Mom and Dad had been searching on the library’s databases for common causes of nightmares. Surrounded by piles of recommended books and paging through virtual articles, Ashlee had offered to take Umala to the much more interesting children’s section, merely as a ruse to let them go and find out some things for themselves. One section, as everybody knows, is dedicated to history and legends, and they wanted to see if there was anything about “Drifters,” as we called ourselves on the occasions when we practiced nonwinged flight.
They spent a good deal of time, probably an hour, wondering about all the odd tales of water people and star people and of walking mountains and other supernatural events, when they found a book that seemed completely out of place. It was a small, thin, black notebook, stuck between two of the largest and bluest of the Ancient Mythological Analyses volumes, as if it were meant to be found. They had pulled it out and on the front found a strange symbol embellished in a silvery ink: a heptagon with lines drawing from each point to a fancy seven in the center.
They gasped in excitement and glanced around cautiously to make sure nobody was watching. Ashlee stole away to a corner in an area where others were reading, playing big-sister-reading-to-baby-sister. They sat down and carefully opened it.
Inside were wide arrays of beautiful paintings, maps, and notes on legends of those with super- faery abilities. There were intricate designs on some of them, like an enchanted portal code of some sort, and on others there were symbols emblazoned with bright colors. It was full of stories, too. There was one about two brothers: one who could drain a lake and the other who could fill it. Several were about girls who could disappear from one place only to reappear in another, and a couple about children who could make objects float around and change shapes. Page after page were these incredible tales, and Ashlee retold a lot of them with Umala’s help.
Then, all at once, she stopped telling her story and stared quietly into space. I sat in awe, soaking up all this knowledge, the idea that maybe we weren’t alone, that I wasn’t alone. Desperation drove me to hear the rest.
“Well? What happened next?”
“Please! You have to tell me!” I begged her.
Umala cooed gently to Ashlee from her new place in the crib. Ashlee sighed and continued.
“Then one time, I turned a page and something fell out of it. But I wasn’t paying attention to it. I…I couldn’t stop looking at the picture that was there.” Her face was contorted in an expression of horror, a horror she couldn’t name.
“Ashlee…what…what was it?” My heart was pounding with fear of something that I could tell was coming but desperately did not want to hear. It couldn’t be.
She blinked rapidly and swallowed. Her mouth made attempts at forming words, but it failed several times. Ashlee finally took a deep, shaking breath.
“Emma, it was a…a Sorceress. A Sorceress in a bloody dress with fire swirling around her. She had a black knife, and Emma…she was surrounded by dead people, and…and a tree the size of Skyglass was burning to the ground.”
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