The Archive

“This,” Willow said grandly, with a sweeping gesture of her arm, “Is the Archive.”

It was extremely silent after the echoes of her words had settled. I squinted into the dusky gloom to try and make out what some of the items on the shelves were. There were differently shaped wooden boxes and caskets, and glass containers displaying various precious-looking gems or disturbing embalmed pieces of who knew what. There were velvet covered jewellery boards and rows of chalices and trophy cups. I took a step to the left to get a closer look at a dusty crimson medallion but Meena grabbed my arm to stop me.

“Don’t wander off in here,” she warned. I thought this was ridiculous. The Archive wasn’t that big, and it’s meticulous layout didn’t allow for me to get lost. “Some of the objects in here have certain powers. Without realising it, you might find yourself picking up a pretty glowing necklace - which tries to strangle you the second you put it on.”

I frowned and nodded mutely. I didn’t want to speak in the dim oppressive room. Even Meena’s hushed reprimand sounded uncomfortably loud, as if it could disturb the dust on everything.

“So, where will these files be?” Willow muttered, moving off down the centre aisle. Meena didn’t let go of my arm until I was walking along with them.

“Personal Information,” she clarified, taking over the leading and showing us to an aisle close to the back on the right. “Files on every potent-magical-blooded and Immortal family or clan in existence. Takes up only a third of the Archive’s storage, though.”

She bent at the waist and began scanning the shelves. They were shielded by sliding glass doors, and I realised that some of these papers must be very old.

“Chronological would be too difficult for clients to find what they want,” she muttered. “Everything is organised alphabetically.”

“Clients?” I whispered, trying not to jump at how loud my voice sounded, resulting in a twitch.

“The people who run the Archive and it’s access especially take payments from people to study files in their possession.”

“So, you’re saying we have to pay for this?” I said, raising my eyebrows at the implications.

“Weelll,” Meena drew out the word, smiling over her shoulder. “We were here a few weeks ago, looking up some stuff on Tenebrus for the Eternals. We didn’t have to pay because it was government business. But now, we should have to pay for this. There wasn’t anybody waiting at the door though, so I don’t see why we should wait around for them.”

I couldn’t help sneaking a look over my shoulder. The doors were closed behind us.

“Nowww… this might be difficult. Do you know your mother’s maiden name? Because I don’t think looking up Nox would work if the Valkyries want your mother.”

“Sure,” I said nervously, glancing around. “Her name before she married my dad was Dé Chiré . My great-grandparents were French. Their son - my grandad - moved to England in 1969.”

“Right,” Meena said, having not listened to the brief family history. She had scooted around another aisle. We followed her and let her continue her scanning. Suddenly she declared, “Aha!” and slid back a glass door on a shelf second from the floor.

“Dé Chiré ,” she proclaimed, holding up a leather-bound book with the letters stamped across the cover in silver, and also down the spine. “It’s in silver, which means mortal family. Gold is Immortal, becau - hang on.”

She tilted the book up, and when the cover caught a bit of light from above it seemed to glint dully gold.

“There’s gold in there too. There were Immortals in your family.”

“Right.”

“I wonder why the Eternals didn’t check your files, Ruby, considering Tenebrus is after you,” she said, flipping the book open to the most recently filled in pages. “The last update was when you were born, Ruby,” she informed me. “And before that, your mother’s marriage to Chase Nox. And before that, your mother’s birth. No, wait, your uncle’s birth, he was born later than your mother I think.”

“What?” I said blankly. “I don’t have an uncle.”

The End

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