The Trees of Timberwood

Started by Emily, November 14, 2022, 10:00:21 PM

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Emily

It started, as many things do, with a book.

The library of Summit was no stranger to books; indeed, it had books of many kinds across many shelves in many wings of its premises. If Lynue were to guess, she would say it definitely had more than 50 books, and probably quite a lot more than that. Unfortunately for posterity and the art of record-keeping, she and all of her fellow librarians were not maths people, and therefore the precise number of books within the building were unknown to the world. She would just have to hope that anyone looking at the plaque stating "Summit Library: Home to More than 50 Books!" would just take it well.

A new shipment had arrived that morning, a crate full of new books that would fill up even more shelves. These books were, presumably, written by people all across the land of Glimmerwharf with copies being sent to all manner of different libraries in different towns. The books always smelt so interesting, like a lot of paper in the morning. Lynue loved to smell those smells, and loved a lot of other smells as well. But the books that morning were not the normal fare, all whimsical fantasy and adult novels about businessmen with particular choices about what types of pants they enjoyed wearing. Indeed, today they were mysterious. A note on top of the crate stated as much:

To the Summit Library,
Enclosed, you will find several mysterious books.
Love,
The Author Collective of Glimmerwharf

One of the books was a murder mystery about a house full of strange people, seemingly set at least forty years ago. Another was a written play, with each line preceded by the name of the character who said it: apparently it was about a typhoon or hurricane of some manner. There was also a strange book about exploration of the cosmos, where a technomage took off in a whirlygig of their own design and explored the large planet visible in the sky. Full of sprockets and whatchamacallits, the whirlygig was truly a gem to behold, or at least that's what it was described to be. Lynue didn't know, she was only reading the back cover of the book.

And then, at the bottom of the pile, was a hardcover book with no title. The binding and cover were badly damaged, and the book seemed like it was going to fall apart. At first, Lynue was angered by the idea that either the people who packed this mysterious book or the people who conveyed this mysterious book had been so thoughtless and rough with it, but when she attempted to look it up on the itemised list of books that came in the crate, she found everything on the list was accounted for. This was just an extra. A surprise of some manner. A proper mystery for she and she alone. The only detail on the outside of the book were the letters "NEL", which wasn't incredibly promising. Even knowing the probably dozens of books that she knew, Lynue could not place what this one might be or where it might have come from.

She spent her morning putting the new books into the library's system, and then went back to her office with the NEL novel (ooh, could the answer be so simple as that? She assumed not) to see what she could find out from a quick skim. Once she was halfway through chapter one, noting it was a magic text of ideas and facts mostly unknown to her, she packed it up and set out across the city to the one person she knew who might be able to help.

Catherine

It started, as many things do, with a book.

Once again, Aster was in trouble for reading during class. They scowled, absent-mindedly staring at a scuff on their shoe so that they didn't have to make eye contact while whichever-teacher-it-was-this-time harped on about how their class was more important than just some book. As if The Technomage Chronicles XII: Cosmos Brigade was "just some book". That series had changed Aster's life, which was more than they could say for whoever-was-shouting-again. Seriously, who needed school when there were books? You could learn anything from a book these days.

Aster loved books, more than anything else in the world. They loved the way they smelled, the way the paper felt when they turned a page, the way an author could weave imaginative magic, or knowledge on almost any subject with just a few dozen simple symbols. When they were reading, the world was finally quiet, just them and the comfort of familiar words - there was truly no better feeling. And out of all the books Aster had read, The Technomage Chronicles were their favourites. They had every copy, had read each of them dozens of times; there were sentences in those books that were more familiar to them than even their own face in the mirror.

At a pause in the background noise that was today's tirade, Aster looked up. Shit, they'd stopped paying attention. Unmemorable-teacher-number-something was glaring at them expectantly. "Uh, sorry?" they tried... Nope, wrong answer. God, would this ever end?

Maybe they'd go to the Summit Library if they ever finally got out of this place. They'd passed a plaque earlier that proudly declared that the library had "more than 50 books". Heh, good one. At least the library would be warm and welcoming, and they could finally read in peace.

Nakari

It started, as many things do, with a book.

