Penelope waited for a the sound of footsteps to walk past her hiding place and carefully peeked her head around the corner. She knew, from the tips of her ears to her toes that she shouldn’t be where she was now. She should be with her mother. Yet here she was, hiding from prying eyes, books scattered before her, ducking and diving beneath old oak desks and hardwood tables that lined the ancient archives, stealing every moment she could before discovery.
With one hand in her bag and another furiously scribbling notes in a small fawn leather brown notebook she searched, unlooking, for a letter she received earlier in the week. She dropped to the floor hastily as the footsteps walked past her hiding spot for a third time. “I’ll be in town around a week after you get this. I hope you have that information I asked for,” the note said, among other things. So now, having been caught up with other business she struggled and searched trying to find a tiny bit of knowledge.
A hand grasped her shoulder suddenly causing her to muffle a squeak and sigh. There was only one person that could sneak up on her that easily and she knew it meant she was caught.
“Hello Alaion, you found me.”
He shook his head sadly and waved a hand at the dozens of books spread beneath tables and on chairs in the Imshandor archives.
“There have been at least 5 servants in here looking for me. I need to find this stuff for Tashi, for her visit next week. I haven’t seen her in over a year and I might maybe have forgotten that I was supposed to be researching some relic she’d been hired to find so I really need the time to find it.”
The mask covering his face erased any expression, but they had been siblings for long enough that she didn't need to see face to know what it looked like when he thought she was being idiotic.
“Don’t give me that. I can do a year’s worth of research in a few days. I’ve lived in these stacks since before I could toddle. Just buy me a little more time. Please?”
Throwing his hands up in mock defeat, he mussed her hair. A voice echoed in the back of her head. Her brother’s voice, or something trying to be her brother’s voice.
“And what should I tell them while they await your arrival? This dinner is to introduce you to suitors after all.”
Rolling her eyes, and standing on tiptoes to boop his nose she snorted, “Something clever as always. They aren’t here to see me anyway. You’re the interesting one. Get me 2 hours.”
He holds up one finger and walks away, waving away a servant, with a flowing deep red dress away from the newly found sun elf.
No longer sneaking, she went to her corner of the library; the place she and Tashi would listen to Yoshi, a famous bard, wonderful cookie maker, and Tashi’s mother tell them stories. She passed the research rooms where her mother and father fell in love when she was a child. She ran through the aisles, grabbing books and scrolls from their places having followed Alaion around these same paths as he made up mad stories of adventures while their parents worked. They fought a dragon near the biographies, the ethnographies held a lich, hordes of undead blocked the way between the treatise on animals and the herbalism scrolls.
Life hadn’t stayed so simple of course. Buried with her books around her, Penelope made hasty notes as she thought about how much had changed since those days. Her mother had begun to teach her magic, as Tashi’s mother taught her to sing. So, the girls shared their skills, until Tashi was caught borrowing something from someone’s house with a spell that Penelope had taught her.
Alaion no longer had time to entertain his new step-sister, his younger and annoying step-sister. Him and his friends would go searching the woods looking for real monsters to fight, much to both of their parents dismay. Eventually, she left to a wizard college in Pol’Maris and he and his friends set out to seek glory.
It would be 5 years before she, anyone, would hear from him again.
She had gone out with a small group to deal with some underdark creatures that had been plaguing a small village near the outskirts of Imshi’andor. Instead she found her brother, an emaciated, mad, bruise of shambling bones, huddled in a small alcove in a side cavern of the cave. She left the group immediately, tossing gold at them to cover hiring another caster and used magic far above her ability to get the home instantly. It nearly killed them both.
That had been two years ago and Alaion was only just beginning see visitors and handle public appearances. He still screamed in the night. After talking it over with her mother and father they had agreed to try and send him to Stormkeep for treatment. Tashi knew the route and could escort them. (“Silvanus help them” her father muttered)She had travelled with her mother between the major cities of Zendel for years, since they left the enclave.
Penelope copied down a few more notes, grinning as she found the passage she was looking for. Something about a double moon eclipse and the fairy tale of The Twins of the Moons. She laughed quietly to herself, trying to figure out why Tashi would need something so obscure. She heard a quiet chime go off to her left.
She leapt out of her chair and darted towards the door, tripping over her feet and somersaulting over the table accidently, bruising her hip on a corner.
She was late. Again.