Chapter 9

You try reasoning with yourself, but after a few moments you give up. Now that it is on your mind, it is obvious that sleep will not come until you cover up your transgression.

You slip out of bed and shudder. Whether this is a result of the cold surface beneath your feet or the thrashing that you will receive if you are caught, you cannot be certain. Crouching down next to your bed you retrieve the chest containing your few possessions and fish out your sword belt. After fastening it belt around your waist, you slide your sheathed sword through the attached loop.

Years of training have asserted themselves without conscious effort on your part. You never travel anywhere – even to the privy – without a weapon.

Taking the tome from the desk and gently closing it, you tuck it down the front of your shirt, hissing slightly as the cool leather cover comes into contact with your skin. Before setting out, you decide to employ some of your knowledge of the Old Arts to aid you on your mission.

You close your eyes and search deep within yourself for the core of your being, a connection to an energy source far greater than yourself. After a few moments, you feel the power rising within you. Years of practice enable you to coax it to life and bend it to your will. Two minutes later, you open your eyes and look down at yourself.

Your outline seems to waver and blend in with the stone floor beneath you. Experimentally, you raise a leg and then stamp your foot on the floor. Instead of a loud slap, there is a sound like a sharp breath of air.

Excellent! Your Shrouding Spell has worked!

Easing the door to your room open, you slip out into the corridor and then shut the door firmly behind you. As any Minorus learns within their first week, the Master is particularly irked by anything halfway completed – and this includes leaving doors ajar!

Tiptoeing along the corridor you make your way towards the library, pausing at every intersection to listen carefully for any approaching footsteps. A few minutes later, your cautious approach pays off as you hear a patrolling guard approaching!

But there is nowhere to hide in the empty corridor! You have just enough time to flatten yourself against the wall and pray that your shrouding spell will keep you concealed! You can’t help but screw your eyes shut in fear as the guard approaches. Surely they would be able to hear your heart hammering away inside your chest!

A few tense moments pass and you hear the guard’s footsteps receding down the corridor. It worked! The guard passed a mere foot from you and didn’t even notice! Grinning from ear-to-ear as your heart resumes a more reasonable pace, you make your way to the library without further incident.

As you approach, you notice that the door to the library is ajar. You stand in the corridor outside, stunned by confusion. Who would dare? The library of all rooms?

A thought suddenly strikes you – someone might be inside!

This was bad!

But then again… there was no light spilling through from the open doorway. Perhaps the hapless person had left and simply forgotten to close the door properly – or they might have fallen asleep reading…

If anyone caught you with the tome, you would definitely suffer for it! Perhaps it would be a better idea to creep back to your room and try again in the morning. But there was no guarantee that you would be able to get to the library undetected in the morning with many more people awake and moving about.

It is too late to not take the book in the first place, so…

What do you do?

> Sneak cautiously into the library. [ Chapter 4 ]

> Return to my room and try again in the morning. [ Chapter 11 ]