Chapter 15:

Welcome to the Depository (Part 3)

The Curious Case of Clemsey

“We are the knights of knowledge! The protector of this sacred realm!”

“Sir Bisca, that is a very fancy way of putting it. Did Miss Naoue really say that?

“No, I said that.”

“Yeah figured,” I answered, followed by a discreet yawn. As I didn’t get enough sleep last night, struggling to piece the puzzle together, I went back to the E. Stussa Depository’s botanical area, running on an hour or two of sleep and overdosed with caffeine. If Uncle Gionne was here, I’ll probably get scolded.

“Anyway, how was the dorm room our Prince arranged for you? Isn’t our dear Van so sweet?” he said, while playing with his tied hair.

“Uhm… I am sincerely grateful for the hospitality. I’ve been receiving so much kindness since I arrived here,” I said, my face started warming up. “By the way Sir Bisca, I forgot to ask—“ I continued, “this missing key, opens up what door exactly?”

“Yoshira Naoue’s personal work room,” he said, his countenance suddenly shaded with shadows. He stared miserably at the small potted plant placed on the coffee table. Rigelia, as stated on its fancy label, which he clipped on the metal stake then pushed into the soil.

“Then, may I know what this key looks like?” I asked, going over the list of things I noted to inquire for today.

“Ohh..” he muttered, while his hands reached for something inside the winter coat of his royal uniform. Beside the Rigelia, he put down a long and golden metallic object. “It’s the key… A really long one at that.” I said. Its bow, intricately twisting, forming a shape of a four leaf clover and at the end of its long shaft, is the small tooth-like part which engages directly with the complex mechanisms inside the keyhole.

“I had that same reaction as you. I am unsure as to why these keys were designed to be this long. As I said before, it was created by Ashke’s father, many years ago. From what I know, he used to be a locksmith before becoming a mechanic.”

Examining the anatomy of the key that was a long as my hands, I was reminded of a particular document that was shown to me before leaving Alcione. In it, was an incomplete illustration of a certain machinery designed by the same person who did all the locks and keys of the E. Stussa Depository. The purpose of each and every part of it was something a mechanical mind like Ashke could explain in full detail. And, the Luminare gem stone, to which it was built for, was something my parents can expound on.

Ashke, I have no idea how you thought I could provide answers to all of these. Nevertheless, I was blessed with a chance to be at a place filled with people’s passion.

“Say, Sir Bisca, you told me yesterday that this Botanical area was Miss Naoue’s favorite place. Was she a plant enthusiast?”

“Oh, yes indeed. She told me she never had an affinity for it before, not until she became the Head Archivist. Plants turned into her best friends.” He took the Rigelia plant with two hands and walked towards the shelf. “There’s an outdoor flowering plant which she really loved,” he said with his finger pointing outdoors. “It’s a plant called, ‘Timeless Hana’, a native in her hometown.”

“Oh, It’s a beautiful name,” I replied with a smile.

I find myself staring at the garden outside, thinking how everything about this room reminds me of our home in Alcione. I roam my head around, my eyes, following the curve of the sky dome, until my gaze made it to the hallway.

I don’t know where to start, I thought. I should be asking the right questions so I could arrive at the right answers. So, then perhaps, I should try this—

“Sir Bisca, what’s your favorite book in the library?”

“Oh there’s one novel which I read for like a hundred times. The title is—“ he said, looking at my direction. “Sayasedica’s Farewell, it’s a story about a mother who’s desperately looking for the child she lost upon giving birth. Then, things happened. Only then, she learned that child she was looking for, was close to her all along. However, she realized it, way too late— oh! I did spoil the book, didn’t I?”

“It’s all right. I will give it a read too,” I replied with a soft laugh.

“Well, I asked Naoue to read it. She said she didn’t like it but when she handed it back to me, her eyes were so red. It was a funny sight to see,” he said, with a smile in his lips but a pained look in his eyes.

That said, as I was granted permission, I went out to explore the depository. Every step I took felt heavy for I became wary about missing a potential clue on the way. I went to the library to search for the answer I got from Sir Bisca. As what I was told, the library is where the test is usually being held. After looking through catalogues, climbing book ladders, running my eyes through beautiful spines and scanning the shelvings for any sign of the key in question, I just took Sayasedica’s Farewell with me to the study desk. I skimmed through the last chapters of novel, flipping pages after pages, not really sure what I was trying to look for.