The Elementary Guide to Elements, to be exact. Hardly a masterpiece; a garish little slab of a book with advice outdated even at the time of its release and an author that seemed far too impressed with his own attempts at humor. But for seven year old Hanne it had been a revelation. She'd sneak it out from her parents' bookshelves and hide under her bedcovers to read it, her eyes straining in the dark, attempting to make flame spark from her fingers. Fortunately, she had been too young then for real magic. Only years later did it occur to her that beds were flammable. But by then she had already fallen in love with magic, knew she would become a mage. She'd planned it all out, the path she had to study, more books to read, spells to practice -

"Hanne!" hisses Tarragon, "do you have the drinks yet for table six? I'm taking their sandwiches out, hurry up."

"Ah," Hanne says eloquently, and gets back to work.

She checks the orders that have piled up, searching for table six - ah, one orange tea, one latte with deer milk. While the coffee grinds in its drum, Hanne boils the water for the tea, putting her hand to the side of the pot and sending a rush of fire through it until it's near simmering. She pours out half a jug of deer milk, which is usually about right but she's terrible at the measurements, and sets to steaming it, hot air bubbling up from the base of the jug until the milk forms an acceptable level of foam and the roaring sound of the air reduces in frequency. All the glasses they use for lattes are dirty; Hanne crosses over to the sink, adds some soap, plunges her hands into the basin, and makes the water wash the dishes for her. Plucking out a glass, the water evaporating instantly, Hanne assembles the latte, and then the teacup, saucer and spoon, and then takes them over to table six - "sorry for the wait!"

On her way back to the counter she glances out the window, at the library over the road, at the typical Summit weather, at the streets full of people. And when she returns somehow there are six more drinks to make. At least her shift is over soon.

All the stories Hanne tells to herself about her great inspiration, all the magical skills she's acquired, all the passion. It all boils down to this, she thinks as she spins a whirl of hot air through the next order, a storm in a teacup.

mads

It ended, as many things do, with a book.

A rather pointy hardback, hurled with unerring accuracy at Daff's head, to be precise. As it bounced off his temple and bounced across his clutching fingers, he recognized it as one of his academic texts on technomancy. It cracked off the cobblestones, the binding snapping and pages shooting out across the ground, formulae and grimoire disc schematics blurring as the pages soaked up water. He glared at the perpetrator of the bibliocide, his expression shifting rapidly to fear as he dodged more parchment projectiles.

"Helene! Take out your anger on me but leave the books alone, for Elhek's sake!" His fingers scrabbled at a soggy copy of Brentch's Devici Infernae et Daemonici, adding it to the rapidly growing pile in his arms. "I'll take it this means we're not having lunch tomorrow after class?" He smiled charmingly back in the directions of the assault, batting his eyes in a sultry manner.

Another textbook beaned him in the forehead, this one regarding the aerodynamics of enchanted mice, sending him toppling back into a puddle. A sturdy woman stepped out of her door, shaking a fist at him in tightly controlled rage. "Yes. No more free lunches for you, Daffyd. Go have it with my sister and her husband instead, if you're so keen for their company over mine. And get these useless paperweights out of my apartment!" A few more books and a technical magazine rocketed out of the abode, before Helene stepped back inside and slammed the door.

"Well. So much for that. Two whole months though, new record." Daff stood shakily, doing his best to avoid soaking the books any further, holding them away from his sodden body. Should probably find somewhere to get these fixed. Maybe the library? They know about books there, plus I think more than a few of these are overdue.

He must have made a rather amusing sight, dripping wet and walking with a brisk pace to the other side of the city, holding an over-piled stack of textbooks out in front of him, as if presenting them to everyone in his way. The ignominy of the situation still didn't prevent him from winking at a few folks as he made his way down the road, whistling a jaunty tune with all the casualness in the world.

Natalie

"Books? Geh." A thick arm swept the stack of tomes off the table and across the floor, pages catching against the stone as they slid. "What are they good for? Keep yer records, shure, but can storybooks do this?" Sal'ren bellowed the last word, swiping theatrically at the air before striking a pose. "Can they pace and simmer like a fleet of concordists performing a minuet, and then knock you back where you stand? Do they bring you together with yer fellow kin? I don't see the stages filling up for people reading-"

A cough. "So does this mean you're not interested? Because I've got things to do, and the shop on the other side said to come by..."

From further down the counter, Kethis interjects. "We'll take them. Don't mind him, he's an actor."

Like clockwork, the correction comes: "A performer!"

The shop was quiet for the transaction. As quiet as it ever got, anyway. The lack of conversation - or customers - revealed the soft din of their wares. A perpetual tuning fork hummed within one case, a lava lantern softly glooped from another. A rock emitted sparks and nobody could figure out why, so it sat as far away from the counter as possible. Bobbing water birds, imbued sheet music, animated animal heads you hang on your wall. Once you've spent a year there, it's all white noise punctuated by the *jangle* of the door.

