CASeries #1: KNIGHT
Chapter Thirty-Five: The Journal
The past few days became hectic for the lady knight. She managed to make some time to teach Valeriana swordsmanship skills and investigate the condition of the crown prince at the same time. There was very little time left before the aristocrats decided for a Candidate Selection.
Well, the investigation process was actually more tedious than anyone would have thought. There was no hunting down people who had the answers she sought, nor was there any thrilling fight. This had to be done inconspicuously and the lady knight knew that a clue should be in the ancient library—which was located in the academy.
Seraphina nodded at the librarian who looked back at her knowingly but said nothing. She walked through the aisle, letting her fingers trace the endless rows of books sitting in the towering shelves. Her eyes speedily skimmed through the titles but she found nothing of relevance.
When the aisle ended, a hunched form appeared in front of her, completely taking her aback. She took a retreating step, heart leaping to her throat. When she saw the old librarian, she gave her chest a gentle pat.
“Rinda, please do not startle me like that,” she told her, breathing deeply.
“What you’re looking for is not here,” she replied, ignoring the woman’s reaction to her sudden appearance out of nowhere.
“Do you know what I’m looking for?” She narrowed her eyes at the woman.
Rinda waved her hand at her dismissively. “No,” she answered. “But I have a feeling I do.” She then pulled her with her.
A look of confusion riddled the lady knight’s gaze. Librarian Rinda had been serving as the academy’s librarian longer than anyone could remember. Ever since Seraphina became a student in Celeste Academy, she was already there, tending to the dusty shelves of books without complain. She knew things Seraphina didn’t.
“Don’t look so confused now, dear.” Rinda told her. “I’ve been this academy’s librarian for so long that there’s not a corner in this room that I do not know of. I may be old, but there are things which I can see and you cannot.”
“I do not understand.”
“You soon will,” she answered. “I’ve seen you scan these shelves for hours and still, that look in your face did not disappear. You have not gotten what you are looking for, and by the way I have observed your behavior these past days, the answer you seek is not within those books.”
“Am I that readable?”
“No.” She shook her head. “You are far harder to read than anyone else, but with a keen eye like mine, you shall not get to hide anything.”
“I see.” The lady knight nodded.
Seraphina looked around and saw that they stopped on a dead-end. In front of them was the same sight of rows and rows of books. The lady knight stopped and stared in front of her in confusion. The books in the shelves didn’t seem to be related to what she was looking for, nevertheless, what confused her was what the old librarian was doing.
“Ah,” she hunched her already hunched back over. “My back. Dear me, I’m really getting old. Maybe I should retire after all.” She groaned.
“Maybe I should help you. What are you looking for?”
“Ah, polite child,” she muttered. “I don’t even remember what book to take now,” she said. “Oh, yes. Get that smallest book on the third shelf to the right, will you, dearest?”
“Of course,” Seraphina answered.
She reached for the book Rinda was talking about and tried to take it off from the shelf. She was shocked, however, when it simply turned over instead as if something was holding it in place. It didn’t fall, but instead, it went right back to the position it was last in, and the shelf pulled itself back before moving to the side to reveal a small, dusty room within.
Seraphina gawked as she entered. “There’s a place like this in the library?”
“This place had always been filled with secret rooms and passages,” the old woman answered. “But this one was extra special. This room was the very place which served as the secret war room of the Celestial Knights thousands of years ago. It was turned into a library which was kept with confidential records when the Great War ended.”
“You will find what you’re looking for in here,” she said. “Very well, then. I’ll leave you be.”
The old librarian left and disappeared. Seraphina warily eyed the open door which led to the so-called secret room and took slow steps until she was fully inside. The door closed shut behind her, trapping her in plain darkness. Lamps automatically illuminated the room, small flames starting to eat away at the wicks of half-melted candles.
She looked around and noticed that the room was so full of books that she couldn’t make out the wall anymore. The previously called war room wasn’t that big like one would’ve imagined. There was a round table which was big enough for at least fifteen people to occupy and discuss whatever they needed to discuss, one which amazed Seraphina to no end. To fight off the turn of time, the ornate table was made from fine marble, including the chairs which melded with floor.
She scanned the shelves and the topics presented by the titles were things one wouldn’t have imagined existed. She traced the old leather, brushing off the dust which clung to their skin. She looked down at the tips of her fingers. The dust was thick and was probably building up for many years. These books were probably much older than her.
When a book caught her eye, she instinctively reached for it and pulled it off the shelf. Dust puffed into her face and she coughed. Seraphina fanned the air with her hand with mild disgust. Once the cloud of dirt subsided, she examined the book which was as thick as her arm. There was no title like all the other books in the room.
She went towards the round table and sat on one of the chairs, placing the heavy object on the surface. She gingerly opened it and was then greeted by aged paper which had turned brown over time. The writings on the book were made of thin strokes from a quill.
‘I have taken the liberty of writing down the knowledge I have accumulated over these past years, should this information come in handy in the future.’
“This writer . . .” she trailed off. “Degenhard Veralidaine.” She turned the pages, curious.
‘There is one way upon which a person can be turned to a demon. One is when a heart turns dark and heavily tainted. Each one of us is susceptible to being turned into a demon, however, the decision to become one is entirely in our hands. This is what happened to Valdis. You can only become a demon when you accept the darkness into your heart, but when you strongly fight off this darkness, you will remain what you are.’
“I know this already,” she whispered and continued. After a few turns, she finally found what she was seeking. “Streaks . . . black streaks . . .”
‘My further research on demon transformation allowed me to discern another activity which demons had recently discovered. I came to know that although a child is born from two demons, that child will remain ordinary like any other children. Because of this, it still rests in the hands of that child if he becomes a demon—but of course, when this child grows in a badly influenced community, chances are likely he’ll become a demon himself. Still, there is that choice, so we try to save these children.
‘I gave no doubts regarding this matter. After all, birth is the epitome of a creature’s innocence. No matter how heavily the child’s parents have sinned, that child will remain pure and untainted.’
She sighed. “That’s right.”
‘But this is also one of my biggest concerns,’ said the author. ‘For this reason, demons found a way to turn their child into a demon even before that child is sired. But this way proved to be a highly dangerous method, and thousands of infants died before they even had the chance to experience life outside their mother’s womb.’
“A way to turn a child to a demon before even born? What kind of sick . . . ?” she trailed off. “But there’s nothing concerning the appearance of black streaks in the prince’s hair and eyes?” She whispered under her breath before breaking into a disappointed sigh. She then looked down at the book before clenching her teeth and shaking her head.