8: Books
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Luca stood in the empty space at the start of the maze of bookshelf, at a loss for where to start. Fortunately, their guide a rabbit beastman named George, seemed to expect the confusion and started explaining things.

Walking over to one of the shelves, the staff member pointed at a rectangular wooden board growing from the end of a bookcase, “Use this to search for the genre of book you want,” the rectangle had rounded corners with some flower buds and little leaves growing on the edges. When George touched the flat wood it suddenly shone with light and golden words twined across the surface.

Luca left his parents standing by the door and walked over. His nose twitched as the invasive smell of the rabbit beastman surrounded him. It’s actually holographic! Luca followed the explanation eyes sparkling with fascination. There was a list of different genres ,in apparent alphabetical order on the screen, however there were only ten words.  For a 42-letter alphabet that really doesn't seem like enough words. Eyes focusing on the last word that wasn’t much of a progression through the alphabet, Luca slowly lifted his hand. After a brief hesitation Luca gentle placed his finger on the glowing wooden screen, and without lifting his finger slid it upwards. His eyes widened with each new word that appeared. This is a smart-phone…plant, a smart-plant... Nope, just no, I’m not calling it that.

While Luca was crying internally as his world view fell on its side and rolled into a pit.  Outwardly he was scanning the different book genres. Internally burying the pit and putting up a grave marker. Luca decided to toss aside his confusion and focus on choosing his reward.

What am I supposed to choose? I mean I wanted to learn about this world but isn’t that too vague? I want to know everything, about the spirits and gods if they exist. I have to know about magic, obviously, I mean even if gods don’t exist that priest definitely used some kind of power. The church is also where they do the test, or was it tests? I want to know what my element is and if I have any powers, that would be cool. Then there’s that gender issue, there are probably books about that.  By this point, Luca nervously decided he’d got a little off track. The scent of the rabbit guide, grassy and damp, was distracting his anima. Luca much preferred the sunshine and spring scent of his dad, full of laughter and teasing, or even the soothing, smoky wood scent of his father.

Shaking his head Luca shoved down the memories that insisted on popping up, like rabbits sticking their heads out of the burrow to see if it was safe. Relatives awkwardly visiting cause they felt it was expected, friends who came and tried to act cheerful, his sisters mischievous smile as she read to him, strict no-nonsense nurses who had a morbid sense of humour Luca could appreciate. 

Luca shook of thoughts of his sisters mischievous smile as she read to him.  Luca decided to follow the age old saying, ignorance is bliss I…I mean there’s no point…learning that right now, my parents probably wouldn’t let a hatchling read about that anyway…yeah I mean, I’m still a child, too young to be reading that, bad for my education, happily running away from the problem, Luca’s thoughts continued to spiral into confusion.

There’s also the artisans I mean they seem to be scientists, or inventors or something like that. It seems to be some kind of merchant group, maybe, at least judging from those advertisements on the first floor, and I remember father mentioned something about a guild. Is that run by the government or is it separate…come to think of it, what country am I even in right now? Actually, I don’t even know what this town is called!

Luca didn’t even notice the blood as he gnawed his lip in distress. Tears were starting to spill over despite his best efforts to contain them, that pervasive damp grassy scent smothering him.

Suddenly Luca is enveloped by the scent of his parents as they wrapped him in a tight hug.

“Luca baby what’s wrong? Why are you crying,” Galen’s soothing voice washed over Luca as he gently wiped the tears from his cheeks.

With every shuddering breath, Luca takes in the comforting scent of his parents. Luca hiccups “I D-Don’t Kn-Know,” Luca calms down in his parents embrace Right why was I crying!? Luca burrows further into his parents warm hug. The white fur isn’t doing much to hide the blushing tips of his ears. Breathing in their scent deeply Luca thinking clears up as his anima calms down.

“AH, that’s right he smelled strange!” Luca suddenly turns and frowns at the rabbit beastman guide. Embarrassment making his tone a little sharper than normal.

The guide arches one eyebrow and lifts his nose “I’ll have you know I bath regularly,” he snaps back.

Red now dying his cheeks as well, Luca frantically waves his hands in denial “Sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. Your scent made me upset and confused for some reason. Than when my parents hugged their scent made me calm down. I really didn’t mean to imply anything else.” Galen and Donovan glanced at each other in realisation and Galen guiltily bit his lip.

Luca’s desperate apology mollified the beastman but this time he glared at Luca’s parents. “Haven’t you been socialising him properly? How can his anima still be so sensitive at his age?”

Galen hung his head but Donovan glared at the guide and growled “hatchling!”

Luca “…”

Guide “…”

Galen’s light chuckle was edged with guilt but light, fluffy clouds of relief overwhelmed it. “Luca only hatched a couple weeks ago,” Galen translated.

The rabbit beastman's ears stiffened in surprise as he stared at Luca in astonishment, “Than you should have stayed close to him, or even kept him at home for now. I kept my own kids at home for a month before…”

Worried his parents really might take this rabbits advice, Luca hastily decided to use the art of distraction. Clutching the end of his tail in his hands, Luca artfully drooped his ears. He also dropped his head, worried his expression might give him away. He was the perfect picture of dejection, framed and hung in a dreary bookstore. “I’m sorry, It was my fault. I begged my parents for books because I was bored at home.” Luca blinked rapidly, trying to squeeze out a tear.

All three of the adults felt like their hearts were being pricked with little needles. Luca’s sub-par acting combined with his superb doll like appearance had the adults rushing to comfort him.