"What did that fellow have, anyway?" It seemed Sal'ren was interested after all.

"Hard to say. The first volume is missing, author's name isn't local..." Kethis trailed off, leafing through pages and mumbling. Magecraft, machinery, artefacts, any appraisal was fun, but this was their element. Recognizing paper, inferring publication date. It's half the reason they worked in this place at all, ever since the library... well, that's all in the past. "...How much hair?" They shook their head, snapped the book closed. "Who knows? We need someone else for this one. I'm going to make some inquiries, close up when you're done?"

"On it. Say hi to-" *jangle* "...her for me."

Cat

It started, as many things do, with a book.

When Father was twelve (as hard to imagine as that was), he had read the biography of William Tenor, the great merchant. Having seen the fame, influence, and stupendous wealth that came to William Tenor, Father decided that this was the goal of life. This is what he would achieve.
And, damn him, he did. Ericales, however, had spent slightly more than 20 years of his life deftly avoiding becoming successful, or doing anything useful at all. Father had already done success. It seemed redundant for Ericales to have to be successful as well. Father did a great job providing endless wealth. His sister did a great job being heir.  Ericales did a great job being a leech. Everyone had their role! However, Father had decided that Ericales should be forced to learn the trader life. William Tenor's biography had been placed on the table between them like it was a holy book with which Ericales would be banished.
'Fine, Father!' proclaimed Ericales, 'I will move out, and make my own life!'
Father raised an eyebrow. It was a terrifying eyebrow. It was an eyebrow that said "You have been living off my money for your whole life due to your complete lack of practical skills, and now you are going to move out and probably starve or something." Father didn't need to say anything, because his eyebrows were making whole speeches about Ericales' inadequacy. 
Ericales fought to retain his righteous indignation in the face of such a demoralising regard. "I will!" he said, in a much smaller voice, "I will!"
Father smiled slightly. He was slouched comfortably in his chair with the unshakeable confidence of someone filled with charisma and intelligence and other irritating positive attributes. After all, he had built an empire of coin, and thus achieved what some people would view as the ultimate success. But what did people know? People suck. Ericales glanced to the chair next to Father, where Fake Robert was sitting. Fake Robert just sat there smiling vaguely, invisible to everyone except Ericales, and entirely unhelpful. Real Robert was of course dead. Ericales looked back to Father, who gestured toward the door in a mockery of magnanimity, and continued to say nothing. Ericales gathered what dignity he could, attempted to wrap it around him like a cloak, and strode out the door.

He admittedly hadn't really planned past this point. He'd need to find somewhere warm to think for a while. The library, perhaps.





In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this. - Terry Pratchett

Kal

#6
It started, as many things do, with a book.

The Immersive guide to Automaton Theory to be completely honest. A huge, old, battered book full of diagrams and calculations that made Sinclair's head spin. They were supposed to be smart, weren't they? Soon they realised that this book was more than just conceptual. Yes, there were concepts that were not possible yet but much of it was possible now with the current technology.

"You sure this is all possible, lil cuz?" asked Ajax looking incredulously at the book.
"Most of it anyway," replied Sinclair leafing through and pointing out the possibilities.
"Well, then we should make sure to take good care of this book, where did you get it by the way?" Ajax asked.
"At a garage sale," Sinclair informed him as they tucked it into their backpack, "but I agree we should look after it. First, there is someone who can help us and I know where to find them."

They wandered through town Sinclair leading the way and Ajax lagging behind. They headed into the more rundown area of the city and soon arrived outside an old Georgian-style house. Sinclair pushed open the front door and had to put pressure on it as it creaked open. They opened their bag and put the book on the table. This was it. Someone would figure out what this book meant.

AlchemicCadence

It started, as many things do, with a book.

A notebook, spiral-bound, filled with all kinds of notes. Scrawled out names and definitions, diagrams of all shapes and sizes, details on all the major inventions--mechanical and arcane--of the last fifty years. Or, at least, as many as Nia could manage to jot down. She'd been at this for nearly a full year, reading every book she could find on engineering, technomancy, physics, mathematics, hard and soft sciences... She'd read up on programming, of all things. She didn't even own a computer!

