The shop clung to a scent that sang of ages past, of worlds and words hidden behind mold and mildew. A patina of dust lay on every available surface and long-unused webs gathered thickly in high corners and behind haphazardly stacks books. Edwin wrinkled his nose at the intricate map—done in oils with vibrant colors and care—that had been shoved against the wall and propped up with tacks so that it curled with dry depression, left to crumble.
“Done by the esteemed Marcius Hlarro,” boasted the keeper—a stooped man with eyes beady from an indoor life and hands twisted from a lack of stretching. He swept a hand across the map, crinkling the dry corners so bits flakes off and dust eddied into the air. “One of a kind. Shows the very soul of Awadar from almost six decades ago.”
Edwin kindly did not correct the man. Merely smiled thinly—not wanting a mouthful of dust—and nodded absently as he carried on through the stacks.
“Can I help you find something? A gift? A bit of historical research?”
“I’m looking for anything on the history of the Serene.”
“Oceanographer? Deep sea fishing stories? Tales of discovery? Of the first crossings?” The stooped bookkeeper moved fast among his stacks and shelves, rattling off questions
“Actually, more myth and legend was my interest.”
“Leviathan sightings? Aquaholes? Iceberg Towers?”
From between the shelves, the bookkeeper turned those squinted eyes toward Edwin. “Birds. Birds like the great rocs or the tiny swallows that morph? Birds that shift out of sight like the flamingos and rooks? Yes, birds.” Continue reading