I looked up at the sound of my name, where Solana was overshadowed by the massive bookshelf beside her. Bags formed underneath her eyelids, and her once pure sapphire eyes were tainted by the slivers of red that dashed across them. Her hair was unkempt; stray ends fell in a cluttered mess. Either she had just rolled out of bed, or she didn’t sleep at all last night.
“Hi, Solana. You look a bit tired.”
I wasn’t sure if she was frowning from exhaustion or something else. She read my concern and giggled softly, “Yeah. I didn’t sleep very well last night. Too much excitement.”
Her voice sounded a bit hoarse. It was so subtle that I shook off the thought. I was probably just imagining it.
“Excitement over what?”
“The Guardians from New Perfi should be coming home sometime today,” he bloodshot eyes dazzled with energy, after seeming drained of it a moment before. “I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to see my parents come home. I hadn’t seen them since I left for Crucani to investigate that cult a few months ago. I didn’t even get to send them off. It’s been so long.”
A wide smile covered my face. Solana was finally going to see her parents again, which for some reason, pumped happiness through my body. No one else deserved to lose someone that they loved, so it was reassuring to think that she wouldn’t have to feel the sadness that Celeste and I felt.
“Do you know when they’ll arrive?”
“Sometime this Excitus. Hopefully it’ll be soon, otherwise I’ll probably faint from exhaustion. But enough about me. What are you doing here so early? I knocked on your door for a few minutes, and you didn’t answer. I checked the mess hall and the mailroom, and they were empty. I thought maybe you were training, so I checked the white tent and again, nothing. I had to track you all the way here with my Essence.”
“I was just…” I stopped myself before mentioning Lusk to her. What would Solana have said if she knew what was on my mind?
“You alright, Elijah?”
I pretended that I drifted off into space to divert her suspicion. “Sorry, I’m not used to being up this early,” I yawned. “I got up, but I didn’t feel like going back to sleep, so I decided to come up here and relax.”
Solana nodded, taking in the surroundings, “It is a good place to unwind. I don’t find myself coming here often, but when I do, the quiet atmosphere comforts me.” She looked down at the coffee table and saw the book that flattened over it, “What are you reading?”
“Just a random book I pulled out.”
Solana picked up the book and searched for the title. She had to open the book to the title page just to find it, since it was nowhere to be find on the cover or binding.
“Under the Sun, Above the Moon. What’s it about?”
“I think it’s a philosophy piece. It has a lot to do with the Solar Convergence, and how the civilizations predicted it to end humanity.”
“Seems like the ancient humans were wrong about that.”
I nodded, “Three thousand years later and we’re still here, still fighting.”
Solana smiled blissfully at my comment, “That’s the spirit. Now come on, let’s get some breakfast. If the rest of the Guardians return, the place is going to get real crowded. It’d be best to get food now and not suffer waiting in line later.”
“Alright then,” I placed the book in one of the empty slots in the bookshelf, giving off the illusion that I had randomly pulled it from that space. I could always retrieve it later.