Lysara and Velvet spent some time telling Derry about what they’d gone through before heading back. The silence of their walk occasionally broken by Lysara strumming a few notes and singing softly to herself.
“No, that’s not right,” she muttered. “Maybe a softer tune?” She scratched her head. “Hey, does Bon like her tunes softer or a bit more energetic?”
Velvet shrugged. “Ask Lilly.”
“Fine, I will,” Lysara said.
They finally arrived back in the main city. Velvet went to the temple and leaned against the wall while Lysara hurried over to the Matriarch’s house.
She found Twila and Lilly sitting side by side, their shoulders lightly touching, looking through a couple books.
“Ladies,” Lysara said. “I’m here to save you a bunch of time and effort.”
“You learned something while visiting the deep dark elves?” Twila asked.
Lysara nodded. “Derry was pretty certain that there was something about the elemental staff in the books her grandmother sent.”
“My aunt is still having those copied,” Twila said, closing the book she was holding. “It won’t be easy to convince her to let me look through them.”
“W… we could… I mean… if we needed to… wait until they’re done getting copied,” Lilly suggested.
“It’s going to take them a long time,” Twila said. “And we should get that ring off of you as soon as possible.” She took Lilly’s hand and studied the ring that Gail had placed on her finger. Lilly blushed and looked away from her.
“You know,” Lysara said. “In every tale I know about legendary heroes they deal with crises like this by offering to grant a favour or complete a task for the monarch in return. Is there something your aunt needs that we can get for her?”
“Nothing,” Twila answered. “My aunt isn’t exactly wanting for anything unless…” Twila went quiet for a moment.
“D… did you think of something?” Lilly asked.
“If I offered to help copy everything down once our journey is over she may very well allow it,” Twila said.
“Great!” Lysara said. “That should settle that.”
“B… but wi… will you be okay staying here for that long?” Lilly asked. “N… not that it’s my business, but didn’t you want to travel?”
“I do want to travel,” Twila said. “But I can stay in one place for a couple years. Remember, I let Gail out of her prison. It’s my responsibility to make sure she’s stopped before she causes too much trouble. Besides, they’re books that have been lost, at least as far as our civilization is concerned, for millenia. Being one of the first people to read them will be an honour.” She smiled and headed off.
“Poor Twila,” Lilly muttered. “And all because of me.” She wiped her eyes with her sleeves.
“She looked happy enough to me,” Lysara said.
Lilly shook her head. “She’s not. I can tell. She… she’s trying to be strong but…
“Well it’s not just for your sake,” Lysara said. “She feels responsible, you know? She said the same thing when we started looking for a way to stop Eritos, remember?”
“Sh… she doesn’t like to be called that,” Lilly said. “She prefers Gail.”
Lysara shrugged. “Either way, you shouldn’t blame yourself. I’m sure Twila will be fine. She’ll be with her family and getting to study at the same time. I bet she’ll be really happy after a while, don’t you think?”
“I… hope so,” Lilly said.
“Aunt Elaine,” Twila said.
Her aunt was sitting in a nicely furnished office poring over some papers.
“Oh, this is a surprise,” Elaine said. “Did you find information on that staff of elements already?”
Twila shook her head. “That’s why I came to see you. I have reason to believe that the information is in those books that the deep dark elf elder sent you.”
“I see,” Elaine stated. “You want permission to go through them to find it.”
“I know,” Twila said. “They’re the only ones of their kind. Still, I need to find that staff. I’m prepared to offer my services to the task of copying them once my friends and I finish our current work. So…”
“Let me stop you right there,” Elaine said. “Twila, you aren’t a scribe. You’re smart, certainly and I have no doubt you’d work hard at it. But a scribe’s work requires a certain… mentality. One which you do not share. I can’t make you a part of that team.”
“Then…” Twila began.
“However,” Elaine interrupted. “You and your friends are the reason that we have those books. As such, I see no harm in allowing you to look over them long enough to find what you need. I’ll make the arrangements.”
“Thank you very much!” Twila said.
“Don’t thank me yet,” Elaine said. “Your contact with them will be strictly monitored and you’ll have to check them alone. Your friends will have to hang tight for a while. I can pull some strings for you but I can’t vouch for them. They are, of course, welcome in my home while you find the information you need. I trust that will be acceptable?”
“It’s more than I had hoped for,” Twila said. “Thank you very much.”
Elaine nodded. “Well, why don’t you head back. Have a good meal and get some sleep. You won’t be able to do either while handling our acquisitions and I know how you get when doing research. You won’t be quitting at a sensible hour and returning for little things like sleep.”
Twila chuckled. “I suppose I won’t be.”
“You really should take better care f yourself,” Elaine said. “I really wish that I could send Miss Valvye with you. She is so good at making sure you eat, at least.”
“Don’t worry,” Twila said. “I won’t overdo it.” She hugged her aunt and headed out the door.
“You always say that,” Elaine muttered.