Chapter 10

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Aquas was hovering about Jeffrey's dwelling entrance, wondering whether he should go in or not. He paused in a spot, fidgeting with his fingers as he bit his lip to induce concentration.

He was here for one thing, and that was to ask Jeffrey where he was from. He wasn't sure how he would respond to the question, but he wanted to get the question out of the way.

Aquas had wondered whether him liking the merman was solely because of his resemblance to the human he'd saved, or whether it was purely the way the merman had treated him so nicely during his short stay here.

As he continued contemplating about how he was going to approach Jeffrey in regards to the question, said merman swam out of the dwelling's entrance.

"How can I help you?" Jeffrey asked, smiling at the clearly startled merman in front of him. The young merman opened his mouth, but he closed it with a pout when words refused to come out. The display earned a small chuckle from Jeffrey, making Aquas pale considerably.

"Really now? Have you lost your voice?" Jeffrey teased, earning glare from the paled out merman.

"Forgive me, it seems I've forgotten what my mission here was," Aquas stuttered, earning a low laugh from Jeffrey.

"I would appreciate it if you would stop making a mockery of me," Aquas said, making Jeffrey tone down his laughter until he was stuck with only a painful grin on his face.

Jeffrey then swam closer to the merman, taking his face in one of his hands in a comforting manner. "I'd never make a jest of you — intentionally that is."

Aquas found the blood draining out of his face again. Why was Jeffrey so nice? He was making asking the question difficult. It had taken a while to achieve this closeness they had, and Aquas didn't want to fracture it with a simple question.

"Would you like to escort me to Athenaeum?" Jeffrey asked, making Aquas come out of his thoughts. He nodded, ignoring the voice in his head that told him he'd missed another opportunity to ask Jeffrey about his origins.

Jeffrey gave him a wide smile before swimming ahead of him and turning briefly to gesture for Aquas to follow.

As Jeffrey had come to know, the Athenaeum was the merpeople's version of a library. It has several wordings engraved on various soapstone tablets as well as scroll like materials done with animal skin and soft bone.

Jeffrey had found out he could read their writing when Yanus had pulled out a list of materials to show him once. He figured it had come with the ability of him to speak in their tongue.

He'd only discovered that a place like the Athenaeum existed when he'd been dragged there by Athlon, the gather leader to get some books on various hunting terms Jeffrey was frustrating him by not knowing.

Apparently, people assigned to work in the Athenaeum where highly quite and introverted. They went about their business like ghosts and Jeffrey would never have guessed of their existence if the pile of tablets he kept leaving about the place didn't keep disappearing into the slots carved into the cave's wall.

Jeffrey and Aquas made it to the Athenaeum soon after. Jeffrey soon left Aquas behind to swim about the place and retrieve scrolls and tablets from the slots they were neatly tucked away in.

Aquas sat quietly in one of the corners reserved for reading, while Jeffrey swam all the way up to the slots carved into the edge of the wall that held the ceiling. He hadn't seen anyone so excited about literature before. To be honest, everything here bored him and he'd had a hard time even concentrating on the lessons he'd been subjected to as a merchild.

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