Axra didn’t sleep that night. She couldn’t stop thinking of everything Zero papa had told her. Would Axel papa have a similar story if she asked him? If only she could have known her mother back when she still had her sanity.
Then there was Twila. The thought of her still made Axra’s heart race. Was it wrong to feel this way? Twila’s aunt and her mother had been enemies, but they had nothing to do with it. Why should it matter what they’d done to each other before she or Twila had even been born?
Yet, it somehow did. That unknown history loomed over the them. If she couldn’t get some answers, she might never be able to tell Twila how she felt without feeling like a traitor. Maybe Twila’s aunt would tell her the story of what happened. If… If her mother was at fault then she could move past it. But Axra was afraid of the truth. If she knew what her mother had gone through, it might cause her to foster a deep resentment. If that happened… what hope would she and Twila have?
“Dammit,” Axra muttered. “Why does it have to be so complicated?”
She got out of bed, hurriedly dressed and went to get some breakfast.
“Oh, Axra…” Lilly greeted her. “Good morning.”
“Sit down, Darling,” Rachel said. “Miss Lilly and I were just enjoying a lovely cup of tea and some muffins. Would you like some?”
“Thanks,” Axra said.
She sat down and ate while Rachel talked about her newest design. Lilly asked a few questions and gave some advice. Axra had almost finished her muffin when Lysara wandered in.
“Mornin,” she said, groggily.
“Darling, you look an absolute fright,” Rachel said. “Here, sit and I’ll brush your hair for you.”
“Where’s Twila?” Axra asked.
“I Dunno,” Lysara muttered. “I was watching her read in the library and the next thing I knew I was in my bed.”
“M… maybe she’s still in the library,” Lilly offered.
“I’ll check,” Axra volunteered.
The library was one of the larger rooms in the palace. All of the walls were lined with shelves from floor to ceiling. There were five shelves lined in the middle of the room, each one almost reaching the ceiling and going far enough across the floor that Axra could barely walk between the wall and the shelves. On the left side of the room there was a table awkwardly squeezed between the nearest shelf and the wall. The right side had a similarly placed desk. Zero Papa had designed the room without any real concern for comfort.
“Oh, Princess, how can I help you?” Axra looked over at the librarian. He was a human of small stature with dark skin and greying hair.
“Is my friend still hanging out here?”
“Friend?” he asked, adjusting his spectacles. “Oh, yes the half elf with the dragon. A most interesting specimen. Slightly larger than average, but moves at a faster pace, at least when hovering. I wonder…”
“Olaf!” Axra interrupted.
“Oh, yes, your question. Last i saw her she was at the table.”
“Thanks,” Axra said. She moved past the shelves, bumping her shoulders several times as she went. She found Twila stretched over the table, fast asleep. Three books were lying open around her. Fang was curled up by her head. The little dragon looked up after her as she approached.
Axra gently picked Twila up and very carefully walked her over to the door, walking sideways past the shelves to avoid accidentally hurting her. Fang flew to Axra’s neck, his scales felt cold against her shoulders and neck but she let him be.
“Olaf,” Axra whispered.
“Yes, Princess?” Olaf asked.
“I want you to take those three books on the table, wrap them up in the nicest paper we have and tie a ribbon to them,” Axra ordered, her voice still low.
“Wrap… the books?” Olaf asked. “For what purpose?”
“I’m going to give them to her,” Axra explained, her eyes gazing at Twila’s sleeping face.
“B… But those are some of the rarest books we have,” Olaf protested. “Their value is…”
“Do you intend to disobey my order?” Axra asked.
“Of course not, Princess,” Olaf said, calming down. “I will do as you command.”
“Thank you,” Axra said. “When you’re done, leave them in my room.”
“As you wish,” Olaf said, moving to retrieve the tomes.
Axra carried Twila and Fang down to the guest room that had been assigned to Twila. She set the mage down in her bed. Fang flew down and curled up beside Twila. Axra looked down at them for a moment. It would be alright. No matter what Elaine told her, no matter what had happened in the past… she couldn’t resent Twila. She almost knelt down to kiss Twila’s forehead, but hastily decided against it. She headed back to the hall, closing Twila’s door behind her.