Buddy rat liked the finer things in life, like painting, reading, and music. On this particular evening, he was nestled up in his favorite nook in the antiquated library of Felp Downs.
Felp Downs was located in the midst of the rather large and bustling city of Tar Niv, as everyone knew who read books. The problem was that not many rodents read any more. The occupants of this underground city were far too busy in their sophisticated lives for that sort of foolishness. Only a few now frequented the large, hollow halls that still held ages of crumbling manuscripts and tattered books.
Buddy actually preferred the solitude that the library afforded. It was the perfect place to hunker down with a tale that satisfied him with the reading of it, better than even cheese could do.
As Assistant Researcher of Tales, he found many an opportunity to delve into his addiction.
If only the Head Master Librarian realized that it was necessary to read the manuscripts in order to categorize them on the shelves, he thought.
As if on cue, approaching footsteps echoed through the stone hallway. Buddy wrenched his eyes away from the Tale of Bessie the Pirate and scurried to hide the evidence.
“Assistant Researcher of Tales, was that a book you were reading-again?!” asked the stern voice of the Head Master.
“Wha...what book?” squeaked Buddy, sure that the master could not have seen him with the book.
“Come, now Assistant, surely you don’t think me that imbecilic, do you?!” the tall rat lowered his head to glare into Buddy’s eyes.
“N-n-n-n-no sir!” stammered Buddy, trying not to recoil at the stench of fermented cheese that roiled the air as the Master spoke.
“Good,” said the other rat, straightening himself once more. “Now, I have a small task for you, my short friend.” He continued in a friendlier tone that instantly put Buddy on alert.
“What task would that be sir?” asked Buddy.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime, really,” the Master went on as if Buddy had not spoken. He suddenly spun on his heel and took off at a clipped pace down the hall.
“Follow me, Assistant,” he called back over his shoulder, as Buddy scrambled to catch up.
After a long walk, the two rounded a corner into an abandoned section of the library. Years ago, an earthquake had caused part of the hallway to cave in. The books and manuscripts from this section had been removed soon after that, and its useless corridors left to the spiders.
“Ahh, here we are,” said the Master.
They had come to a stop at the bottom of a mound of dirt. The Master commenced to climb the pile of rubble, unceremoniously. After a moment’s hesitation, Buddy followed. The rocky ceiling forced them to stoop at the top. Looking around, Buddy noticed a small hole through the rock in the ceiling with a fresh breeze coming through.
“I see my clever Assistant has found the reason for our climb,” said the Master. “This is the door way to great treasure and new worlds. You will be the first to boldly go forth and experience the adventures you have only dreamed about thus far.”
‘M-m-me, sir?” stammered Buddy.
“Yes, you my dear boy,” said the Master with great gusto. He wrapped an arm around Buddy’s shoulders and forced them both to peer through the small aperture. Buddy cringed inwardly, both at the task and at the Head Master’s familiarity.
“You are to enter and retrieve anything you find of value,” said the Master, “Now go!” With that said, he shoved Buddy through the hole.
The Master drummed his fingers impatiently as the time passed. Finally losing patience, he hollered, “Have you found anything, son?”
“Yes, sir!” came a muffled but excited squeak.
“Is it great treasure?” said the Master, losing his composure.
“Oh, yes,” came the reply. Buddy suddenly stuck his head through the hole.
“Pass it to me!” he said, as Buddy crawled out. He complied and gave the Master two large, dusty objects.
“Books!” he roared in disgust, “Books!” The Master was so distraught that he lost his balance and went tumbling head over heels down the embankment.
In the weeks that followed, Buddy reflected on the change of events that took place. The Master had retired and Buddy was the only one left to fill his space. Buddy smiled to himself and turned the page in his new found book.
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