Chrysanthemum shook her head as the autochariot drove down the wide streets of Throne. They took another brown cab, leaving the Dirah Ward and heading for the Crihilox Ward. The Dirah Ward was to the South of the Cathedra Ward, which housed the Spires. The Crihilox Ward lay directly to the right of the Dirah Ward.
Oberen and Chrysanthemum rode within the autochariot cab. It was shaped like a box, with a smaller box in front that housed the driver. There was a hatch that allowed them to see the driver’s box. They paid by inserting eagles into the cup beside the hatch, and it transmogrified the coins into energy, as well as dissipating some of its data into the Datascape, so that the cab driver could expect his money in his Scape bank account.
“Why did you start learning Magick, Oberen?” Chrys asked. She sat on her side, while Oberen sat on the other side. She had changed her clothes, now wearing a dark blue hoodie that and a t-shirt that belonged to Quinen underneath. The white shirt spilled out from under her hoodie. She wore her short, glowing pink hair in a tight knot on top of her head. She had resorted to wearing denim trousers and ulrics. Ulric being a brand of shoe known for their low cut sneakers and general “antiquated” aesthetic.
Oberen sat on the other side wearing a white dress shirt and black dress pants. His tousled, curling black hair seemed to frame his face, causing his sea green eyes to look brighter than it was.
“Well,” Oberen smiled. “That’s a rather difficult question, isn’t it? I’m guessing you want the short answer.”
“No,” she shook her head. “I want the long one.”
Oberen sighed. “Alas, I can’t, Chrys.” He gestured to the window outside. The brown cab they were in turned a corner, and they drove into a wide street that had a long pedestrian lane on both ends of it. To the cab’s left was a large brick wall opened up by a large, blacksteel gate. Past it, once can see the marble columns and shiny marble tiles of the Adonisian Academy of Erudition. To the right, one would see long, rectangular building made of adamant and it glowed subtly gold with the reinforcements of orichalcum.
The adamant ore used to construct it gave it a gray-steel basalt look. It looked like a monument for learning. The two large glass doors made of the hardest materials stood stalwart on top of a tall flight of wide stairs.
“Why?” Chrys asked as the brown cab stopped.
“Because we’re here, in the Library.”
The two of them stepped out from the cab. This entire time, the world outside had been an almost depressing mix of gray and white — the gray overcast of the gloom clouds mixing with the cascading light snow. As they stepped out, Oberen held out a hand. “Snowstorm, maybe?”
“Snowstorm…” Chrysanthemum looked up. “Is that bad?”
“Usually, yes,” Oberen grabbed Chrysanthemum’s hand prompting a gasp from her. He hauled her into the library.
The glass doors shuddered open, and there was the tinkling of welcome chimes. “Welcome to the Librarium Soph!” A sound from beside them. “Otherwise known as the Throne Library.”
Chrysanthemum turned to the right to see three different women sat behind a marbletop counter. The damnedest thing about them, Chrsyanthemum decided, was that they all looked the same. Each woman had brown hair that framed their face like a, well, a frame. Each one of them had green eyes, perfectly white teeth, and a fair complexion. Each one of them also had a mole underneath their right eye. The three of them wore a black vest over a white shirt. The emblem of the Library — an opened book with a tongue of flame within a shield crest — was knit onto the right chest of the Library.
Oberen walked up to the third one, farthest from the door. Each one of them had a plaque on top of the counter in front of them. The first one had “Library Help” inscribed onto it. Another had “Other Services”. The one Oberen walked up to had “Information Area”.
Chrys furrowed her eyebrows at the labels.
“Hello!” the girl said as Oberen neared her. Chrysanthemum didn’t need to follow — she found that she’d been holding his hand the entire time. “May I help you with information?”
“I need some information about the Siddivata.”
The girl’s smile didn’t falter. With a practiced motion, she gestured to the Library Help girl. “If you need help looking for books in the Library, please go to the Library Help woman for more info!”
“No,” Oberen said. He released his grasp from Chrysanthemum and put his palm down. With a discreet movement, he pushed his Vedina medallion to the girl. “I’m a Student Magicker from the Collegium. I need information of more esoteric origins.”
The girl’s smile never faded, as if it had been stapled onto her face. “Then if you are a member of the Collegium, I would suggest heading over to their Librarium!”
“I need help from an expert, dammit,” Oberen said. “Look, call up Uthurja, and tell her that Oberen’s here to ask something important. She knows me.”
The smile never faltered, but the girl nodded. She reached down under the counter top. After a few digital beeping noises, she spoke. “Miss Uthurja, there’s someone here to see you. A Student Magicker named Oberen. Should I apprehend or…?” She paused. Her eyes flickered over to Oberen, and then to Chrysanthemum.”
“She’s with me,” Oberen said.
“Yes? Yes. Okay.” The woman straightened and looked at Oberen. Her smile was unfailing. “You may go to the Madam’s room. Please work clandestinely.”
“I will.” Oberen said. He waved, plucked his Vedina medallion and shoved it into his pocket. He grasped Chrysanthemum’s hand again, as if he were afraid of her suddenly turning into mist and then running away, and they walked down the length of the long Library. They walked down left the carpet that cut in between stacks and coffee tables and reading chairs, known as “Reading Sites” in the Librarium. Within, one could see the multitudes of students from the Academy, tapping away on lapnodes as they gulped down bucketloads of caffeine and tea and reading books. Some of them talked but mostly in hushed tones. They wore long robes that reached their knees, that had large yawning sleeves, and hoods. Perfect for the weather. Some of them kept a Tass battery with them, to power their nodes or their heatshirts.
