Lianna closed the last of the books and turned it over on the desk so that the front cover was uppermost. The books had been as helpful as she'd expected, which was not very. She rubbed her eyes, which felt hot and dry. She didn't read very much and found it hard going to slog through words densely packed on the page, skipping some pages where the words were too unfamiliar. She kicked her seat back, its wooden feet scraping across the floor like a groan, and stretched her legs out in front of her.
The candelabrae were lit now, and she had a vague memory of the boy coming round and pausing here and there, so he must have been lighting them. The light coming through the high windows was grey and thin; she must have been sat here with these silly tomes for longer than she'd thought. She turned her head, stretching the muscles in her neck which felt as tight as if she'd been at wrestling practice, and realised that she was the last reader in the room.
She gathered up the books and took them back to the shelf. To her surprise there was a new partition on the shelf, with two thin books stood inside it. She checked the bookcases to either side, thinking that she'd misremembered where her books had come from, but their shelves were crowded with histories of naval battles (which she dismissed as irrelevant to anyone) and atlases of places she couldn't imagine visiting. No, she had the right shelf, but it had been changed while she was sitting reading. She laid her books back down next to the partition and picked up the two new ones.
The bookshelf seemed to ripple as she pulled the books out, and she found that the partition that they had come from had disappeared again. Hesitantly she extended her hand, pushing the books back towards the shelf, and the bookcase rippled once more to reveal the partition. She snatched her hand back and looked over her shoulder at the librarian's desk. He was asleep, his head cushioned on his wrinkled, liver-spotted hands, and the boy had his head down, studiously copying out a manuscript. She backed away from the case to her desk, now moving as quietly as if she were stalking a thief.
The first book was called Arms and Armour of the Frostguard and the second was called To the Victor the Spoils. She pushed the second one aside, turning her attention to the first, but as she did so a page came loose from it and slipped halfway from the covers. She tutted under her breath and pulled the page out to look at it. It was folded in half, so she quietly unfolded it, looking up again to check that the librarians were still busy, and when she looked down she found she was holding a map. The area it showed looked almost familiar, as though she'd seen it before from a different angle, and there were several locations marked with stars. Checking for a legend, she found a box in the left-hand bottom corner that showed the stars were Frostguard armories.
Her breath caught in her chest, and black spots danced before her eyes. This was what she'd been looking for, and it had been sat on a hidden shelf all this time! She forced herself to breath, trying not to gasp. The librarians would never let her take the map, nor the books either, and she didn't dare now put them back on the shelf. It might be only visible to her, but it wasn't a chance she was willing to take; magic was untrustworthy. She looked up again, but the head librarian was still asleep and the boy was still copying his manuscript. Both the books were slim volumes, with paper covers.... Bending down as though she'd dropped something, she pushed them down her shirt and round to her right side, the one that would be away from the men as she left the library. Nervously checking again that they were still occupied, she now walked back to the bookcase. The books crackled quietly against her as she moved, and she hoped that that would not be noticed when she left. At the bookcase, she picked up two of the five volumes from earlier and put them back again, noisily, banging them against the shelf, and then turned to leave.
The boy looked up at the sound of the books going back, and nodded to her, going back to his manuscript. She walked past, trying not to look guilty, and only realised she'd been holding her breath when the library door closed behind her.