I was the only one at the archives today, the only one to enjoy the grand rooms, and the smell of leather and ageing paper. At least for now. Coral always had Sundays off and so, it seemed, had the rest of the magical community. It suited me fine, because I still had a stack of books to finish before the tournament next month. These quiet Sundays were perfect for catching up on the latest research.
I had only just opened a book on spell duel theory and gotten out my pen when the door slammed open, and an older witch sauntered in. And really, sauntered was the only way I could put it. She must be in her late fifties or sixties, dressed in screaming red clothes, with hair dyed to match the ensemble. There was a spring in her step, and a smile on her lips as she waltzed up to me. I took comfort in the fact that she wasn’t a Black-pointy-hat-and-black-cat kind of witch.
“Good day to you, darling,” the red witch said, waving her wrist and causing little sparks to dance around her fingertips. “Can you help me?”
I looked up at her over the rim of my reading glasses. “Depends on what you need.”
“I’ve come to inquire after the some texts on the Ink Volumes. I’ve been lead to believe you have a fantastic reference guide.”
It was all I could do to not roll my eyes. I had been informed that openly rolling your eyes at others was bad, and one reason that people didn’t like me, so I resisted. Instead, I flashed her a pleasant smile – at least I hoped it was pleasant – and asked her to follow me to our Myths and legends section.
“Aye, Myths and legends,” the red witch said with a sigh. “People simply refuse to believe that the Ink Volumes could be anything but legend, even though they’ve been described so very many times throughout our history.”
“Well, they don’t exist. That’s why they’re here,” I said, pointing now that we had arrived at our destination. “Myths and legends. If I can help you further, come find me at my desk. Sadly, this section is for reference only, we don’t allow you to take the books home. If you want to copy anything, there’s a handy spell that-”
The woman suddenly grabbed me by the chin and twisted my face back and forth while scrutinising it. I waved her hands away and freed myself from her grasp.
“You’re that Thorne-girl, right? The one who always wins the tournament?” she asked, unembarrassed.
I took a step back from her. “I’ve been Champion of Moonlight six years in a row, yes.”
“Aye,” the woman said, cocking her head and smacking her lips. “What was it, Jennifer Thorne?”
You’d think she knew my name, if she followed the Tournament.
She cackled and climbed up the ladder to look at the upper shelves, while still talking to me.
“The press is going mad over one of the new contestants, I’ll tell you.”
Now that she wasn’t looking, I allowed myself to roll my eyes. “They do every year.”
Another cackle. “Oh, this one is different. You should really keep an eye on the press, darling. Learn who the competition is, learn their weaknesses.” She turned and winked at me over her shoulder. “Maybe you could learn something new.”
“I think I’ll be fine. I’m very well prepared.”
“Ah, but are you?” She climbed down with a dusty volume in her hand. “You can never learn enough, especially about other people. Honestly, if I were you, I’d be out there spying on them.”
“That… that is extremely unethical.”
She did another of her mad cackles. “Aye, it is. But it’s highly informative. You can trust me on this. I’ve never won the Moonlight Tournament, but I know a thing or two about getting ahead in life.”
I looked her up and down, then shrugged.
“Can I help you further?”
“No, but thank you very much. And good luck in the Moonlight Tournament. I do think you have a chance of winning this year.”
“Of course I do.”
She nodded at me. “You’ve got confidence, alright, but try and look up this new fellow. I think you could learn a lot from him. Thank you again.”
I spun and walked away, sunk into my chair, and put on my reading glasses again. I could hear the red witch humming to herself behind the stacks, the crazy old woman. She wasn’t the first person to waltz in here, sure that they were going to find the Ink Volumes and change the magical world as we knew it.
She wasn’t the first to try and give me advice, either.
I had won the Tournament six times, on my own, with my brain and my research. Gods knew who she thought she was to give me advice. Bad advice, on top of everything. One thing was for sure: Whoever was going to compete this year wouldn’t be able to teach me anything I didn’t already know.
Hi all, and welcome to my new story, Champion of Moonlight (it took me AGES to find a title, so long I literally settled on this title YESTERDAY)! If you’re currently looking at a calendar, you might be thinking – wait, it’s not Saturday?! Well, thing is, while preparing the story for posting, I came up with a little prologue to introduce you to the main character and to tie together a few things in the story to come. It’s short, as you can tell, and I felt like it would be a sorry replacement for the actual first chapter, so here it is, a few days in advance. I hope you receive it well – I know this isn’t much to talk about, it’s really just a short introduction to Genevieve. Regardless, thanks for reading if you’ve come this far.
A little site update before I go: I’ve added some next-previous-chapter buttons to A Monte Vista-story for all your binging needs. I’m kind of proud of them, hence the need to tell you. I’ll add to this story as well once it’s relevant! See you all on Saturday for the proper beginning and have a great time until then! Cheers!
The absolutely awesome library can be found right here.