“Merlin?” yawned Tilly, rubbing her eyes. “Where’s Edith?”
Merlin looked at Tilly, a sheepish grin on his face. “I’m letting her sleep in,” he whispered.
“You don’t have to whisper. She can’t hear you from here,” said Tilly, putting her head down on the counter. “That was some party and Edith is definitely a Rock and Roll Goddess.”
“She’s that and more,” agreed Merlin dreamily. “But I don’t seem to be able to do her job,” he continued, shuffling papers around, picking things up and putting them down. “I don’t know what anything means.”
“No one knows how to do her job,” sighed Tilly, her eyes closed. “The Bookstore only makes sense to her.”
“What time did you go to bed?” snickered Merlin.
“I didn’t. That’s why I’m falling asleep on the counter.”
“I can’t believe you didn’t wake me,” said Edith, walking into the room, pinning up her hair. “I’m going to be so far behind.”
Merlin smiled at her and Tilly laughed out loud. “I think he loves you, Edith.”
“Yes, well,” said Edith, reading a memo. “Ah, Dali left. He said he didn’t feel that we fully appreciated his work.”
“He’s right,” said Tilly immediately.
“I know,” snickered Edith, as she fed book requests into the machine and watched the stacks on the counter grow.
“You were beautiful last night,” said Merlin, as he reached out to touch Edith’s face.
“Thank you,” she said, slapping his hand away, “but it’s possible that you just had too much to drink.”
“I remember every detail,” he smiled.
“Okay,” she said, facing him, hands on hips. “Don’t you have a war to stop? Set up a conference with the faeries or…”
“Fine,” said Merlin. “I’ll let you get back to work. Can you send breakfast to my room, as well as something for the dragons?”
“I just did both of those things and if you don’t hurry your oatmeal will get cold.”
“Is there granola on it?”
“Of course,” said Edith.
Merlin turned quickly, grabbed Edith, bent her backwards over the counter and kissed her. Pink and red hearts rained down upon them just as cat walked in and said, “AGAIN?”
Edith shoved Merlin so hard he flew into the wall behind him. The air was knocked out of him for a second or two but he just kept smiling. Once he was able to breath and walk at the same time he told everyone he was going to his room to do war things. No one tried to stop him.
Chicago came in with Lance and told Edith that she finally found a Tarot deck that didn’t go up in flames when she touched them. She shuffled the card and laid out one of her spreads on the counter.
“Where’s the Round Table everyone is always talking about?” asked Lance, watching Chicago turn over a few cards.
“It’s in the Great Hall, next to Merlin’s room,” said Edith, checking book titles. “Degas wants more waterlilies. Honestly, I think he must be eating them.”
“Who cares if the table is round?” said Lance, confused. “What’s the deal?”
“A round table means there’s no head of the table. No seat of honor. It’s a table of equality, where everyone is the same,” explained Edith.”
“But wherever Arthur sits is the head of the table, since he’s the King and our leader, right?”
Edith woke up the White Cat, who was curled up in a wicker basket containing more book orders and handed him a slip of paper. The cat hissed, unwound and stretched. He picked up the paper and went on his way. “Lance, in theory the table makes you all equal, that’s the whole point of it. No one is higher or better than anyone else, not even the King.”
“That’s just silly,” smiled Lance. “He’s the King, he is automatically higher, no matter where he sits. We are who we are. Chairs and table configurations don’t change that.”
“It’s a gesture,” said Edith. “A symbol of equality. It’s an attempt to say we are all just a bunch of guys talking to each other.”
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he muttered, walking away.
“The dragons have stopped circling,” said Tilly.
“They’re having a snack,” said Edith, placing another stack of books into the White Dog’s basket. “Did you visit the dragonflies?”
“That’s my next stop.”
“You’re in for a treat. Be sure to grind up a few sugar cubes for them. They love sugar.”
“Don’t we all,” said Tilly, sticking a piece of bubble gum into her mouth and heading for the kitchen.
“I don’t see how we can avoid war,” said Chicago, staring at the cards.
“Let’s hope the cards are wrong,” said Edith.
“You know they’re never wrong,” said Chicago gently. “But perhaps if I ask a different question….”
“Edith,” said Pansy, suddenly standing in front of her. “I just heard from my mother.”
“Good morning,” said Edith, looking at the very serious princess. “What did she have to say?”
“The troops are amassing,” said Pansy. “War looks imminent.”