I’m actually quite ahead, but my slight perfectionism prevents me from posting the first draft. So here, I present my first and a half draft.
Well, it’s a fanfic, so this is about as far as it gets. Practicing the craft, you know? Excuses, you know?
Where would he be going at this hour? His parting words were odd, but that wasn’t abnormal, for all the scholars here possessed one or plenty of quirks. Authors abounded in this library, but Dr. Bani was known to be one of the finest. She saw him clearly in the dim moonlight, fervently running across the bridge to the open plateau beyond.
Freya waited until he reached the rarely traveled dirt path into the plateau, and she kicked off her balcony. She wasn’t one to spy, but this matter was troubling, especially at an hour where most of the scholars were contentedly snoozing.
She easily found two rocky outcrops to accompany her and she landed silently onto the stone bridge. And there was the owl in the distance. It was in the north, and as she landed at the entrance of the library, she saw Dr. Bani spy it as well. It seemed to beckon to him. A moment later, as it hovered in the air for a moment, she felt its gaze upon her before swooping away to the north.
That’s no ordinary owl, Freya thought. Dr. Bani, a small figure in the distance, deserted the path and began running through the low grass, following the owl. And why is he following that creature?
She waited until he was a distance away. His shuffled gait was easy to pursue and she would let him lead her to wherever he was going without too much effort on her part. But what could possibly be out in this open field where not even a single tree grew? The Library of Daguerreo sat atop a high plateau, tall cliffs with over a four hundred foot drop to the lower level forest of Sacrobless Island. She had a peculiar feeling that this unnatural occurrence somehow had something to do with his recently completing his book on Terra. Or was this something about how he had managed to find such odd information on Terra? She didn’t keep track of the coming and goings of the scholars here, but it was common knowledge that Dr. Bani was not one to travel.
Now that he was far enough away, almost halfway to the northern cliffs that faced the distant Forgotten Continent, Freya began sprinting across the bridge. He hadn’t veered from his path, and she had lost sight of the owl.
He reached the cliff’s edge in a few minutes. Should he turn around, Freya accepted that she would never be able to conceal herself, and she kept running and didn’t stop until she neared him.
He was still bent over presumably catching his breath, only a few steps from the cliff’s edge. I am rather out of shape myself, Freya mused. To think that I had ran across the world many times over with Zidane without getting winded. Well maybe a few times…
“Dr. Bani!” She came to a stop a few yards from him, huffing.
He jerked up when he heard her voice, his expression hard to read in the minimal moonlight.
“Dr. Bani,” she tried her best not to sound as tired and cramped as she truly felt. “What is happening?”
He had almost recovered his breath. “The future has changed, Miss Freya.”
She tilted her head. “The future is always unsure, I don’t understand.”
“This planet is doomed. This time, it cannot be remedied.”
“I don’t like the way you are speaking,” Freya took a couple steps toward him, trying to see his face beneath the cowl of unkempt hair. “Gaia is thriving, why would you say we are doomed?”
“’Soon, the blue shall fade, as it is even now. One shall come with the tale of hope and prosperity, and with it, deceit and treachery.’ It was said, and it is here.”
“’The blue shall fade?’” He could only be speaking of the Crystal… right? “That time has already passed,” Freya said slowly. She took another step closer to him. “The blue will not fade.”
“Yes, this has happened in the past, and it is happening again.”
Freya shook her head. “There is no Mist. Terra is gone.”
“You needn’t see it. But the protectors of this planet are returning. You do not have to fear, Miss Freya. Read the book, and have faith. The protectors are returning.”
Protectors? “Dr. Bani,” she started. But he turned his back to her and began walking. There were only a few steps to the cliff. Is he really…? “Dr. Bani!”
“Do not fear!” The scholar called out. And he took another step and dropped from view, the dark midnight sky replacing where he once stood.
“Dr. Bani!” Freya leapt forward to the cliff’s edge, falling on her stomach with her hand reaching out into the empty air. Her first glimpse made her squeeze her eyes shut and turn her head.
For a long moment, her mind was black. Empty. A welcome void, darkness erasing all her thoughts. Her head began to swirl, feeling pulses in her brain. Her hands clenched, nails digging into her palm.
