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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2250147
Faced with the society's highest members, Alistair seeks their approval.
Chapter 3 - The Royal Exploration Society


As Alistair went through the entranceway into the headquarters, the architectural beauty paled in comparison to the interior. His legs remained fixed in place with jaw agape at the mesmerizing sights. Before his eyes, there was a hive of activity darting between copious rooms, corridors, and around the main hall. He saw hordes of students carrying stacks of books, being lead eagerly by their teachers. The walls were painted with exquisite artwork and portraits in golden frames that were placed perfectly aligned.

In Alistair's periphery, he caught a young man coming into view. By appearance, he was a servant who worked around the building. "Mr. Pembroke, may I presume?" he asked.

"That is I, yes my good man" answered Alistair, his pupils still dilated at the wonders around him.

"Would you please care to follow me? The board is ready to speak with you".

Following the young man's lead, Alistair peered into open doorways on the route. He witnessed scholars examining artifacts, classes in progress exchanging heated discussions, and a room that held the skeletal remains of animals that were assembled on stands for exhibition. He was lead to the further depths of the headquarters, to a lone door at the bottom of a remote corridor, far from the hustle and bustle he'd experienced a matter of minutes ago. The man opened the and wafted his hand to motion for Alistair to proceed alone.

What resided within felt like a dream. A vast room, all sides were shelves filled top to bottom with books. The colorful spines were clean and vibrant, creating patterns that decorated the perimeter. At the center, a long table and over a dozen board members positioned around it.

"Enter!" commanded a deep voice from the head of the table at the far end.

The bellowing order causes Alistair to proceed into the room sheepishly. Right in front of him, an empty chair was positioned at the other side of the table. He took a seat and everyone's attention became focussed on him. Hugo was sat on the right-hand side, coughing and spluttering away between two follow board members who were trying their hardest not to roll their eyes at the distracting noises coming from him.

"It is nice to see you've finally joined us!" the voice bellowed again. "As director of this society, we shall commence evaluating the application of Mr. Alistair Florence Pembroke, and decide whether to grant association to our organization". The old man held a letter in his hands, a detail gave him a chuckle, "You're named after I woman, I see."

"Yes," Alistair confirmed. "Florence was my..."

"Did I ask you to speak?!" the director interrupted. His scolding voice caused the other board members to sit up straight. Alistair shook his head slowly as a means to apologize. He shook the letter straight and proceeded to read while preening his short grey beard. "As the son of Paxton Pembroke, we have bestowed the invitation to divulge the details of our decision in person. I've orchestrated our members to conduct a review of the evaluation or our thoughts and in this particular case, our concerns."

The director pointed to a member sat to his right, who quickly sprung out their chair so fast the monocle over their monocle flew across the back of their shoulder. In response, the director gave another harsh look. The man took a large gulp and knew to proceed without making any attempt to rectify their wayward lens.

"Director Quinton, as appointed representative by my colleagues, it is our recommendation to not permit rank of associate to Mr.Pembroke." the man announced.

Alistair went to voice an objection, but Director Quinton swiftly pointed a finger in his direction as an abrupt warning.

"On what basis have you came to this decision, Mr. Paley?" the director asked.

"Quite frankly, sir. It has no merit. We appreciate his father's efforts, we all do" Mr. Paley motioned a bow to Alistair's direction. "Yet, this application is based on nepotism alone. The candidate before us has no accomplishments of exploration, let alone any documented journeys outside his home and London. A decision to grant association would be both careless to the society's reputation and I must say, to Mr. Pembroke's own life."

"Thank you, Mr. Paley," said Director Quinton motioning the man to sit and allow him to sort out his monocle malfunction. The director's attention returned back to Alistair. "We have all heard the joint conclusion and I must agree with every word spoken. There is nothing to be offered and would be unfair to those young hopefuls that walk our hallways. They spend years to earn such a prestigious role, and we're expected to anoint such a responsibility based on blood alone? I cannot grant association, Mr. Pembroke, I am truly sorry."

Alistair rose to his feet, remaining quite calm.

"Sit, Mr. Pembroke!" Quinton demanded.

Ignoring the instruction, Alistair walked around the perimeter of the table, admiring the books that done the shelves on the surrounding walls. He began picking out books and flinging them on the table. "Read this, and this, oh that one about appraisals of ancient artifacts, a few of those".

"Stop this nonsense, at once!" proceeded Quiton, his face turning to a shade of beetroot.

Continuing to pay no heed to the demands, Alistair carried on piling on books until eventually opening his jacket pocket to reveal a small black journal. "Gentleman, I have studied treasures, foreign countries, and wisdom passed down by my father. Amongst all this knowledge, you ask what it is I offer, and this in my grasp is what you seek."

The room went silent until Mr. Paley uttered "What's in it?"

Angry at the question, Quiton swiped the monocle back across Mr. Paley's shoulder.

"This right here is the final itinerary of my father's last trip. Locations rumored treasures and secrets reside within these pages. Written in code so only I or he could make head and tail of it all."

The director hoisted himself up and approached Alistair, slowly chuckling and clapping slowly. "Dear, boy, the appointment is finished, now. Go home. A book does not absolve any of which we said. That journal as far as we're concerned can be a fabrication. Just a young man's desperate attempt to be like his father."

Leaving not a moment to second guess, Alistair grabbed Quinton by his jacket. "I must find my father, and I'll do anything in this world to find him."

"Then go! Begone! screamed Quinton.

Paley came between the two and released Alistair's grip. He whispered into Quinton's ear which changed his heated expression into one of great intrigue. "Clever man," Quinton murmured. "Fine, Alistair, you seek our blessing, and that of Queen Victorian, we shall bargain with you."

"Name your price," Alistair beckoned.

"There is nothing to be wagered, as such. Our motto is to be cruel to be kind. We act harshly to test the metal of all candidates that grace us with their prescience, you must understand that, Alistair."

"I do..."

"Excellent. You are the sole heir to the Paxton fortune, that is true, correct?"

"That's true..."

"There's no woman you're courting or a child in the wings?"

"Neither, apply. At least, not at this stage of my life, no."

"Paxton kindly donated treasures, to be exhibited here. His work brings people right here in London, from far away lands to bask in awe at his discoveries. We appreciate he attained fame and fortune in his own right, however, what would become of his estate if anything unfortunate were to fall upon his only child?"

"What are you getting at Quinton?"

"Is it not obvious, Alistair? If you die, a significant portion of your father's legacy will be plundered by the servants under your employment, or worse, a bunch of travelers that stumble upon an empty manor. Our position on this application purely revolved around ensuring neither outcomes occur, I assure you. But if we cannot convince you otherwise, then these assets must be secured."

Alistair pondered for a few seconds and asked a question. "If we secure Paxton Manor to the interest of the society, you'll grant me the benefits to find him?"

"You have my word boy," confirmed Quinton in a much softer tone.


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