Lancothy, Soul Stone Mage Series Book Six
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
Sari drew in a breath, stepping away from her scrying bowl which stood on a pedestal in her study. She turned to find Reynolds wearing a ridiculous look of disapproval. The wizard still had a head of red hair although he was a little older than her. The red goatee clashed horribly with his purple soul stone, that he wore as a ring on his middle finger.
“Did I hear that correctly? You’re going to the Mountain of Truth when there’s been a break out of vampirism?” Reynolds said.
Sari’s gaze fell on the gnome who was hunched oddly over a giant book that was larger than him. He was quickly studying up on Egyptian hieroglyphs. Ignoring Reynolds’ question she said to Gillian, “Are you alright with leaving the potion shop for this?”
Gillian pulled off his brown bowler hat and scratched his head which only had a small patch of orange hair on it. He had more hair growing out of his ears then he did on his head, but didn’t like to be reminded of it. “It should be fine. Since Monet has left I don’t get much business. I just need to have Finnegan restock for me and we’ll go on the honesty policy for customers.”
“Sari, are you going to answer my question?” Reynolds cut in again.
Sari turned to Reynolds carefully, her face pinched with irritation. “I was under the impression that you were here to borrow a book. Why then does it appear that you’re spying on me and butting into my affairs?”
“Pardon me for being concerned for your wellbeing,” Reynolds said, turning his attention back to the shelves of books. The Light Elf library was impressive with its vast volumes but in this oversized study, Sari had numerous rare books, ones that weren’t just about magic, but included magic itself.
Reynolds muttered under his breath as he ran his fingers over the spines of a set of books in front of him.
“What was that Reynolds?” Sari asked, biting on the words.
He turned, looking surprised. “What? Oh, nothing. I was just remarking about how irresponsible it is to trample off to the Mountain of Truth on your own when there’s vampires on the loose.”
“Irresponsible!” Sari yelled, her face flushing hot. “I’m not the one who got myself turned into a statue, and for Merlin knows what.”
“It was a misunderstanding.” Reynolds waved her off.
Gillian swiveled his attention back to Sari, waiting for her response.
“A misunderstanding that put you as a statue. You’d still be like that if it wasn’t for the queen,” Sari scolded.
Reynolds hung his head with shame. “I’m well aware of that. And just because I made a mistake doesn’t mean that you should as well.”
Sari’s mouth gaped open with fury. “Mistake? Going to assist the queen isn’t a mistake. It is my duty as the queen mother and her grandmother.”
Gillian turned his attention to Reynolds, not at all hiding his eavesdropping. A worm slipped from the page of the giant book, reaching up for Gillian’s face.
“Well, if you insist on going then I’m accompanying you,” Reynold said.
Sari balled up her fists and was about to stomp her feet, but paused to turn her attention fully to Gillian. “You might want to turn the page before that book worm strangles you.”
Gillian’s gaze shot downward and he startled, pushing back from the book, falling out of his chair and to the floor. The worm began flailing in the air, reaching blindly for the gnome. Sari pulled up her wand and directed it at the book. It slammed shut immediately.
“Damn worms have infested that book. There’s no getting rid of them without compromising the integrity of the book’s content,” Sari said.
“So don’t go to sleep with that one open, huh?” Gillian said, smoothing down his suit and righting himself.
“I found one of your books that tried to make me go cross eyed,” Reynolds said. “The print kept getting smaller and smaller and so I got nearer to the page. When my nose was in it, the blasted thing slammed shut, nearly taking off my nose.”
Sari laughed easily. “That will teach you to keep your nose out of romance books. I enchanted every one in the collection.”
“Oh, well, I didn’t realize I’d been set up,” Reynolds said. “And in my defense, I was looking for a line of poetry. It’s been bugging me since I awoke from my statue state. There’s a line from the great poet Anna Voy about waking up and being given a second chance at life and love. I can’t recall it in its entirety and you know how infuriating that can be.”
“Fine then,” Sari said, flicking her wand at the library and muttering the reverse incantation for the spell. “Feel free to browse away, now.”
“It’s really an incredible collection of books, Sari,” Reynolds said, looking at the shelves with pride.
Sari, still pissed at Reynolds for his protectiveness, turned to Gillian. “Have you made any progress?”
He scratched his chin and stared at the giant book with trepidation. “I’m not sure what I’m looking for entirely, since I haven’t seen the page from the Book of the Dead yet.”
“Oh, well then in that case.” Sari pointed her wand at a bookcase on the far side of the room. A book bound in leather and tied closed with a blue ribbon flew across the room and landed in front of Gillian.
“What is this?” he asked.
“That’s the Book of Unknowing,” she answered. “It’s for when you don’t know what you’re looking for. It can supply missing gaps. The book changes based on who reads it. The complexity of the information it offers also changes depending on the intelligence of the person reading it. I suspect it’s just a picture book when Monet opens it.”
Reynolds laughed at this. “That’s funny, but I do hear that he’s quite possibly the most brilliant potion maker Virgo has ever had, which would make him the greatest on Oriceran.”
“Don’t tell him that ever,” Sari said. “I’ve worked his entire life to humble him and fix theim balance that occurred when he was born on the night of the meteor shower.” She bit her tongue, realizing she’d talked directly to Reynolds when he was supposed to be receiving the quiet treatment.
Gillian gasped when he opened the book. “That’s so strange. I was just thinking that I needed to brush up on my Egyptian mythology and it’s all here. He thumbed through the book, his eyes growing wide with shock.”
“Then it’s working,” Sari said proudly.
“Is it alright if I borrow this?” Gillian asked, standing, which put him in a significantly lower position than when he was sitting in the chair.
Sari pretended to consider this with a great deal of skepticism. After a moment, she nodded. The truth was there was no one more dependable than Gillian. Gnomes in general were known for the trustworthiness, but Sari wanted to stress how important the book was.
“Thank you,” Gillian said, pressing the book to his chest and scurrying for the exit. “I have to speak with Finnegan about supplies for the potion shop before we leave.”
“Tell him that I said hello,” Reynolds said, a teasing tone in his voice.
“Do not tell him that unless you want to instantly put him in a bad mood,” Sari warned.
Gillian didn’t seem to hear any of this as he hurried from the room. As soon as he was gone, Reynold had crossed the space so that he stood right in front of Sari. She moved her gaze to the floor. “I better be off as well, to pack.”