The boy sighed as he pressed down the cover of yet another dead-end book He had spent more time in the past three days reading magical theory than he ever thought possible before now. He cupped his face with his hands rubbing his red eyes, trying to wake himself up.
“Is there something we can get you, Mael-tuili?”
He cracked his fingers, peaking through at the pair of children standing patiently across the table from him. A boy and girl both looking to be about ten years old, pale skin and hair so fair it was nearly white. They were an oddity; they were in this library before he was, standing at the entrance almost as if waiting for him. They knew who he was without his telling and only grinned when he asked how they knew.
In the three days he’d spent living in this library – he had never seen it before and feared that if he left he wouldn’t be able to do so again. The Dome had an odd way of moving things around when you weren’t looking. Even these children seemed to be moving in odd ways when he wasn’t looking directly at them, is if they were … fluid.
“Could you please return these books to their proper shelves? Carefully,” he added quickly, recalling the first time he’d asked them to do it. He wished he could have worked out how the children had made books dance through the air like that. They refused to answer, simply grinning at him again.
He watched the two children pick up several of the books from the small mountain that’d accumulated on his desk before leaving to put them in their respective locations. They had been useful for following orders at least, if they were made clear. They’d even brought him broth, bread and water when he was hungry, though he had no idea where any of it had come from.
Mael winced as the friction of pushing the chair he was seated upon caused the stone floor to screech in protest.
Standing, he marvelled in the simplicity of the circular room. It wasn’t horribly large, perhaps fifty meters in diameter, with shelves arranged in a hexagon from the centre of the room. There were six tables arranged parallel to the shelving with no particular order of chairs arranged around them. The room sloped upward into a dome with an oculus in the centre, the only source of light. Despite this, there never seemed to be a need of light in the room, even when the oculus was dark with the night.
Stretching as he stood, he left his desk to trawl once more through the volumes upon volumes of books.
As much as Cadenza Madrigal hated to admit it, when you needed to know something, you'd be smart to place your bets on the Dome. Yes, there was the internet. It could be useful. But the internet tended not to have much information on the magical. No one wrote serious articles or research journals on wizards and dragons, or the fae. It was all these wild stories kids would write, or just lore, or articles not fit to even be rejects for the National Enquirer. And don't get started on heritage sites. Most of them were scams, and anything legit wasn't going to let you walk away until they'd pried out half the contents of your wallet and numbers to your credit cards first. How true that was of so many things.
So, she went to the Dome. She was not happy about it. And with the mood it put her in, she didn't let Kate tag along. She'd learn far too many words a lady should never say if she had. But Cadenza returned to the Dome, to its shifting halls and towering rooms, spanning worlds and welcoming to all kinds of things that should never really set a hoof or claw indoors, to research.
She was looking for family. In her book, it was one of the few things worth the damn trouble.
As a former teacher, she got the deferential treatment from Dome servants the instant she stepped into the halls. The gypsy established that she would not be wanting any assistance in the quickest and most clear way possible--putting two servants through a wall, and causing a massive traffic jam in another hall when she tripped the third and sent him into a crowd of ogres like dominoes. After that point, most people scurried away before she passed.
Madrigal was back, the word went around. Hang onto your arse if you don't want it to get kicked in through your teeth. People listened.
She was heading for the main library. There, she recalled an extensive section on family trees and genealogy being organized the last time she'd visited. They had some kind of complex system that split the collection up by worlds, and eras, and traced surnames back through both paternal and maternal sides for some x number of generations. She didn't pretend to have any bloody idea what they were blathering on about when the librarians had started to tell her. She got lost somewhere around the DNA tracing and land-holdings. But if their information on family lines was as far-reaching and detailed as they claimed, they could be here.
Her mother's old tribe. She could find their last remaining members, those scattered across Airopa. Find out what became of the group. Or at least get a lead on where to find that info. She had a lot more permissions and freedom here, as a former teacher of the Dome, then she even did back home. Archives in different countries were closed to most of the public without special grants. While, sure, she could always steal or strongarm her way to what she needed, this approach seemed easier. And neater. Less busted noses and alarm systems.
The woman entered and started to wander. The library, like most common rooms in the Dome, was immense and confusing. She rarely ventured much further than the magazine sections or general reference books. She was never sure she could find her way back out again. She passed a young, pale boy, and two more smaller children, huddled around towering piles of books. Or at least, they all looked like children. Appearances could be very deceiving.
Ohhhh, the Dome's good. It's very, very good. Those two younger ones are most definitely Domerii of one type or another. But the bigger kid... hell, he could pass for human. Maybe he is. But I ain't sticking around for them to see me. They'll latch on like used car salesmen or a bad stink.
Cadenza hurried along, out of their sight, and stretched out with her senses, physical and magical, to try to figure out where the heck the books were. If there were records on gypsies, there was bound to be a trace of familiar magic on them somewhere. They would've come from home.
Mael turned hearing the large double doors to the library open admitting a woman with long flowing dark hair. She wore a simple red blouse and pants made of a dark blue material and walked on oddly stilted sandles. Peculiar dress, but then that was unrare in the Dome. He watched her a moment before she disappeared into the shelves with a dark look on her face.
He hadn’t seen anyone else in the library in the days he’d spent crawling through the hills of books. The boy sighed quietly to himself.
Few of the books were specialized enough to be grouped together, for instance books of language were lumped together on the sixth aisle from the entrance and legal texts on the third aisle from the centre. But there seemed to be little or no order to texts and treatises on magic, at least no order that he could divine.
The boy scowled turning the corner … walking directly into the woman from earlier.