A couple hours later, they headed back to the library. The twins desperately needed to study, and having nothing better to do, Luke joined them.
He envied all the spells they had learned and was a bit dismayed that he was so far behind.
“Oh don’t worry,” said Gwen, looking up from one her books spread out over the large wooden table. “I’m sure you’ll pick it up quickly. Besides, we’re here to help, remember?”
Soon, their table was packed with other students frantically reviewing spells and dates and things called brews that keepers created in basins and mostly asking Wood if they could see his notes. Ko wiped at his forehead and leaned back in his chair, exhausted.
“Man, Professor Cashal’s given us a killer. How can he expect us to know about banshees, bocans, and bunyips?”
“Wait that was an and?” Wes, Ko’s best friend, ran his finger across the review page.
“What else would it have been?” asked Wood.
He let out a deep sigh. “I thought it said or. Like pick one.”
“Anyway,” Ko continued over Wood’s laughter, “I doubt I’ll even get to the brewing part of the test, not with his essay question on the basic politic theories of Vilfredo Pareto and how they apply today.” There was a murmur of agreement.
Unable to help, Luke took off to explore the towering aisles of books. Maybe he could find something here about the festivals. The more he heard them talking about the magic they knew, the more he wanted to learn. He was determined to catch up. More importantly, he was determined to win and get that summoning tool.
He wandered into the sports and recreations section, but as he was scanning the aisle for festival tips, about a dozen books slipped off the shelf, practically knocking him to the ground. Then, all of a sudden, a book came hurtling into his stomach.
“Page two hundred and ten,” said a voice. It was Gravis. And with that, he turned on his heel and disappeared.
“Hey!” yelled Luke, but it was too late. His voice was swallowed up by the thick aisles.
He stared at the book. There was no title, only a symbol of a club, like that on a deck of cards. Dark red spots were scattered across the cover. And a big gash at the bottom of the book looked like something had taken a huge rip out of the pages. Goosebumps ran up his arms.
Half of him wanted to chuck the book back down the aisle; but the other half wouldn’t let him. He made sure Gravis was entirely gone before flipping it open.
It was filled with pages of keepers, each with a picture and a small paragraph or two beside the name. It looked like an encyclopedia of some sort. Igor Alyssus had fiery red eyes and a chunk out of his nose. He was convicted of killing five keepers back in 1756 after he was caught creating illegal brews in an underground tunnel below the M.I..
Luke’s eyes scanned the next page. Each paragraph was like that. Was this some sort of criminal record book? He kept turning. Theodore Roathing shot an illegal curse at the President in 1802, while Arora Blancheta tried poisoning the lake during the Festival of Magic. He then saw a picture that made his heart almost stop beating. The man had piercingly clear blue eyes and dark brown hair. He looked so familiar, like the picture atop the bookstore’s mantel. And that’s when he saw it. Below the picture, the caption read: Sean Cedrus. Luke’s eyes darted to the paragraph and raced through it until the end.
He didn’t want to believe it. He looked again at the paragraph. But there it was.
Sean Cedrus: convicted of murdering the M.I. President, Ryan Mortifer. Scheduled Painting: January 17,1991; however, unnecessary due to death. 1953 – 2004.
Slowly, he shut the book. He felt short of breath. Murder? His dad? And what was a painting date? He had seen other keepers with this description beneath their name, but nowhere in the book did it explain what it meant.
But Cashal had said his dad had been framed. Framed for murder? But according to this book, his dad had actually done the deed. No wonder everyone stared at him when they found out his name. He was the son of a convicted murder. No. He was the son of a framed convicted murder.
He felt lost in his own thinking when Tiffany appeared.
“Where’d you find that?”
“That book. Where’d you find that book?”
“It’s mine,” he lied.
“Is that one of those criminal books? Oh, I’ve heard about those. They’re all supposed to be at the M.I., aren’t they?” she asked, her eyes widening.
Luke had no idea what she was talking about. “Doubt it,” he said, “You must be thinking of another one.” As soon as he could, he slipped around Tiffany and hurried down the aisle, the book clutched in his hands.
“No running!” she whispered loudly behind him.
Luke found an empty table and flipped the book open again. If Tiffany was telling the truth, then how did this book get here? Gravis couldn’t possibly have found it. It made him slightly nervous. He scanned another page. This time a new name stuck out to him and for a few seconds he didn’t know why it sounded familiar. Then it hit him. Matthias Mortifer. It was the same last name as Romulus and, he flipped back several pages, Ryan Mortifer, who his dad was thought to have killed. Fine, he thought bitterly. The less Mortifer’s the better.
…Matthias Mortifer organized one of the most daring museum raids in keeper history, having stolen up to ten paintings of keepers and creatures without getting caught. He also called the Corannyeids out from the river and began using them as night stalkers.
Finally, however, Matthias’ reign ended, and in 1802, he was caught. Those who had been kidnapped were released, while almost all his followers disappeared.
He had a much longer paragraph than many, including an extensive crime list, and the retelling of his attempt at brewing something called Quicksilver.
Luke rejoined the group.
“Find anything for the festival?” asked Wood who had five books spread open and a stack of notes in front of him. He looked tired.
Gwen frowned. “What happened to your arm?”
“Huh?” Luke looked where she was pointing and realized his elbow was bleeding. He hated Gravis. “Nothing, must have been an old scab…”
Luke desperately wanted to show the twins what he had found but not around Ko, Wes, and Tiffany. He was just about to flip through one of Wood’s spell books when a tall, thin man appeared at his side. He wore large horn-rimmed glasses and had slicked back hair that reminded Luke of a weasel.
Luke looked up. “Me?”
“Yes you. May I see that book, please?”
“What book?” he asked innocently, sliding closer to the desk.
“The book Miss Tiffany informed me of. I’d like to have a look at it please, seeing how it’s very important and very adult for a child your age.”
Luke could feel his ears turning red. Was he kidding? But he stood there with his hand out and a pursed look on his face that told Luke he wasn’t going anywhere until the book was in his hand. Just then Tiffany bounded up.
“That’s the one, Mr. Chadwick,” said Tiffany, pointing.
Once the man left and Luke was empty handed, he rounded on Tiffany. “What was that for? I found that book here,” he said trying to keep his voice from rising.
“I thought you said it was yours. Anyway, it shouldn’t have been here. Luckily, Mr. Chadwick can take it back to the M.I.. It was dangerous!” She sat tall in her seat, obviously pleased with herself.
“What are you talking about?” Gwen looked from Tiffany to Luke and back again. So did the rest of his classmates. Tiffany made to open her mouth, but Luke glared at her, and with a toss of her braids, she picked up her books and left.
“Nothing, forget it. It’s no big deal.”
The rest of the table finally went back to studying, but Luke couldn’t think about anything for the rest of the afternoon except for that book. What was so dangerous about a bunch of keepers anyway? And how had Gravis stumbled upon it if it was so dangerous? Whatever the answer was, he had to get that book back.