brass Gear and the book.
Sable: You don't really blame yourself for those issues, do you?
James: The Brass Gear ran out too soon, so I had my rather wet trip. But the book?
Sable: You weren't to know about the gear. The book, we both share the pain of that, James you're not the only one. [Sable put a hand on his knee in a showing of comradery]
Sable: I know you’re destined for great things James.
James: Thank you, Sable. [He says smiling relieved]
  The Infirmary Attendant is still writing notes but a few moments after the conversation. She gives her diagnosis.   Infirmary Attendant: You are to take these [she gives James a pill tube.] one before sleeping come down for more when you run out. [James nods]
Sable: Get better soon James, we need fighters for the coming battle.
James: Thanks, Sable. [James face sculps itself in recognition that he is needed]
  They separate and James goes back to his bed to drop off the pills in a draw of his bedside cabinet. Once he comes down he is given a simple task as to not put himself or others in danger. James reads some books and writes notes as he does so purple dust goes up into the air and dissipates, James assumed that since House Lapin fell the words that could be counted were to House Mollusca since James pledged an oath to House Lapin it must have transferred to House Mollusca for the dust colour to change.   Later that day and after James had some much-needed dinner he headed to bed early, took one of the pills and went to sleep  

Dec 11 2022 - Day 771

James woke up much later that morning and was starting to feel better without the weight on his shoulders of the night’s activities, he enjoyed his breakfast. Sable, CoffeeQuills and James made the discussion that he would recover some more before being put on more rigorous duty.   James is to wait outside the entrance to House Mollusca for a delivery, something for James won’t be too taxing and something he knows how to do already, all that would change is the location to where he needs to deliver the crate to.   James walks outside wearing clothes more appropriate to the weather. And waits the streets look a little busier than they would if he were outside House Lapin, for this time of year. Something caught his eye, a blue portal opened to his left with Greg popping out of it on the other side of the portal appeared to be a lemon grove with lemons still to be harvested.   James waves enthusiastically to Greg, who seems relieved of a recognisable friendly face. He continues to walk up to House Mollusca carrying a crate with books and lemons on top. Greg gets to the steps to House Mollusca.   Greg: [relieved] It's good to see a friendly face. Again sorry for the lemons, the harvest is going better than I would normally expect.
Molluscan Guard: [Interrupts] How do you know each other?
James: I used to collect deliveries from Greg when House Lapin was around. [The Guard nods and takes the pose he was before James came]
James: I’m sure I can make lemonade with them! [Greg looks confused]
James: When life gives lemons make lemonade. [Greg nods] I take it you go through the portal to deliver to House Lapin, back in the day?
Greg: Yes, why?
James: Because I didn’t see you portal in, to deliver for House Lapin and I was just wondering. [Greg Nods].
  James takes the crate with extras and bids Greg a good onward journey Greg leaves, a portal opens up revealing to be the place Greg came from. He goes through and vanishes. People around where the portal was, carry on with their lives as nothing happened. James enters House Mollusca and goes to ask where he should drop the crate off. To James’s bewilderment, they headed along the same floor and not up to CoffeeQuill’s Quarters. They found themselves in a library and James was asked to leave the crate there.  

Dec 27 2022 - Day 787

James woke up and felt like his old self before House Lapin fell, his bags under his eyes were gone and he felt more energetic. After his breakfast of seafood and rice. He was called into the entrance of House Mollusca.   CoffeeQuills: You are to be posted to the bay to ensure the safety of its users. Afterwards is your combat training do you think you will be up for it, James?
James: [enthusiastic] Yes of course!
CoffeeQuills: Well, go with the others!
  James goes with the others not exactly sure where to go. He takes his position and guards the bay ensuring that ships that come in are safe and defending those who need it, with a few attacks from people James is a little relieved that it was the living against themselves. A few fights broke out but it didn't require any form of force or military action to stop.   After a heavy lunch, James made his way to combat training where he learned to make much heavier swings with his sword. House Mollusca, unlike House Lapin, had mockups of the undead that stood there, which James stuck his training sword in the mockup’s mouth and ripped off its head. James manages to put the neck back onto the mockup and continues to train.  

