The First Lesson
Nyasha lay silent and still in her bed, listening to the sounds of the world waking outside her window. The sky was becoming brighter and she knew that soon the first rays of sunlight would come streaming through her windows and she and the others would be woken. The others whined and complained about how early they had to get up but Nyasha was a helper girl and was used to waking up before the sun. She had enjoyed the extra time she got in bed at the Manast, but then the dream had started and now she lay awake each morning, replaying it in her mind.
Qast awoke with a rasping breath, clawing at her hair. Her eyes narrowed and darted about the room as her hands deftly reached for two of the daggers she kept concealed about her bed. The darkness offered no sound and she could sense no presence in it except that of her sleeping sister, and yet she felt invaded. The faint whispering which had woken her came again, crawling to the fore of her mind and scratching at her defences. As her heart slowed she realised she knew this presence. She put her daggers back in their places then began the process of calming herself and opening her mind. A voice crackled into clarity.
Rena crouched behind the row of garden bushes which lined Faril’s quarters, her eyes wide and her mouth agape. She hardly noticed the chill which had entered her bones, nor the painful cramping in her arms and legs from holding still so long. The librarian’s reading room was now empty, save for the book, which still gave off an other-worldly glow. Her mind struggled to process what had just happened, half of it rejecting it as delusion and the other shuddering at the implications.
Rena made her way slowly from Faril’s desk and to the back of the library, taking a new route with each trip. By the fourth load she had figured out that if she walked straight from the desk, through the first row of books, took a left and counted four rows then walked down, the trip was significantly shorter. There were no ladders and no students crowding the way. Yet even with this improvement she knew that she’d spend the entire afternoon stacking then organising books. The task would likely run on into tomorrow’s schedule as well.