Rudyard was surprised when the bell announcing the return of a messenger rang, it seemed that everyone had just gone out on their afternoon assignments. He set aside the book he was re-binding and went to give the messenger a new assignment.
The messenger, though, was not one in New Babbage colors. Instead the nearly-skeletal boy was dressed neatly in colors that Rudyard did not immediately recognize.
“Message for Brother Dominic Lapis.” The boy announced, his accent was decidedly Ravilian.
“Brother Lapis is leading the students on a drill outside of the city. I would be glad to take it from you.” Rudyard replied with a smile.
The boy looked around uneasily. “Master’s orders, it’s to go to Brother Lapis only.”
“Brother Lapis may not return for many hours yet and I don’t have a spare bed to put you in here at the Depot. Nobody is on an overnight.” Rudyard stood up a little straighter. “I’m Brother Lapis’s Keeper. You may rest assured the message will be delivered to him untampered if you leave it with me.”
The boy considered this, clearly torn. Church protocol insisted that the keeper was the same as the man themselves and that they must be treated as such. Yet clearly the boy’s orders were to deliver it directly to Brother Lapis.
“This letter is to be delivered unopened.”
Rudyard curled his lip. “Do I appear to be a peasant to you, boy?”
“N-no, sir. I’m sorry sir.” The boy bowed, his face bright red. He held the letter out to Rudyard, who took it from him and pocketed it without even looking at it.
The boy hurried from the room and as soon as he was out of sight Rudyard drew the letter from his pocket.
He nearly dropped it in shock when he saw the thick seal in yellow wax. No wonder he hadn’t recognized the messenger’s colors. He’d never encountered a personal messenger for the High Inquisitor.
He stalked down to the Archives and frightened away his assistant with a bellow. As soon as he was alone he considered the letter again.
Archivists of the Church of the Builder had, as most orders did, a singular skillset. He was certain he could open the letter, read it, and return it to pristine condition so that Lapis would be none the wiser. He put the letter, still sealed, on a table and prowled the stacks, debating. It irritated him that Lapis was being groomed for advancement, but he had tried to look the other way. Eventually, Rudyard believed, his own hard work would be recognized. But Now? To discover he was now receiving personal correspondence from the Inquisitor?
Rudyard know that Lapis kept to himself this late in the fast. He would not emerge from his apartment until the evening meal. That gave Rudyard plenty of time. From his desk he pulled a razor and lit a candle to warm it over. Carefully he edged the razor beneath the seal, peeling it up in one piece. It took some patience before the wax would release the ribbon that kept him from unwrapping the wallet, but it would come, and and he would repeat the process again on the envelopes that were contained within.
And then he would see to it that Brother Lapis never kept secrets from him again.