Discovering Unkown Libraries Takes A Lot Out Of You
After they had been dismissed from dinner, Ashley walked back to their quarters with Taylor, Connor and Jerry.
“I still don’t understand these halls,” Connor breathed. Ashley looked at him.
“How long have you been here?” Ashley asked.
“He came a day after I did,” Jerry said, “about a month ago.” Taylor nodded.
“And I came a couple of weeks after that. Then there’s you, who came barely a week after I did,” Taylor said. She laughed. “Funny how we all ended up in the same living quarters.” They all collectively nodded. Then they finally made it back to their room.
“Reserare fores nunc,” Jerry said, and the door opened. They all filed in the room.
“Why is it so dark?” Ashley asked.
“I got it,” she heard Connor say and suddenly the room was lit.
“How did you do that?” Ashley asked.
“Simple spell. ‘Lorem quid loquar.’ You try,” he told her. Ashley repeated the words and nothing happened. “It’s okay. I should’ve explained more. You have to think of what you want to happen. In this case, the lights to go out.” Ashley nodded again and did as she was told. The lights blacked out and darkness filled the room. Someone clapped their hands.
“Good job, Blondie,” she heard Jerry say. Ashley said the spell again, this time wanting light and the room was bright again.
“Fast learner. I knew I was right in choosing you for the games. Even if you are new,” Taylor said flopping herself down on one of the couches. Jerry sat on the couch opposite of her.
“Yeah, about that. What makes you think it’s okay for you to sign me up for my death, Combat Boots?” Jerry asked, his eyebrows raising. Taylor plopped her feet up on the table and studied her boots. They were black with many buckles and laces.
“You like? I got them in Paris,” she said, avoiding his question. Connor shook his head and laughed and sat down next to Jerry. Ashley sat down next to Taylor.
“I don’t care where you got them, Amelia Earhart,” Jerry said rolling his eyes. Taylor laughed.
“Which is it? Am I Combat boots or Amelia Earhart. Personally, I’m fine with either one,” Taylor said. Jerry crossed his arms and put his feet up next to hers.
“Shut up,” he told her. Connor laughed. “You hush up, too, Athena.” That comment only made Connor laugh harder. Taylor then started to laugh and Ashley joined in. Finally, after a few seconds of trying to keep up his glare, Jerry started laughing too. Ashley was the first to break the giggling fit.
“Look, I know I don’t know anything about this but how exactly are we supposed to win these games against Cara and her friends. I mean, they sound a little intimidating,” Ashley said seriously. Connor was the first to respond.
“Oh, they were just showing out. They’ve only been 15 for a couple of months. And their sources are the normal ones: earth, fire, air and water. Nature in general. They’re nothing special and we don’t have to have our sources in order to beat them,” Connor told her. Ashley nodded.
“Yeah, I mean, we’ll all be 15 soon enough, right. I suspect all of your birthdays are before the year ends?” They all nodded. “Well, good. And if we lose these games, we will definitely have another chance to challenge them again.”
“But is that fair? Challenging people without sources to duel people with sources?” Ashley asked. Jerry shrugged.
“Define fair,” he said.
“I mean,” Connor cut Ashley off.
“I know what you mean, but it doesn’t really matter. We still have magic and honestly, having a source limits your power to one thing. That sorcerer becomes deeply dependant on their source, like how a wizard would become dependant on their wand. It gives you power but it also makes you very vulnerable.” Taylor jumped in.
“And once you take away a wizard’s wand, what do you have? A very useless wizard, that’s what.”
“And that is how we are going to win the games next month,” Jerry finished. Ashley stared at them in amazement.
“Wow, that’s really clever,” Ashley told them.
“See? I don’t ever challenge people without a plan,” Taylor said proudly.
“Believe it or not but she is a little bit of a smart one. Maybe I should be calling her Athena and not Casper over there,” Jerry said nudging Connor with his shoulder. They all laughed.
“So, Blondie, where are you from?” Jerry asked once the laughter died down. Suddenly, all eyes turned to Ashley. Ashley cleared her throat and sat up on the couch.
“I’m from Quebec,” she told them quietly.
“Oh, so we got an alien in here?” Jerry said loudly. Connor pushed him.
“You’re no better. You’re from India,” Connor said. Jerry looked at Connor and cleared his throat.
“I lived in India for a few years but I was born here,” he said while rolling his eyes. Connor put up his hands in mock surrender.
“Do you speak French?” Taylor asked.
“Only a little bit. Do you?” Taylor shook her head.
“I lived in France for a little while but I never learned.” Ashley nodded.
