“Rachael wait up!” Mark yelled through the back room. I didn’t slow down though. I walked down the stone, spiral staircase that lead to the library’s basement. I couldn’t afford to slow down.
“God damn it,” I heard him grumbling from the top of the stairs. “Rachael, what the hell are you planning on doing?”
“I plan on finding those books!” I yelled, not even turning my head to yell up the stairs. “And if I have to go through some fae to do so…”
I could hear him cursing the whole way down the stairs. I ignored him, moving into the stone hallway that lead away from the stairs. Brightly coloured and bejeweled doors lined the hallway beside me, but I was looking for the penultimate door in the row. At least, until we reached the common room at the end of the hall.
I passed the green door, covered in a leafy pattern and intertwined with mahogany vines. Different shades of green were interwoven into the door, forming an image that seemed different at every angle of the door. At one angle, it looked like a tree reaching up to the sky. At another, it looked like there was an entire forest in the mahogony vines. I took a few more steps and the vines seemed to melt away, forming an open field of yellow flowers. I looked away before I could see them transform into eyes.
The next door was as blue as the previous one was green. It rippled and shimmered between different shades and hues. Mother-of-pearl inlays formed peaks and waves over a door that seemed to be constantly in motion while staying perfectly still. But that wasn’t the door I wanted either.
The next door was mine. I didn’t even need to look to recognize it, but I did anyways. It was the colour of dark washed jeans, the shade of the night sky, the sort of unnatural hue that made you question if it was purple or blue. The shade seemed to seamlessly fade between the two colours, broken only by the onyx black symbols that were scrawled across it.
“Rachael, stop!” Mark yelled. I could hear the anger in his voice and I sighed, stopping outside of my door. He approached me like an incoming storm.
“For fuck’s sake, Rachael, we’re supposed to be a team here!” he raged, his footsteps ringing angrily down the hall past the red door. “This is not drama tv! This is not the goddamn ‘Rachael goes Jack Bauer on everyone’ show!”
He was walking past the yellow door now, the golden light playing over his stern face. I pointed at the indigo door. “I can fix this!”
“There is a process here, Rachael!” he yelled, stomping past the green door that stared at him with cat-like eyes. “A process that you’re very much ignoring. Before we go unleashing even more evils on the world…”
He was standing in front of me now, staring up at me in a way that made me feel small, despite my extra inches on him. “We talk to Kinder first,” he concluded.
I sighed. “I could figure this out in 3 questions, Mark.”
“We talk to Kinder first,” he repeated, hands on his hips.
“And you’re willing to admit we fucked up?” I asked.
He rolled his eyes. “Is that what you’re worried about here? Not the ‘tomes of unspeakable danger unleashed upon the modern world’? Admitting that we got caught with our pants around our feet is what scares you?”
“No,” I said sulkily.
“Out of the basement, Rachael,” he said, pointing towards the staircase. I sighed again, walking back towards the rainbow of doors.
“I hope you’re willing to be the one to explain everything to Kinder,” I grumbled.
“I will explain,” he said, following behind me. “And I will explain to the Falconers, if we need to.”
“And if that all fails?” I said bitterly.
“Then I will be be the first to advocate for plan Jack Bauer,” he said. “But we will do this everyone’s approval.”
“I don’t know why you all freak out over a tiny little summoning,” I muttered.
Mark sighed as I started climbing the stairs. “We’re here to contain evils, Rachael. Not unleash them.”
“I don’t unleash anything,” I retorted. “I use them!”
“Yes yes,” he said patronizingly, pushing me gently through the backroom and back out into the lobby where the other five librarians waited.
“Did you come up with anything?” I demanded of Karen and Kelcie as soon as I saw them.
Kelcie looked about ready to strangle me right there but Karen shook her head. “It’s an oak leaf, Rachael. I don’t know what you want me to tell you. Oak trees are sometimes considered sacred? They used to hold the birds that were the messengers to goddesses? That might explain the feather but it could really be anything. The Earth realm doesn’t have nearly as much symbolism as yours.”
“That might be useful,” I muttered, “Kelcie, anything?”
“I already told you, that’s useless for me,” she said between grit teeth, “With Fae it’s as likely to be a red herring as it is to be real symbol.”
I grunted, turning the information over in my head. Mark cleared his throat noisily, interrupting me.
“We’ve decided,” he said, giving me a dark look, “that it would be best to go to Kinder right now. Hopefully, he’ll have some insight on what to do next.”
Amber let out a gasp. I couldn’t help but let out a dark laugh at her reaction.
“Yeah, if you think I’m scary, wait until you meet Kinder.”