Noelani shuffled across the room, her gentle, ski-slope of a nose buried in a book she cradled in her arms. The library was near empty ... and it looked strange, too, having its walls painted a queer shade of red cast by lamps wreathed with bouquets of blood orchids which dotted many of the mahogany tables lining the center of the main room. She chose a cubicle that was nearer one of the arched windows. Low to the ground and reaching high to the ceiling, the triple-glazed glass afforded Noelani a panoramic view of the Veelosian skyline. Natural lighting sliced through to warm the plush cushions of the sofa and she slipped into its comfort. So engrossed in her book, Noelani hadn't noticed the gaggle of girls chirping nearby.
"Did you hear about Noelani?" One of the girls cupped a hand around the corner of her mouth as if to shield the words. Her companions, gathered in a circle around her, leaned forward to soak up the gossip. In unison, their eyes cast quick devlish shade in Noelani's direction. "I heard that Professor Odonata granted her research proposal."
"Oh, Celene! That's not news! Everyone in Odonata's class has a research assignment!"
Celene's thin lips puckered and she glared past her nose at the girl, "Hmph, yes, Nelly, I know that! But, do you know what her research proposal is about?" Much to Celine's delight, Nelly shook her head, and Celene stuck her arms out to wave a path through her companions towards Noelani.
"Hi, Noelani! What book is that?" Celene bent at the waist and plucked the heavy book from Noelani's hands. The book, much heavier than Celene anticipated, seemed ancient with its vellum pages bound between goatskin covered boards. An ivory ornamentation of a single orb held in the palm of a woman's hand decorated the front of the book and metal clasps meant to seal the book shut dangled.
Startled from her studies, Noelani twitched as icy fingers reached for Celene, "Huh? Oh, Celene! Careful! That book is ... it's one of a kind. Please, Celine. Give it back!"
"What's this say?" Celine ignored Noelani's pleas as she ran her fingers across the gilded runes that framed the ivory paneling.
"What? Oh, um," Noelani slouched her shoulders forward as she pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. She looked owl-like. "As best as I can tell, it says 'Soul Song: A Codex of Iselyr'. Now, please, Celine, may I have my book back?"
"Iselyr? Like, in the fairytales, Iselyr?" Celine cast a gleeful glance towards her friends whose laughter unisoned through the library.
"Actually," Noelani reached up, gently took the book from Celine, and tucked a wisp of brown hair behind an ear, "there are many passages that I've transcribed that leads me to believe Iselyr does exist. Or did. I'm not certain. I'm having a difficult time translating this particular sentence. It either says 'The Eventide swept the lands of Iselyr' or 'The Even Tide swept the lands of Iselyr.' It's hard to say, honestly, but I believe it to mean Eventide -- an event, rather than an actual tidal wave -- and I believe it to be the same event that once covered the whole of Valucre in darkness. The timeline fits, as you can see. . ."
"Whatever," Celine interrupted Noelani's rant as she rolled her eyes and gestured a loop with her finger, "Craaa-zyyy." Her friends snorted.
"You know, Noelani, maybe you should, I don't know, put up some flyers!" Celine splayed her hands out as if to showcase her words in bright lights, "Seeking courageous adventurers! ... Something that packs a solid punch, attracts attention! Bold, bubble lettering, lots of bright flowers to highlight your ... personality. Hire yourself some real go-getters and go find this fairytale land of yours!" The girls erupted into laughter. Celine reached down to hook an arm through Noelani's and tugged the girl to her feet.
"But, I ..."
"But, nothing! Seize the day!"
"I'm not much of a 'seize the day' kind of girl, Celine. I'm more of a ... 'poke it with a stick'." Noelani poked her finger out in front of her.
"Oh, rubbish! You've got to get out and live! Take chances! Right now, you're older than you've ever been before!"
"I, well," Noelani stammered as she allowed Celine to push her towards the exit.
"You can do it, Noelani!" Celine thrust her fist up in the air and her friends followed suit.
"Um, yeah, uh, okay," Noelani left the library while Celine and her friends collapsed in a fit of laughter.
And so it was that Noelani found herself in a tavern, of sorts, struggling with a giant handmade sign that kept rolling up while she tried to pin it to a wall.