Which was why she wound up so often in the Summit Library, natch. Between shifts on her family's farm and tinkering with whatever she could find (usually resulting in a cut, burn, bruise, or small explosion), the stacks of at least 50 books were Nia's refuge. A nice book, a few colored pens, her fantastic notebook, and one too many cups of coffee always accompanied her to the softest, squashiest armchair she could find.

Today, though, as she settled into her third-favorite chair (the first two taken, as often they were), she seemed to fidget on the red suede. Nia's gaze wandered in every direction, instead of staying firmly planted on the drawing of the internals of a cat's anatomy on the page before her. Today had been a supremely jumpy day since she'd woken up, two hours earlier than normal, unable to get back to sleep. She'd taken much longer than normal to finish her chores, constantly distracted. Something felt... off. She wasn't sure what. And while she felt apprehensive, some part of her was also excited. If something auspicious did happen, maybe she'd finally get to put all her notes to use?

If nothing else, maybe she'd need the energy, and finally finish that ever-present extra cup of coffee.

Aav

It started, as many things do, with a book.

Emma sat balanced on a chair with only two legs touching the ground, idly rocking back and forth as she turned the pages in a novel. As she sat, oblivious to the world, time skipped past as night became day and the sun rose in the distance. Finally, a ray of light came through the window, catching her in the face, jolting her out of the reverie that she had slipped into over the past hours. It was time. She carefully bookmarked her page, set the book down on the end table, and let all four chair legs come into contact with the ground. Dashing out of her room, she slipped on a pair of sturdy boots, threw on a jacket, and went outside, ready to face the day.

Coffee would be the first order of business, she decided and then onwards to a walk in the forest, as it was quite pretty outside. The maple leaves had turned a beautiful shade of red, and the air was crisp. It would be a wonderful day.

marianne

It started, as many things do, with a book.

Iris sat perched on the floor, rummaging through a small, wooden box, teeming with bugs and littered with dust, as most boxes found in hollowed-out tree trunks usually have. She looked at the contents of the box, starry-eyed, as she flipped through old drawings that perhaps dated back a few decades. Magnificent drawings of ideas that could have been just a dream years ago- almost were- until just recently. At the bottom, a peculiar book sat, and Iris's mind ran wild with the possibilities of how this book had ended up in a decaying timber box in the middle of Iliphar forest.

All of her findings were neatly situated next to her, and even though she had been examining the very last detail of the box and its contents, Iris still was amazed by them. Swept over with a childlike innocence, time flew by for her terribly fast- noon was soon to arrive, when her rummaging had started at seven in the morning. In the midst of her fascination, a woman that couldn't have been more than 4 years older than Iris stepped into the room- Her sister, Mina.

"You've been combing through those all day, Iris," Scoffed Mina. "Are you sure you don't want a break? God, you can get so carried away at times, you know that?"

"It's cool though, isn't it?" Iris presented a thin book found at the very bottom of the box. "Tell me that this isn't just the coolest thing you've seen! I've rented plenty of old books from the library, but I think I'm the first one to read this. I feel so special!"

Her sister examined the book- the front cover was army green, and it was surely something of the past. The paper was corroded at the edges, and a sort of ugly, tinted yellow seemed to consume the withering edges. Iris excitedly opened the book, before rambling on about how the writing was that of an old dialect, confirming her hypothesis- this book was indeed old. As Iris talked, and talked, and talked, and talked, Mina couldn't help but cut her off as that famous metaphorical lightbulb illuminated in her head.

"Say, Iris, how would you feel about submitting this to the Summit Library?" Mina inquired, as Iris quickly stopped talking. "I know how badly you want to read it, but if we brought it to the library, you could always be the first to rent it out- these sorts of relics ought to be accessible to everyone, no?"

"Ah, that's true!" Iris chirped, her response swift. "Well then, it's settled! I'll get my socks and shoes on, and we'll go to the Summit Library!"

whatermelons

It started, as many things do, with a book.

"Ow."

Xerxes winced as she rubbed her forehead. Some kind of projectile had struck her face hard. She looked around and found a book on the floor of the library. What great luck, she thought. The one time this really thick book had to randomly fall off the shelf, it was onto her face. She picked it up and read the cover out loud.

"101 Forests You've Definitely Never Heard Of." Xerxes rolled her eyes. The last thing she needed now was yet another cover-flip-bait book. As she tried to return the book to its original position on the shelf, hopefully reinforced to protect more soft heads, a bookmark fell out.

