Keys, two variations, for jeriendhal’s prompt

For jeriendhal‘s prompt “You mean it was supposed to have a key?” First, an Addergoole Year Nine – Ceinwen and Thornburn, then a Planners.

“There’s no lock.” Ceinwen sat in front of the mirror, staring at the plaque Thornburn had put around her neck. She’d known that when he sealed it there, but today, with classes just moments away, it seemed more real, more permanent.

“No, there isn’t,” he agreed. He was giving her space this morning, letting her feel her way around this new relationship. What part of her wasn’t busy hating him appreciated the room.

“There’s no way to take it off,” she said, trying not to panic.

“No, there’s not. I will take it off you when I free you.”

She wrapped her hands both around the damned thing, tugging on it, even as the pulling pressed it against her windpipe. It wouldn’t budge. “Why isn’t there a lock? If there was a lock, there’d be a key!” She knew she sounded hysterical, and wasn’t sure she cared anymore.

He wrapped his hand around her wrists gently. “You mean it was supposed to have a key?” he teased.

“It was supposed to have a way out,” she whimpered.

Bauer was particularly proud of the work he’d done on the vaults.

Sure, Elder Jasmine had sent him here, to work with Elder Oliver, mostly to keep an eye on a man who was past his dotage and into “how is he still standing upright?” But Bauer was every bit as much a member of the Family as Jasmine and Oliver, albeit a bit (eighty years, in Oliver’s case) younger, and with fewer descendants by an order of magnitude or two. Even if he was here to spy, he couldn’t help but do his best work, too. Besides, the Family might need it. That was what this was all about, right? The Family, the world, might someday need this planning.

So he’d put everything he had into the security on the vaults, even if he had no idea what was in them (All of the elders were secretive, but Oliver took it to extremes. Bauer wasn’t sure he told his wife what he’d had for dinner). They were supposed to withstand a nearby nuclear blast, but none of that meant anything if squatters and other intruders could just waltz in. So Bauer made them secure. So secure he was pretty sure his own wife wouldn’t be able to make it in, if he hadn’t given her the back door (Family was Family, but a wife was a wife).

He worked with the contractors (a different team for each section, and a few pieces he did on his own), under minimal supervision from Oliver, who just wanted to be sure the vault doors were always closed, for eight months. They set up locks and labyrinths and puzzle traps, all designed to funnel the unwary back out somewhere far from the central vault. They encoded everything in Bauer’s own complex cipher, and then
finally he brought his aging boss to the front door of the new catacomb, where even the lock was encoded.

“Impressive,” the Elder creaked. “Sturdy, and the ciphers here look to be uncrackable without the key. So give me that for my office file, and we’ll call it a job well done.”

Bauer couldn’t help it. He grinned at his difficult uncle. “You mean it was supposed to have a key?”

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12 thoughts on “Keys, two variations, for jeriendhal’s prompt

  1. On the first, oof, yeah amazing how you can put off thinking about things until forced too. Just pretend it isn’t so and hope it will go away on its own… which unless they are animals they usually don’t. :/ Quick question about the plaque though. Not quite familiar with the term and my Google Fu appears to be weak at the moment. Would this be something like a decorative flat piece on a chain? As for the second. Heh. I realized the planners were secretive and a bit paranoid before, but I haven’t realized they were *that* secretive and paranoid.

    • My google-fu isn’t helping either. I picture the collar as a series of 3/4″ squares of amber bordered with gold filigreeing, the gold working into hinges between each square to connect them. So it’s a solid series of little squares. ~ *grin* Oliver’s a special case.

      • Okay, that was one of the things I was picturing. Hmm. Ceinwen should at least take comfort in it being an attractive collar. An expensive sounding one as well, even just taking into account the amber if it’s good quality amber. Going by at least one web site that’s around $5 per piece of amber if it’s the low end on quality, assume 10 pieces and that’s a minimum of $50 right there on the amber alone. Minimum. (Heh, Google Fu worked for that)

        • *grin* yes. It’s a very pretty, rather expensive collar, and, while Thornburn worked the metal himself, he had to buy the amber.

        • And, because I’m laughing at myself blathering at you… the collar the redhead in the icon is holding is from an entirely different setting. *cough* I like collars.

  2. Oh, two for the price of one! One rather scary (sorry, Thornburn reminds me of my Tez in his Right Bastard moments) and the other funny. Thank you!

    • Thornburn should be a bit scary, so that’s good 🙂 Welcome! @DaHob came up with the idea of using a cypher, but I was already pondering the other one, so… whee!

    • Hee, not so big on the 1st one, ey? 🙂 My brain tells me that, eventually, Bauer will explain the workings to Oliver and probably one other.

      • Well, the first one is a rather familiar scenario. The second is something new. Also, I like libraries! Oh good. It’s not just old guardians who can die suddenly. I do hope Bauer realizes that. His last line is priceless though.

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