Chapter 14:

Welcome to the Depository (Part 2)

The Curious Case of Clemsey

“You were welcomed by our dear Prince, but the job isn’t yours yet,” the tall and beautiful and obviously annoyed man said, looking down on a broken pieces of vase on the ground.

“I’m so very sorry, Sir Bisca, I wasn’t looking,” I said, obviously annoyed at my own carelessness. Just this afternoon, we have arrived at the splendid capital of Stussa—the city Clauden, where the prestigious Royal Court is situated. And upon entering its premises, I straightaway broke something, though completely by accident, I felt bad for being scolded.

“Oh well, it’s all right, after all, I’m pretty sure you are exhausted. Just— be careful next time. Please don’t be a walking disaster inside the depository,” he said, suddenly staring curiously at me. “Now, that I think about it, are you not used to seeing things without Ashke’s spectacles covering your eyes?”

I bent down to collect the broken pieces of vase from the granite floor. The vision of fallen flowers scattered in the ground, with water sipping through spaces in between the stems and pieces of shards, gave a sad little nudge in my heart. A sliver of familiar feeling surged into my being, like I’ve been badly broken before, though I can’t remember how and where, why or by what.

“It wasn’t like that, Sir Bisca…, I’ll be careful next time…” I muttered. As I was about to pick up a piece of shard, another hand held mine— an utterly positive feature against the broken backdrop.

“Prince Vaugn,” said Bisca with a deep bow, which prompted me to do the same.

“What’s with the two of you?” he questioned. “Bisca, please go back to your normal state.”

“Van, can’t you see I’m trying set a good example to our new-found comrade here,” Bisca said pointing at me, with a smug on his face. “I am showing my deepest respect to my dearest Prince~”

“Clemsey, don’t mind Bisca. That’s what I meant by his normal state of being,” he said with a grin in his face. I can sense a close bond between the two of them.

Vaugn Ark-Zenith, the second prince of the Kingdom of Stussa. I knew of his name, from the very last time the Hajione Group went in this Kingdom. What are the odds that it would be him, I’ll meet halfway to my destination.

With my mind clouded with thoughts, I wasn’t able to notice the turns and corners in the path we took to arrive at a huge, impressive double door in front of me. I let out a gasped. I took a step backward. I took a step away, one after another. And, It wasn’t me trying walk away, which probably what Sir Bisca had in mind as he was staring at me in sheer disbelief. The thing is, I was remembering what my Father once told me, “a door isn’t a door, if it doesn’t lead you anywhere.” Right now, I am looking at where this door would lead me. “The E. Stussa Depository,” I muttered to myself, awestruck by the scale of the structure proudly standing in front of me. Van stood beside me, as if trying to see the view from my perspective.

“It’s an impressive structure right? But believe it or not, this is the most threatened place inside the Royal Court, or if I have to be honest, in the whole of Stussa.”

“Ohh, was that really the case?” I asked, taken aback by what I heard.

“In the past, the E. Stussa Depository fought multiple threats of arson and larceny. I am grateful for brave souls like Bisca Reihart for protecting all the knowledge and culture that this place holds.”

The brave soul which is Bisca Reinhart, from what I learned is the de facto Head Archivist of the depository. The fact that the position I was applying for was long vacated due to the looming threat to this place, and the people who were involved in it, namely— Yoshira Naoue, the former Head Archivist, and my close friend, Ashke Mashima. Both of them, were assumed to have left the capital.

A case of missing memories, missing parents, a missing best friend, and now a missing Archivist. I can’t wrap my head around it. Somehow, these narrative of events that keep on surfacing, made me live in a constant state of bewilderment.

“Clemsey—“ Bisca called my attention while opening the door for me. I felt a shiver of excitement from my soul. As impressive as it is from the outside, the E. Stussa Depository from the inside, is a kingdom in and of itself. The depository, opens up to a massive library. I was greeted by thousands of books neatly nestled in the wall from floor to ceiling. My eyes are widely roving around, taking in the magnificence surrounding me. I probably look ridiculous with my mouth wide open. The abundance of lamps and comfortable looking sofas are a beckoning invitation for a weary soul.

As Lowen and Blanca arrived to fetch the Prince, I was left alone in the company of Bisca. He led me, hallways after hallways, to wide galleries and narrow corridors. I was told that the 4-storey structure, covering a wide complex of land inside the Royal Court premises, houses a library, a glyptotheca, various science and technology researches, priceless artifacts and curious devices, as well as workshops complete with objects and equipment, in which most probably, I haven’t stumbled upon before. I was led to an area covered by a grand glass dome above. A large number of indoor plants are resting on the wall shelvings, and some larger ones sitting on the floor. All of the pots have very fancy plant labels attached on long metallic stakes, pushed on the soil.

“There is an observatory connected to E. Stussa… and oh—,” he said gazing outside beyond the glass walls. “This area houses a collection of plant species. This is Yoshira Naoue’s favorite part of the depository. She specifically assigned me to take care of this place.” His eyes, as he said those words have a strange spark in them.

“Here’s the matter at hand, Clemsey, I will try to explain it as briefly as I can.” He cleared his throat and continued, “by tradition, to hold a position in the E. Stussa depository, requires a thorough interview, which I believe we’ve been doing since meeting you, and second, you must find a key.”

“A key?”

“Hmm… it’s more of an initiation to be honest. A key is hidden, usually around the library. Made a candidate look for it. Clues were given to test one’s knowledge on catalogues and research processes. The last time this tradition was practiced though, was when I entered as an Assistant Archivist under Naoue’s supervision,” he looked at me with a serious expression and continued. “The thing is that, this time around, there wouldn’t be any useful clues. Naoue holds the master key to the whole depository. When she left, one key is missing and a vague letter was left behind— I hid a key, only you can find, is what was stated.”

“Sir Bisca, I wonder, what does Ashke have to do with this? From what I know, it wasn’t so long ago since he started at the workshop.”

“We’ve been friends with Ashke way before he started working here. We trust him and I believe he does trust us, as well, enough to leave an important research document he possesses, under the care and protection of E. Stussa. There are forces aiming for crucial information like that, either to destroy its growth, or use it for personal gain. When Naoue left, Ashke left. A key was hidden, and so, was a document. That was how we pieced it all together.”

“Then, that research document owned by Ashke, was left by Miss Naoue behind the door with a missing key?”

He nodded as a response. “Breaking that door is one way to do it, though, this is a sacred ground, we deeply respect, and the locks here were especially designed by the late, Mister Mashima, Ashke’s father. Also, since our good friend led you here, at least we thought, we were presented with another option. If you think this is beyond what you came here for, we are not going to hold it against you, you may leave in peace anytime.”

“Sir Bisca, you and Ashke seem to trust Miss Naoue. Van, Lowen and Blanca seem to do so, as well. I believe then, that I can also put my trust in her words— That you are the clue to this mystery, Sir Bisca, so, for starters, I hope you can tell more about Miss Yoshira Naoue.”

He smiled at me and I offered a smile back, which is good as me saying, that I will push through my chosen path despite the uncertainty.

“Well, for starters, she would always say—,” Sir Bisca said with a bright smile still plastered in his face, “you can’t protect a door, when you couldn’t even open it yourself.”