Dec 29 2022 - Day 789

James is in combat training and manages to do the same thing he did last time, however this time the limbs of the mockup fall as well. Someone explains that if you were to decapitate the undead in the right way it can no longer function. As for what James was doing the undead creature would instinctively look for its head to put back into place. The right kind of decapitation renders the undead functionless and without instinct. James takes this on board, and replaces the limbs and head on the undead mockup and continues to train homing in his strikes.  

Dec 31 2022 - Day 791

After James’s combat training he sits on a bench and awaits everyone else to leave. Once they had James set up a combat scenario in which he is encircled by the undead and needs to fight, to get back to other members of his side. He continued to practice making swiping circle movements with his training sword as if to decapitate as many undead as he could quickly. Once he is satisfied he can combat this happening he puts the limbs and head back on and packs up.   While this is happening unbeknownst to James he is watched.   Sable: [Reassured]I think I was right about you James. I am pleased we met.
  James walks through a door leading unto the corridor Sable was watching from a shared light conversation as they do so James checks his pocket in a way Sable would not notice, the stone still in his pocket.   Sable: Don’t you think you should at least wait for combat training to get more advanced before trying that?
James: Its at least a good idea to try stuff in training, not on the battlefield, that’s something you told me back in House Lapin.
Sable: [Sable nods pleased James remembers the conversation they had] Even so, don’t you think you should at least wait?
James: I wanted to see if I would cope with the situation, I just about did, meaning I would have to wait for it to get more advanced.
  James and Sable agree with each other as James takes his right hand and shows it up to Sable and closes all fingers except for his thumb and index finger and holds the gesture for two seconds and shows four fingers and again holds this for 2 seconds and returns this to the first gesture and holds this for 2 seconds before allowing his hand to fall.   Sable: L4L, what does L4L stand for?
James: Lapin for Life, I will always be part of Lapin, even with a rabbit spirit with me.
  Sable is moved by this gesture with her eyes glistening with moisture, and thanks to James for the idea.  

Jan 6 2023 - Day 797

James is awaiting another delivery from Greg. As he waits for the delivery he looks both directions in idle thought. Across the street, James sees that someone has fallen over and helps them up. A portal opens up as this happens and Greg looks surprised as this happens, most of the time when Greg is delivering supplies to a House which James is a part of, he is waiting nearby.   Greg: You can’t help but be part of people’s lives, can you?
James: Why do you think I joined House Lapin?
Greg: I see, but you’re normally waiting for my deliveries.
James: Someone wasn't there for me. I can be there for someone else when they need someone.
  They walk back to the entrance to House Mollusca and Greg hands the crate to James.   Greg: I hear there’s going to be a battle here soon?
James: I heard that too since there's only the undead and one living house left.
Greg: [worried] I wish you the best for the coming battle.
  James thanks and reassures Greg. James places the crate down and they shake hands, James continues to hold Greg’s hand and he pulls Greg closer and with the other arm and hugs Greg.   They depart and James carries the crate to the location he dropped it off last time and walks off to do other duties.  

Apr 27 2023 - Day 908

In the morning James wakes up and dresses in the uniform of House Mollusca, he has breakfast and goes to his combat training. He finds a combat scenario planned out a dummy has been placed in a circle with the mockups around in a circle. The dummy is in the posture of a person scared for their life. James’s task is to save the person in the middle.   James swiftly digs his sword into the mock-ups so that the limbs fall off and get enough of the mock-ups “killed”, so that he could rescue the dummy, to make sure he stabs the sword through the rest of the mockups and takes the dummy and slings it on to his back hurried carries it off to the trainer who is assessing him and is also the safe place for the dummy to go.   Trainer: Good, James, unconventional but good.
James: Thanks, sir.
Trainer: If you could, reset the scenario and go to the entrance, for further orders. [James resets the scenario and walks out to the entrance]
  James walks out to the entrance, and asks to fall into formation with other members with enough members; they march on a looped route that appears not to function for any military reason but to show that we are ready and able for the upcoming battle, a morale booster if you will.   Later that day he slips the stone into his casual wear. As other members that were not part of House Mollusca could wear their own clothes.

