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DAYLIGHT CRAWLED ACROSS the sky, causing little rays of light to peek through Ravenna's window

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DAYLIGHT CRAWLED ACROSS the sky, causing little rays of light to peek through Ravenna's window. Her jaw clenched tight. Her gaze intently focused on the scroll in front of her face. No matter how many times she studied the words and symbols, the content of the scroll did not register within her mind. She was too distracted.

A very small part of it was the alcohol. It had mostly vanished from her bloodstream, but there were still small after effects taking place within her system. The night prior had been the first time she'd been drunk since acquiring her magical abilities.

The prominent source of distraction, however, stemmed from her encounter with Vyses. It wasn't so much what he'd said to her –the words had vanished as the alcohol had. But what did stick with her throughout the night was the vision of dog-ears atop his head. The ears were there, and then they weren't. The mixture of those ears, colored moonlight white, paired with the red hue to his eyes brought forth a painfully familiar memory: the demon that had attacked her village.

It was that notion that her feel crazy though. She distinctly remembered the physical characteristics of the demon, as it had haunted her ever since that night. The demon that had attacked was shadowy, and dark in color. The only similarities it had with Vyses were their red eyes and the pointed shape to their ears. The coloration of the fur was entirely wrong and, not to mention, Vyses did appear human.

Though so had the dragon.

Ravenna huffed and rolled up the scroll. She glanced around. She needed to get out of this room, out of this tavern. It was nothing but a distraction.

She quickly gathered her things. Part of her wanted to leave and never return. The negative associations that she now carried toward Vyses seemed to constrict around her stomach as she walked down the stairs. Anxiety pooled at the base of her throat, making it hard to breathe.

As she entered the main part of the tavern, she immediately noticed that Vyses was nowhere to be found. Instead, the younger bartender, the one who'd scrambled around the night she'd arrived, stood behind the counter. The jittery awkwardness continued to plague him, evident in the slight tremors that jerked his hands as he poured drinks. His gaze timidly met hers and an anxious smile crossed his face.

Ravenna silently greeted him with a nod. With another glance around, she quickly crossed the room, pushing through the door. She stepped into the brightly lit outside world and squinted.

"Good morning!" someone nearby chirped. Startled, she glanced over, toward the origin of the sound. It was the pudgy little baker with rosy red cheeks. He smiled at her, waving cheerfully from behind his bread cart.

She hesitantly waved back. A smile sprouted across her lips, coupled with a feeling of warmth within her chest. With each step that she took, another person greeted her. It was somewhat strange, in an unexpectedly good way. The more "hellos" and "good mornings" she received, the larger her smile grew. Even in her hometown, she wasn't this welcomed.

Ravenna was beaming by the time she neared the bookshop. As she opened the door, she heard the old bookkeeper chime, "Well, good morning, Ravenna."

"Good morning," she chirped as she shut the door behind her.

The moment her gaze flickered toward the bookkeeper, her smile started to fade. A darkened figure stood behind him, identity hidden behind a shadowy cloak. Ravenna's guard immediately heightened. She glanced toward the bookkeeper, her eyebrows furrowed. "What's going on?"

The bookkeeper smiled wildly. He gestured toward the cloaked figure and said, "I'm so glad that you came by today. I wanted you to meet someone. This is my main source of magical scrolls."

Ravenna's eyes widened. "Oh," she said. She found herself smiling again. "It's nice to meet you."

The figure's hood shifted and a slender smirk became visible. Pale hands lifted and pushed the hood back entirely, revealing a very familiar face. Strands of dark hair pooled within the cloak's hood and spilled out, trailing downward toward the floor.

Ravenna stilled. "What are you doing here?" she sputtered.

The dragon watched her, an eyebrow arched. "You really are as dense as I remembered."

Her stomach twisted with knots. Scowling, Ravenna glared at him, her hands clenching into tight fists at her sides. A wispy cloud of ice curled around her knuckles. As she opened her mouth to speak, the bookkeeper intervened. "Now, now," he chided. He set a heavy book down onto his desk with a loud thunk. "Shall we act like civilized adults?"

"Of course," the dragon purred. He folded his arms across his chest, gaze piercing through Ravenna.

Her jaw clenched. "If this is a bad time," she started to say.

The bookkeeper dismissed her with a wave of a hand. "Nonsense. It's good that you came," he said. He tapped the leather bound book. "Come look at this."

She sighed and unclenched her fists. Easing forward, she was careful to maintain a good amount of distance between herself and the dragon. "What is it?" she asked as she approached the desk.

"You seem to be really struggling with this task," the dragon answered. "More than I originally expected. I've decided to ease your suffering."

Ravenna glared.

The bookkeeper smiled. He pushed the book toward Ravenna and said, "This is a very detailed spell book, and an old one, too. According to our friend here, it belonged to one of the original wizards of our world. He believes it holds the key to what you are searching for."

Suspicious, Ravenna lightly touched the book. Its leather was thick, damaged with time and age. Cracks spider webbed across it, skewing the intricately designed symbols that were engraved on its cover. On its very edge hung a small strip of leather, where a metal clasp would have been.

"Go on," the bookkeeper urged. "Open it."

She hesitantly opened the book. Its pages were aged, brown and withered around the edges. A dreary feeling pooled within her stomach and her eyebrows furrowed. "Are you certain that the spell is in here?"

"No," the dragon answered honestly. "Though if the spell exists at all, it would be in this book. Most of the spells that currently exist are actually variations of the spells within it."

Ravenna lightly touched the first page. The faded ink seemed to swirl to life and her discomfort faded. She glanced warily at the bookkeeper, and then at the dragon again. She really didn't want to stay confined within this shop, not with the dragon there to critique her every breath. "Do you mind if I take it with me?"

"Of course not," the bookkeeper said. "Just be very careful with it. Ancient books, especially when written by wizards, tend to have a mind of their own."

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