July 28, 2011

Being my account of the Hastings midnight launch for "A Dance With Dragons"

(Posted with permission. Nothing has been altered. It begins nigh.)

was, of course, the first in line at my weighing and payment station. A crowd of the faithful had gathered for the event. Sleepiness and excitement co-mingled at such a late hour. I was not so inclined having prepared for the moment.

harply, at 12:01 AM, in the first minute of the twelfth day of the seventh month, the tower bell rang, signaling the start; I slid my House's wood and metal payment voucher through the magical "reader" quickly and with a flourish. (How else? I proudly serve House Keller, well-known for its mighty and varied collections of knowledge and things wondrous, and for its purposeful motto: "We Acquire.") I then wrote my name and title on the reader's ghostly green screen, always with the very strange "quill" provided; it was an ugly and blindly-made scrawl, looking like some blond lord of the fictional Lannister clan had likely forged it. Once again, its deformities passed muster without challenge; who understands such socerery, even in this day and age?

oth copies of Maester Martin's lengthy tale "A Dance With Dragons" were now the legal property of the House I dutifully served, a mere two minutes after the Witching Hour had begun. For good measure, having been granted discretion in all things Martin, I added to my purchase a perfect example, in all ways, of that lesser-known but still maesterly-scribed and illuminated tale called "Doorways," in the limited horse-hide bound edition, of course. I placed all three treasures very carefully in smooth, water-tight muslin bags and left the sale, shadowed by my traveling companion.
The Home of Harry S. Truman 

deposited them in the back of my purposely plain conveyance; its powerful horses had been trained to be perfectly silent until called upon for action. Out of sight of anyone, I then wrapped the precious within several of my wife's own hand-knitted winter shawls, finally covering all in a layer of straw for concealment. This to keep prying and envious eyes away while on the return journey to the Kingdom of Western Missouri--home to King Truman-the-Obstinate's white keep, and nearby, the very tall and twisted ram's horn ground spire next to the imposing castle of Independence Temple, with its massive dome.
At left: Community of Christ International Headquarters.
At right: Community of Christ Auditorium 

can barely believe it now; it seems like a dream. Mere minutes before, I carefully began sorting through a baker's dozen copies of the heavy and much anticipated "Dragons" tome-- each weighing more than 2-and-one-half-stone!--carefully looking for only the most perfect copies in dust jacket alignment and without printing and binding flaws of any kind. My steady, focused Virgoian eyes quickly discarded those that didn't pass muster; those wouldbe for lesser men, lesser Houses.

had been on a quest: To be among the very first of Maester Martin's many devoted followers to acquire two hallowed First Edition, First Printings of this long-awaited, continuing tale of the lands and people of mythic Westeros, already in a *sixth* printing before it had been looked upon by the eyes of Man. Now I had two copies in my possession: Huzzah!

hile I was about it, I selected a third for good William McCullough, the renowned Western Missouri Brewmaester and my traveling companion. And if truth-be-told, secret sellsword when so commissioned by your scribe. He smiled ever so slightly as I passed a copy of the heavy tome to him, part payment for services in my journey here; excitement showed in his hooded eyes for just a brief, unguarded moment. He stood directly behind me at the weighing and payment station, his attention sharply focused.

s is his wont, he fingered the hilt of the exotic short-sword and sheath at his waste, its swirled-patterned blade always at the ready for anyone even thinking of cutting the queue for a quicker purchase and exit...or other mischief. He had received such a fine, rare weapon years before as a reward for his valiant service in commanding, without regard for pity, the three day Conquest of Kansas City, while captain of bannermen for House KaCSFFS, before his later retirement from their service. Such a rare weapon suited him: I had seen him use it with great speed and skill on past occasions, when so required. He was always a welcome traveling companion.

hose around me, also hoping to purchase (or steal) a copy of the latest of Maester Martin's lifework, watched me warily and with suspicion. They could little understand my careful, measured actions in pre-selecting so many of the heavy tomes from which to choose. But they respected the growing stack in front of me, likely thinking me some moneyed and frivolous foreigner, rather than a noble-house's trusted acquisition agent; wisely they selected their single copies from other, nearby stacks.

he red-haired merchantman in charge of this Witching Hour sale looked on in boredom at my labors; his red eyes showed he preferred to be home asleep at such a late hour, stretched out on his inviting mattress of duck down.

he transaction completed and my quest fulfilled, William and your scribe began to head east toward the eventual rising sun, all the while yearning to see the boundaries of more familiar lands and places. Several thrilling (and quite profitable!) adventures were had on that fateful journey home...but therein my friends lies another tale..."

--from the journals of Kennos, Maester Collector and Docent for House

Replies to Kennos's Story:

> I can barely believe it now; it seems like a dream. Mere minutes before, I
> carefully began sorting through a baker's dozen copies of the heavy and
> much anticipated "Dragons" tome-- each weighing more than
> 2-and-one-half-stone!

Be these mighty tomes of vast size, printed on vellum? Four such would
be near as massive as a man in his prime! More belike, milord dost
improve the tale a mite.
David the Lensman
House Sooby

Perhaps just a smidgen, dear observer: I am revealed! My longtime readers know I doth love to practice a bit of word-jappery, from time-to-time, to add a bit of spice to the tale at hand. Maester Martin's works be mighty and important tomes, indeed, and my intent was for the mental enhancement of their dramatis personae in the mind of the reader during said Witching Hour unveiling: of overstating their physical weight by way of the scribe's tool of poetic exaggeration; no, not to mock or diminish, but to show their weighty literary importance, a technique, dear observer, the legendary Bard of Avon was known to practice, as you may recall. I hoped to follow humbly in the Bard's mighty footsteps, even if poorly, but only for that purpose, and always with humility.

--Kennos of House Keller

Truman's house (an old postcard image) was taken from Card Cow.com. The Community of Christ spire photo was taken from their website's page. The photo is by Jim Doty. And the auditorium photo was taken by John Hamer, and found on the auditorium's Wikipedia page. The illuminated initial letters are from Stencil Kingdom.

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