Assassin of Truths(7)

By: Brenda Drake

“See you on the flipside,” I said.

“What was that?” Lei glanced over, her mouth a straight line, her eyes unfocused.

“It’s just an old saying.” When that didn’t seem to register with her, I sighed. “Never mind. I’ll be back soon.” I spoke the key, “Aprire la porta,” jumped into the book, and tapped the page with my hand to turn it before fully entering the gateway.

It was a dangerous move, but they didn’t need to know where I was going. If I was attacked in the library, I’d be spared because I could find the Chiavi. Lei and Jaran would be killed.

The coolness of the gateway welcomed me. I plunged into the darkness, not bothering to ignite a light globe. With my feet under me, it was like surfing in the nothingness. The wind howled in my ears, and my mind was as blank as the void in front of me.

I flew out of the book, and my boots smacked against the marble floor, the sound echoing off the frescoes on the arched ceiling. The book rose from the ground and returned to its place on the shelf. Leather straps instantly wrapped around its spine, securing it.

Good thing Lei was right. Missing the exit and being stuck in the gateway was certain death. By luck or an act of God, Afton, Nick, and I had made it through that first time when we accidentally jumped into the book.

Since the library was empty, I removed my trench coat and draped it over my arm.

Twisted wooden columns between the bookcases supported the gilded, wrought iron railing around the upper gallery. I hated galleries. If I was going to attack someone, that’s where I’d hide.

I passed a row of various sized globes displayed on wooden stands. Something buzzed behind me. I’d heard the noise before. I spun around. Aetnae, a book faery, hovered in front of my face like a humming bird.

“Hello, Gianna,” I could barely hear her say.

“How are you?” I asked. Every time I’d see Aetnae, her praying mantis form and green skin always threw me off for a second.

“I am well.”

Another faery flew up to Aetnae’s side. It was a boy about her age. Maybe. How could a person tell with such a small, insect-like person? He had cropped brown hair and olive colored skin and was a little larger than Aetnae, with a wider wingspan.

“So what are we doing here?” he asked.

“We?” Aetnae snapped at him. “Why are you always following me? Don’t you have something better to do?”

A worried expression crossed his tiny face. “I thought we could, you know, go together.”

“Go away,” she said, the exertion of hovering in one place causing her to sound breathless. “I’m working.”

“All right,” he said. “I’ll see you at dinner. I’ll save you a seat.” He flew off.

“Goodbye, um…” I didn’t know his name.

“Sen,” he said from somewhere in the library.

Aetnae landed on my shoulder, grabbing my ponytail, draped over my collarbone, to keep from falling off. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m losing the energy to keep going.”

She was practically weightless, and I could barely feel the pull on my hair.

“No problem,” I said. “I think that boy likes you.”

She groaned. “He’s such a bug. Always at my side. And he prefers the modern libraries and all those graphic novels. Doesn’t appreciate the architecture of the older ones. Or the classics.”

“Well, he’s definitely smitten.”

She glanced in the direction he’d disappeared, a tiny smile tugging at her lips. “You think so?”

“Anyway, you needed to talk to me?” I wanted to hurry her along. If I let her, she’d talk endlessly, and I had a mission to do.

“I must get a message to Sinead. A travesty has happened in the realm of the Fey.” Her words were so soft I had to strain to hear them. “Not a single Changeling hatched in the Garden of Life, so the Fey couldn’t retrieve the newest batch of Sentinels. They’re lost somewhere out there in the human world. Unless…”

She didn’t need to finish her sentence. I knew what she would have said. The new Sentinels could be dead or might have never been born.

My neck was starting to ache from craning it to look at her. “Do they know what caused it?”

She let go of my hair, her fists landing on her hips. “The elders believe it’s because of what you did.”

What I did?

“I’ve never been to the Garden,” I said. “How could it be because of me?”

Losing her balance, she grasped my hair again. “It’s because of your battle globe. When you threw it at that trapdoor, it destroyed the charms securing the Somniums and messed with the enchantments surrounding the Fey realm. Everything is connected in the Mystik world, you know. The elders think it did something to the magic in the Garden. The Changeling pods withered away. I’ve never seen such a thing, not in all my hundreds of years.”

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