Books and Candles

You can read the story from the beginning here – Back at the White Hart

“Are you sure about the candles?” Noah asked.

Mina nods. “The library is enchanted against most fires. A candle isn’t a problem.”

“Of course it’s enchanted,” Noah grumbled. “It’s in fairyland.”

“It’s in Lady Freydis’ domain,” Mina said primly. “You’re taking the whole fairy thing very well.”

Noah grunted and peered at the shelves. “Why are the bookshelves so dark?”

“To make a nice contrast between the dark of ignorance and the light of knowledge in the books,” Mina said. “To be fair, it wasn’t all Lady Freydis’ idea. I’ve redecorated a few times, but she likes to keep the books in a dim light.”

“I’ll wear one of those headlamps next time,” Noah said. “Is there a system? I’m supposed to be finding books on candles.”

“I’ve tried to keep a system,” Mina said. “However this library is used by elfen. Werewolves are pretty good at putting things back where they found them and so are vampires and even boggarts, but elfen seemed to see an organised library as a challenge.” She led Noah over to the shelves and ran a knowledgeable finger along the spines. “You want a book on candles to distract Kadogan, right?”

Noah glanced at her. “I was ordered to come here and get a book on candles to help me write a book.”

“Because Kadogan has a thing about candles,” Mina said. “And he’s just split up with his girlfriend, so he’s looking for a distraction.”

“I didn’t realise that he had a girlfriend,” Noah said. “What was she like?”

“I didn’t really see her,” Mina said. She glanced over at him. “I don’t really leave the library much, but I met her a few times. She seemed nice, but she was far too calm with Kadogan.”

“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?” Noah said.

“The best elfen relationships usually involved furniture being thrown,” Mina said. “Lady Freydis had that with her first husband, but it got complicated. It’s different with vampires.”

“And Martin is a vampire,” Noah said. “They seem really happy together.”

“They absolutely are,” Mina said.

“Are you a…” Noah trailed off.

“It’s very rude to ask,” Mina said. “As it happens, I’m a normal, just like you.”

“But you said you didn’t leave the library much,” Noah said.

Mina shrugged. “I came here when I was quite young,” she said. “And I’m comfortable here.” She turned. “Here you are. The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday. It was first published in 1861. I’m sure that it’s the sort of thing that Kadogan expects you to read.”

“I hope that he’s not expecting a lot of readers for this book,” Noah said uneasily.

“Probably not,” Mina said. “Why don’t you come back tomorrow? I’ll dig out the old household books on candle making and anything I can find on coffee for you.” She smiled with an unexpected glimpse of mischief. “And I think I have a lead on one of the books that Lady Freydis wants. I’ll double check it, but it may need another trip to Ferdi.”

Noah grimaced. “He’s a slimeball,” he said. “What are those books about anyway?”

“Lady Freydis is researching a spell, that’s all I can say,” Mina said. “It was considered powerful enough or problematic enough for the creator to spread the ideas and notes over several books. They originally were all in one library but they got scattered. Tracing them is a little tricky, especially as they were a random lot.”

Mina shrugged. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll have more for you then.”

Noah looked at the young woman thoughtfully. “I’m sure you will,” he said.

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