3rd of Zi'da, arc 716
Andaris City Library
Once more, just like a season ago, the young, ruined man was sitting at a desk completely alone, with books on different topics everywhere. There were large, small, old, new, dark brown and even black, and light yellow books, and they all had one thing in common. Just one thing, but an important one. They were all open, causing them to appear twice as big as they usually would've. Each of them on a different number of pages, on the number the boy in the black cloak found most useful. Every book on that table was useful to him, unlike last season, when most of the books he took off the shelves served no purpose.
He was leaning backwards, his one eye closed, and the hood he usually wore to cover his scars had fallen on his back. On his lap the last book he had to read through lay, just on the third page, with no special meaning. He was so exhausted, so deprived of sleep, that a comfortable chair was all he needed to get his rest. Luckily, he still wasn't kicked out, for the woman in charge of the library must have noticed how desperate he was for some peace and quiet, and what better place for that than a library? Ye Old Inn was constantly filled with people drinking downstairs, so even when Aeon agreed with himself to sleep, he couldn't. Their voices were always too loud, constantly echoing through his head, sometimes not even real.
The fact that she let him sleep never stopped Alana Aberdeen from taking a stroll just next to the boy's body, and peeking into the books she knew so well. She could tell the tiles just by looking at the pages, but the titles weren't the most interesting parts.
Known Immortals of Idalos was the book to the left, and it appeared as if it was the first one to be read. Oddly enough, the lady saw the book opened on a page not many paused on for long. On one side, he header wrote: "Immortal Vri, the Lord of Death" Below it, there was a careful description on all the known encounters with this Immortal, along with his presumed domains of Death, Love, Remembrance, and Sadness. However, unlike on most pages, there was no presumed appearance. It was as if no mortal could remember what the Lord of Death looked like, or none that could wished to share it with the world.
On the other side, however, was a whole different story, with the header saying: "Immortal Famula, the Mistress of Souls" How accurate that part was, nobody knew, since most mortals that were granted the privilege of meeting this Immortal weren't so keen on sharing details about her. They were all loyal to her, as the book said. But also unlike Vri, there was the appearance of a woman covered with a black veil over her face, only revealing small bits of pale skin. Someone had in fact decided to be brave and give the presumed appearance of Famula's. What Alana Aberdeen didn't know was the fact that Aeon had turned that page only for the Lord of Death, as death has been his interest ever since he moved away from the military.
The next book was entirely different than the one that came before it, in both content and appearance. While the book of Immortals wasn't as big as it was thick, that wasn't the case for the other book, which Alana could barely remember, as she almost never saw it leave the shelves. The Book of Faith, Immortals and Their Worshipers. The reason for this book being so unused was simple, Rynmerian people didn't choose to believe in the Immortals, they followed the Seven, and so books of Rynmerian religion were more commonly read.
This book was, however, containing the maps of known Idalos, as well as most regions of it, with detailed explanations of which Immortal was worshiped where, and briefly why. The page that stood beneath the lantern on the wall was one depicting the Western Continent, and what the woman didn't know was the fact that Aeon had only focused his eyes on the one city. Ne'haer. It followed many many Immortals, both "good" and "bad", according to the book, but according to the boy, all Immortals were bad. He had decided, once he left Andaris, his destination would be Death's Door. Something just urged him to go there, instead of any other city.
The final two books that rested on the table were of quite similar content, except one was far bigger, and older than the other. They were both about the nobles of Rynmere, and as far as Alana Aberdeen could remember, their names were The Collection of all Lords, Ladies, and forsaken nobles of Rynmere. and The Great Seven Houses and their valued members. The former was far bigger than the latter, in every sense of the word, and yet both of the books were opened on pages about the house of Krome, and its latest members. All the woman could presume was that the boy had a crush on a Krome noble, and he was researching her heritage, but by the Immortals was she wrong.
He had spent breaks searching those two books left and right, trying to find anything about a Malcolm, or about someone who might fit the warden's description. There was nothing of his marriage into the family, nothing of the Krome woman who married him, and nothing of any sighting of him in the past. Aeon would have to look into this more carefully later on, once he had the stamina to go through all the books on current and past nobles. And if that failed, he'd have to start asking around. No man of Malcolm's appearance is sixty seven arcs old, not without using some sort of magic. And if he looked to be thirty when he was apparently sixty seven, only the Immortals knew how old he could really be. Or how young. The warden lying about his age to make himself look older made no sense, so the former conclusion must have been the right one. There was magic involved, and wherever there was magic, there was pain, there was suffering, and there was most certainly death.
"What the..." The boy cried out with a rough voice, as he had swallowed a bunch of cold winter air, and it was now hard to speak. He couldn't be dealing with a common cold, not right now, never. The woman who was there just a trill ago, observing his books of choice, was gone, as if she simply teleported. The advantages of friendly terrain, he thought, as he realized he was still holding a book in his hand.
The Science of Psychology. The Art of Detection. Was what it said on the edges of the book, as well as on every other page. Currently, at page number three, where the boy had stopped, it was talking about the most basic, and common emotions, and how to spot those on people. Arousing emotions, pupils dilate, calming emotions, pupils contract. That was about it for what he remembered mumbling inaudibly before he fell asleep, and now that he was looking at the page, he could see there was much more. Apparently, fear, disgust and anger dilated the pupils much faster than arousal, interest or stress.
Now that he realized how little he was remembering, Aeon turned the book back to page one, the chapter of the Introduction to Facial Expressions. The writer, whoever he was, said how it would get easier, even reflexive, to look at a person and read their facial expression the more one practices, but when he actually read through the first chapter, the scarred boy had his doubts about it ever working. Surely people didn't follow such obvious patterns when lying, right?
He would need to get acquainted with the book more privately to actually read through, and understand it all, but for now, he got some tips he remembered, like watching for pupil dilation, eyebrow position, and shaking or nodding ones head. According to the book, a person with little skill in deception will often nod their head when they mean to say yes, even if they are, with words, saying no. Who would be so stupid? Aeon asked himself, as none of it made sense, but he made sure to remember it anyways, just in case. Surely, everybody knew that they shouldn't be nodding while saying no?
It was getting dark outside, and he knew without a doubt that he'd be asked to leave the library at any moment. The staff of the large institution didn't like people staying overnight, especially unverified, suspicious-looking people. Unfortunately there were not enough breaks in the trial for the young swordsman to read all he wanted to. Fortunately for him however, the library did allow for books to be taken out, as long as they were returned within the week. So, he had a week to read this book and understand its meaning, even if he didn't agree with the fact that people would give away secrets so easily with their faces.
Who knew, perhaps the book was right, and the only reason Aeon thought it so unbelievable was because before, he had no clue where to look. He always assumed people tried telling the truth as often as possible, but now that he knew that wasn't even close to reality, he needed insurance. He needed to be able to figure out who was lying to him, and who wasn't. There were very few people he could trust, and so that book and live experience were all he had. Hopefully they didn't disappoint.