Is the gravity here weirdly strong or is it just me? Xerxes pondered. She picked up the bookmark and examined it. The design was quite pretty, with a tree on one side and an encouragement to keep reading on the other. Maybe the pain was worth it after all. Xerxes pocketed the bookmark and left the library. The tranquil, air-conditioned atmosphere was quickly replaced with one of chaos and sweltering heat. Xerxes put on her sunglasses and sashayed out of the Library of Alexandria
whater melons

Nangka

#11
It started, as very few things do, with a plaque – and an idea to have that plaque replaced.

"It seemed like a good idea!" said Councilor Alanganin, viewing the plaque outside the Summit Library with the overworked head of his office, Executive Secretary Matiyak, who looked less convinced.

"If you say so, councilor," she said as she held a small file folder in the same hand that she used to hold her first cup of coffee for the day, which she immediately brought up to her mouth to take a sip from. In her other hand, she was reviewing even more documents with the use of a digital tablet. With the help of her skill in technomancy, this tablet was feeding information directly to her eyes without her even looking at it.

Instead of focusing on her tablet, Matiyak was looking at the plaque with Alanganin, a plaque that was installed right in front of the library for all to see. More importantly, Matiyak was looking at the small seal of the city council at the bottom of the plaque that read: "Summit City Council Committee for Libraries."

"Some of us in your office did raise our concerns," said Matiyak after she took another sip from her coffee.

"Of course, of course, but it was such a novel idea!" said the councilor, putting emphasis on his last three words by gesticulating in the way a politician who is used to giving speeches regularly would. "The council genuinely loved it! The mayor signed off on it! How many libraries in the country can brag about having more than 50 books?"

"I imagine a fair few of them-"

"Precisely, Matty! Only a fair few! And Summit Library is one of them!" said the councilor, only for Matiyak to roll her eyes in the way that she definitely always does when this lovable-but-naïve elected official she calls her boss gets when he's excited about things that he really should think about for more than a minute before acting on. "But now I hear people are laughing at the plaque, Matty! Laughing!"

"I can't imagine why, councilor," said Matiyak.

"Neither can I! This needs to go well! What if they're laughing at the plaque and then refusing to go to the library? Smaller library attendance means a smaller budget, which then leads to cost-cutting which then cascades into all these other problems! Less money to pay library staff, less money to pay for maintenance, less money for books! What if they have to sell the books, Matty? What if, to raise money for the library, they have to sell so many books that the library actually has fewer than 50 books? This plaque would be lying to the people!"

"I really wish they didn't disband the Public Library Board," said Matiyak, who was just nodding along to the councilor's small speech. She really did love her job and loved how passionate Alanganin gets for keeping places like Summit Library open and well-funded. "And the Public Library Commission before it," she added, which garnered a sad "Mhmm" of approval from the councilor.

They stood there in silence for a minute. Matiyak was still browsing through documents and schedules and minutes of meetings and, quite honestly, enjoying the downtime of not having to run around city hall. Alanganin was hyper-focused on the plaque in front of him. This silence stretched on to two minutes, until-

"I got it!" shouted Alanganin suddenly, raising a hand in a gesture of triumph. His voice made several people passing by look his way in shock for a second before they went back about their business. "A new plaque. We'll get a new plaque!"

"Oh, councilor-"

"Home to More Than One Hundred Books!" he said, his hands wiping the air in front of the plaque with a flourish. "That'll do it! There's definitely at least 50 books in the new shipment that just came in, right?"

"Councilor, please-"

"It's genius! It's absolutely genius! The council's going to love this!"

"Are you sure?"

"Of course, I'm sure, Matty! How many libraries can brag about having more than a hundred books?"

"We just talked about-"

"Come on, Matty, we need to get back to the office," he said as he started to walk down the street toward City Hall. "We need to do a lot of paperwork! A budget request for the cost of a new plaque, a requisition form to get a local shop to have a new plaque made – I'm sure we can use our old contractor, right? They won't mind, it's extra cash! – an authorization form to get the old plaque removed, another authorization form to get the new plaque installed, a public discussion for this magnificent, wonderful, brilliant idea– Ow!"

Before he could walk any further, Matiyak, using her hand holding her cup of coffee and file folder, conjured a wall of hard air with a flick of her wrist to stop him. He rubbed at his forehead for a bit before turning on his secretary. "Matty? What'dja do that for?"

