Chapter 1 – Planning during the storm

The drop of water that somehow slips past the collar of your coat, leaving a freezing trail down your spine. The moonlight, which sends black fingers dancing on the walls as it shines through the bare winter trees. Liam, that bastard, who told me he would meet me at the library after its closing time and has yet to show his bulky self.

“One more minute. One more bloody minute and I’m outta here.” I think to myself, shivering as the wind deposits another raindrop down my back.

“Ah, there you are!” A resounding low voice from a familiar friend – Liam stands in the doorway of the ‘closed’ library, face scrunched against the cold. Fantastic…

“What do you mean “there you are”!?” I hurry past him to escape the cold caresses of the rain and look around the library, hoping to find the warm embrace of the fireplace. I can only assume that Liam buried himself into the books again as a wisp smoke waved from above the ashes of, what used to be, a fire. As the door creaks to its close with the help of the wind, I throw my coat onto a nearby desk and grab two small logs from underneath the brick fireplace, in hopes of managing to start some warmth. Dust of ashes flung into the air as I lay the pieces of wood onto the grey bed and peak over my shoulder to ask for some assistance. But I should have known better, that Liam would disappear into thin air in a place where trees are sacrificed for the sake of forever knowledge. I have tried to use that argument before to save myself from having any sort of relationship with them, but as long as Liam sticks around here, Lady Luck will never be on my side.

A heavy sigh comes out from deep within me, as I look beyond myself. The shelves seem as if they support the roof, as if without them it would all come tumbling down. The length races far beyond my will to reach the end. This library alone is said to have manuscripts and books from the very beginning of this world’s creation. But who am I to argue with the wise men of time.

Speaking of time, this is a waste. “Oi!”

From the very distance, heavy shuffling rumbles through the wooden floor and Liam rushes from in between the bookshelves, carrying a stack of four different books, all different in every way, and places them down on the table next to the fireplace with a loud thud.

“I came here for storytelling?” I grumble.

“Funny, Lock. I told you to come here to tell you that I think I might be on to something that will make us rich” he nods to himself, pacing past me and scouring through the wood from underneath the fireplace for something flammable. I frown at him, questioning his thought process and wondering what he is attempting to look for. “Ok, fine, not rich wealthy-wise, but rich in other ways. You know the story about the Goddess of Darkness and the God of-“

I sigh, warning him.

“No-no-no! Listen to me.” Liam stands up holding a small piece of double-folded paper, flicking it in the air. “You know the story about the Four Elements? How Water turned against them? Tried to erase them out of existence which made them flee and turn into humanoids? Well, i-i-it’s all… absolutely wrong! I don’t quite understand it, but it’s all, just wrong” he pants, peeling the two pieces of paper apart, throwing them onto the logs.

The two pieces of paper unite with the logs, resulting in a dance of flames. Crackle, pop, the flames sing in appreciation of their birth.

I watch the celebration commence and unravel before me. And it struck me. “I blew Mary off for this bull?”

“Would you keep your mind off of women for one second? Look here! I found this book,” jumping up, swiftly stepping over to the table and caressing the cover of a leather book, he grabs and opens it down the middle. The pages glistened in a pale gold-like tone in front of the flames, showing off its well-maintained age. I peeked over and, to my surprise, the pages were as clear as untouched papyrus.

“Am I supposed to say something specific?”

Liam snorts cockily and curls his nose. “The pages aren’t visible to the human eye!” As he snorts again, I can’t tell if it is the fire or my blood slowly boiling that is making me feel hot.  “By combining information with other books, I found that the closer we get to any of the four Elements, the more information will start to somehow reveal itself on the book!”

His eyes sparkle as he reveals the ‘big secret’ he stumbled upon, and my knuckles tingle to the urge to either meet with his jaw for dragging me in the rain for this, or mine for letting myself be dragged out. “And why would I care about that?” turning my back to him, I discretely lash out at the fire by poking it with a long metal fork that was sitting next to the fireplace.

“Aren’t you curious?!” Liam exclaims, echoing in the empty library. I proceed to poke the burned wood once more, allowing the silence to answer for me. “Fine, I guess then I’m leaving to sort the mysteries out on my own in the morning” he proclaimed slamming down the book. He quickly grabs the rest of the bundles of pages, leaving the leather looking one resting on the table and disappearing into the distance, in between the forest of time.

I know at this point that I should be worried because he hasn’t been anywhere else apart from the village. Like a mother worrying and shuffling through all probable and improbable scenarios that could occur, I jolt from in front of the fire and attempt to find my ‘child’. “You’re going to go by yourself?! Where are you even gonna start from?!”

“That’s why I asked you to come with me” he yells from the other side of the library. Gosh, he’s fast on his tracks for a man his size.  “Think about it and if you are up for it, come meet me tomorrow morning here again when the sun peeks through the mountains”. Once more, silence rests, leaving the fireplace have its own dialogue with a crackle and a pop, queuing me to leave the premises.

Dragging my feet towards the fireplace to warm myself before I meet with the cold touch of the rain, I abruptly stop, rubbing my temples to ease some of the pressure out caused by someone’s lack of consideration. The fire hypnotizes me and I don’t notice how long I must have been standing nearby as I can feel my face slowly burning up. With one swift movement backwards, I attempt to keep my balance, feeling dizzy from the heat. As I step to grab my coat from near the door, a small light seduces my glance and stops me in my tracks.

But I must be hallucinating from the heat because there’s no way that just happened. I rub my eyes and nothing appears apart from the book itself and its blank pages. I rush to the door and let out a small laugh as an attempt to persuade myself that I am not crazy. I’m not, I’m not…

“You will be the first t…”

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