"Well because," The Librarian spoke softly, yet his voice still seemed to carry unnaturally down the corridor of the maze they were making their way through, "there is meant to be the most interesting example of clockwork in creation at the other end." The orc grunted in response, hefting the great cleaver in his hand and staring at the wall of the maze, as if measuring it. His dark eyes kept darting up and down the corridor as if looking for witnesses. The muscles in the orc's arm quite obviously tensed for a swing and The Librarian's heart almost leapt out of his chest. "Hold on now!"
The orc ignored him, his blade swinging fast enough to leave an after-image on The Librarian's vision, and impacted against the wall of the maze. The maze was made up of what looked like densely grown rose bushes, and should have parted under such a swing, yet instead they seemed to cushion the blow, giving just enough to absorb the strike before springing back into place, knocking the blade away harmlessly. The orc just grunted in response, turning away from the wall and sheathing the cleaver across his back once more as he stalked off down the corridor. "Well, erm… Yes." The Librarian muttered to himself, getting closer to the area the blade had struck to check for signs of damage. Not a leaf or thorn had so much as a crease, let alone physical damage. His notebook appeared in his hand from the pouch on his belt, and the quill from a pocket within the arm of his robe. He scribbled notes furiously, not wanting to miss a thing.
There was a lot of literature about the rose maze, the lake beyond, and the mysterious clock in the center. Fiction, first hand accounts, theories and treatises, papers written and disproved, then their replacements disproved. There was so much work on the subject, but The Librarian needed to see if for himself. Settle accounts so there was some kind of definitive work. Then the rest of the work could be sorted, organized properly based on factual evidence… He was getting excited by the prospect. Hopefully it would be left for him to do himself on his return. It would be such a shame to see it done by someone else, and then have to check for accuracy. And yet…
"Come." The command was harsh, the accent think, the voice rumbling and grating. It was terrifying to hear his companion speak, and a selfish part of The Librarian was glad he spent so much time in silence. Yet, who else in history had been afforded the opportunity to document the travels of an orcish knight? He had searched the catalog he held within he mind, cross-referencing every way he knew how, and nothing had come up. He had sent a query to his peers at The Library, but had yet to hear back. Without one of the Nodes, he was restricted in contact, unable to access the vast stores of knowledge in the way he was accustomed. His own Node had been lost when he had left, and he was yet to find a way to replace it. If the stories of the magical technology within the lake ahead were true, though, then perhaps it would not be too long until he had another. Then his exploration would really take off!
The Librarian winced as the orc grunted again, and his legs carried him forward until he was next to the towering figure who had, somehow, assigned himself the task of The Librarian's protector, and The Librarian the role of his chronicler. The orc was easily over seven feet tall, close to eight if he was any judge, and he was wide across the shoulders. His body, with armor removed, was covered in thick muscle and scars. The clothes he wore were, strangely, well-kept. The Librarian hadn't managed to get up the nerve to ask about that yet, in fear of offending his large green companion. But everything he knew about orcs from stories had them as stinking beasts, blood thirsty and mad, acting out of nothing but instinct and rage. Yet none of that seemed to be the case where Gronk was concerned. It was a mystery, and The Librarian was happy to be the one to uncover what lay behind it.
So many mysteries, and so little time! He could have squealed with the excited. But again, the orc was there, looming above him. It would not do to draw too much attention to himself, when he was doing so well with just going where he wanted, and occasionally where the orc wanted, and doing his job. They did not talk much, yet, but he was sure he would get to a point eventually where he could get the orc to open up to him. It was only a matter of time.
Speaking of time, they had been wandering the maze for what seemed like far too much time. They had been told by the friendly merchant at the entrance that it would be a short walk, yet they had been walking for hours. Would they ever reach the lake?