The Final Battle

Apr 30 2023 - Day 911

James and some of the living forces are on a main street that leads off into foothills they are closer to the foothills than some of the pockets of the living.   Over the clamour of battle which seemed to James that he had been fighting for many hours. James manages to hear the sound of a woman screaming as if in pain and injured. While he attacks a skeleton with his longsword he manages to look round to see who it is to his amazement it is Sable. With the sheer hopeless of battle as the living at least outnumbered 1 to 3. As if nature could sense it, the heavens opened with rain. James deals with the skeleton by sticking his sword through its jaw and ripping the sword down, taking the skull down with it, with a satisfying thunk on the street floor. The bones from its body crash to the floor.   He rushes over to a mace wielding Sable, slashing the undead as he reaches Sable. As a sign of defence toward her, he says the following;   James: I, James Woodwright [slashes Zombie] serve House Lapin to the best of my abilities [stabs Skeleton] until I die or am taken by the horde. [downs a Zombie] I will put my life on the line for my fellow members when it is required of me. [downs a Skeleton].
  At the first chance, he has, he gets closer to Sable so that they can hear James.   James: I am not going to die this day. [serious] I need you to turn so we can win this day.
Sable: [concerned] James I can’t, House Lapin fell.
James: [Ignoring Sable and a more serious] Give me your hand.
  Sable unsure of James’s plan, she offers James her left hand. James reaches into his right pocket and gives Sable a stone object of 2 cm by 4 cm.   Sable: What is this?
James: It's part of the archway of House Lapin’s library that came away before House Chiroptera fell. [James hands the stone to Sable]
James: Turn, [shouts] Turn!
  At the realisation of what it was and the warm feeling the stone gave. Sable gives James a serious look and he backs off. As Sable turns, her were-rabbit fur comes into view. James’s heart skips a beat and gets another rush of adrenaline appearing to get his second wind and cheers triumphantly downs a few more of the undead and comes back to back with CoffeeQuills brandishing a seaweed encrusted sword.   CoffeeQuills: [In awe] Who the heck is that?
James: That’s Sable.
CoffeeQuills: I thought you rabbits couldn't turn?
James: We had a secret weapon. Where's this Iron Tome?
CoffeeQuills: [shocked] I thought you guys had it.
James: Why would we? [slashes a Zombie in the side of the neck] we gave it to you guys 4 centuries back.
James:[hopeless] This is getting hopeless, if Sable has a sense she won’t turn back to her human self until the battle is over.
  James looks over to see Sable holding a Zombie in one hand and using it as a club battering other undead aside. James smiles to himself.   James: Think, where could it be?
CoffeeQuills: I don’t know. [downs a zombie].
James: Think, four centuries back where would you guys put something that important.
  As CoffeeQuills ponders this she has a realisation that there’s a ruined temple nearby.   CoffeeQuills: James we need to go toward the mountains. Towards a ruined temple. [downs another skeleton]
James: Sable! Over here we need to clear this direction!
  Sable looks over and growls which scares the living daylights of her allies. She leaps and bounds in the direction, smacking undead as she goes. Nearing an alleyway she turns back to her fully clothed human self with her flintlock pistols in hand.   Sable: Come on guys no rest for the wicked! [she waves the other hand in a come over gesture]
  They travel over half a mile to a base of a mountain, fighting undead as they go, James makes his way past the other two, on multiple occasions to protect his superiors. After climbing some swampy wet ruined steps. They go into the ruined temple.   Sable: [light hushed tone] so, James why did you take this stone from House Lapin? [she hands it back to James]
James: [defensive] From our first conversation back in House Lapin, you said you needed House Lapin to stand or a piece of it to turn. You were the only person I knew who could turn into a were-rabbit. With the new clothes we are wearing, I knew you're the only one I knew for certain would turn as a House doesn’t stand forever. When I found a piece of House Lapin. I thought I must take this just in case.
Sable: I'm pleased you didn't steal it for personal gain and allowed us to fight on.
  Sable looks at James in a way that James couldn’t understand he knew he wasn’t in trouble but didn’t know how far away from this he was. As they reached the centre of the room with its stone and rotten wood floorboards they made their way to a Tome. That has iron covers it looked to have leather cording binding the covers to the spine of the tome. Before they made it to the tome James had his back to the entrance.   Sable: [Unison with CoffeeQuills] Look out James!
  Before James could look and turn around he heard a familiar voice speak.   Dazzlikat: Hello James!
  Dazzlikat cut a long gash along James’s right shoulder blade. James screams bloody murder.   James: That was the wrong arm!
  Before James could strike his assailant he was blinded and felt a strong breeze he had to squint as to not get dust in his eyes. When he opened them again. He saw that Sable and CoffeeQuills had their hand on the Iron Tome. He turned back to his attacker and found they looked more alive by the second her chocolate brown hair growing back, her skin getting less dry and her eyes became more white. In front of James is a beautiful woman he had met at the beginning of all this. He felt his clothes while he felt cut cloth, his wound had healed like nothing had happened. James had an idea.   James: Take that Tome and let's get out of here.
  The four leave the ruined temple and look out on the view before them the undead, the original undead were retreating, opening portals and leaving.   The four make their way down back to Otaru. Once there to their astonishment like James’s wounds, everyone that had come back to life with their cut marks in their clothes, or that is what they thought.   Lapin-Corporal: Ma’am! [Referring to Sable] [He salutes] We were given the choice to return back to the living or to die, I, of course, chose to live for the betterment of House Lapin.
Sable: Thank you, Corporal. What word of Nathalia?
Lapin-Corporal: I haven't seen her, since some of us got drafted in.
Sable: [Caring] oh Nathalia what happened to you?

