“Introductions” - Tales of Koldesa
“Dr. Nathaniel Gloken?” a young voice asked, disturbing him and his studies. He stood up to peer at the short figure on the other side of his desk. The buckball style hat he saw read “Shuster’s Delivery Service” and sat on top of a toothy grin.
“Nathan will do, how may I assist you?” He raised an eyebrow and tried his best to put on a pleasant smile for the young satyr who had addressed him.
“Package for ya, sir,” the boy stated, lifting a very thick, plastic-sealed envelope over his head. It looked as if it contained at least two dictionaries. Nathan paused, thinking about how the satyr was able to lift it up with such ease.
“Oh, must be George’s annual budget for the university. You can set it down right there.” Nathan tried to hide his distaste at the prospect of seeing how little his department’s funds would be next year. He motioned to the far side of his desk in front of him with a grimace.
Nathan looked back down at his work and sighed, resting his elbow on the desk and the connecting palm against his forehead. Hearing a tiny cough, he peered next to him to find that not only had the satyr placed the package where he suggested, but he had also come around to Nathan’s side of the desk. His hands were behind his back and he looked up at the ceiling while whistling, as if waiting for something.
“Doesn’t George usually tip you in advance?” Nathan inquired and tried his best not too sound offensive. Sure, why not give the boy something extra, he thought with a pleasant smile. He reminisced about his own odd jobs when he was a teenage orc, and how living paycheck-to-paycheck felt. He exhaled slowly after a moment as he realized the memories were not positive ones. Nathan shook out the thoughts and reached into his desk drawer. It took him several seconds to weed through the documents that covered the inside and find a small bag. He pried it open with his large fingers and pulled out some coins. The money the university gave him came in handy at times such as this, for his pockets were bone dry. He turned back to the boy and smiled, putting the currency into his hand.
“Thank ya bro!” The satyr nodded with a smile and ran off, leaving Nathan to lament once more at the maps spread out in front of him, trying his best to ignore the package.
The library’s windows were high along the roof and easy to miss unless one tilted his head up in their direction (This simple fact was what made it easy for Nathan to lose all track of time and miss several meals throughout the day). Nathan looked up to the windows and rolled his eyes as he saw only darkness past the glass panes. Yet another day passed by with no progress.
“Not again.” Like earlier, he heard a voice coming from the other side of his desk. This time it was Frank the night janitor, whose short greying red hair and long elven ears rested under his hat. Frank had his hands on his hips and a teasing smirk on his face like a child who caught their younger sibling trying to watch a movie clearly out of their age range.
Nathan laughed in reply and closed his book. “You caught me again it seems,” he replied. Standing up and stretching, Nathan heard his spine crack in places he didn’t know could.
“My boys told me that you’ve been here since the morning. What has caught the professor’s attention this time?” Frank asked and crossed his arms over his chest.
“I was using the reference maps you had from the Jolintown region to try to pinpoint where the Harpy colonies migrated to after the construction of the town.” Nathan looked down to the stacks of papers and sprawled-out maps on the desk.
“I don’t see why you are so stuck on that Jolin guy and that time period in general,” Frank stated with an easily detectable hint of concern.
“It is just a fascinating era, and ever since Edward procured those old correspondences that actually told Jolin’s story, I cannot get it out of my head. I need a new topic for a thesis and I thought this might work.” Nathan looked down at his notes again and felt a twinge of disappointment strike at his core.
He sat back down and got his notes together for when Frank eventually kicked him out. The professor thankfully made copies of the maps so he could continue at home.
“What you need is a topic you could write another story about. These thesis reports you keep giving the review board won’t help you get funding. The Jolin story actually got published and got the university some publicity,” Frank suggested.
Nathan laughed again. “Frank, if only it were that easy. The Legend of Jolin was just something I did for amusement. I wanted the real story to be exposed and to give more insight into the area and time period. I gave most of the money from it to Edward and the university, because it would have been impossible without him. Besides it got mixed reviews.” Nathan used his finger to circle Jolintown on the map, trying his best to distract his thoughts from the reviews online. They singled out his story as the weak one in a collection of short stories.
“Hey, speaking of Edward.” Upon hearing Frank musing, Nathan looked up at him with a perked eyebrow. The elf was looking down at the package on his desk.
“I completely forgot about that. Wait, you mean that isn’t the university’s budget?” Nathan’s heart started to beat faster; Edward only sent him things that were interesting, like the Jolin documents.
Nathan stepped down from the chair and went around to the package. There was Edward’s address in Jolintown, clear as day. He had an urge to grab it and claw at it like some sort of wild animal who had found its prey, but he refrained and grabbed it with a shaking hand.