So, her child all along is in plain sight, I pondered. A chance that was missed because one is looking at a wrong place, for the right answer. I let out a sad sigh.

I stood up from my seat and took the book with me. With each angle I take, looking like a dead end, I still continued with my exploration. I stopped by a section that features old correspondences, an area of the depository where nostalgia envelopes the air. I stared blankly at the window and felt a sudden presence with me. I swiftly looked to my back.

“Ah—“ Van said. “As always, you have a frightening level of heightened senses.”

“And as always, you are a master of appearing out of the blue.” I replied with grin.

“Oh well… I was looking for you, Bisca said you’re roaming around somewhere.” He moved closer to where I stand and leaned by the window sill. “If you read through the correspondences here, you’ll find out some of historical facts about E. Stussa. However, much earlier records and important researches were destroyed in an arson attack. Think about all the knowledge, imagination and ideas that would’ve moved a nation forward, burned into ashes.” My chest tightened from that statement. I looked at the depository and imagined everything burning in fire. I felt a deep anger, I haven’t experienced before.

“You know, there’s a book in here which I loved as a child. It was a book about people’s soul and it perished in the fire.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that…” I said in a low voice. I wonder, if the raging fire I feel for all the lost things, is new found resolved that is starting to blossom, “Those records of the past, would have been a potential map towards the future. It’s tragic…” From my peripheral vision, I saw Van looked to my direction.

“Uhm, Van, how can you describe Miss Yoshira Naoue?”

“She sincerely loves the E. Stussa Depository. Though, it was known around the Royal Court, that she was from a family suspected to be involved in the attack. But I do trust her. We all do. Wholeheartedly. And wherever she is right now, I know that she will continue to do what is right,” he said, looking at me with his warm smile. “And oh, she loves her plants more than anything else, so, she especially assigned Bisca, the one closest to her, to take care of the Botanical garden.”

I hid a key, only you can find…, I pondered. Only you can find… I looked at Sayasedica’s Farewell, trying to connect the dots.

“Van, I think I know where the key is.”

Immediately, we run back to Miss Naoue’s favorite place. Every sound of my foot step, comes a deep longing to be right. Upon arriving at the Botanical garden, I found Lowen and Blanca having a casual conversation with Sir Bisca.

“Sir Bisca,” I said, obviously out of breath. “Timeless Hana, where is Timeless Hana?”

I saw confusion in his brows and shock in his eyes. He led me to the outdoor garden and introduced me to Timeless Hana, an elegant looking flowering plant with burgundy blossoms. I gazed at its beckoning beauty then slowly moved my head down to gaze at its label. I know, that my companions followed my gaze, for I heard various reactions of surprise from them. I took the plant label off, buried deep in the soil. The tooth-like edge appeared in its edge. Given how long the design was, the key was used by Miss Naoue, as a stake for the plant’s label.

“The key,” I said. “I guess was hiding in plain sight all along…”

“So, this was what she meant by that letter. Since, I am the one in-charged of this place,” he said, with a relief in his expression.

With that, we were able to open the door to Yoshira Naoue’s room. It was empty, saved for a single binded document on the working desk— Machinery Design (Incomplete Illustrations) by: Enso Mashima

“Could it be that Miss Naoue left for the pursuers to think that she has it? And, knowing Ashke, he must be trying to complete the works of his father. He needed this document,” I said.

“That might be the case,” Van muttered.

We were all silent afterwards. I am standing, looking into each of the indoor plants on the shelves. Sir Bisca, Lowen and Blanca were seated by the coffee table in the Botanical Garden, while the Prince is looking far ahead, gazing at the outdoors. Regardless, I guess all of us are thinking of the next step to take.

“Clemsey—,” Van called me. I saw him and Sir Bisca looked at each other, nodded and smiled.

Sir Bisca, stood up from his seat and walked towards my direction. He extended his hands and I took it feeling somewhat baffled.

“Assistant Archivist Clemsey Akisa, Congratulations! Welcome to the E. Stussa Depository. My fellow knight of knowledge, I am looking forward to working with you.”

Hearing those words, felt like the closest I’ve ever been to all the things I was searching for.