The Great Hall


great hall

Two old men met again, as they did each day, on the steps of the Great Hall.  Neither knew each other.  They never spoke.  Yet every day at the same time they would arrive at this place and barely acknowledge each other.  Their missions were the same, yet entirely different, both knowing the way here the same as they knew their own faces.

Entering the hall, the cool air greeted them and filled them with a familiar sense of purpose.  The glistening polished walls gave wings to the importance of their missions.  Arching windows that framed a breathtaking vista went unnoticed.  They were intent only on the two objects in the immense room:  a large book and a computer, each sitting on a plain table.  So intent were they, and so habitual, even the floor bore a slightly worn path where they tread each day.

One of the men, with soft but fearful eyes, settled himself in front of the large book.  As he reached his calloused fingers to touch it, they trembled slightly.  Then, with a movement graced by deepest respect and tempered in repetition, he opened the book.  Carefully he leafed through its pages until he found the words he was searching for.  He settled into reading.  The only sounds that danced around him were the rustling of the page and the whispering of his lips as he read.  Occasionally, he would shift his gaze towards the ceiling, rich with murals, and then close his eyes.

These actions met with an almost imperceptible glance of distain from the second man.  He was settled stiffly in front of the computer just a short distance away from the man and his book.  With a quick movement, he flicked the machine on and tapped the keyboard impatiently as fans whirred and parts clicked and hummed.  When the screen came to life in its usual greeting, he took a deep breath and sat forward.  With a relieved smile his fingers launched into tapping away at the keys.  The more he tapped, the hungrier his posture became as if a cat about to pounce a mouse.

The man with the book spared him a glance and wondered at his raptness.  He looked like he was about to dive into the monitor and swim in his sea of information.  He chuffed and turned back to his book.  Foolishness.

And each day they spent like this, leaving only to satisfy other needs that couldn’t be ignored.  Never had they spoken.  Never had they taken noticed of much of anything else in this grand place beyond the perches where they sat.  So engrossed were they that neither noticed the child standing quietly in front of a window, smiling at the sunrise and stretching his tiny wings.

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