“You ok?” Frank’s voice had the same tone of concern he had earlier.
“Yes, sorry. I must admit I was not expecting anything from him, so I suppose you can say I feel like a child opening a present.” Nathan laughed and rubbed the back of his neck for a moment before he continued his attempt at trying to tear into the package.
The tan package was giving him much resistance. Not only had Edward taped every edge and fold, Nathan was having trouble getting through the envelope’s material itself.
“Does he do this because he knows it bothers you?” Frank glanced at the package and shot Nathan a coy smirk.
“No, no,” the orc stuttered while trying to rip it apart, pausing for a moment with a blank expression. “Well maybe, though I would imagine he does it to protect what is inside.”
Frank reached onto the desk and grabbed a pair of scissors, moving slowly to cut the package along the top. Nathan saw the elf’s smile, hugged the precious package with his muscular arms, and shot the elf a protective glare.
“By the spirits man, you have to be careful with this sort of thing!” The orc unsuccessfully stopped himself from raising his voice. Thankfully, it didn’t faze Frank; not much did.
Nathan stood the package up and made sure all of the documents sat along the bottom so there would be ample room up top for the blades. Frank took his cue and cut the top slowly while Nathan reviewed every snip, watching closely and listened for the sound of something besides the envelope being cut.
“And there!” Frank tore the last bit off. Nathan cringed and ignored his friend’s teasing laugh as he took the contents out of the envelope with the utmost care. The plastic wrapped books and documents found a new home on the table.
“Jolene? Is that like an ancient way of spelling Jolin?” Frank asked as he tried his best to see through the plastic. Nathan’s glasses did little to help as he leaned down to try to inspect the words on the cover.
“No, no. Jolene was a human girl that had very little documentation about her and just tons of rumors. Historians never take her stories seriously because they are mostly hearsay.” Nathan raised an eyebrow and tried to convince himself it wasn’t anything important so he wouldn’t get overly excited. Cautiously grabbing the scissors with a shaking hand, Nathan cut into the plastic and exposed the top book to the air. He reached for it as if it were a lost treasure and flipped through it, his eyes getting wider with every turn of a page.
“Edward, you lovable dolt! You found a diary!” Nathan’s normally deep voice went several octaves higher in excitement. “This will be perfect for a thesis!” The orc hugged the leather-bound book to his chest with the joy of a new father.
“Just message John and write it as a story. You know as well as I do that people prefer to be entertained over being informed. With Jolin you guys did both.”
Nathan found Frank’s words were, well, frank and it was enough to snap the orc out of his hypnotic trance. “I suppose I could. But I wrote Jolin’s story so long ago, and I am out of practice,” he replied with hesitation in his voice.
“Well you were always better at vocal storytelling than writing, and maybe you should try that again. By the spirits, you basically dictated Jolin loud to me before you wrote it.” Frank stopped and appeared to be thinking to himself in silence, and then his eyes shot open as if he had come up with the cure for satyr pox. “You read what you can from those notes and I’ll lend you one of my crew and you can tell them the story. If you want you can even borrow some of the sound equipment to record it.”
Nathan looked to the side for a moment in thought. “That… could work. Though judging by this stack of papers-,” Nathan gestures to the stack of documents and books on the desk. “It might be a rather long story.”
“That’s fine, just go home, study, and let me know when you need me to call my lackey.”
Nathan got out of the cab and hurried into his apartment, tossing his trench coat to the side. He still had the package, hugged tightly against his chest. He exhaled with a smile as his heart nearly burst from his chest at the thought of all the things he was about to learn. Going straight to his office, he touched the rune on his runesmith lamp, causing a jolt of electricity to travel to the bulb at the end and illuminate the room. What great stories did Jolene have for him? The excitement was almost too much for him to bear and caused any weariness he felt earlier to fade.
He went to sit down but had to take a few moments to clear his chair and desk of the many now useless documents. After finding room for himself and his new treasures, he picked up book after book and thumbed through them. His eyebrow perked up after skimming over a couple of random pages. There wasn’t only Jolene’s story here; there were backgrounds on several different people. The names sounded familiar to him, they were names that went along with the rumors passed around by the academic community. A grin stretched the distance of his face and exposed his short tusks fully; he had a lot to work with here. He reached over to the far end of his desk and turned on his computer while the thought of waiting even a second longer to get everything down was unbearable.
“I have enough here to write stories about everyone Jolene knew. I guess those can be practice before I tackle her story.”
He tapped his green fingers against the desk in annoyance as he waited for his computer to load up. Nathan took as many notes as he could before he passed out at his keyboard. On the screen was a text document with only the words “Struggle Together”.
To Be Continued With “Struggle Together” Next Month