James looks sympathetically to Sable but feels slightly bad that she has not acknowledged his bravery in helping and protecting them.

The Celebrations

The living and the survivors from the other side make their way back to a large space that can hold them all, James suspects that when the space is used properly it is used as a convention or conference space.   He helps the others, layout long tables and chairs so that everyone has a place to sit. Not long after some of them who are not tired or feel they could help more and assist in preparing food and drink for the celebrations. James helps with the decoration in the room to give the room a less corporate feel, by putting bunting up.   In the evening when the sun was beginning to set, the preparations were finished.   Main leader: Come on everyone take a bowl and glass, for today we celebrate!
  Others cheer in merriment as they take a bowl and glass and get a helping of thick stew, mead among other choices of alcoholic beverages. The celebrations go on and games are played. James shows others how to play a game, he deliberately loses rounds to be more friendly to others.   Much later on people drink more and get merrier. James at this point is leaning against a post watching as people celebrate further. A familiar person comes to James.   Sable: You not celebrating?
James: [Worried] I feel as if something is coming like new battles. It doesn’t seem right to celebrate this hard, no matter how hard I fought or trained.
Sable: As you wish but I think you deserve it [James nods]
James: As it seems appropriate to ask, Sable your not celebrating either!
Sable: I don’t take to celebrating with others well, particularly people I don't know personally, many of these people were in Houses that we once attacked. I don't think I could celebrate with a former enemy.
James: I can understand that we are in the present. It seems like you could make a new alliance, but it's your choice House Leader. [James says respectfully]
James: [Curious] What are your plans after this? I assume to head back to House Lapin and rebuild?
Sable: Yes, I want to allow my members to celebrate first and come back to my service afterwards.
Sable: What about you, James? You seem a trustworthy fellow. [she winks but James doesn’t register this]
James: [Sullen] I want to head back, Japan is fine and all, I am missing British Columbia as a place of homeliness, it would be nice to be back.
Sable: I can understand that too. When House Lapin opens again, there will be many ceremonies, some good some bad. It's a part of life. [Sable winks to James and this time James nods in recognition]
James: What do you think the first thing you will be doing when you get back?
Sable: [Jovial] Eating carrots most likely! [They both laugh]
  Sable, Jeremy, James and a few other members of House Lapin leave in the dark of the evening for House Mollusca for bed.   Jeremy: I’m getting too old for celebrating. [The others chuckle]
  When they enter House Mollusca, Sable asks the others to tell other members of House Lapin to meet them downstairs for a meeting of choice, after breakfast. They all nod and head off to sleep.  

