No one could know anything was different. Whatever reason the Keeper had, I would not endanger the Librarian by letting anyone know that something had happened. I returned to the library to spend all of my time there as I usually did.
I couldn’t cry. Even more than that, I couldn’t lash out when I saw the Official. Not that I could. She terrified me.
And that would be it, wouldn’t it? Because of fear trapping us, the Keeper is gone. Because of trying to stay safe, they are just as dead as they would have been had the Official found them. Our own fear is just as dangerous as the actual violence that the state threatens upon us. There is no going around this. It was a hard lesson to learn.
To make something of this lesson? Even harder. Despite knowing what has been sacrificed in order to learn this, that doesn’t make the fear go away. Knowing better actually might make it worse.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually something smoking. Most people considered that to be fire, but Vidvan was certain it could be otherwise.
“If someone can conjure fire from what appears to be nothing but energy, couldn’t they conjure the effects of fire without the fire?”
His teacher looked down at him. “Explain.” She had the type of face that probably should have had spectacles. Vidvan thought she squinted a little too much.
“If the process is that fire creates earth, creates ash, then…”
He had it. He’d had it. Then it was gone. The idea had been brilliant. And he knew that it had been, if he hadn’t somehow lost the threads of his thought. He had to find it again.
After all, where there was smoke…
She sat perfectly still. Still enough one could have balanced a pin on her head. She could hear mother in the other room talking with the staff. Whichever one it was, she didn’t envy. Mother wasn’t in a good mood. Not that mother was ever in a fantastic mood.
Today though, mother had already had a couple drinks. It was why she didn’t want to move from her position. When mother came back in, she would not see anything wrong. She was behaving. All was well.
She inclined her head slightly, to look at the book in front of her. Unfortunately, it sat on the other side of the table, where her mother had been sitting a few minutes before. Upside down from her, she strained to read it. The part that was probably the easiest to read was obscured by the ruler.
She straightened her neck.
Mother came sweeping back into the room, not looking directly at her. She knew better though, mother had great peripherals when desired. If there was something wrong, mother would know.
However, all she did was sit across from her. “Shall we continue?”
Apparently, she’d passed the test. They continued the lesson.
Apparently, Fletcher hadn’t always lived in Castlehaven. He couldn’t imagine that, because he felt as though Fletcher had been here forever. Perhaps there were moments he remembered of his infancy where Fletcher was not, but the Baron’s heir had assumed that was because it was hard to remember being that young.
“Where did you live?” he asked the undead man one day. They were looking over maps, Fletcher teaching him about different places. Sometimes his mother sat in when they talked about this. Apparently she used to live somewhere else too.
Fletcher smiled. “Many different places. I can’t say settling down ever occurred to me until arriving here.” His finger trailed across the map. It might have seemed random, but he could tell Fletcher was being deliberate. The path he had taken to Castlehaven.
He stopped Fletcher’s finger on a particular spot. His finger was cool, not cold, but not warm, not like his mother. He didn’t mind. That was simply how Fletcher was. “Tell me about here!”
Fletcher began to speak. With the colours of his magic, the heir of Castlehaven could see a place half a world away.