Chapter 6- The Library
Soteira climbed gracefully through the window. She had been waiting for an opportunity like this. For years she had been travelling through the elven communities, trying to find out who had been responsible for the destruction of her people. But she had found nothing, her information was limited. She knew that each of the three realms held one of the great books of Nymphen lore but she had never seen them. If everything had gone as it was supposed to she would have been sent to each of the libraries in turn to learn sorcery from these books. She didn't even know which book was in which library and her own abilities were stunted due to her lack of knowledge. That however was going to change. If she found the book kept here in Meliae, she could learn from it and also discover exactly what information these elves held on her own people. It was an obvious starting point. Then she could move on and learn what she could from the other two great books. Now it was night again and she had taken the opportunity to sneak in.
As her bare feet touched the ground, she wondered why she had started here. Napae Oroboro was closest to the ruins of Limnaid, which she still thought of as home. And Epimelian Oroboro was closer to the wild lands, a more likely place for evil thoughts to grow. But instead she had decided to start here. The answer unfortunately was all too obvious. This was where Alseide was. It was irrational and infuriating, but she felt safe here. This was not just an Elven Library, this was Alseide's Library. The books here not only held some of the answers she sought, but he was their keeper. Even with him gone and on his way to the outskirts of the kingdom she felt safe here. She ran a hand softly over the books as she walked with a small smile on her face. This was where he worked, where he spent most of his time and she knew that he had not forgotten her.
Over the years she had come back many times, just to watch him. Every time she told herself that she was looking for evidence that an elf had betrayed her people, but instead she would watch him. Recently she had come to realise that she had wasted too much time in her travelling. She had found nothing so far. Unless someone happened to say, within earshot that they had been responsible for the betrayal of the Nymph she wasn't going to learn anything by simply travelling between the Elven realms and watching. Besides she spent far more time here in Meliae or moping around Limnaid than she did anywhere else. It was frustrating. She had almost given up, not knowing what to do next. It was only after watching Alseide looking through his books that she had realised how stupid she had been. This was where she should have started a long time ago. She should have continued with her training as it was supposed to have been.
Soteira told herself that logically Meliae was the right starting point. She knew the layout of this library, because she had watched Alseide moving about inside so many times. She knew where the Nymphen books were, because she had seen him take them out and read them. Even the great book, whose access was greatly restricted, she had seen being carried to his desk and opened reverently. That was how she knew he had not forgotten her. Every time she came here she saw him looking over her past, her peoples past. And whenever he left the safety of the forest Kingdom he would come to Limnaid in search of her. It was comforting to know that he remembered her, but she wasn't ready to reveal herself.
Slowly Soteira walked towards the large wooden door that she knew held one of the great books. The shelves on either side she knew held smaller, less important books about her people. Genealogies mostly, tracing the Nymphen families from the founding of Limnaid until the destruction. Absently she picked one up, they were incomplete. Their pages blank after a certain point, the massacre. That day new names would have been added to the books, that day the newly presented heads of their families would have been acknowledged and their names recorded. On impulse Soteira reached for her own families' book. She looked at the cover a long time, before finally opening to the first page. The illustration glared up at her from the page, the emerald seahorse painted in such detail. She placed the book down on a nearby table and played idly with the pendant at her throat with her left hand while the other played with her mother's necklace around her right wrist. It was stupid, that one picture should affect her so much, but his book was her entire family history, and that picture was a symbol of what that meant. She turned through the pages; each page had another name, another picture and another piece of her family history.
Soteira stopped at the last page, or what should have been the last page. Her mother's face looked up at her from the page, but that wasn't what shocked her now. There was another entry. On the page opposite her mother's entry there was another. Written in neat and perfect letters, Soteira saw her own name and below that the words 'The Last Nymph'. She blinked. How? Alseide must have added her name, but how? She had never given him her mother's name, unless, the pendant. He had seen the symbol around her neck and figured it out. And then despite the fact that no one believed him, he had added her name to the lore of her people. Soteira put the book down and scrunched her eyes shut.
Footsteps outside the main door brought Soteira crashing out of her thoughts, her head snapped up. Someone was coming. She had to hide. Frantically she looked around the room, wood, she needed wood. The door to the vault, it was solid oak, solid unvarnished oak, perfect. She eased back into the wood everyone knew how a nymph's body could adapt to the water, but view knew that their bodies could adapt to any natural environment. Amongst the trees they would become invisible to the naked eye, their skin camouflaging with the wood. It was difficult to achieve with dead wood, but with the Library in darkness and the deep shadows, she could go unnoticed.
Princess Clonia pulled the night robe closer around her shoulders before pushing the heavy door open. She couldn't sleep and had decided on a trip to the library. When she stepped over the threshold however her brow knitted in confusion. When she had seen Nomius earlier in the day he had told her about the trouble he and her father had had in getting Alseide to leave for a few days. But he had finally gone, and yet. She moved towards the table and confirmed what she had suspected on entering the library. The table was the one closest to the shelves of Nymphen Lore, and it was indeed a book of Nymphen history. She ran her fingers over the page. No one else read these books, and Alseide was away. Then she noticed the last entry. 'The Last Nymph'. Things were worse than they had thought. For a long time now they had worried over Alseide and his hallucinations, and the librarian had done his best to pretend that everything was fine. And yet here was evidence, that he truly believed what he had seen. Forgetting her quest for something to read, Clonia left in search of Captain Nomius.
As the door closed again Soteira cursed under her breath. She had to get out of here, before that elf came back, but first thing first. Soteira picked the book up and returned it to the shelf. It was too risky coming here, she knew that now. If she was ever going to get a look at the great book, she would need some help, and there was only one person she trusted to help her. She would have to make herself known to Alseide.
By the time Clonia returned with a very sleepy and annoyed Nomius in tow, everything was at it should be. And having no clear idea as to which book it had been she had seen, or where it was kept, Clonia returned to her room more confused than ever. After convincing the princess to go back to bed, Nomius took a final look around the library. She had been so sure. Just as he reached the door, he turned back. He had felt a slight breeze. Looking up to the high windows he noticed that one of them was ajar. Frowning in confusion he climbed up to close it. Alseide, he knew would not have left the window open. He loved this place, and cared greatly for the tomes in his domain. Something was off. And the Captain was not going to stop until he discovered exactly what it was.