Oberen knew how those heatshirts worked. There would be a Runir — a magickal script that envoked the Fields — that they would knit onto the shirt. Then, there would be a transmogrifier device knit somewhere that would make it look fashionable. On their backs, on the back of their hands, on their chests. Then, the transmogrifier device — which had its own supply of Tass, although it could use Tass from external sources — would transmogrify the Tass into Diwa, thus powering the sigil with Magickal Power. The sigil would then activate, causing a low, comfortable blanket of heat to materialize from the shirt.
“Create Forces,” Oberen found himself muttering. “Likhjana Takatun.”
“Hm?” Chrysanthemum had to skip a bit to match Oberen’s stride.
“That’s the Ascendant Speech for Create Forces,” he said. “It’s the Mantra of the Runir, so to speak.”
“Hmmm?” Chrysanthemum tilted her head to the side. Oberen smiled and shook his head.
They reached the end of the hallway, reaching the comfort rooms, and they turned right. They followed down the path until it reached a point that said — in floating Neon lights that hung in mid-air, as if someone had picked up a neon pencil and had written on the darkness — “NO ENTRY WITHOUT PERMISSION”.
Oberen raised his hand and it met the floating scrawling neon ink as they walked through it. It diffused under his touch, but as they walked past, it congealed into the words once again.
The two of them walked down the increasingly darker path until they reached a dead end. Oberen closed his eyes, muttered something indiscernible, and he commanded Magick. When he opened his eyes, two circular mandalas burst into iridescent material in front of his eyes. The wall in front of them burned with Magick, and he saw the runir etched onto the front of the wall. He deciphered it in a quick second, and with a hand, he reached for the curving runir on the lower left, and then the far north, and then the center. He muttered, “Sa-java-dakon.”
The wall shuddered, and Oberen closed his eyes. The mandalas dissipated into motes of Diwa. “Open when order correct.”
“How?” Chrysanthemum watched with amazement as the wall disappeared, folding in on itself, disregarding the rules of space. “How did you do that?”
“Uthurja is skilled in Magicks,” Oberen said. “She used Narrow Runir to achieve a specific Effect. Something novices like me wouldn’t be able to understand. Luckily, I’m an ace in Runir Classes.”
He smiled. Chrysanthemum watched as the wall revealed a stone staircase spiralling up into a level above. “Come,” said Oberen. Chrysanthemum skipped in front of him, and dashed up the flight of stairs.
“Hey! Wait!” Oberen dashed after the fickle Siddivata — this child was an actual alien being? Oberen scoffed at the thought — until they both emerged into a room at the end of the stone staircase.
It was a circular room, which seemed to suggest that they’re in the spire-like structure that jutted oddly out of the end of the rectangular Library. High up above, they could see — even Chrysanthemum — multicolored Runir bouncing about, phasing through glowglobes that floated lazily to the points in the room where the darkness was the greatest.
The walls of the room were decorated with shelves and stacks of books, tomes, and magickal charms. “Whoa,” Chrysanthemum said as her gaze caught sights of tentacles made of shadow, lightning sealed into a bottle, an eyeball made of mooncrystal, and a blade of grass that changed color every few seconds.
Her gaze settled upon a being in the middle of it all. Round optics nested atop her ursine muzzle. Her fur was a gray that bordered on blue. Dark blue ink scrawled about her, similar to Chrysanthemum, decorating her in tribal curves and wicked geometries. She wore a large robe similar to the robes the students were wearing downstairs, only this one was made of some kind of different material. It shone and glittered a bright blue, but it seemed to be made of silk.
When they burst into her room, she stood, reached for a gnarled wood staff she had implanted onto the wooden floor. She turned around, revealing a menacing ursine face with eyes dark blue — colder than Oberen’s. When she saw Chrys and Oberen, she squinted through her optics.
“Why,” she began. “If it isn’t little Oberen.” Her voice was basso, but melodious.
“Hello, Master Uthurja,” Oberen said, slowly, reverently. He inclined his head in a bow.
“Oh shut up,” she said, waving a clawed hand that had thumbs. “No need for reverences and masters here. Only Magickers. C’mere.”
Oberen grinned. He walked up to the bearwoman and jumped up to hug her. Chrysanthemum decided it looked like falling onto a fluffy fur carpet. And so she ran up to her and hugged her too.
“Oh! Haha. Who’s this little lady you’ve brought?” She set Oberen down, and grabbed Chrys with both hands. She held her up as if she were some ten year old child. “Don’t tell me…? I thought you liked boys.”
Oberen snickered. “I do. She’s just a friend of mine that I like to help out.”
Uthurja furrowed her eyebrows. She closed her eyes, muttered three indiscernible words, and opened her eyes. Five mandals exploded from both of her eyes, blossoming out like an intricate arcane chrysanthemum. They shone incandescent iridescence, and she peered into Chrysanthemum’s very being.
Oberen had seen Uthurja do it more than once, and it’s something he wants to be able to do as well. The Magicker’s Sight was a powerful thing, but to be able to see past just Magickal Semblances, one would have to hone it. Uthurja was known — among many other things — as the Spirit-Seeker. This is one of the reasons why.
The blossoming mandala dissipated into Diwa a few moments later. She set Chrysanthemum down gently, and then she walked over to a large, velvet chair. She fell onto it, clutching her head, and removing her optics. “My dear Oberen,” she began. She turned to Oberen, and her eyes were bloodshot, veined with red. “What have you brought me?”