Jack West, Jr.
In support of a current research project, you have found it necessary to visit your alma mater, Trinity College, to consult some obscure inscriptions on several Sumerian clay tablets held in the college's special collections. Being between terms, the college, and the libraries, are quieter than usual, which suits you quite well.
You've been on campus for a few days and your research is going well. You've just had lunch, and are on your way back to continue your work, when you are approached by a tweedy sort of man who looks vaguely familiar. You realise that he was a student around the same time you were, just as he comes up and greets you heartily.
"West, it is you, isn't it? Haven't seen you in ages. What a godsend you are, just the chap I need to talk to."
As he rambles on about his latest dig and what he'll be teaching for the term that will soon begin, your mind wanders. You divide your attention between trying to remember his name, deciding when it will be polite to get away from him, and thinking about the distinct possibility that the cunieform inscription you were examining earlier today has been mistranslated. You absently register that he's been part of the excavation team at the Blackfriary site in County Meath and that he's becoming rather agitated about something. Suddenly you realise he's asking you a question with some urgency.
"So you will run up to Blackfriary with me, West? Just for a day or two? They've sprung this do on me, some visiting delegation that wants special attention and a fancy show. Money chaps, very important. I can't do it all myself, and you do have rather a reputation. Excitement, you know. There's hardly anyone around right now. I know it's a lot to ask, but the College's reputation is on the line, and when the Classical Studies Master said he'd seen you about, well, I knew you were the best man for it."
It's been a long shift at the Silver Swan, but at least it has been entertaining. In addition to the usual crowd whose knowledge of matters medieval is limited to films about King Arthur (especially the one with Nicol Williamson as Merlin) and Robin Hood (the one starring Patrick Bergin, of course), and Game of Thrones (which they read years before the TV series came out), there have actually been a few customers who seem to know their medieval history and literature. Indeed, you've been having a delightfully witty - and appropriately earthy - conversation about the early English play Gammer Gurton's Needle with one of them, in between doing the flashy bartender gig upon request. So delightful (and so earthy) in fact, that you've been wondering whether there might be a way of running into this particular patron again.
As you hand your charming conversational partner another mug of Harp ale, you are pleased to discover you're not the only one who's been wondering this. "Say, Lucas - there's a renaissance fair this weekend at Tryon Park - I'm going with a few friends... I don't suppose you'd be interested in coming along with us?"
You've been working hard for weeks, now, on a rather tricky piece of infiltration and information "liberation." The target's security set-up was very good. Your client is very happy. And you have enough money to pay the rent for quite a few months. And to get away for a while. Long hours at your computer, plus some crazy nights at the crapfood emporium you work at to explain where the money people see you using comes from, have made you feel crabby and itchy inside, as if every muscle in your body wants to be stretched to the edge.
Time for a good hard climb. The only question is, where? You've tried most of the routes at your skill level in southern California, and a few places in nearby states as well. You've got enough money to do a bit of travelling, if you're careful. And you are really going stir-crazy here in the city.
Eagerly you plan your trip.
Your architectural firm has won the contract to design a tourist and research complex, including a museum and state-of-the-art lab facilities, associated with a major archeological excavation site in Spain, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, north of Barcelona. The site has uncovered significant portions of a long-deserted early medieval Spanish town. Your company's winning designs - which you were instrumental in developing - have been approved by all the appropriate governmental authorities, and as senior architect on the project (and the most senior member of the firm who is fluent in Spanish) you have been asked to fly to Barcelona and follow up on the initial local contacts made during your research at the bidding stage.
After a week of negotiations with local firms, you decide you need some down time. In fact, you had planned for this, as you have been looking forward to being able to spend some of your time hiking in the mountains near the excavation site ever since your first visits.
Feeling quite pleased with your progress to date, you make plans for your hiking trip.