The next morning I woke up to the sound of movement. Everybody else in the dormitory was getting up. I sat up slowly, limbs stiff. My coat still sat in a heap beside me, a small bulge revealing the presence of the old man's gift to me - concrete proof the previous night's happenings. Making sure no one was watching, I slipped the gift out of my coat pocket and examined it. It was a dark green glass jar. Was this it? What was inside? The old man couldn't possibly just have given me a jar, could he have? I tried to unscrew the lid, but it was stuck fast.
I suddenly realized that the dormitory had almost emptied out. I knew I should leave with the others, but the jar seemed suddenly a matter of great urgence. I adjusted my grip on the jar and smashed it against the ground. It jarred against the floor but did not break. Abandoning all subtlety, I hurled it against the wall. The jar broke open with a sharp cracking sound.
To my disappointment, nothing fell out. In a fit of desperation, I peered inside, winking into the jar. Nothing - except a dark stain on the bottom. I reached inside, careful not to cut myself on the jar's jagged edges. The stain felt hot to touch, and its texture was that of a scab. I pulled it out - it was coal-black.
I shifted it into the palm of my hand - and jerked back. The voices of the Auriye were suddenly in my head. My first thought was that it was night, but I could see sunlight streaming into the room.
I dropped the scab onto the floor. I thought back to what the old man had said, trying to figure out what the little scab might be. He had mentioned finding out the truth - had he tried to capture a piece of the Auriye, to learn the truth from them? Could this be a piece of the Auriye? It couldn't be. Wouldn't a piece of something that sang so beautifully be more elegant?
I hid the remnants of the jar under my blankets, tucked the little scab into my coat pocket, and hurried out of the dormitory.