“Those pictures on your wall. Seems like you’ve been to a lot of places,” Ashley commented. Taylor nodded.
“Yeah, I guess so. Honestly, it’s all a big blur,” she said sadly. Ashley felt as if she struck a nerve and kept her mouth shut from asking anymore questions. Silence filled the room and then Connor stood up. He patted Taylor’s knee and waved at Ashley.
“Well, it’s been nice meeting you, Ashley. Glad you’re here,” he said with a smile. Ashley smiled back and felt herself start to blush. She then turned away and nodded her head. Jerry stared after Connor and stood up too.
“Well, it’s not late so I’ll hit the showers. Night, Paris, night Alien,” he said laughing. Taylor and Ashley rolled their eyes but couldn’t help but smile. Jerry closed the bedroom door.
“Wow, your friends seem pretty nice,” Ashley said. Taylor laughed and nodded.
“I’ve only known them for a little bit but I connect with them. And so do you. I think it’s great that us four got the same quarters. Means we’re going to be together for a little while at least,” Taylor said turning to face Ashley. “I’ve never been in one place for a more than a few months, so that’ll be a change.” Ashley studied Taylor. Her dark hair framed her round face and high cheekbones. The light bounced off her tan skin and she smiled, but her eyes were sad. Taylor cleared her throat and then the sad eyes were gone, replaced by glassy brown ones.
“Well, if you want, I can show you where the showers are,” Taylor said, breaking the silence.
“I thought that all you had to do was think of where you wanted to go?” Ashley asked.
“Well, that’s sometimes. During school hours and after 7, everything’s pretty much in the same spot. I guess it’s easier to keep track of you that way. If you want, I can give you a little tour. I mean, I’m still new here, too but…” she trailed off. Ashley nodded and smiled.
“Of course you can show me around. Should I get my toiletries?” she asked. Taylor laughed.
“Just your clothes. They already have soap and things in there for you,” Taylor told her. Ashley nodded and they walked into the bedroom. Ashley grabbed her bag and went into it. She realized that she didn’t bring any pajama bottoms. She turned around towards Taylor with her shirt and underwear in hand. Taylor looked up from the drawer and at Ashley’s clothes. She smiled and threw her pants at her.
“Thanks,” Ashley said. Taylor shrugged.
“Don’t mention it.” Ashley nodded and waited for Taylor to get her things together. When she was done, they walked out of the bedroom together. Then Taylor went to the couch and pulled up the middle cushion. “Monstra te esse.” Ashley watched as a folded piece of paper formed out of thin air.
“It’s a counterspell to invisibility. Well, it’s not really a spell. It’s more like a command. I asked the air to hide the paper for me and now I asked for it back,” Taylor explained. Ashley nodded.
“So what is that?” Taylor smiled and unfolded the paper. On it looked like a drawn blueprint of the school. “A map?” Taylor nodded as her smile widened.
“Yes! A map of this floor. When the magic halls aren’t magical anymore, it’s easier to see where everything is. And well, you saw how big this building was from the outside. Just imagine how big it is on the inside. So for the past few days I’ve been drawing a map.” Ashley looked at the map again. Taylor had already listed out various classrooms and bathrooms.
“Doesn’t look like you’re doing a very good job. I mean all of that is regular school stuff,” Ashley said skeptically.
“Yeah, well, it is a school after all. But don’t you think it’s strange that I haven’t found a stairwell yet?” Ashley shrugged.
“Maybe they don’t want to be found.” Taylor’s eyes widened to the size of saucers.
“Ashley, what a great idea! They probably are hidden. With some type of magic, of course. We have to find them,” Taylor told her, clapping her hands. Ashley shook her head.
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea, Taylor. What if there’s a reason they’re hidden. What if we get in trouble? Look, I just got here and I really don’t need to add another school to the list of schools I’ve been kicked out of,” Ashley said cautiously.
“Aw, come on, Ashley. It’s a great idea. We can go on an adventure. Don’t be so stiff,” a voice said. Taylor’s head snapped towards the voice’s direction.
“Monstra te esse,” she said. Immediately, they saw Jerry and Connor standing behind the couch, wide eyed and guilty looking. Taylor turned red. “You guys were spying on us?!” she yelled. Connor raised up his hands and pointed to Jerry accusingly.
“He made me do it, I swear.” Jerry rolled his eyes.
“Wimp. She’s nothing to be afraid of. And to answer your question: yes, we were spying. But it’s not like you made it hard, with you two being in the middle of the living room,” Jerry said, crossing his arms.
