12. Sniffing Out Clues
My mother seemed determined to pace a hole in the floor. I thought I could see the track she had worn into the hard wood panelling if I looked hard enough. “You still don’t seem to understand the seriousness of the situation,” she said, “If Gary can’t find Melissa or Rory or whatever she’s called, we’re both…”
“We’re both what Mother?” I snapped, “You keep saying I don’t understand the gravity of the situation but since you still won’t explain what is going on I can’t!” I watched the hem of her pale blue silk dress swish past the chair I sat in for the millionth time. “I already said I sent Gary out to find her. There’s not much we can do until he returns,” I paused, considering what I’d just said, “with or without her.” I added, remembering Gary’s first attempt to capture Melissa. I dismissed my doubts with a wave of my hand. Gary had Melissa’s exact location and a revised description of her appearance and he hadn’t failed me yet.
I sighed again and tapped my foot watching my mother continue to fuss. I ran a finger down the wine red fabric the covered the chair in my mother’s office, getting impatient. My mother had called me here over an hour ago and still hadn’t gotten around to telling me what she wanted me to know. My eyes roved over the sculpted mahogany arm pieces shaped like dragon heads down to the base of the chair where the feet ended with exquisitely carved dragon feet. Finally, I cleared my throat again hoping to begin to understand why I was voluntarily sitting in my mother’s office. She stopped pacing abruptly and collapsed into a chair similar to mine on the other side of the desk.
“We need a back-up plan,” she said abruptly, “In case Gary comes back empty handed.” I nodded. “How much do we know about this Aurora Lopez?” she asked.
“Not much,” I admitted, “Appearance, a little back ground – such as the fact she was a slave at one point or another, but otherwise nothing.”
My mother nodded. “Do you know her Slave Number?” she asked. I nodded. She thought for a second and seemed to come to a decision. “Go to the Scriptorium and see what you can dig up on her,” she said, “If we can find anything out about her it will be in their files.”
I nodded my agreement but couldn’t resist pushing her a bit further. “But what is this all about? Why are you so worried about a single spy?” My mother’s eyes flashed and I suddenly wished I hadn’t asked.
“Because a single spy could ruin us,” she hissed, “Now go!”
I scurried out of the room on a wave of my mother’s hot anger and hurried downstairs. “James!” I yelled, as I reached the front door and started to pull a jacket and gloves on.
A head with curly blonde hair poked around the base of the elaborate staircase. “Yes ma’am?” he inquired, “You called?”
“I need a carriage ready at the front in five minutes!” I ordered.
“It shall be done,” he replied as he retreated to the stables.
I grabbed my coat and stalked to the front door, where Marty, our doorman, opened the door for me. James had the coach waiting there – right on time as usual. I carefully stepped into the carriage and settled in for the bumpy ride to the Scriptorium.
“Where to miss?” James asked as the coach started to ramble down the drive.
“The Scriptorium, please James,” I replied. I stared out the window and watched as commoners went about their work. Pathetic existences really.
I rode in silence for a while, musing to myself and listening to the commoners beg me to grant them favours as the coach passed by. They don’t deserve help, I thought angrily to myself, They slack off whenever possible whereas we work extraordinarily hard to keep the country in order for them.
The uneasy feeling in my gut deepened as I turned my thoughts to Melissa. There was unbalance in the Elements. Some plot was brewing in the Magician’s inner circle. MY mother knew about it. She was helping plan it but she wouldn’t tell me about it. From her reaction to Melissa/Aurora’s presence in our house, I guessed it was something that would change the fabric of society in Aeirien and cement our power by eliminating the little resistance that existed.
There was more to it than that though. Melissa… or Aurora… or whatever she called herself had something to do with this too. I felt - no, knew - that she could either help us build a great empire or destroy the one we already had. But there was something missing from the picture. Intuition told me there was one missing link that had fallen into place only a couple days ago when this had all started. I wondered what could have caused the imbalance and started this chain of events. Melissa had been late partially because my mother forced her to clean her rooms, I had become suspicious of her identity, and… there was something else… something connected to her that I was missing. I sighed. Maybe the Scriptorium could give me that piece of the puzzle.
