“A rampaging dragon. Demons, and demon hunters. Chaos, fire, wind, and rain. Another giant plant…thing. Just another day at Claremont.” These were the thoughts crossing Aaron’s mind as Master Maarten took his usual abrupt leave. Instead of a reprimand for using spells beyond what he was allowed, he was commended for bending the rules. He’d have to thank Nina next time he saw her for the inspiration. Riding an emotional high, he sat down to work on his term paper. But where were all of the books he’d checked out? “Oh, right. I panic-returned everything when I found out it was Maarten coming instead of my parents. At least what I’ve got so far is… Oh. No. No no no no no.” With no thick books to hold the loose leaf paper down, pages were everywhere, including under a spreading pool of ink. The day’s activities had been, after all, pretty volatile. A great peal of thunder, a dragon careening into the wall, anything could have jarred the desk enough to knock over the inkwell. Casting a long glance to an unlit double-ended candle held in a brass ring stand, Aaron mumbled to no one in particular “Time to start over.”
“What do you mean, they’re not available?”
“Please, lower your voice. This is a library, after all.” The librarian at the desk stared grimly at Aaron over tortoiseshell glasses precariously perched on the end of her nose. “You returned those volumes this morning. They have been checked out again, as every other student in your class is also working on that assignment. At least the ones who haven’t waited until the last moment to complete it, that is.”
“My work was lost. I HAD been working on it, but…” It was worthless. The subtle side-to-side shake of the librarian’s head confirmed that whining was useless. After a heavy sigh and a heartless “Thank you”, Aaron took his pen and notebook (spiral bound this time) and sat down at one of the common tables. Opening the notebook to the first page, containing only the words “The History of Freedom City”, he didn’t even bother to uncap his pen. He’d already plumbed his Mind Palace for his previous work and came up empty; it’s funny how your mind can race with ideas on one topic, storing every minute detail about a farm girl’s meeting with an alien meteor, or a parking lot rave, or phantasmal skulls in bushes, or bad voodoo in your aura, or forging your first Spectral Staff, or any number of INTERESTING things while simultaneously copying notes from a history book. Notes that were on paper, so he didn’t bother to remember them.
An hour passed. Every few minutes, a new idea was scribbled on to the inside cover, then dismissed. Halfway through, other students began to move away from Aaron. He was probably talking to himself. Probably not in English either.
[on the inside cover]
Track down the books and take them – No.
Track down the books and offer to share – No, I didn’t do it, why would anyone else?
Get something from the city library – I bet someone already has.
Rewinding time NO!
Go deeper into the Mind Pala——-
Finally, inspiration. Aaron jumped to his feet, knocking over his chair (right in the funny bone, ow), drawing every eye (and a loud “shush!” from the librarian) as he shouted.
Pridefully, he gathered his notebook and made to leave. He’d thought so far outside the box, he’d crossed into someone else’s box. He mumbled, “And since it would be a willing exchange, none of the precautions really mattered, right? That elbow shot did hurt though, so take just a second, calm yourself, the pain is more in your head than your nerves, will it away.”
The door swung open somewhat slowly. Reggie looked confused and half asleep. “Dude, what time-”
Aaron cut him off.
“I need to get inside your head.”