The Chronicles of Claudia Labelle -- Part XVI
Entry XXII –
I arrived at the library just before the twilight hours, searching through the cases of books for a few minutes to find where Vukan had been waiting. At first, I thought maybe he had returned to his own quarters, as he was seemingly nowhere to be found. There were a few students throughout, but not nearly enough to consider any part of the library occupied.
I was going to skip a darker section of the library, an area that was not well lit by the candles and torches scattered throughout the stone chamber. I thought he could not possibly be there; no one goes over there. However, I checked it anyway, and of course, I was wrong, as there he was. He sat against the sill of a glass window, flipping through the pages of a dusty book. He looked up from the manuscript the moment he noticed my presence, and a long smile grew from his lips. “Ah, Miss Claudia Labelle, how wonderful to see you again.”
“It is good to see you as well, Mr. Vukan,” I said.
He stood up, placing the book on a small wooden table and moved toward me. “My eyes gaze upon you with glee, for only God could have insured your safe return to the Priory. And I hope all is well with the Prior?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Good, good. As I have said in my little letter, English lectures have been such a bore without you. If I am to speak truthfully, I missed that bright face of yours. And those eyes, those unique and playful eyes that almost seem to gleam with an unparalleled radiance and innocence. . . . Ah, perhaps I should stop. My tongue is wagging.” He took a deep breath and glanced at a few of the books on the shelves of the nearest bookcase. Then he spoke with a much more political tone in his voice, as those he shifted his entire mindset and demeanor. “I must be frank with you, Claudia . . . but there is much you need to catch up on within our English lectures. Missing quite a few days like that can make you fall far behind. Just please be aware that, whatever it is you need to study, no matter how many hours it will take, I am here to help you. So, utilize me as much as you like.”
“Oh, thank you,” I said. “I will take that offer into consideration, Mr. Vukan.”
He turned around and sighed, as he strolled toward the glass window with his hands together behind his back. “Claudia, there is something else I need to say. I wished to have kept this a secret . . . but I feel as though it is best, to be honest with you. . . . I have heard whispers, among the other students here at the Priory. Whispers that are not at all friendly. There are some that have claimed to see you enter the Prior's chambers without this official summons, and now with the sudden disappearance to Sigtuna for a few days, it has left a few eyebrows raised. This little excursion to Sigtuna has never happened in the history of Saint Ansgar Priory, and many students have begun to think there is, perhaps, something more . . . intimate is taking place between you and the Prior.”
“What?! What on Earth are you saying?”
“I must know, Claudia,” he said, spinning back toward me and moving closer than before. His brown eyes large and burnt with intensity. “Is there anything deeper going on between you and Prior Anders? Anything of the carnal sort? Please tell me these rumors spread throughout the Priory are, indeed, false.”
“Of course they are!” I said harshly. “What do you take me for? A common whore? How dare you place such slanderous accusations upon the noble daughter of the House of Labelle!”
“No, Claudia, it is not I who accuses you. I am only channeling what has been said of you since your departure to Sigtuna. I trust your word more than anyone else within this Priory. But I must ask: What was the reason for the excursion with Prior Anders?”
I could not tell him the real reason, but certainly, I was not going to lie. A grand prince cannot know of the power I possess. “In the utmost honesty, Mr. Vukan, I cannot tell you. It is a private matter. But I can assure you, and give you my word, that there is nothing of the sexual nature taking place.”
“It is a shame that you cannot tell me. . . . I do hope in time you will learn to trust me. Nevertheless, I trust your word. Perhaps now it would be best for you to return to your living quarters, and think over this matter. Please, let me escort you.”
And so he did. He escorted me to my living quarters, neither one of us saying anything as we walked through the stone corridors. As we stood at the door to my quarters, an awkward smile formed from his lips. We both said goodnight to one another, and he bowed courtly before me.
Perhaps now I should resist the urge to see the Prior, and only practice my gift alone. I do not want any more students to think so irrationally and tarnish the good name of Labelle. When the whispers die down, I will return to him.
I know this has been short and quite frank, but I must say goodnight now, dearest Reader, for I will write a letter to my mother (which I must do quickly before she sends a search party looking for me), and then drift to sleep. Like Mr. Vukan said, I have much to do tomorrow.
Evening – 23rd of November 1097
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