Day Two, 8:29 am-
Xander was sitting behind a mountain of books. His scarred face peeked out as Grace and Fin walked into the archives.
“About time you two showed up. I was wondering if I was going to have to read all of these on my own.”
“Did you find anything?” Grace asked, plopping down into an overstuffed chair.
“Well, did you know that the first Conduits were chosen to battle the Soulless?”
Fin sat down in a chair next to Grace. “Uh, yeah. We learned about that in school. Long before we were tested to see if we could become Conduits.”
Feigned shock spread across Xander’s face. “What? We did? I must’ve been sick that day!”
They continued to joke around and laugh for a bit, before settling into serious reading and browsing. Occasionally, one of them would get the attention of the others, but most of their discoveries seemed to only be dead ends. They were momentarily interrupted when the archive clerk brought them all lunch. After thanking her, they ate silently, pouring through book after book. They neared the end of their stack of books without finding anything of value.
“How is there so little here?” Fin asked, tossing a book onto the table with a thud. “We must be missing something.”
Grace slammed the book she was reading shut. “What would we be missing? We’ve gone through everything. These are all just ledgers, military movements, lists of dead, wounded, and missing. It’s all logistical information.”
“That’s not entirely true.” Xander picked up the thin book he had been reading before. It was called Becoming a Conduit. “There was this little gem. I mean, without it, I would never have known that the Conduit program was created in response to the Soulless, or that we have the power to channel our souls safely, thanks to the grounding properties of our swords!” Xander grinned at the sighs from Fin and Grace. “Oh, wait. This is in the wrong section.”
Fin reached over and grabbed the book from Xander. “Kind of figured that. It looks like the book we read in school.”
Grace slumped in her chair, chin falling to her chest. Her eyes were half closed, and it was apparent she was tired. “So, where’s the actual information? Where are the histories?”
Xander leaned against the table. “I’ve heard that much of the information was lost during the rebuilding. That the war was chaotic not much was written down. But why are these detailed records still here? They had time to write down and organize all of this logistics crap, but nothing in relation to the actual fighting?”
“It does seem weird,” Fin said. “Especially since the Magister had to know what we would find. Why would he send us to a dead end?”
“Magister Rochester knew more than what we’re finding here. And he wasn’t alive during the War of Souls.” Grace sat a little straighter, lips pursed in thought. “Where did he get his information?”
Fin stood up, stretching his arms, and unsuccessfully trying to stop a yawn. “I remember reading about Thieves. I even saw pictures of them. I just can’t remember…” He thought about the book he had first looked at when they entered the archives yesterday, A Field Guide to Indigenous Magical Beings and Creatures. “I’ll be right back.”
Fin ran back to the front of the archives, searching the shelves for the book. He found it, and grabbed the elegant leather binding. It was a beautiful book, the dark brown leather embossed with the silver title. There was no author information, and nothing on the cover aside from the title. He walked back to their table, flipping through the book. He skimmed past pictures of dragons, the Elementalist, feay creatures, and stopped. He set the book on the table, staring intently at the illustration of a pale, white being with black eyes and red hair.
“What’d you find?” Grace stood and walked over next to Fin. She planted her hands on the table and leaned over, blonde hair curtaining her face.
Xander watched them. They were both silent, and he walked over to join them. “Uh, guys? What are you…”
Across the top of the page, written in the same elegant script as the title of the book, was a heading: The Soulless.