She gasped for air, her eyes opening wide.
It all came rushing back. She couldn’t bear to look down. Retracting herself slowly from the cliff, she sat back on her haunches with her head bent down in anguish. The night was silent, the waves below barely audible, the breeze nonexistent. So it was easy to hear the oddity of a flap of wings from below the cliff. One flap, a pause, another push of air, silence.
Of course Drake was still up, colloquially speaking, flopped nearly sideways on the cool stone floor in the corner of the platform. He said he was there before Burmecia fell, and she believed him. Drunks were not a common sight in the dark wet alleyways of the Kingdom in its prime, most being shooed out if they didn’t mend themselves.
She sat down beside him, and luckily at this hour, no scholars were around to throw disapproving stares at her direction for affiliating with the local inebriate.
“Ah, Miss Freya,” Drake slurred, propping himself up on an elbow and squinting open a single eye.
“My apologies for bothering you, but I’m afraid I will be joining you tonight.”
“What, hm? I wasn’t sleeping. Here,” he reached behind him and pulled out a flask that was nearly full.
Freya received it with a nod and took a swig. She hardly felt the burn and took another swig.
“Well hey,” Drake sat up a little more and opened both eyes. “Haven’t seen you in a long time, and now here you are more miserable than ever.”
He had a habit of never completing his thoughts. Not many conversed with him, so maybe that was his way of keeping a conversation. She paused a moment, hoping he’d ask his question rather than making her assume, and after a moment of silence, she took another swig and set it down. “Something terrible has just happened.”
“What’s it this time?”
She didn’t have the strength to lift her gaze from the stone floor. “A scholar here has just… passed.”
“Ai,” he reached behind him and pulled out a bottle, lifted it to the air, then took a swig and set it down on the stone with a loud clunk. “Who may it be?”
“Terra ate him up too now, did it?”
“Excuse me?” She frowned and finally looked up at him. Drake may be drunk all hours of the day, every day of the year, but he had an uncanny knowledge about everyone here as well as knowing all its going ons.
Drake shook his head. “All this nonsense about Terra lately. See that’s the problem with you living in a box like this cave here.”
“You never move from this spot, unlike myself, yet I don’t know what you’re speaking of.”
The waterfall trickled noisily behind them. She watched him take another swig, then she took another one herself.
“Who else has been talking about Terra? Terra’s gone, it doesn’t exist anymore. I understand the academics and curiosity of it, but …”
“Dr. Bani stepped off a cliff not even an hour ago Drake. Please tell me what is going on.”
“Ai,” Drake shook his head fervently this time and took a long draft. He swiveled his head to look at her and Freya could swear he was looking behind her, not at her. “Terra talk is secret business, you know.”
“I know. Dr. Bani just wrote a codex about it, and there are things in there I’ve never even heard of. Where did he get that information?”
“I’ll be damned if he made it up,” Drake shrugged.
“Shame on you!”
“Indeed,” he nodded. “Question is, why’d he kill himself after writing it?”
She felt as if she hadn’t even had a conversation with him. So she took another swig. “Who else has talked about Terra here?”
“In this cave? You. And Dr. Bani. And some select few, but there is one… what’s his name… Doc… eh… Doc Fran… cis. Francis. Yup.” He nodded. “He knows a lot about a lot. He’s the one to talk to.”
She stared at him for a moment. How does he know these things?
“He’s still putzing around somewhere. He’s one of them night owls.”
Owls. “This may be a strange question, but have you seen any owls in here lately?”
“Eh… Hm. Nope, can’t say that I have.”
But one just flew by your sleeping head an hour ago. I don’t understand this man. She emptied her flask. “Thank you for your advice.”
“Do I tell them about Doc Bani tomorrow?”
“You know they won’t believe you,” she sighed.
“They won’t care if you tell them.”
She frowned. In a weird and sad way, he was right. “Just let it be.” She got up and nodded to him.
“In the upper library, Miss Freya.”
The liquor was strong, but strangely it had no effect. She focused on the third tier and jumped, landing atop the rail without a sound. She stepped off lightly and made for the entrance to the inner library.