The last time we saw our wildly wooly wanderers, the Gunslinger and Scribe had inconspicuously travelled to the town of Ostricester. With a mission that required stealth, the Scribe sought out the Barber to give the Gunslinger a makeover. With the once shaggy Gunslinger now clean-cut and dressed to kill, the pair move on to the Ostricester University Library with the hopes of finding texts that could aid them on their journey to the end of the world.
The Gunslinger re-adjusts his trousers for the hundredth time as he and the Scribe make their way up the many marble steps leading to the Ostricester University Library. The Gunslinger had unwillingly traded his leather duster and chaps for a black collarless coat with matching waistcoat and a wide-brimmed hat sporting a radiant blue peacock feather. Apparently, having his six-shooters hanging from his hip was not the “style” the Scribe was looking for, so he instead holstered both pistols in the small of his back. The constant readjustments were created by the barrels of the pistols digging into his…
“Do you really think they’re going to believe this,” asks the Gunslinger “With an eye-patch?”
“Yes,” says the Scribe. “You look quite distinguished and many war veterans pick up unconventional work after their service. You just happened to have made a fortune and now you’re searching for the texts on historical holy places. For spiritual purposes of course.”
“Well of course for spiritual reasons, what other reasons could there be,” retorts the Gunslinger sarcastically. “I bet we get ran out of here before we ever set foot through the door.”
“Not if they believed my letter. We’ve gone through all the right channels. Everything is in place, now you just have to do your part,” replies the Scribe assuringly.
The library looms ahead, its towering columns loom over the rest of the city, supporting the massive, ornate marble awning. The front of the awning is adorned with a scene of the gods offering the book of knowledge to mortal men. While many didn’t believe in the old gods anymore, their value lived on mostly in popular literature and folk tales. Above the awning was a continuation of the library, featuring an extensive stain-glass window. The window had various blues and greens, intertwining together down the library’s face
The Gunslinger chuckled. Knowledge wouldn’t be given today. It would be stolen.
The duo stride confidently towards the heavy decadent oak door. The door is inlaid with gold featuring intricate engravings. The duo swings open the door, and stepps into the foyer. The floors are polished marble, and the towering columns continue, sprouting up through the marble. Scores of colossal book shelves dot the floor of the library. There were thousands of scrolls and books populating the shelves.
In the middle of the floor is a large, circular desk with several robed scriptorians busily sorting through scrolls in the center. Leaning against the desk is a well-dressed gentleman wearing a fine waist-coat, staring into his pocket watch on a chain. The figure looks up and then strolls over to meet the Gunslinger and the Scribe.
“Gentlemen, you must be the ones with which I have an appointment,” says the man, stretching his hand out for a handshake, “I’m glad to meet you, I’m the head archivist and proprietor of this establishment, Ysak.”
“Yes!” exclaims The Scribe, “I am the Scribe and this is our benefactor, on a mission from God you might say.”
“Yes I have looked forward to meeting you sir,” replies Ysak, “Quite a noble undertaking, searching for religious relics in abandoned towns with religious buildings. I hope that some of our historical records can give you a place to start in your quest by identifying some of these relics and the buildings and towns they may have been in before plague, raiders, or opportunity moved them elsewhere.”
“I do hope so,” answers the Gunslinger, taking extra care to enunciate his words and speak properly, “These objects of faith are pointless unless they’re in the hands of believers.”
“Well let's put them back in our hands,” brightly replies Ysak.
The optimistic demeanor creates a stir of guilt in the Gunslinger’s stomach for a second. Bounty hunting, while dirty work, was, for the most part, honest work. The archivist's enthusiasm was about to be quickly extinguished. No matter, it had to be done and no one would be truly hurt.
The three began climbing a wooden case that clung to the side of the library’s walls, like the mountain goat’s path up the mountain. When they reach the last landing, the Gunslinger and Scribe see a whole floor has been constructed near the ceiling of the library. The two adventurers lean over the railing, looking out over the whole library. The stained-glass cast a cascade of beautiful colors across those walking through the rooms.
“These are where we keep our most precious works,” says Ysak motioning to the area, “We believe this in addition to the security provided makes this one of the safest places in the world.”
The Gunslinger looked over to see the security Ysak mentioned. There were four guards in chainmail holding crossbows standing at full attention. Royal guards. These guards were suspiciously similar to the two guards standing in the front. They were dressed like common town guards but more alert, crisp, and in better shape.
Ysak leads them into a room full of religious texts and sits down, beginning to present all the texts he had selected for their review.
When Ysak looks up, he’s met with a locked door. Ysak beats on the door, demanding their return.
