The hushed voices weren’t enough to soften the sting of his public blunder. And, despite being busy with his search, the whispering wasn’t easy to ignore either. He had one job – catalog the dead – and in the eight hundred years since he was appointed, he had never made such an error. A first-time mistake normally would have been explained away, maybe even forgiven, but one didn’t simply lose a detailed volume of death without punishment.
Fahriel slid his long, slender fingers between the third and fifth volume, willing the missing tome to return to its spot. The cold marble mocked him more than the idle gossip. He did this. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t physically him who carried it away. Nor did it matter that he would never knowingly jeopardize everything he stood for. The only thing his brothers and sisters were concerned with was his incompetence.
As he pulled his fingers back, a repressed sigh at his lips, he wondered what more he could do? All the volumes were accounted for. All were in their rightful place – he had checked – all except the one.
I shall check again.
As he walked along, looking over the delicate gold lettering of each spine, he worked through what he knew. There were few with access to the tomes, fewer still that had access to these particular volumes. Of those that did, none of them would have mishandled it in such a way.
In all the time that he had been cataloging, no one had ever stolen a tome. They were too important, too precious, to risk it. And although he agreed with the others, that it was his ineptitude that lost it, there was a sinking feeling that kept one inevitable possibility at the forefront of his mind – no one had ever stolen a tome, yes, but perhaps it wasn’t necessary to do so till now. But then what, he wondered. What could anyone want with deaths that predated the savior and the first great cleansing of the world?
The only deaths that mattered in any form after everything was considered and stripped away would be the mortal death of sin.
Fahriel stopped in his tracks, his fingers gripping the key that hung low against his chest. The sins were mere mortals in the beginning. As innocent and pure as any child. But as those children grew, so did the seeds of evil that ultimately consumed them. The secrets of those earlier trials were in another section of the vast library that was also under strict security. Very few knew what it took to rid the earth of those creatures. He was one of the few privy to such information and for once he wished he wasn’t.
Turning on his heel, he rushed to find the prophets. If he was right, the missing volume was part of a bigger prophecy he had hoped would never come to pass, one involving a child yet to born and already tasked with the duty of sealing the sins away yet again.
A special thanks to the amazing M.J. for helping me push through my block on this one. Without you, this would still be sitting in a Word document unfinished and willingly forgotten. You’re the ink to my quill.