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It was already late in the morning when Mynor woke her up. Laiva
turned away, wrapped her blanket closer around her and shut her eyes
again. Mynor, however, didn’t give up that easily. He ran to the other
side of the bed and licked her face.
‘Let me go. What should I stay up for?’
As an answer Mynor pushed her out of the bed.
‘What’s the matter with you?’
Then she heard the murmuring downstairs; it sounded as if a
heated argument was going on. She opened the door a crack and
‘…and I tell you again. You are not going up there, no way.
As far as I’m concerned she is a paying customer and you are not. Now
get out of here, before I forget my good manners. Hey, where do you
think you are going?’
‘Upstairs. And don’t even try to st…’
Laiva slammed the door shut and bolted it. Isrin! She would
have recognized that voice anywhere; how could she forget about her
village’s delegation? And every year it was Isrin who accompanied the
boys. He was well known for his kind and funny nature, but once he
made a decision he could be very determined. And now he was determined
to take her home, at all costs. When got her, that was. Hastily she
put on her boots and started to pack; the landlord wouldn’t keep him
away for long.
‘It’s me, Isrin.’
‘Come on, I know you are in there, Laiva.’
Still no response.
‘You can’t run away, girl, and you know that.’
He didn’t get an answer this time, either.
‘If don’t instantly open the door, I’ll come in.’
‘All right, you asked for it. I’m coming in. Just don’t say I
didn’t warn you.’
Isrin threw himself against the door. The wood, however,
resisted. He had to try three more times, until, with a loud crack, it
finally gave way; together with the remains of the door Isrin crashed
onto the floor of Laiva’s room. At the same moment some gray shadow
flew past him and towards the stairs.
‘What the h…’
‘Well, looks like her dog is gone.’
The landlord couldn’t help but grin.
‘Yes, her dog. As well as Miss Azanee, it seems.’ he added,
pointing at the open window.
Isrin stood up, brushed the dirt from his clothes and turned
to go, but the landlord stopped him.
‘Not so fast. You are going nowhere until you’ve paid for the
Laiva had no idea how the letter had gotten into her backpack, but it
certainly was there. She was sitting on a roof nearby, leaning against
a chimney and checking her belongings. The letter was addressed to
her, but she couldn’t remember seeing it before; perhaps the landlord
had brought it into her room, and perhaps she had grabbed it in her
hurry without actually looking at it, but somehow she didn’t believe
that. Carefully she broke the big red wax seal and unfolded the paper.
The letter was written in elven letters.
‘Dear Laiva, be at the back door of the school tomorrow
morning at eleven. I’ve arranged for you to get into the library.
There are some books you should have a look at. A friend.’
Eleven o’ clock? That was in a few minutes.
At the last toll of the bell, and slightly out of breath, Laiva
reached the back door of the school. Mynor was already waiting for
her; how did he do that?
‘You are late. I was expecting you to be here a bit earlier.’
The voice belonged to a small and extraordinary pale man. He was so
pale, Laiva found it hard to shrug off the feeling that she could look
‘I know, but…’
‘There’s no time for that now. Just stay quiet and follow me.’
Laiva wasn’t sure why, but he seemed to float rather than
walk. They entered the school through the back door and wandered
through the complex network of corridors. She seriously doubted that
she’d be able to find the way back on her own. In fact, she didn’t
even know whether they still were in the capital or not; it felt as if
every second bend lead to some distant place, and, considering what
she already knew of this place, probably did. Mynor, however, didn’t
seem to mind; he moved as if he was at home here, but then again he
always did. Finally they reached a small door reinforced with steel.
The man turned the handle and pushed the heavy door open. Well, he
reached out to the handle and it turned, however Laiva could have
sworn that he didn’t touch it at all; but she instantly forgot about
that when they entered the next room, or rather hall, or better yet
dome. It was enormous. The whole place was bathed in warm daylight,
that came through the thousands of windows which made up the ceiling,
while the room itself was at least twenty metres high and of uncertain
extent. Uncertain because of all the shelves blocking the view; each
of them loaded with thousands of books, some carefully sorted by size
and colour, others in big stacks without any common features.
‘Yes, the library is quite impressing when you see it for the
first time… Oh, how rude of me. I didn’t even introduce myself.
Strika, I’m the librarian here. You know, I don’t get many visitors
nowadays. They are all go to the “new library”. But I’ll tell you
something, here are all the real treasures. Whatever you want, I have
it. But what do they do? Take a few hundred books and call it the “new
library”. They are just too lazy to search for the real stuff. I’ll
never understand how they can be content with a handful of student’s
books. They just don’t know what’s good. Oh, I’m boring you.’
‘Nice try, kid, but there’s no need to lie for the sake of
politeness. I know it myself, I’m talking and talking and… You
know, I don’t get many visitors around here since they set up this
“new library”, but I already said so, eh? Well, it’s your advantage
they don’t, I mean they surely wouldn’t approve of you coming here,
but I don’t think he’d care about that. Anyway, nobody ever comes
here, no need to bother about that. You know, with this “new library”
‘Oh, yes, your books. Just follow me.’
Strika turned to the labyrinth of book shelves and went
straight through the one in front of him.
‘But…’ Laiva started.
‘Are you coming or not?’
Laiva was still standing in front of the shelf and didn’t know
what to do. Carefully she touched it; solid.
‘Oh, stupid me, you can’t walk through walls, can you?’
The man came back through the shelf.
‘Don’t look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’
‘All right, just don’t look as if you’ve never seen a ghost
‘But I’ve never…
‘You didn’t? Where do you come from? Oh, well, never mind.
Just get used to it. Let’s see, what was the way again… You see,
hardly anyone visits me since they set up what they call the “new