Heh, grabbing this traitorous tail was a brilliant idea! Now to get my books! Inwardly cheering his success, and still clutching his tail, Luca looked up eyes brimming with hope

“If my parents come with me, I can still choose my books, right?!” His ears dancing in anticipation, Luca looked like a fluffy little angel in Donovan's eyes. How could any of the adults present not be defeated by such an adorable attack? Galen had on a knowing smile but he kept his thoughts to himself.

With his parents beside him, Luca’s anima calmed down, and he finally managed to clearly think about what he wanted.

I can get basic knowledge from my parents and other people; my late hatching is a perfect excuse for why I don’t know anything. Then the question is, what is essential knowledge that I can’t learn by asking the people around me?  Luca’s left hand rested on his hip as his right hands index finger tapped his chin in contemplation.

I can’t be sure how much my parents know about the world, and they might be biased on some topics any way.  Luca hadn’t forgotten his dad apparently worshipped at least one God. Maybe something on different countries and cultures or the world in general would be good. What I really need is information on whether gods exist or not, but somehow I think anything I find on that topic will be subjective at best…hmm.

Luca maintained his thinking pose as his eyes wandered over the room taking in the strange plant display listing the categories. Magic maybe? Yeah, if I can find an introductory book to magic that would be useful. I mean this world is filled with magic users like the priest, artisans, and the druids not to mention the magical monsters. Yep, absolutely, I mean even if I don’t know yet if I can use magic or not, it’s essential to prepare for every eventuality.’

Ignoring the thrill of excitement that ran through him at the thought of maybe using magic. Luca quickly clicked on the category pertaining to the anima attributes. Once he made his selection one of the flowers growing out the side of the display started to glow. Then another flower growing out of one of the bookshelves also started to glow. This continued until there was a plethora of softly glowing flowers shedding light onto a path. Winding into the maze of bookshelves.

“Just follow the lights to the end and you’ll be in the right section,” The rabbit beastman smiled and gestured for them to go into the forest of bookshelves.

Grabbing each of his parents by the hand Luca raced of following the lights. After a few twists and turns they reached the section of books pertaining to magic. Two shelves in particular were surrounded by the shimmering flowers.

Examining these shelves Luca was a little nonplussed. He paused when he realised the scope of books just relating to the attributes an anima could have. Crammed into the shelves there were large books with titles like, ‘Go with the Flow: All about the water attribute.’ Or some slightly smaller like ‘The Shadow Knows. Dark arts 101’ As well as some more down to earth titles such as, ‘Enhanced physical attributes: how not to break your bones.’

Maybe this wasn’t the best idea after all. I don’t even know what my attribute is.  A little depressed Luca scanned the books, while resuming his thinking pose, looking for a title that could be a basic overview of the types of attributes.

[What’cha looking for huh, tell me quick, quick!] A slight sound rustled past Luca’s ear.

“A decent overview on magic would be nice,” Luca unconsciously mumbled a response to the rustling whisper.

The very air seemed to pause in surprise,  [Hey, hey, hey you actually answered me didn’t’cha!? What fun, no one’s ever done that before! Say something else, hey, say something!]

Luca’s finger froze just in front of his chin, as he stared at the air in front of him. If he concentrated, he could just barely make out a fist sized distortion in the air. It was hard to notice as it just looked like a moving mirage, a fist sized heat distortion that flitted round like a dragonfly.

Luca glanced at his parents “Did you decided on something Luca?” Galen smiled at his son.

“No, not yet dad.” Luca turned back to the floating distortion.

[Hey, hey, don’t ignore me now, that’s rude!]

My parents don’t seem to have noticed it…what is it...I feel like dad might have mentioned spirits before, is it a spirit?  Luca mentally started sweating over this new problem. How do I talk to it without letting my parents notice?

[You can hear me! Yay, how fun, what do you want, tell me, tell me!] The little distortion flew around even faster in excitement.

[…! You can hear what I’m thinking!] Luca started to sweat.  I wonder if that means this whole-time, spirits have been listening to all my thoughts.

Trying to rein in his galloping thoughts Luca concentrated hard on one in particular and tried projecting it at the ball of gas. 

[what are you?]

[Don’t shout!]  The ball fluctuated, [What do you mean, I’m Books!  Tell me what you want quick, quick, I’ll help you find it.]

His eyes darting between the flower rimmed shelves on attributes and the heat wave like ball Luca made a snap decision.  [What’s the best book around hear that explains what spir…that explains about your type of people?]

The little ball of hot air hovered for a bit than flew across to the bookshelf opposite the one Luca was currently facing and hovered in front of a thick book. Luca walked over and tried to grab it, but even stretching his body as high as he could, he barely touched the books spine with the very tips of his fingers. Suddenly an armed loomed over Luca’s head and easily got the book off the shelf.

Donovan silently handed the book to Luca. “Thanks,” Donovan was temporarily blinded by his little angel’s sunshine smile.

Luca looked at the book in his hands. 'On Spirits and Gods,’ compared to some of the titles for the attributes, this one was much more mundane. Skimming through it, Luca realised it was exactly what he wanted.

[This is perfect, thanks Books. Could you also help me find a book that has maps of this world, as well as describing different places and cultures around the world?] Luca hopefully gazed at the little spirit while clutching his book.

[I can, I can, do you want a fun one or a stuffy one?]

Caught up in the excitement Luca spoke, “A fun one please!”

After all I don’t really like history, or geography. I just feel with how surprised everyone is at me being a new hatchling I might be a bit behind others my age, I need to catch up!

The little spirit took off. Too excited to consider things clearly Luca followed it. Galen and Donovan exchanged a concerned look and quickly followed without a word. 

 

I'm going to make a quick apology cause despite having finished it, I completely forgot to upload this yesterday. Sorry!  I would say it won't happen again but...well...I am kinda forgetful.

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