May 1 2023 - Day 912 JST

They woke up and had breakfast. The ones who celebrated hard had handovers and were given fruit smoothies to combat this. After their breakfast, the members of House Lapin met with Sable downstairs.   Sable: Those who wish to celebrate further or to help clean up are welcome to do so. Those who want to come back and return to their duties can come with me after the Ceremony with CoffeeQuills and I.
  Some of the members of House Lapin nod their recognition to their duties and James does also.   At the Ceremony Sable and CoffeeQuills stand on a stage with the Iron Tome between them holding hands triumphantly.   CoffeeQuills: [Pleased] It was an honour to fight by your side among members of your House.
Sable: Likewise CoffeeQuills and with other members of your house [the audience acknowledge them being mentioned]
CoffeeQuills: I offer the hand of friendship to our future endeavours. [CoffeeQuills and Sable shake hands]
  CoffeeQuills addresses the audience.   CoffeeQuills: What should be done about the Iron Tome?
  The audience shouts varying answers. CoffeeQuills raises her hands. To calm the audience.   CoffeeQuills: The Iron Tome will be in the Molluscan Vault from now on.
  People nod and cheer. During the Ceremony, a Treaty is signed between House Lapin and Mollusca for historical and prosperity reasons. After the Ceremony James packs his clothes into a bag including his House Molluscan uniform for a keepsake.   Some time afterwards, James meets with Sable and 14 others who chose to continue their duties with House Lapin.   Sable: Are we ready to leave?
  The others nod their heads and one of the Molluscians open a portal to the inside of House Lapin.   James: [Jokingly] Back to yesterday and far away, I guess.
  James smiles inwardly and feels sad as he knows he will miss the hospitality of House Mollusca but he knows there is work to be done back in House Lapin’s territory.