"Ally, for Elhek's sake," she said, using his nickname to get it through to him that she wanted him to listen because this was a serious matter. "Your commitment to Summit Library is wonderful. But in the months you spent working on getting this plaque through City Council, did you even stop to, oh I don't know, talk to any of the library employees?"

She dispelled the conjured wall of air with another flick of her wrist, moving as though it wasn't weighed down by her coffee and files.

"Well of course! We had a public discussion-"

"During which," she interrupted," you gave library staff no room to answer questions from the public. Poor Lynue was fuming by the end of it because she couldn't get a word in."

The councilor was silent for another minute as he digested the gravity of what Matiyak told him. He was being negligent, and she had shoved this into the spotlight for him to see and take stock of. Seeing that he would not respond, she continued, walking up the steps to the Summit Library and opening the door by using more conjured air to turn the knob.

"Perhaps, before we go talk to City Council again, you could spend some time with one of your constituents?" she said, holding the door open for him with her hand – which, it must be stressed, is already busy holding her coffee and her files.

"Of course. Of course, Matty, you're right. I'm sorry, I've been neglectful of the very people this plaque is supposed to benefit. We should go in, take in the library, talk with staff," he said. "And I suppose I should apologize to... Uh..."

"Lynue," Matiyak said, completing the sentence for him.

"Lynue, right, sorry," he said. "Off we go, then."

Nakari

#12
Finally, Hanne's done. She hangs up her apron, puts her piercings back in, and runs the new burn on her forearm under cold water for a moment. Off with the regulation uniform black shirt, on with the... well, still a black shirt but it's softer, doesn't smell faintly of milk, and has outlines of fox on it, which is cute.

On her way out, as she's squeezing behind a table, Tarragon yells to her from the counter - "Hanne! Before you go. Here."

One Hanne fights her way over to the counter, he hands over a cupholder with six coffees in paper cups and a box of pastries balancing on top, all wrapped up with a big striped red and green ribbon. Hanne tips her head to the side - "Tarra, I'm sure I'm about to feel very flattered, but uh... why?"

"It's for those lot over City Hall," Tarragon says with a smug grin. "Nhysa wants us to get on their good side so she can run that big Elhek's-victory-over-the-spiders-day event." Nhysalynn - their boss, a very short woman who is apparently insistent on befriending every single person in Summit and then charging them absurd prices to take place in strangely themed raffles. Tarragon actually likes her for some reason Hanne can't fathom. He nudges the cupholder closer to Hanne until it's poking just off the edge of the counter, "And you're heading that way anyway, right?"

Hanne is quite sure that getting her to deliver goods after her shift is over goes against some kind of labor regulation but quite frankly she's probably lucky to have this job so she simply nods. Tarragon gives her a cheery little wave as she leaves, and Hanne gives back a curt nod.

She crosses the road, balancing the package precariously against her chest. By the library she passes a woman scrolling through a tablet, not even looking at it - Hanne recognizes a technomage when she sees one. Really she should have studied technomancy. That's what's in demand these days, not elemental magic. Who needs to work with the elements directly when you can get a machine to do it for you? Even the cafe had hesitated before hiring Hanne - they'd just installed a coffee maker for technomages to mentally interface with, and Hanne's partially there in case the machine goes down and they need to rely on old-fashioned coffee for a bit.

Is it too late to retrain as a technomage? Probably. Hanne's just turned 24 and half of her life has been devoted to the branch of magic she loves, despite advice to the contrary. She's terrible with technology but the elements come easy to her. For example: the cupholder and box of pastries are an awkward shape to carry, so Hanne lets it drift in midair in front of her, a smooth wind holding it up and stable. A cold wind, specifically. She's sure City Hall will really appreciate Nhysa's little gift. Who doesn't love lukewarm coffee? And maybe she can make some little quip when she delivers it, mention that Nhysa said they liked it this way. Maybe a comment about all the events the cafe holds, said in the tone of someone forced at gunpoint to recite an advertisement. Perhaps she can ask if they have any advice for an elemental mage who can't -

The wind drops, and Hanne snaps out of her thoughts to realise that the coffee is no longer in the cups and is now all over a person.

"Oh shit," she exhales, "I'm so sorry." Thinking fast, she rifles in her bag - "Look - I have a shirt you can borrow if you want to change, there are bathrooms in the library, erm, the cafe can pay you back if you have serious injuries..."

whatermelons



Xerxes decided to sit down in a nearby café. She decided to pick up a book that she did borrow - 'The History of Amphibians'. She started reading the first page to herself. 'It started, as most things do, with a newt.' Interesting, she thought. She took out her newly acquired bookmark and inserted it into that page, then stood up to order a soufflé.

