Faril settled in his reading room, lighting the lamp which stood on the desk. He shuffled papers about to make room for the small book which sat nestled in one of the inner pockets of his robe then placed it reverently in the newly cleared space. The diary radiated an ancient power which he knew kept it from crumbling to dust. The librarian smiled grimly at his handiwork and opened the cover carefully. As the light from his lamp spread across the first page, words wrote themselves slowly, the familiar script bringing a stinging sensation to his eyes.Hello, Mellin.
The librarian directed his thoughts at the page and the words sprawled out rapidly.
Rilashul. It’s been a long time.
Thought you’d lost me for a while there.
You always did know how to make a woman feel valued.
That’s not fair.
No. But neither is being passed from dingy room to dingy room for decades. Being written and re-written on… I’m sure you understand my irritation.
Yes. I’m sorry. Faril sighed, knowing that Rilashul’s consciousness couldn’t sense his remorse.
Anyway, I assume this isn’t a social call…
Even with the centuries which had passed since he’d last heard her voice, Faril knew the tone of it from her writing and smiled warily. She was lonely. Or that’s what he hoped, because the alternative broke his heart to consider.
No. But I do miss you.
… Evidently. What is it?
The WorldSoul. Where is it?
For a long time no writing appeared on the pages. Faril felt Rilashul’s consciousness leave the book and words faded away, leaving the diary looking like simply another tattered and disused relic of the past. When she finally returned, the firelight in Faril’s lamp dimmed under the pressure of her power, then flared up again as she re-contained herself.
Yalasir, a small settlement south of Rasier.
Male or female?
Perhaps three seasons. Will you be strong enough?
I shall have to be. You?
Oh, your strength gives me strength, Mellin. The librarian chuckled softly. She was still herself.
Be well, Rilashul.
Be strong, Mellin.
Faril waited until the words had faded away completely before closing the book. He stared at the cover for a long time, its sole decoration Rilashul’s personal insignia. Faril ran a finger over the symbol, which was etched in Syllic and glazed over with gold. It shone, indicating that Rilashul’s presence was within and about it. She was no doubt feeling out her new surroundings; his surroundings. Faril wondered what she thought of his sparse reading room, whose only furnishings were the wooden desk and chair at which he now sat. The walls were lined with select choices from his personal collection, gathered over millennia and containing knowledge mostly forgotten. The librarian sighed and pushed back from the desk, rising lithely. He walked out, leaving the diary where it lay with the lamp still burning. It made him feel a little better about things, not leaving Rilashul in the dark. He didn’t know if she even noticed. The only time he’d ventured to ask she’d mocked him for treating her like a child.
The burdens which had seemed so inconsequential during their encounter now weighed on him as the gravity of her words sank in. Would he and the others be strong enough to protect and guide the WorldSoul when the time came?
He thought back to his last encounter with the WorldSoul-incarnate. It had been a young woman, striking in her resemblance to Rilashul. The memory tore at him and he shut it out with a shake of his head. Everything had so nearly gone horribly wrong. In many ways, it really had gone wrong. Rilashul had been relegated to eternal subsistence in that diary, and the WorldSoul had nearly refused to perform the Joining. Faril scowled as the scenes forced themselves into the fore of his consciousness.
This time would be different.
It had to be.
Faril stood perfectly still as another sensation entered his body… A sense of intrusion.
Somebody had witnessed what had just occurred.