The Hidden MapMature

A few minutes later, Seymour found himself in the castle library and archive, looking for old maps.  Now that he was actually doing something, rather than just thinking about it, the stress drained away and his mind began to function normally.  He stood in the center of the circular chamber, rotating slowly to take in the grandeur of the place.  A great, crystal and gold chandelier hung from the high, vaulted ceiling directly above his head, and the floor beneath him was of polished marble, patterned with sections of darker stone to form a sort of small, eight-pointed star, along with some apparently random spots and wandering lines. 

                There must have been thousands of books and manuscripts lining the curved walls, reaching almost all the way up to the ceiling.  A narrow, spiraling staircase led all the way to the top, interspersed with the occasional circular walkway so that every book was within reach.

                “If I were an ancient map that no one can find,” Seymour mused to himself, “where would I hide?”

                He paced the floor, chewing thoughtfully on his lower lip.

                “Somewhere secret, certainly.  Somewhere where no one would happen across me.  Well, that’s rather obvious, isn’t it?  Not in the least helpful.  No.”

                Stepping into the map’s proverbial shoes wasn’t going to help him much, he observed.

                “Let’s try this again,” he muttered.  “If I wanted to hide a map…ah, yes.  That’s more promising.”

                He stopped pacing and glanced briefly around.

                “Where would I put it?”

                Narrowing his eyes, he contemplated the matter for a moment.  Nothing.  He sat down on the floor.  Sometimes changing his relative height aided him by showing the world from a different perspective.

                “In the walls, perhaps.  Or behind the shelves?  No, no room there.  The books are right up against the stone.  Perhaps…perhaps I would hide it…”

                He looked down once more at the floor on which he sat and laughed.

                “…in plain sight!” he declared, jumping to his feet and grinning down at the marble.

                It hadn’t been merely an eight-pointed star he had been sitting upon, but a compass rose.  And the wandering black line by his foot must be the Carvil River.  He followed it in the southeasterly direction and found that it did indeed intersect with another, thicker, wandering black line: the Waelyngar.  Slightly north of this junction there was set a small black dot.  This, obviously, represented Carvil Crossing.  Another thinner, straighter line led from this point due west.  He couldn’t imagine that it could represent anything other than the road to the Castle Carviliet.  He traced it to the dot at its end, which he noticed, upon closer inspection, was formed with Coat of Arms of the Alt-Mage of Murkintsen.  Apparently, the leaders of the magical folk had resided here long before Alasdair MacQuarrie had attained his rank.

                He crossed over the compass rose, which sat, oddly, in the very middle of the map, to the next visible dot.  This one was in the form of a boar—the crest of the Edmund family.  So this was Edmund Manor, where Henry and Simon had been born.  He had seen that boar before, decorating the hilt of the sword that the young lord had put to both his and Seoc’s necks.  Between this point and the one representing the current Carviliet, there should have been another dot, one for the old castle, the magical spring.  But there was nothing between them except for the…

                “You idiot, Seymour,” he chided himself, smacking his forehead.  “The compass rose!  It was put in the middle for a reason, not just because it looked pretty there.  What else would be at the center of a mage’s map than a magical spring?  It’s the most important thing on here, isn’t it?  That’s why it’s marked with a star.”

                He pulled a scrap of parchment, a bottle of ink and a quill pen out of his pocket and began to copy the map to the best of his ability.

The End

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