To her shock however, when she arrived back at her table with her eggy dish her book had disappeared. Not wishing to lose a library book, she put her food down and scrambled to find it. Where could it had gone? Did someone steal it? Did it grow a pair of legs and walked away? Did it- *THUMP!*

"OW!!!" Xerxes winced in excruciating pain. She looked down and saw that the second book of the day had landed on her head. She looked up to see what was going on when she saw the exact opposite happening - the bookmark was seemingly levitating in the air, defying the laws of gravity. How did that tiny bookmark lift up that entire novel? The bookmark began floating away in the wind, and a mesmerised Xerxes chased after it.

The bookmark dandled through the air as Xerxes jumped over tables, hedges and comically tiny clown cars as she tried to grasp it. Soon, the bookmark went down a deep well, where it dropped all the way to the bottom. Xerxes sighed and decided it wasn't worth retrieving, until she saw a green light emerging from the bottom of the seemingly bottomless well. Drawn to the light, Xerxes decided to climb down the crusty and rusty iron rungs to see what it was all about. Of course, the rungs crumbled under the stress of possibly the first person to touch them in a century, causing her to tumble down into the abyss.
whater melons

Kal

"This is the book I've heard so much about, I see," said a voice from the shadows.
"Wait you've heard about it?" asked Sinclair.
"Yes, my young elves. There was a nice Glimmeranth that bought a book in but yesterday that refers to this one."
"What was this Glimmeranth's name?"
"I believe it was Lynue. Now don't go chasing her down and threatening her. I know your family's reputation."
"Oh, we won't," Sinclair informed the person behind the voice simultaneously fingering their knife, "come on Ajax let's go."
Sinclair strode out followed by their cousin, "inform me of any findings. You know how to contact the House Of Cards. Ask for Sinclair," they called over their shoulder.

Sinclair and Ajax reconvened a few blocks away. "We're not just going to let this Lynue get away, are we? We need to find her and question her," Ajax asked.
"Well no but we'll come up with a plan first," Sinclair informed him.
"Let's get down to it then."
"Of course but let's get home first."

Catherine

Finally, freedom!

As the bell rang, Aster jumped up, grabbed their bag and their copy of Cosmos Brigade off the desk and sprinted out of the door before Whoever-It-Was could say anything further about detention or anything else. They didn't stop running until they were out past the large iron gates that stood at the entrance to the Prison-Called-School. Just a few more months of this, and then they'd be free forever.

They paused to admire the almost-cloudless skies above the nearby mountains that Summit was named for, the Timberwood Forest across the peaks glowing gold in the sunlight. With a few hours to themself on a glorious day, Aster almost considered walking to the park to sit under a tree and finish their book. Then again, the park would be full of families at this time... The library would be much more peaceful, and it would be fun to see if they'd had any new shipments. Their mind made up, Aster set off along the street that would take them to the Summit Library.

They turned the corner just in time to see that elemental mage they often saw sitting in the library crash into another person and spill coffee all over them. 'Ouch, that's gotta hurt,' Aster thought to themself, as they passed the pair and headed straight into the library. They took in a deep breath and smiled at the familiar wooden shelves full of books and endless possibilities. Ah, home again at last.

marianne

"Thank you for your submission! I'll be sure to get a label on this first, but as a preemptive warning, I'm just letting you know that we'll have to introduce this book to the Restoration committee before we get it on the shelves or rent it to you."

"Eh?" Gasped Iris. Of course, she knew the dilapidated book would need some polishing, but she didn't expect the worker to be so blunt about it. Swallowing her words, she smiled at the woman. "Loud and clear, miss! But, um, if I do find a book that I really like, I can still check it out, right?"

"Aha, that's a silly question!" The woman working the check-in giggled and gestured to another corner of the room. "Of course you can, hun, but you'll take that to the kind man over there at the check-out." Hovering above the register was a few wooden letters that read "CHECK OUT", hoisted on a thick cloud being supplied by a machine that the man at the cashier was running with none other than technomancy.