“M’lady?” James called from the front, breaking my concentration. I blinked and tried to concentrate on him. “We’ll be arriving in a minute or so.”
“Thank you James!” I called back.
The carriage rumbled to a stop and I came to a sudden resolution. “Don’t bother picking me up,” I instructed him, stepping down from the carriage, “I’ll walk home tonight.”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied.
As the coach rambled off into the busy streets, I looked up in awe. The Scriptorium never ceased to send shivers of amazement down my back. It was the largest building in Saffron taking up the space of ten city blocks on the ground floor alone but that was nothing compared to the underground part of it. It only rose two stories above the ground but that only added to its grandeur. It wasn’t the tallest building, but it was definitely the most ornate and decorated. Pillars and scenes of the past were carved into the walls. High arched windows rose imperiously, staring down at you. It shimmered in rainbow colours for those with the Sight, showing off its aura. The Scriptorium was more than a building. It was living and breathing – much like the Lost Catacombs, much older than the present civilisation. No one looked up as I entered the Scriptorium, or proceeded to the Archives, where we kept the records.
The Scriptorium, while magnificent, was nothing compared to the Archives, which was located in the underground part of the Scriptorium. The Archives was a huge room that took up over half the Scriptorium. Brightly coloured pillars that were ornately carved marked each section . . . . Orange indicated slaves; blue, commoners; purple represented the Magicians and so on. The shelves were painted either white or black depending on whether or not the people whose records were held on them were dead or alive. Black was for the deceased and white was for the living. Shelves of folders wound around the room, rising almost fifty feet. The room was dimly lit, with wood-plated walls and a small section was set aside for studying.
I started across the room, heading for the orange pillars on the other side. I’d decided that the slave number was my best lead. As I passed between two orange pillars, I started to scan the numbers on the spines of the folders. Each number, starting at 00000001, was a slave in service to us. The slave whose folder I was looking for was still alive so I focussed on the white shelves - but that still left thousands of folders to sift through.
When I finally reached 06392000, I was exhausted. I shifted over 12 folders and pulled the one I wanted out. It was huge – just bulging with information! I smiled and took the folder to a desk in the centre of the room. There was paper and ink there to take notes with because it was forbidden to take any material except your own notes out of the Archives. Sitting down I pulled out the first page of the folder and started to read.
Slave Number: 06392012
Registered Name: Aurora Lopez
Parentage: Father: Unknown Mother: 06972314
Other Relations: Twin Brother: 06392013
Reason for Enslavement: Born into service
Birth Date: January 10, 2134
Birth Place: Neuvia
Slave Squadron: 06963
Associates / Other Slaves in Squadron: 06972160, 79832124, 0006754, 56497321, 09876543, 45387231, 85764332, 00297851, 00000638
Status: WANTED – missing
Squadron Status: WANTED - missing
Personality Status: Stubborn, unwilling to work, intelligent
Skills: Magical Aptitude – possible use as a focal point/vessel
Description: Dark brown hair waist length, bright green eyes, heigth:5'8"
I was starting to get excited. This was information I wanted and needed. In seconds, I had generated an illegal copy of the entire folder that I could keep. Associates… I was sure I could find at least one or two of them. While I was here, I could also look into their files. Using a sending spell I dispatched the folder back to its place on the shelves and quickly summoned another: Lopez, Aurora.
Hours later, I was exhausted but finally finished my research. Notes and the contents of two copied folders littered my desk. The whole research proposal had been a huge success and I was pleased with the progress I’d made on the case. I stood up stiffly and gathered the pages together with a word. Walking towards the entrance of the Archives, I carefully sent the notes into Other-Space where I could retrieve them later.386Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ8ejKsuMXS3