A Lapin Return

April 30 2023 - Day 912 PST

They walk through the portal back to House Lapin that is in a bad shape.   Once they reach the other side the portal closes behind them, the clocks in House Lapin in the distance finish chiming 7 pm. James goes over to a computer to look up the date and time.   James: April 30 2023 at 7 pm.
Sable: Thanks James.
  Sable gives others orders. James goes to the arch away to replace the stone he stole. Once the other members are gone, James and Sable can talk privately.   Sable: [Addressing James] I should make you one of my personal elite guards [James looks stunned to be given this honour] as you helped us to continue fighting.
James: Thank you, ma’am, but I feel I would not be up to the role and would like to be given the honour later.
Sable: As you wish when you feel able, come back to me for your new role.
Sable: As we are a little rushed do you mind going to the training area and fetching a training sword?
  James nods and replies with the correct military reply and salutes. He marches off to the training ground for a wooden sword and returns to Sable, giving her the wooden sword.   Sable: Woodwright, rest on one knee [he obeys] you have been with us over two years, it is about time I give you this honour. [She raises the sword and taps James on both shoulders.]
Sable: Arise James Woodwright, Private Woodwright. [James arose, proudly] James took both hands and made them into a respectful gesture of thanks.
  Sable: Jonathan, please give James, his new uniform.
James: Thank you, ma’am.
Sable: It's Sable, you're now of high enough rank to call me that. [Sable winks. James nods and salutes]
  James was asked to go upstairs to his dorm if it were still habitable and change into his new uniform. While James changes in a bathroom cubicle as the door was jammed shut to his dorm, even checking with Jeremy to make sure he unlocked it.   In the bathroom cubicle, he looks at the upper sleeve of his new jumper to see a patch of a single arrow pointing up had been added. He smiled proudly knowing he accomplished something.   James went downstairs and got the attention of Sable.   James: Just to let you know my dorm door is jammed but not locked.
Sable: Thanks, I will get someone to fix that you will be in another dorm however due to your high rank.
James: [Pleased] Thank you Sable.
Sable: Your Welcome.
Sable: Attention, Private James, you are to scout out other establishments in the local area and make reports on what are still operating and survivors. Do you understand Private?
James: Yes, House Head. [He said with his hands crossed in front of him]
Sable: Please go to a special establishment first.
James: Which one what that be?
Sable: The Redsmiths across the road. [James shone with pride]
James: Yes, House Head.
Sable: Dismissed Private.
  James left House Lapin and almost tripped over a heavy metal object, he uncovered it to be the Brass Gear. He moves the Gear with his foot, so as to not be a tripping hazard. He makes his way to the Redsmiths across the river. He looks in, expecting his employees to see him in surprise or maybe in merriment, to see him alive after the battle.   However, when he comes to the entrance sees two dead bodies one slumped over a workbench the other over an anvil. They were still decomposing so James could still identify them.   James: [Depressive] I am so sorry.
  “You must have died slowly so as to not turn to the undead side, otherwise, you would have been given the choice to stay alive.” James thought.   James took notes of this, and made his way around the commercial areas and took notes some were pleased to see him and had conversations, mainly about how he survived or fared against the undead, others were more concerned about taxation on their business, he reassured people best he could and wrote this in this report notes.   He makes his way back to House Lapin and finds Sable working on some paperwork in the library. James bows his head in sadness and shakes his shoulders as if holding back tears.   James: The Redsmiths are 100% dead we didn't save them [A tear falls on the parchment of paper smudging some of the ink on the paper].
Sable: It's ok James we couldn't save everyone. [Sable tries changing the subject]
Sable: How is everywhere else?
James: I only did the commercial areas. [Sable nods understandably] Most areas are fine and recovering. Most people are happy to see us, ask us about how we found the undead and worried about their taxes.
Sable: Any news on Nathalia?
James: No one has seen her recently. Someone said, the last time they saw them was when Nathalia was with you, but that's about it.
  Sable rubs her hands against her forehead and recovers somewhat.   Sable: Dismissed, Private.
Sable: Oh, Nathalia where are you? [She looks sullen as she finished the sentence]
 

May 1 2023 - Day 913 PST

James goes to the canteen to have a quick breakfast before helping with the cleanup of House Lapin downstairs. He eats an apple and bread roll with apple juice. As he comes down the stairs a messenger wearing the colours of another House, but too hard to distinguish which House by the colour. Enters House Lapin and goes over to Sable, who is working at a desk of documents in the library. James holds a suspicious expression and goes over to Sable protectively and readies his sword.   Messenger: I bring bad tidings to House Lapin.
Sable: What is your news, messenger? [James relaxes slightly but his left hand is still ready]
Messenger: We found Nathalia she is dead [Sable's expression changes from neural to sad], her body can't be moved far not without risking her body falling apart.
Sable: [As if in tears] Thank you, messenger. [The messenger leaves]
Sable: [Shouts best she can but she is still sad] Everyone, arrange a Ceremony of Loss.
  Everyone that hears the message nods, Sable whispers in James’s ear to fetch a red cloth and something else. A table in the lobby is fetched and a training dummy is put upon it. James puts clothes at the bottom half so that when the cloth covers the dummy it will look like a person is underneath. DMStretch is summoned.   At the ceremony everyone that can attend, does. Sable is at the end of the table where the person's head would be covered, by a metallic red cloth covering the dummy. DMStrech at the opposite end.   Sable: We are here to say thank you and make our last respects to a fallen comrade of the Varangian’s who helped save my life when House Lapin fell.
  A few other words are spoken but James can't hear over his loud breathing and of those around him and others holding back tears as James holds back sadness himself.   Sable: Varangian Major, Nathalia deceased as, Varangian Commander with honours.
  As Sable says this, time appears to slow down for James.  
[THE GAME OF TOMES THEME PLAYS]

Story Contents

References

Brass Gear - Pattrick Rothfuss, Wise Man’s Fear (2011) Chapter 146. P957 ISBN: 9780575081437
Carrot Reference - Video


Cover image: Historical Book by Freeimages

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