“It should be this way,” the Scribe whispers. They turn a corner and come upon a room with a glass case. In the case lay many ancient books, in the midst of all of them laid a massive text. The pages were laid open and the pages were filled with illuminated manuscripts of dead languages, the illustrations carefully crafted and colored in precious pigments.
“That’s it,” whispers The Scribe giddily.
The Gunslinger pulls on the handles but the case is locked. He begins to pull out a pick when he hears the shouting of guards.
“We’re gonna have to do this the faster way,” growls the Gunslinger. As fast as lightning, the Gunslinger unholsters his .357 magnum six shooter and blasts the lock. The Scribe, astonished at the Gunslinger’s lack of care with such ancient treasures, but understanding the need for brevity grabs the text and wraps it into his robes.
As the pair leave the room, they turn down the hall seeing the guards talking to Ysak. Ysak sees them and points yelling, “THERE THEY ARE.”
The pair dart towards the entry landing where they meet the rest of the royal guards coming up the stairs. The Gunslinger and the Scribe are trapped.
The two adventurers back up the stairs slowly, careful not to make any quick movements. The two step back onto the main landing as the guards surround them.
The Gunslinger looks around and then whispers to the Scribe, “Follow my lead.” The Gunslinger quickdraws again, firing three rounds in rapid succession. The bullets whiz through the air, all a distraction save for the last one. The last bullet smashes a knob holding a length of chain tied to the massive chandelier that provides the majority of light for the whole building. The chandelier falls until the end of the chain tied to the railing catches. The Scribe and Gunslinger leap onto the giant chandelier and begin to swing towards the stain-glass window.
The Royal guards, catching on to the escape attempt, begin firing at the two escapees. Ysak tries to disrupt their shooting, screaming, “STOP! YOU’LL DESTROY THE BOOK. IF THEY FALL IT WILL ALL BE GONE!”
The Scribe and Gunslinger in the meantime, have gained enough momentum to send themselves smashing through the window and onto the marble awning below. The Gunslinger whistles and sees their carriage come rolling into sight. The hooded driver sees the two fugitives are not on the front steps as planned but on the roof and begins to circle the library. The Gunslinger see’s more royal guards on horseback riding to the library, but what he doesn’t see is a way down to rendezvous with their own getaway wagon. Then an idea springs into the Gunslinger’s head.
“Follow me!” cries the Gunslinger as he begins running down the slanted roof of the awning. The Scribe picks up his robes and follows, unsure of the Gunslinger’s intentions. When they get to the end, the Scribe realizes, the Gunslinger intends to jump. While in the wagon there is some hay for the horses and the fabric lining the roof the Scribe is unsure whether that will break their fall.
The Scribe tries to stop, but the Gunslinger anticipates this and tackles him off the edge of the roof.
Time slows down as the two tumble through the air, the Gunslinger reflects as he wonders if there is enough there to break their fall.
The quandary is answered as the two make impact with the cart. Later, the Scribe would regale tavern patrons with this tale and say that while the landing was extremely unpleasant and the leap was something he would never do again, the rush was exerilating. The wagon takes off down the city streets with royal guards in pursuit. The Gunslinger crawls through the collapsed wagon roof to set down next to the mysterious driver.
“Sorry, friend,” the Gunslinger apologizes, and shoves the driver off the wagon and into a coal cart.
The Gunslinger, now in control of the wagon, races towards the city's drawbridge. The bridge was starting to rise, no doubt the alarm had made it this far already. Arrows are whizzing by the Gunslinger as he prepares himself for yet another leap. The wagon goes up one side of the bridge and the horses pulling the wagon jump. The wagon goes airborne, before landing on the other side of the bridge. The impact of the jump was too much as the wagon’s axle splinters. The wagon pitches forward smashing into the road. The horses stop as the weight of what is left of the wagon is unmovable without wheels. The Gunslinger and Scribe emerge from the wreckage, both look worse for wear, but physically fine. The Gunslinger cuts the horses free from their tack and climbs aboard. The Scribe crawls aboard the second horse and they both ride off. It wasn’t pretty but the mission was complete.
A coal salesman picks up his cart and begins to head home. After all the excitement in the city, he was happy to be home for the day. He didn’t sell that much coal, and the long walk home made the cart seem heavier. Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by what sounds like a cough. His coal starts moving and a figure emerges. The figure hops out of the cart and strolls away like it was the most normal occurrence in the world.
Once in the shadow of the alley the figure removes his hood. The Barber sighs to himself, “I think I will just stay in the business of cutting hair.”