Story for the Day: The First in the Series -- Part 1

There are not many sins to commit whilst being interested in reading. I make absolutely no difficulties about readers reading stories only about certain characters they like, but in the Brennin family, and especially whilst Vyrdin is about, there is only one rule to follow: thou shalt not read a series out of order.

The cake pans were in the oven, and presently, after the counter was cleaned, she removed to the table, to sit beside Shayne and plague him about eating habits and newly-mended cottage floors,
while the children repaired to the small table, where they collectively tootled over the compendium, scouring every page for new creatures and wondrous illustrations.
“It really is such a beautiful edition,” said Alasdair. “Did you buy that book at Balleigh’s?”
“Yes,“ said Vyrdin, in a heated tone. Of course he bought it at Balleigh’s—there was no other place in the world he should rather purchase a book, but the glint in Alasdair’s eye, the look of unassuming expectation, the averted gaze and hem of unquietness, made Vyrdin instantly suspicious.
“Did you buy Shaman of the West while you were there?” Alasdair asked.
“Of course I did.”
“I thought you might have got it. Pastaddams mentioned to me that it was out.”
A pause here, Alasdair thumbassing with his hand behind his back and looking occupied, whilst Vyrdin’s brown bent in on itself.
“You want to borrow it,” said Vyrdin charily.
“When you’re finished with it, if that’s all right.”
Here was a stifling glare. “Did you read Shaman of the East?”
“Carrigh read it, when Pastaddams lent it to her,” was Alasdair’s modest reply.
Vyrdin stood closer with his nephew and said, in a low growl, “Did you read it?”
The vicious glower, the oppressive and unmitigated concentration, were devices which Alasdair knew all too well to dismiss: Vyrdin would not be trifled with, he would not suffer to be mislead; he would inquire and stipulate and persist, but he would never be denied the truth when in want of an answer. The King’s Right Hand, the Hawk of Diras could never be deceived, and though Alasdair’s amiable character and neat person could convince many a lesser man into harmless pelliculation, the kingdom’s wisest and most established heads would not be so easily persuaded. The glare endured, and though he was not looking at Vyrdin—he would not turn to him and hazard dissipating under his watch -- there was no end to the aguish laid to Alasdair’s heart: he could not lie to him, and though it would be but an omission of an insignificant truth, he must confess under the supremacy of Frewyn’s Grand Inquisitor. The dreadful want of morality, the grim countenance, the bridled rage of his uncle was never to be tried, and while Vyrdin would never exercise his abilities of cruelty and calculated violence upon anyone he loved, Alasdair still trembled over it. One thrill of horror was all Alasdair had time for before Vyrdin’s stare surmounted him, and he sighed and conceded to the unconquerable will, his conscience writhing under Vyrdin’s reign.
“No, Vyrdin, I didn’t read it,” Alasdair admitted, his shoulders withering. “Carrigh returned the book to Pastaddams before I had a chance.”
“Read that one first then.”
“But the books are independent of one another.”
“Shaman of the East is the first in the series,” Vyrdin contended. “It doesn’t matter if the characters are different, the themes are similar. Read the first one in the series first.”
Alasdair gave his uncle a sideways glance, and when he caught the scathing glare from the corner of his eye, he hemmed and stepped away from him.
“No one is spared from Vyrdin’s ideals,” said Brigdan, coming to Alasdair’s side. “Be you prince or peasant, king or captain, if you commit so hideous a crime as read a series out of order, His Lordship Vyrdin will be there to set you right.”
Vyrdin seethed in quiet loathing, and his eyes tapered.
“But if the series is not necessarily contiguous--” Alasdair began, but he left it there, feeling the brontide of anger radiating from Vyrdin beside him. “Very well,” said he presently, resigning with all the good humour of a doting nephew. “I’ll read Shaman of the East first.”
“I’ll lend you my reading copy, if you don’t want to borrow it again from Pastaddams.” said Vyrdin, in subdued triumph.
Alasdair muttered his thanks, and then, moving closer to Brigdan, he murmured, “He is almost as bad as Rautu at times.”
“I have read Shaman of the East,” said a booming voice, suddenness and proximity of the voice gave Alasdair a start.
“By the Gods--! Rautu!” he cried, turning round to find the giant lurking there. “We’ve talked about your creeping up on—wait, how did you read that book? You don’t read novels usually.”
“Your General recommended it to me,” said Rautu, motioning toward Vyrdin.
“You lent him a book?” said Alasdair, turning to Vyrdin. “You let him skulk off with something from your library?”
“He never read it before,” said Vyrdin. “I knew he would be careful with it.”
“He understands the value of a book and the importance of reading.”
“He also understands the importance of chocolate at all hours of the night. I’ve seen him stain his letters with chocolate smudges.”
“His letters belong to him, not to me. He knows what is his and what isn’t, and he knows how to treat another person’s things as you do.” Vyrdin’s beard bristled. “You can take the book from my library, if you want to borrow it.”
Alasdair sensed Brigdan’s muted risibility and knew it was useless to ask his help in convincing Vyrdin to allow him to read the newest publication. There was no end of the misery in being collocated with two such immovable characters, but he might always look to Bryeison for an ally. His greatest supporter, his most devoted confidante, the parent of affection, the summit of reason, sat at the table behind him, and Alasdair approached him, prepared to as his opinion on the subject when—
“Read the Shaman of the East first,” said Bryeison, without looking up from his cup.
He sipped his tea and smiled, and Alasdair seemed rather desperate.
“I didn’t even ask you—I hadn’t said a word! How did you-- I was just coming to—Gods!” Alasdair exclaimed, his composer failing him. “Look, I don’t want to read the first book just now because Carrigh told me all about it. I want to forget a little first before I read it and then experience the story for myself. I already know the ending. I don’t see why reading the second one is such a problem if—“ He exhaled. “I simply want to read the one I know nothing about first, that’s all. If I like this one, I will go back and read the first one, as though it were a prequel of sorts. Why is that such a crime if the two books are exclusive of one another?”
“You are asking the wrong family circle, Alasdair,” said Boudicca. “You know that if you should ask Pastaddams the same question, he should give you the very same answer.”
“He might do,” said Alasdair, in a defeated tone, “but I think it would depend on the series with him—what am I saying? This is ridiculous—I am a king, and as a king, I can read a book series out of order if I like.”
“Not if you wish to uphold your uncle’s legacy.”
Alasdair made a drawn out sigh and pined over the nonsensical restrictions of having so pedantic a family.

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