Today's Reading

14th September, evening

Well.

I am not quite sure where to begin.

The ghastly scene in the lecture hall seems the most obvious place, but my thoughts dart away from it like fish from a shadow falling over the water. How Wendell could sleep after something like that is beyond me, and yet I hear him in the next room, snoring peacefully. I suppose it's like him to put more energy into fretting about a hangover than a murderous attack.

When I returned to my office after breakfast, Ariadne was already waiting for me. I had made a detour to the Museum of Dryadology and Ethnofolklore in the hope of borrowing a few exhibit pins to stick into the ruddy foot, which had begun twitching every few seconds. The pins are made of iron with heads shaped from old pennies—both metal and human currency are despised by many Folk, and thus the pins help to subdue any lingering enchantments imbued in their artefacts. But the curator—one Dr. Hensley—merely gave me a baleful glare and informed me that pins were in short supply. We are not friends, Dr. Hensley and I. She took great offence when recently I asked to borrow a particular artefact for Shadow, declaring that the museum was not "a library designed for the idle amusement of scholars." This grated on my patience as only an insult to libraries could, and after a terse argument we parted on bad terms. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I wasn't chased out of the museum under a hail of dusting cloths.

"Are you all right?" my niece enquired when I stormed in, my good humour in tatters. I replied in the affirmative, but she nevertheless ran to fetch me some tea from the lounge, despite my calling after her that I had no need of it.

Ariadne looks a great deal like my brother, round-faced with a long nose covered in a smattering of freckles, with her mother's hazel eyes and light brown complexion. Unlike my brother, though, whose disposition is decidedly taciturn, Ariadne is possessed of a wearying amount of energy. This would not be an issue were she not so often underfoot, having appointed herself my assistant, something I have never sought nor desired.

"Don't 'all' scholars of your standing have assistants?" she asked me once, fixing me with a look of guileless admiration. I could only splutter in reply and wish that my ego were not so easily stroked. The truth is that I do not 'always' mind her presence.

"Did you locate the Spengler maps?" I demanded when she returned, ignoring the tea, which she had paired with a plate of my favourite biscuits. My brusque demeanour did not penetrate her high spirits, which seem indefatigable, and she hurried to fetch her briefcase, from which she drew a folder containing two carefully folded sheets of parchment.

"Thank you," I said grudgingly. I had not expected her to locate the maps so quickly. "Then they 'were' hidden away in one of the basement stacks?"

She shook her head. "They'd been moved to the Library of History— the Germanic cultures floor. I had to speak with half a dozen librarians, but once I worked that out, they weren't difficult to locate."

"Ah," I said, quietly impressed. Ariadne is perhaps the most competent student I've ever taught. This, though, is irritating in its own way—were she demonstrably inept, I would have an excuse to get rid of her.

"Would you like to see?" she said. She was actually bouncing slightly up and down with excitement, like a child half her age, and I had to suppress the urge to step on her foot to restrain her.

"Put them here."

She spread them over the desk, weighting the edges with a few of my faerie stones. I ran my hands over the old parchment-they were not the originals, but rather copies drawn by Klaus Spengler in the 1880s. Those originals, which have since disappeared or been misplaced in the depths of some university archive, were created by Danielle de Grey more than fifty years ago, and were found amongst her belongings after she vanished in 1861.

As I touched the maps, my gaze snagged, as it did all too often, on the missing finger on my left hand. Wendell offered to create a glamour so lifelike I would scarcely notice a difference from before, but I said no. I am not entirely sure why. I suppose I appreciate the reminder—and warning—the empty space gives me. Wendell claims it is because I see it as a ghoulish souvenir of my sojourn in a Faerie court, an experience to which few scholars can lay claim. This I vociferously deny, even while a small part of me wonders if he might be right.

The first map showed a bird's-eye view of a mountainous landscape. The only settlement was a small village labelled 'St. Liesl,' perched upon an elevated plateau amongst the peaks. The second map was a closer view of the area around the village, with many more details labelled, including footpaths, streams, lakes, and what seemed to be geographic features—my German is rusty.

"I still can't believe it," Ariadne said, which made me jump—I hadn't realized she was leaning so close to me. "Danielle de Grey drew these maps. Danielle de Grey!"


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