“That still doesn’t make it right!” Taylor said, pointing a finger at him.
“Look, we just want in on the exploring,” Jerry said. Taylor furiously shook her head.
“No! You’ll just spoil it. But if Ashley wants, Connor can come.” Ashley raised her eyebrows as all of the eyes turned to her once again.
“I…” she didn’t know what to say. Jerry turned red and Connor looked away.
“That’s wrong and you know it. But maybe I can persuade you in a different way. If you don’t let us both go with you on your little exploration, we’ll tell Mr. Gardswell.” Taylor’s eyes widened and Jerry smirked. Ashley knew that he had won.
“You wouldn’t dare tell that slithering frog on me,” Taylor said through gritted teeth.
“You don’t scare me, Combat Boots, you already know that,” Jerry told her in a condescending tone. Taylor stared at him and at Connor. Finally, she shook her head and slumped her shoulders.
“Fine. You guys can come. But if you make any noises I will shrink you down a size and. Step. On. You.” Jerry laughed.
“I’d like to see you try.”
The girls decided to shower in the morning and left their clothes in the room. When all four of them walked out of their quarters, the halls were pitch black.
“Whoa,” Connor breathed.
“Don’t tell me you’re scared,” Taylor said, rolling her eyes. Connor coughed and violently shook his head.
“Of course I’m not scared,” he said unconvincingly. Ashley laughed at him.
“Fine, you big baby. I’ll make some light,” Taylor told him. She stopped walking and stared down at her empty palm. “Illustret,” she whispered. Immediately, Taylor’s hand started to softly glow a violet light. She smiled. “Is that better?” she asked turning to Connor, who was standing extremely close to Jerry. He nodded and looked away. Ashley laughed at him again, making him blush.
“So, where are we going?” Ashley asked looking around the empty hallway. Taylor unfolded her map and held it out in front of her.
“Well, I already have most of this floor down. I think I’m going to take your idea and look for any passageways leading to stairs,” she said wiggling her eyebrows. Jerry perked up and stopped walking, making Connor bump into him.
“You think there are hidden passageways in the school?” Jerry asked, his eyes wide. Taylor looked back at him and made a face.
“Yes. I thought you heard that while you were spying on us.” Jerry shrugged.
“Not that part.” Taylor shook her head and looked back at her map.
“Well, we’re already walking this way, which is,” Taylor looked back down at the map, “by Mrs. Caris’ room.” She looked back at Ashley. “She teaches us about potions.” Ashley nodded. “I heard some of the older kids saying that there was some kind of library on this side of the school. Maybe we can find it.”
“Maybe it doesn’t want to be found,” Connor said. Taylor rolled her eyes again.
“Of course it wants to be found! And if it’s hidden then there must be a really important reason why, right?” Connor shrugged. “Okay, stay quiet. Don’t make a single noise. We are spies and if we get caught we’ll be cleaning the ogre’s stables for a week.”
“What?” Ashley asked. Jerry turned to her.
“We have a class where we learn about Ogres and well, there are some here, in stables and let’s just say that they are not the cleanest creatures on the planet,” Jerry told her. Ashley nodded.
“Oh.” Taylor shushed them and they walked in silence, Taylor’s palm light glowing dimly throughout the dark hall. They followed closely behind her, trying not to look too closely into the shadows. Their footsteps squeaked along the floor as they looked for any signs of life. They passed by the bathrooms and various quarters, which all seemed to be totally devoid of life. Finally, they reached a dead end.
“That can’t be it,” Taylor said, looking back at her map again.
“Maybe there’s something behind the wall,” Ashley suggested. Taylor smiled at her and walked towards the wall.
“Why? Why would you give her any ideas?” Connor asked, throwing his hands up. Taylor turned back towards him.
“Hey, you can go back to the room, if you want. No one's making you stay,” she said with a shrug. They all stood in awkward silence and when it became clear that neither of them were leaving, Taylor said, “That’s what I thought.” The three watched as she put her hands around the walls. Finally she placed her palms flatly against the middle of the wall and pushed. She fell in with a yelp.
“Oh my gosh!” Ashley all but yelled. Jerry immediately shushed her and walked towards the wall.
“You’re not going in there, are you?” Connor asked. Jerry looked back.
“Well, we can’t just leave her in there. And how do you think we should get her out?” Connor shrugged. Jerry turned towards the wall and put one arm to it. He pushed and his arm went through it. He looked back with raised eyebrows and then fell in. Ashley gasped and Connor almost screamed. They stared at the wall and then back at each other.
