“Are you sure about this?” Kara whispered, ducking down behind a shelf as another guard walked by. Etta looked over at her from her seat on the stone floor shivering a little in the harsh breeze.
Looking back on this she was going to laugh. Laugh and brush it off as another adventure Etta had dragged her head-first into.
“It’s fine,” Etta murmured watching the guard tap his fingers along a shelf as he passed by, before heading out of the room. Her friend jumped to her feet, knocking Kara back until she lost her balance completely. She scrambled back up again in time to grab Etta’s wrist as she went to conjure up some magic.
“Didn’t you see the signs?” she hissed, relaxing her grip when Etta winced. “Sorry.”
“Yeah, but…” she paused. “You think that means no magic?”
“I think we shouldn’t be in here.”
“Look, this was your idea,” Etta said, starting to scour the library’s shelves, running her fingers slowly over the spines of the books. She tracked a line through the dust as she did so. Kara grumbled as she trailed behind her, eyes darting around the darkness.
“Should’ve brought a torch,” she said. She could barely see Etta in front her, the odd spot of light pushing through the dirty windows.
“I am a torch.”
There was a spark, then a flash and Etta turned around and grinned at her. A small ball of light floated on the edge of her fingers and lit up her bronze skin. It reflected off Kara’s own paler skin and she had to shield her eyes from it when her friend waved it in front of her face.
“Etta!” she hissed again. “Careful.”
“All right, all right.”
Etta turned back around, flicking her hand up in the air throwing the light. It settled above their heads illuminating the space around them enough for Kara to at least see her friend. And the titles of the books on the shelves.
“Kara, these are all…cooking books, recipes.”
“Magical recipes,” Etta said, taking down a book and flipping through it.
“Yes, but not what we’re looking for.”
“I don’t know, I kinda want to know what aura brownies taste like.” She showed the page to Kara who scanned it quickly.
“Oh, yeah.” She grinned at Etta, who cradled it under her arm. “Though we really should be lessening our crimes not committing more,” she added.
“It’s just a recipe book. We can mail it back when we’re done.”
“And the other book.”
Kara was satisfied with that. This had been her idea after all, and she had broken the lock to let them in. Now that she was in there, however, she wasn’t feeling too happy about it all. Etta always seemed to fall into these things more easily than her. Always had ever since they were kids. Kara had some ideas but Etta always had the follow through.
Etta led then through the stacks and into a little room towards the end.
“Okay, this is more like it.”
She pushed into the room, dust rising up into the air and she coughed as she walked through it. It was lighter in there, the moon brighter through the windows. She doused her own ball of light and started to search through the books. Etta was worried that if she touched some of the books they would fall apart. When Kara reached past her to take one she was tempted to stop her. Her friend moved slowly though, inching the book out from between the others. She skimmed over the title and slotted it back into place before Etta could read it herself.
“Why are these locked up again?” Kara asked, pulling out another book, cracks deep in its cover.
“Because,” Etta said, with a huff, “there are books in here that can completely remove the aura from someone. Completely remove the magic. It’s dangerous stuff from the pre-magic revolution. Don’t know why they’ve kept them all this time though.”
“We’ve been preserving history for our entire existence,” Kara said. “Maybe for reasons like this,” she muttered but Etta heard and chuckled.
“What’s that one?” she said, the silver moonlight glinting on the golden edges of a book just above her. “Stopping The Magical Curse?”
“Sounds promising,” Kara said, “well, for us at least.”
“Some of these books are insane,” Etta said, stretching up to reach the golden book. She hooked her fingers over the edges of the spine and pulled, toppling back as the huge book came off the shelf. Kara wrapped her arms around her waist but both succumbed to gravity, falling to the floor. A puff of dust flew up and they started to cough.
“Oops,” Etta said, laughing, “you okay?” She sat up and gave Kara a hand to do the same.
“Yeah, fine, is that the book?”
“I think so, right title, same author.”
“Let’s check the index,” Kara urged, pulling the book towards them over the tiles. Etta lifted open the cover with a thud, running her finger over the information on the on the first page.
“This was only written like a hundred years ago.”
“It’s been sitting in this place for fifty years.”
“But I mean, in the grand scheme of things it’s hardly anything.”
“It was a weird time, the war, the after effect of that…” Kara drifted off with a shrug. “Let’s check to see if this is the book we need, cause I want to get out of here.”
“Me too, I think the dust is starting to get to me.”
“Did you take your antihistamines?”
“Yeah but this is much more than I can take Kar,” Etta said, sniffing. “Let’s just go.”
“What if it’s not in here?” Kara said.
“Then we’ll come back.”
Kara rolled her eyes at her, grumbling and Etta smiled.
“I don’t want to have a tail any longer than I need to.”
At that Etta smiled, looking behind her friend at the long dark tail sticking out from underneath her top. It had taken them a little while to get it under control before they could wrap it around Kara’s waist. Even now it swished back and forth over her hip.
“I said I was sorry.”
“I know, I know.”
She sighed and Etta frowned. They should’ve had someone come and reverse the spell, it would’ve been simple, quick. Easy.
Kara didn’t want anyone to know though; didn’t want anyone to see.
Didn’t want to get Etta in trouble for trying to teach a non-mage a spell.
There were stupid rules that Etta didn’t care for, and neither did Kara. She knew but her friend loved her too much to see her magic taken away from her for something as stupid as trying to dye her hair. Though how that had ended with a tail Etta didn’t know. She was as shocked as Kara when it started to grow out of her body, appearing under the skirt she had been wearing at the time.
“Oh look here – neutralising individual spells,” she said, tapping the chapter list a couple of pages in.
“This really is something that should be in normal books in normal libraries.”
“Duh. The regular kind of reversal spell is” she said, snapping the book shut. “But only older mages can do it. Takes a lot of aura, and I don’t have it. I may never have it.”
“Let’s go, let’s just get home and fix this,” she said, tugging the black tail and tucking it back into her jeans. “I can’t imagine going to work on Monday with this tucked into my uniform trousers.”
They made their way out of the room, Etta lighting their way with the same ball of light spell as before. She flicked it up into the air quickly so she could hold the thick book with both hands once more. They didn’t see the guard on the way back through the old library. Moving quickly through the dust and darkness they made their way back out into the barren courtyard.
“Okay, where did we park the car?” Etta said, looking around. Kara frowned and started walking away from her.
“Move Etts! I want to get rid of this thing!” she called back. Etta chuckled and jogged to catch up with her.
“I don’t know Kara, I think it suits you.”