Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Glass and Roses, Chapter 6
“Ssh!” someone hushed from across the room. Dror frowned but shut his mouth.
“Have you ever even been in a library before?” Berit teased with a whisper. Dror crossed his arms, glancing rapidly at the tall bookshelves and ornate decorations. Zhihao also seemed new to such a place, but she was wide-eyed and seemed to be excited to experience something new.
Valdimer found a ledger detailing the stock of the library. “They're well known around this part of the country,” he said. “They have the largest collection in Saeniel, except for the Consulate's Library. If M has had any influence in the area before, there will be something about him here.”
Berit sighed. “You don't have to refer to it like that. You can just call it Mephutozim.”
Dror laughed. “It's a lot easier just to say M,” he said. Someone else shushed him. He looked around angrily, teeth clenched.
“Names have power,” Valdimer said. “It's a fundamental rule of magic that most people don't understand. Yet if I call your name, you instinctively look towards me. It's a similar concept with magical beings like demons. Saying his name might draw his attention to us, and I do not want a demon lord to know where I am, especially if he also learns I'm trying to destroy him.”
“I fear we will not be able to destroy such a powerful creature,” Zhihao whispered. She hadn't taken off her cloak, even inside the warm library. “We must find a way to restrain it first.”
“That's why we're here,” Valdimer said. He tapped the ledger. “Berit, you take a look down Row H5, there are historical documents there. Dror, look through the books of art in D9, keep an eye out for anything that resembles the medallion of Folami. Zhihao, go to G7 and read through the diaries.”
“I do not know how to read,” Zhihao said.
Valdimer blinked. “Oh. Well, I guess I'll go to G7, then. You can follow Dror. Make sure he actually helps out instead of lounging.”
“I do not lounge, I laze,” Dror said. Another shush caused him to spin around and grip his sword. “Okay, you know what-” Zhihao put a hand on his shoulder and guided him down the aisle.
Valdimer started pulling every book or scroll that looked related to demonology off the shelf. He grabbed a worn leather journal and saw Berit grinning at him from the other side of the bookshelf. “This is going better than I had thought,” she whispered.
“We've only just begun,” Valdimer said.
“I was talking about the whole journey, not just this research,” Berit said.
“Well, it's off to a good start, then.” Berit pulled a few books down, glanced at the titles, sighed, and put them on a nearby table. “I underestimated you, Val,” she added.
“What do you mean?”
Berit waved her hand, but held a sober look on her face. “I joined you because I thought you would need me. I admit now that you probably would have gotten this far without me. And I want to say...It's nice spending time together again.”
Valdimer smiled. “It is. Too bad we don't have time to climb trees in the Cagaaran all day anymore.” He sat down to start flipping through the books he had pulled. “But you're wrong about my ability. You've helped greatly.” He shook his head. “No, not helped. I've helped you just as much as you helped me. This quest is ours both.”
Berit nodded. “I didn't think so at first. I thought it was your fault Mom disappeared. I still don't understand how you couldn't have noticed that she was learning how to summon demons in our own house.”
“Our house? You hadn't lived there for years,” Valdimer said, trying not to sound cruel. “I tried my best to help her, but she pushed me away. I was too busy running the store to keep an eye on her at all times, and you were never around.”
“That's because...I thought I could work more and make more coin to support her. But it took longer than I thought. I didn't realize you needed help at home, you never asked me. I thought you were just being lazy.”
“I thought you wouldn't want to help,” Valdimer muttered.
“I think we both thought wrong,” Berit said softly. “There's no changing the past, but we can work together to make sure we set things right. We'll both help each other.” She glanced up and then looked back at Valdimer, sarcasm starting to creep back into her eyes. “Speaking of help, you might want to check on our comrades. They seem to have gotten a bit distracted.”
Valdimer walked over to the aisle he had assigned to Dror and found nobody there. He rushed farther down the main passage until he saw Dror and Zhihao sitting on the floor of an aisle with children's stories. Dror was reading a nursery rhyme to Zhihao.
“Four thumps of the troll's club, and down fell-”
“What are you doing?” Valdimer said with a sigh.
Dror looked up at him sheepishly, and Zhihao turned around with an awkward grin plastered on her face. “Zhi can't read, so I started telling her what the books said to see if she could learn some of the words, but the sketchbooks were too hard for her. So we found some easy books for her to start with.”
“I like this one,” Zhihao said, pointing to the book in Dror's hand. “It has a troll who thumps everyone he meets. He doesn't realize they're trying to help him!”
Valdimer groaned. “Well, could you get back to researching as soon as...” He stopped as his eyes fell on one of the storybooks on the shelf next to Dror. He bent down and snatched it up.
“I guess if he can read them, we can stay too,” Dror said.
Valdimer showed them the cover of the book. It was a collection of bedtime stories for kids. On the cover was a curved bow behind a sharp fang. The symbol of Folami. “This might be what we were looking for,” he said, opening it's covers. Zhihao and Dror sat with childish grins, ready to listen to the story.