“Man, we have to go in there,” Ashley told him. Connor shook his head.
“If we die, I’ll kill them,” he told her. Ashley laughed. She held out her hand.
“Together?” Connor grabbed her hand and nodded. Ashley closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she walked into the wall with Connor. An immediate difference was the coldness. The temperature had dropped at least 10 degrees and it smelled like dust and old books. Ashley slowly opened her eyes. She looked around and couldn’t believe what she saw.
It was a room with 15 foot tall windows. Outside, the night was black with stars lighting it and the moon was nowhere to be seen. There were bookcases lining the walls and all around the room. There was an empty wooden desk sitting in the middle of the room. The desk was covered in a thick layer of dust, like most of the things in the room. Immediately, Ashley spotted Taylor and Jerry, bent over a desk looking at something. Taylor turned around and waved them over. Ashley and Connor shared a questioning glance and then realized they were still holding hands. Ashley immediately dropped it and walked over to Taylor, not waiting for Connor’s response. A few seconds later, Connor came to the side of her, staring at the book Taylor and Jerry were looking at.
“Took you two long enough,” Jerry muttered. Connor ignored his statement.
“Out of all the books in here, you’re looking at this one?” Connor asked.
“It’s a book of records. Someone’s been recording the history of sorcerers. It dates back all the way until the ancient times,” Taylor whispered, not looking up from the book.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” Ashley breathed. “But how’d you pick this one. I mean you didn’t just pick up a book and it just so happened to be the book of sorcerers past.” Taylor shook her head.
“This book has almost no dust on it.”
“As in, someone’s been reading this book recently. Very recently. So recently, in fact, that it was still open on this table when we got here,” Jerry finished for her.
“What?” Connor asked. Taylor nodded.
“We think that whoever was reading it had to leave very quickly and didn’t have time to put the book back because glasses and a small flashlight are on the floor,” Taylor told them. Ashley bent down and sure enough there was a pair of glasses with only one lense lying beside a cracked flashlight.
“That’s insane,” Connor whispered. Jerry nodded.
“I know. But it gets weirder,” Jerry said and pointed to the book. Connor and Ashley leaned over. Ashley skimmed it and pointed out a few words: ‘Powerful,’ ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Families,’ ‘Fitzgerald.’ Ashley felt her stomach twist and swallowed hard. All of a sudden her throat became very dry and she started tapping on the tables.
She found her voice and asked, “What’s it about?” Taylor looked up. Her eyes were wild and had that sad look from earlier in them.
“It’s about four powerful families of sorcerers. They’ve been powerful since the ancient times and it says here that they are the sole reason why the Persian Wars and Mesopotamian Wars and the actual World Wars happened.” They sat in eery silence. Ashley looked at each of their faces. Connor had his eyes closed and seemed to be mouthing words to himself. Jerry was staring at his hands, not moving at all. Taylor was staring at a space behind Ashley, her eyes wide and clouded.
“Does it say which families?” Ashley squeaked. Taylor didn’t break her stare.
“Parsons, Qualls, Victarians and Fitzgeralds,” she whispered. Ashley took a deep breath and nodded her head. Connor opened his eyes and Jerry looked up.
“And what does it say? About the families, I mean?” Jerry said in a soft voice.
Taylor breathed out a shaky breath.
“It says that the last of the families were thought to be dead after the Second World War when The Consul murdered them all. Some stories say that a few of their children got away but that no great grand children have been discovered.” Connor blinked.
“Why were they so dangerous?”
“Something about the sources they had and the amount of magic in their blood,” Taylor told him. Connor nodded and stared at the book.
“It’s getting late, we need to go,” Connor whispered, hoarsely. Taylor nodded and closed the book with a snap.
“We can...discover more tomorrow,” Jerry tried, walking towards the wall they had come from. Connor followed him.
“Yeah, tomorrow,” he said. Taylor and Ashley exchanged glances and Taylor’s eyes were unreadable.
“Yeah, it’s getting late,” Taylor said. Ashley nodded and walked to the wall behind the boys. The boys went through first and then the girls. They were facing an empty blank hall.
“Can we think of our quarters or do we have to walk?” Ashley asked. Taylor shrugged.
“I think we have to walk,” she said quietly. Jerry said a spell and his hand lit up silver. He turned back to them and started to grin.
“Race ya,” he said and took off sprinting down the hall. They all followed, desperate to keep up with the light and not get lost. The running also took their minds off of what they had learned about the four most powerful families that ever lived. Once back in their quarters, they all immediately raced off to bed, not bringing up the library but making empty comments about the classes the next morning.