Ashford Vignette #13 (2019)

“Mornin’, English!”

Verner Thornton looked up from the pile of papers on his desk.  Seeing the translucent speaker, once a pale brunette, he sighed and plastered on a smile.

“What can I do for you, Maeri?”

Maeri Read had died seven centuries earlier.  He had never learned how, or why she was bound to Ashford.  Usually, she stuck to the libraries, unless Evelyn Lake, the head librarian, sent her with messages.

“Madam Lake says she needs the item from number nine.  And that you would know what she means.”

He nodded, “I do, Maeri.  I will bring it to the main library this afternoon.  It will take some time to get out.”

“She says the first floor library.”

“In that case, the first floor.  Please tell her to expect me around two.”

He sat for a few minutes after the ghost left, his eyes focused on the blank wall.

The room was deliberately devoid of decoration or adornment, part of its security.  Only one desk and a door in each of the four walls.  It was also the only room of the vault’s nine that remained stationary.  Room nine was the most secure and difficult to navigate.

Finally, Verner decided he had best get it over with.

He rose smoothly to his feet, locking the outer door with a gesture, and looked at each inner door in turn.  Choosing the correct door would help retrieve the librarian’s artifact.  In fact, navigating the vault’s shifting room was one part experience, one part intuition, and several parts luck, since there was no pattern to its movements.

Satisfied, the middle-aged witch decided on the door directly behind his desk.  It felt like the shortest route to room nine.

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