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After learning that creatures from the deepest and darkest corners of the human mind were real, Clara knew there were still many secrets left to discover. For now these secrets and discoveries would have to wait since lectures and her studies were a priority. Sure, it might have been disappointing to control her natural curiosity, but she knew it would beneficial in the end.
Courses were taught in classes found all over the Tower, from the deepest bowels of the dungeon for combat training to its highest reaches for poetry. Clara’s course load seemed tailored in a such a way to make the lectures on time.
On Thursday’s she would sneak through a library past the watchful eye of Father Allen, the chief archivist to shave twenty minutes on her travel and attend an improvised weapons course. Sometimes Clara managed to arrive early enough to feed her curiosity and get some answers since the risk was often well worth the risks she took.
Every Wednesday, Clara would leave five minutes early from bible studies to grab an early bite to eat. She would greedily consume everything that was on her plate so she would have the time to make it to her hand-to-hand combat classes.
Clara observed other initiates who had reached the same point in their training. Some were cool and collected as though the chaos had been woven into the fabric of their souls; while others were the cusp of a complete breakdown.
While never formally acknowledged, every aspect of their training had been designed to test the students. The ability for a student to realise this fact and adapt was a key factor on how students survived. Those who sought perfection and needed to control their situation saw their grip on reality loosen little by little every day. It was obvious they wanted people to overcome these situations or fail spectacularly.
There was one factor which remained constant throughout, the Tower held a proverbial cornucopia secrets. There were skeletons in every closet and people rarely gave you a straight answer; there were even omissions in their archives.
For a young Girl who liked to cause a bit of mischief, finding these omissions became a passion of hers. She would fly through rows upon rows of books looking for something that appeared peculiar or out of place.
Clara vividly recalled the conversation she once had with Father Allen about a particular omission. It had been one of the first times she had found an omission although it would not be the last.
“What do you mean child,” Father Allen asked.
“Some pages are missing from this book,” Clara said. She then added, “Father,” belatedly as a form of respect.
“That can’t be right Child,” Father Allen said.
Father Allen had torn the book from her hands to get a better look. There was something about his dramatic behaviour which made her suspicious.
“Which page Child,” Father Allen asked.
Clara took back the book then placed it neatly on a table surface. That way both of them got a clear view of the pages, Clara then thumbed through it quickly until she found the offending pages.
“I would say five pages or so are missing Father,” Clara said.
Father Allen looked at top of the book nearer to the spine; there were no voids to show that pages had been cut away. Fortunately, Clara knew full well that these books were often rebound.
“There are no voids visible child,” Father Allen said.
“No but the animation is off Father,” Clara said.
“Animation,” Father Allen asked.
Clara had come across many medieval texts before. These were often hand written works of art, normally created using the precise hand of a scribe. However, some must have found the task monotonous, since she occasionally came across these little doodles or illustrations hidden throughout.
Some of these doodles were depictions of killer rabbits locked in mortal combat against a noble knight. Some included elaborate battles which invariably involved a man taking an arrow to the rear end. Others included scenes where men fought their way through trees shaped like penises.
In this particular book the scribes work had been more elaborate. At first, it looked harmless enough since every page featured the same design. That is until someone read far enough to realise just how these subtle changes over time could lead to something unique.
This particular doodle featured an owl who ruffled its feathers before taking flight. While it soared, the owl would spot a mouse, grab it, find a perch and feast on its flesh. Flicking through the pages quickly enough showed the animation transitioning in such a way that these doodles appeared to move.
Clara flipped through the pages from the beginning. All the while she pointed to the doodle which was busy ruffling its feathers.
“See that owl Father,” Clara asked. “Watch as it takes flight,” she added while flipping through the pages.
Sure enough the bird spread its wings and soared through the pages. But there was a visible jitter, one which did not exist before or after the animation.
“A jitter,” Father Allen asked.
Clara smiled warmly before she said, “Yes Father.”
“Surely you have more evidence to bring forward than a faulty drawing Child,” Father Allen said.
Clara had expected her evidence of tampering to be taken seriously. It took an eye for detail to catch such a tiny flaw surrounded in a sea of information.
“The book is a collection of songs and prayers Father,” Clara said. “The page before speaks of a protective prayer that can ward off evil spirits. The page that follows is a morning chant instead,” she added.
“You can read Latin,” Father Allen asked.
“Of course,” Clara said. “Such knowledge is expected for all students is it not Father,” she added.
By that time Father Allen had been called away by one of the staff. She did not see him again for a month and in that time the book had mysteriously gone missing.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” Clara thought.
Clara assumed that the spell had been deemed dangerous or sacrilegious. If true, then why leave a reference to the text? Unless something more grievous had been omitted in between?
From that point on Clara used every opportunity to delve further into the archives. Father Allen was a popular target with these matters since she enjoyed his attempts at evading her. Silently, she wondered if the feeling had been mutual, since not all of the staff were social butterflies.
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