And then she stopped. The might was right here. She closed her eyes trying to touch it.
“What is it, maiden?”
How could she describe it? “I… I don’t know. What is this place?”
“No – right here, this spot! What is here?”
He walked back to her. “There is nothing, only floor.”
She could almost smell it. “And under the floor?”
He was silent for a moment. “I believe there might have flowed a stream here, but it was diverted to the river when the building was constructed.”
A stream. Was that it? No. Almost. Something near the water. “Did something grow here?”
“Oh. Oh… Who named you, Esefel? Was it a Gifted one?”
She frowned at him. “All elves are Gifted. But it was my grandfather who named me, mother said. His Gift was in knowing things.”
“And what does your name mean?”
“It means… it means… Were there iris-flowers growing here?”
“But the iris is a common flower, isn’t it?” She frowned. “How can I be drawn to just this place?”
“Has your knowing grandfather taught you of Sources, yet?”
She blinked and choked. “We followed him to the river today,” she whispered.
He bowed deeply. “Oh, I’m sorry! Do you need a moment?”
She swallowed hard. “No, no it’s ok. I… He told me that all elves have a small Source in the moons and stars, thanks to the blessing of our maker, but most have something else also.”
“I did not know about the moons! All I had heard was that all elves were Sourced. But what I had in mind, was the ‘something else’ part. It can be a gemstone, an animal, a plant. Some very blessed draw from a whole species, some slightly less blessed must content themselves with only a particular creature, a single tree – or even only a certain celestial when visible in the sky. I would suggest you look to the flower of your name wherever you go, test it, try it, see if your energy increases. But this place is certainly a Source for you, o curious elf-maiden. I hope you come to use it.”
Esefel looked down on the grimy, lifeless flagstones. “If I do, I will pull up these rocks and replant my irises. In memory of my grandfather.”
The librarian chuckled. “I can see you do just that. But you have the years before you, and I only a little while left. Would you allow me to be your teacher those few seasons I have?”
Esefel looked around the room, brightly lit by the lamp, the two moons and the myriads of stars. It was old and worn, needing care. Grandfather had said her gift was in the learning and the telling – she wanted to learn, she wanted to know, she wanted the library restored to glory, where it would shine a light from mind to mind. And she wanted to replace and renew the scent of the irises that once had grown here. In her mind, the library shone with beauty and knowledge.
Then she suddenly looked down at the scroll still in her hand. She opened it, the librarian looking over her shoulder. It was blank.
She frowned. “Why would grandfather give me a single blank parchment?”
The librarian shrugged. “Maybe there is magic to it? Hidden words? Some inks need special treatment to show.”
“How would we find out?”
He chuckled. “You are the Gifted elf, not me. But I might have some texts on the matter.”
He took the lamp and a step ladder and started searching a high shelf. Esefel tried to wait patiently, but the parchment was starting to tingle in her hands, and she ended up spending the time twisting and turning it, scrutinizing, holding it up to the light – and by the time the librarian returned, she was sitting on the floor scratching her head.
“There is something about it,” she said. “Something magical. But I have no training in that at all!”
He dumped a large book with calf skin pages in her lap. The cover was decked in leather and copper, and the front page was in elven; “A Treatice of the Discoverie of Properties”.
He said, “there are rituals that a Gifted can used – particularly if they have some of what is called the Link realm, and from what I have discovered, most elves do – to investigate the magical properties and ‘threads’ that inhabit an object or enchantment.”
Threads. Esefel sighed and pushed back the loose hair. Grandfather had talked of threads – they were signs to the highly Gifted of what realms an enchantment belonged to. Body and Plants, Illusion, Fire, Water, Air and Earth, Link and Void. Each thread a different colour or note or vibration. She had never seen them, mother didn’t seem to be Gifted enough either, but grandfather spoke of the deep, vibrant colours that connected, spun and embraced magic. Deep brown, verdant green, flaming red, sparkling blue, pale yellow, fertile black, silver for Link – and the disturbing, terrifying Void magic associated with the demons was supposed to be a darkness that drew the gaze and shook the mind. Grandfather said he had seen it once, and it was the reason he left the Lake of White Swans, the Karchevet forest and the wars with the demons.
She flipped the page, and started reading instructions. The librarian brought her candles, thread, chalk and writing board. He helped her set it up, and he guided her through the motions, the weavings and the words. And when the rite was complete, she saw her parchment scroll shine like the brightest stars, she saw words in silvery ink move across the page, and when she reached to touch it, she understood what it could do.
She took a deep breath and pointed to one particularly decrepit scroll on a nearby shelf. “Sir, may I borrow that for a moment?”
The librarian pulled a pair of fine linen gloves from a pocket and picked it up with the gentleness of a cat’s paw. Esefel let one finger touch it – light as a butterfly – and let the other hand hold her scroll.
And words shaped themselves on her scroll, runes equal to the old script, they came and they disappeared. She nodded to the librarian and he placed it gently back. She touched her scroll, and the runes reappeared on it.
“I can use this on the old books to keep them safe. They can be read and recalled again and again. This scroll will keep their secrets for the future. Thankyou, sir.” And thankyou Grandfather, she thought. And then she thought, mother.
To be continued…