Solana took me upstairs into the library. Her reasoning was that no one would come up here for a few hours, since all of the other Guardians were celebrating the return of their loved ones. I asked her if she wanted to talk in the confines of either of our rooms, but she declined. As secluded as her room was, Solana knew it would be the first place her parents would find her.
I wasn’t sure if I should have been any more suspicious. Why didn’t she want her parents around right now? Besides, Solana told them that we went to the training tents, so why even bother going all the way to the library?
I decided not to fight her logic any longer. At least she wanted to talk. It didn’t really matter where, only that she was willing to let out whatever it was that caused her this much distress.
The two of us stood in front of the library door. Solana warily reached for the knob, and slowly opened the door. As much as I wanted to reassure, I knew that hearing my voice would probably make her feel a lot worse. I remained silent as she pushed the door open, revealing the rows of shelves with the pedestal on the far side.
Solana escorted me to the east wing, where the coffee tables and couches sat. I could still see a groove in one of the sofas that I left from earlier. I chose to sit on the same one, so that she could feel more comfortable on the one across from me. When we both settled into our seats, I patiently waited for Solana to begin.
“Where do I even start?” Solana caught her head with her hands.
“Take your time,” I said softly.
Solana lifted her head and nodded, refusing to make eye contact.
After a heavy exhale, she began, “I’m sure it’s already been ingrained into your head that you’re the first Guardian in three centuries to harness White Essence.”
I nodded, “It seems like it’s all anyone talks about these days.”
“Well, three centuries ago, White Essence wasn’t as scarce. It was still quite rare, but there had to be at least ten Guardians at a time that could wield it. Usually, the White Essence would manifest in the direct descendants of Sibyl, the very first Guardian. The chances of gaining White Essence and not being a descendant of Sibyl was near impossible.”
“Where are you going with this?” I asked.
“My family, we...we are the direct descendants of Sibyl. White Essence was once a staple of our ancestors. However, we haven’t had a White in the family for, well, three centuries. Time passed, and our family still couldn’t muster up White Essence. Our family became the laughing stock of the Order, a disgrace to Sibyl.”
“Of course, after a while, the Order realized that no Guardian could manifest White Essence for whatever reason. We were respected once again, but...I wanted to bring my family the respect they deserved, the reverence that came with being the scions of the first Guardian.”
“It was here, in this library, that I found a glimmer of hope. A book, or rather, a detailed report from before the sudden drought of White Essence. It explained an incident where a Guardian was able to change the color of his Essence. But the file was so heavily redacted that the details were impossible to figure out. That was, until I met you.”
“That day in the forest changed everything. When we shook hands, I knew exactly what had to be done. I had to figure out how you were able to wield White Essence, so that maybe, I could do the same. So, I did everything I could to keep you around me. The Master had plans of training you himself, but I begged him to make me your mentor, so I could study you. I even...I even brought you to Timorba to help you find that case, in hopes that your parents left hints on how you managed to do it.”
Essence gleaned from her skin. Her emotions were overwhelming her in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine. If I were to break my relaxed gaze, she would crumble in front of me.
“I was selfish. I only helped you because I thought I could learn to change my color. I wanted to be just like Sibyl; I wanted to mimic her strength, her wisdom, her courage. And I was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that.”