She said goodbye to the girl working the check out and, with a less-than-average amount of pep in her step, walked through the library that was scattered with sunlight. The Summit Library had always been an architectural marvel- the ceilings, which had countless holes in them as to let the warm daylight fill the room, stretched meters and meters into the sky. Several of the wooden shelves were outfitted with plants and vines that ventured up the overarching shelves, but stayed on their respective and nearby shelves. And, of course, words can barely describe the wonders tucked away in the books- from fantastical novels that seem to swallow the reader whole, to books outfitted with diagrams that can serve as useful to anyone, the Summit Library seems to have it all. Iris loved all of it, and not just because it looked nice in her collection.

Iris took a seat next to Mina, who inquired as to how the conversation went. Iris replied quickly, telling her all about how the woman was very kind and sort of like if a stereotypical librarian wasn't as straight-laced.

"Hey, Mina, you know how to use technomancy, don't you?" The question came as a shock to Mina- of course, coming from a long line of technomages, Iris being the first not to know how to manipulate machinery like everyone else in her family had led to many questions, long nights of tears, and rants about being the family outcast, but the topic hadn't risen for a good few months now.

"Yeah," Mina replied shortly, closing her book. "I thought you had forgotten about that whole thing. Mom taught me, but it just came naturally. Why are you asking me?"

"It's just that, I saw a technomage doing something with it at the check out counter. I mean, not to sound rude, but it was a lot cooler than anything that I've seen you or mom or anyone else do. No offense, not at all! I was just really interested and suddenly got sad about it, so..."

"None taken," Said Mina. "Well, you've never caught on to it. I don't know why you can't seem to get it, like, at all, but you really need to forget about it. It's next to impossible, but I can't stop you from dreaming I guess. Even if it's going to be fruitless as hell. You know how it's hard to make a big splash as a celebrity once you hit a certain age? You've hit that age, but with technomancy. You're almost 18, it's time to get realistic. Oh, but no offense." After such a blunt statement, Mina nonchalantly shrugged and picked her book back up.

"Please don't just act high and mighty just because you can do something that I can't. God, Mina! Sometimes, you ought to get off of your high horse." Huffed Iris, rising to her feet. "Good riddance! I don't like being upset, so I'm sorry if I overreacted, but please stop saying all of these things! I'm going to go get a book, and hopefully forget how mean you just were."

Sibling feuds are always temporary, and this happens a lot, which is always a reassuring thought to a girl on the verge of tears from the usual older-sibling-berating. As she stormed off, Iris' thoughts rolled around in her head, before she walked across a sign- this time held up by a piece of wood, much to her relief. The sign read "T - V". Having a good feeling about the aisle, Iris walked in.

Emily

Along the psychic tethers that connected Lynue to her own brain, she felt a jolt. It was like the world had continued to change and evolve drastically even within the last few moments, the separation of the inhalation and exhalation of a breath. She had a strange dissociative feeling, as if she had shifted sideways between a reality where she knew the rules and into another reality visually similar but mechanically very different from the one in which she had existed only moments before. The text on the book in front of her wasn't even making sense anymore.

Wait, hold on just one second, she asked herself. Why would the text not make sense anymore, that was ridiculous. She took a second look at the page, and realised it hadn't been that the text was in some alien script unknown and unknowable to her mortal understanding, but instead the bo0k was just upside down. She righted the book and all felt right with the world once more. That was odd as well, had she just imagined packing it up and setting out across the town? That seemed correct, but also she usually had trouble remembering breakfast that morning, let alone actions she may or may not have taken over the past 45 seconds.

She reached up and scratched where her horns met her head. An odd morning, this was. An odd morning indeed. Perhaps it had been the book. She looked at the book in her hand again: still just as enigmatic and unyielding as it had been all along. "Are you the one what had made my brain run all round to confusion?" she asked the book. The book, surprisingly, did not respond in any way. "Of course," she continued, narrowing her eyes. "That's exactly what a book what pretending to be all inanimate like would say. I don't trust you one lick, thing. Not a wit."

She stood up with the book and made to leave her office, only to open the door in tandem with someone opening it from the other side. Ah yes, her assistant Constable Constabulary. Strange family to give such a strange name to such a strange boy. Downright odd, some might call it. Not Lynue, of course. But surely some. "Lynue, Councilor Alanganin here to speak with you."

"Right, brilliant." she replied, stepping back slightly and doing the quick rundown any dishevelled person does before meeting with an official. Under her breath, she said "Awful unfortunate timing for someone not making an appointment, but" and then continuing in her normal voice, "Please, see him in. See if he needs anything."

She attempted to get books off of the chairs near her desk and back into the box, and to straighten the items on the desk, before he was shown in.