Chapter 17.3Mature

“Is there no way to narrow it down further?” Beth asked quietly.

“Not really. Not without breaking into every one of their estates. The answer may lie in Robert’s life-book, but... There are no guarantees.”

“Lucius said that Storm could help.”

“Not at the moment; he wouldn’t want to. But he could if you caught him at the right moment. It uses his inbuilt ability to track things. He’s managed to expand the radius with lightning, and an odd little contraption he made. He’s usually uses it to find lost and injured soldiers.”

“Do you think he’d try?”

“You could ask him.”

Beth nodded and sat quietly.

“I need to change for the ball,” she said after a few minutes.

“You’ve got a while yet,” Mary said.

For the first time, Beth noticed a pile of books on the desk across the room. She stood up and walked over. The first book on the pile was Robert’s book. Beth lifted it carefully, touching the leather binding reverently. She placed it down on the desk and looked to the next one; Fa’lea’s. She set it down next to Robert’s and found Nacra’s book to be next in the pile. She placed it on top of Fa’lea’s and found a larger, heftier book lying on the desk. On top of it lay a note that read: Just in case you were interested. –Lucius

Beth lifted the note, revealing a very old looking book, bound in what seemed to be leaves woven together. She heard Mary gasp.

“That book was supposed to have been destroyed centuries ago,” Mary whispered, standing up.

“What do you mean?”

“It was burnt in the fire of the Elder Tree. So the world thinks, anyway.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a collected history of the Forest Folk that goes as far back as was recorded. Many, many millennia. It apparently focuses more on those of the southern lowlands. That’s this area. Storm’s line.”

Beth turned her eyes to the book. She looked over the careful binding and gently opened it. She didn’t recognise the script it was written in.

“In the original Forroila as well,” Mary whispered in astonishment.

“Can you read it?” Beth asked.

“It’s a universal script. While the language itself is almost dead, the script is still widely used because it changes to whatever the reader’s preferred language is. It’s ancient magic, and very few know how it works – and those who do refuse to share the secrets – but it works nonetheless. Look at it.”

Beth did as she was told, staring at the text. For several moments it stayed the same; the same beautiful, swirling text with dots above letters and little curves below others. Then, slowly but steadily, it changed into what Beth immediately recognised as English.

She read:

“In these pages you will find the accumulated history of the Folk of the Forest, in particular the Southern Tribe which dwells in the Anorian forest.”

“Written by elven scholars, before they all became nomadic,” Mary commented, her voice rich with wonder.

The End

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