The library was grand like nothing else in the castle. In contrast to the gloominess of the castle walls, the library was polished and shining in golden colors. The bookshelves reached almost all the way to the ceiling. Upon entering through the double doors, I couldn’t immediately make out just how many shelves there were. By the full-length window was a spiral staircase leading to the upper floors of the library. Each shelf was stacked to the fullest, each floor packed with shelves.
It was just as I remembered it.
“This whole place is yours to manage,” Remington said as I looked about. “It’s grand, but there isn’t much to do, since not many people come here.”
It was just the two of us in the library; and like he said, it was quite vacant, so vacant that his voice echoed off the walls. I strode to the center of the library, and looked upon the books that were at eye level. They were neatly compiled, and not a single spine had a single crease. The conditions of the books were—quite accurately—good as new.
“You do treasure knowledge the way it should be treasured,” I commented.
“What makes you say so?”
“The condition of this whole library screams so.”
Saying thus, I headed deeper into the library, and kept going until I finally saw a wall. Then, I turned and went to the innermost corner of the shelves. Raising my head, my sight was set upon one of the smaller books on the top shelf. Granted, I couldn’t reach it, but I could at least see its title.
Remington had followed me, of course. He said nothing, but waited for an explanation.
“The most interesting books are the ones most hidden, isn’t that so?” So an explanation I gave him. “But these go so high up, how do you reach them?”
Instead of answering, he raised an arm halfway, opening his hand, and the book I had been looking at flew to him. He caught it, and handed it to me.
“Thank you,” I said. “Maybe I should ask it differently: when you’re not around, how do I reach these shelves?”
He smiled a playful smile, almost equivalent to a smirk, though nowhere near as malicious as mine.
“You don’t,” he said.
“Seriously?” I chuckled this time, amused by his answer. “You’re going to bully me by the species?”
Remington shook his head. “You will find a way to reach the uppermost shelves,” he said, “I am sure of it. You will find a way to achieve anything you set out to.”
He only shrugged.
Larissa opened her arms wide, taking in the full glory of Lord Remington’s library. Shining gold, that was one of the things she liked most. It wasn’t hers, but it could someday be, if only she’d learned magic as soon as possible.
“Do you like it that much?” Remington asked.
“I do!” the girl replied, turning to the man with twinkling eyes.
“You’ll have plenty of time to read,” he said calmly.
Larissa nodded, and made her way to one of the nearest shelves. She took out the first book she found there.
“These all seem to be in good condition. Does no one come here?” she asked.
“Only me, for the most part.”
“Such a shame.”
Little had I known, the books had been rearranged so that those in the most convenient places were the ones Remington wanted me to see first. By reaching into the deepest shelves on the first day, I could at least buy myself some time as Remington recovered from the rattle of his plans. It was in these books, hidden in the darkest corners of the library, that I would find ways to gain and maintain magical powers even outside these castle walls.
Of course, I wouldn’t know for certain I could use the powers outside the castle unless I actually stepped out of it; but that could wait.
After Remington left that morning, I spent most of the day in various corners of the library. The arrangement of the books were almost exactly the same as it had been last time—with only a few subtle changes. My course of action had indeed altered some of Remington’s decisions already. Knowing him as I did now, I knew that every placement of every book carried a meaning. The books that had been placed in the most convenient spots were still placed the same way as last time, but a few of the previously hidden books were also moved up to more convenient shelves: Peace of Mind & Powers, Balance of the Soul and Your Powers...these had been previously hidden.
He wants to help me this time? That’s odd.
I had overlooked those two books before, my previous priority being to gain powers first before anything else; but powers I already knew of now, I needed only to wait till time let the magic of the blueblood castle seep into my veins, and then lock it there. And maybe, this time, I could also pick a specific area to specialize in, since I didn’t need to work my way up from the very bottom.
Then, before I had powers to work with, how should I spend my time in this majestic library?
I put the books down, and strode to the windows, one by one. I knew the scenery, but it wouldn’t hurt to familiarize myself once more. Besides, in my last life, I hadn’t looked out the window on this second day of my arrival. There could be something I had missed.
And indeed there was.
Down below, Ellerie stood bending over a field of flowers in the courtyard, tending to them. I counted in my mind: three, two, one…
There he was, walking towards her. She turned around and smiled the sweetest and most sickening smile, and I was so, very glad I couldn’t hear her from all the way up here. I didn’t need more fuel to my fire of disdain towards her. In the past, she had accused me of everything she herself was guilty of—lacking the imagination to put any other blame on me, apparently. While there was nothing anyone could do to soothe my hatred, there was everything I could do to lower her guard.
Ellerie looked up, possibly having felt my gaze on her. It was just the second day after all, she couldn’t start acting up so early in the story. She smiled at me too, and even waved. At her motion, Remington raised his head too. He gave the smallest smile, so small I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t seen it before—careful too, he was being.
I waved most graciously at the both of them, and put on a smile for Ellerie’s show. My eyes met hers and hers only, until her gaze shifted from me back to her lord. Remington looked away a split second later, at her cue, and it was in that split second that I let my gaze wander to him.
So that greeting was done. It began and ended in a matter of three seconds, if one misstep would have raised Ellerie’s alarm.
And I sure as hell did not come back just to repeat the same mistakes.