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RAVENNA HURRIED AWAY from the bookshop, clutching the new spell-book to her chest

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RAVENNA HURRIED AWAY from the bookshop, clutching the new spell-book to her chest. The sunlight dwindled, its rays slowly swallowed by a cluster of angry storm clouds. Her nose curled as she observed the townsfolk scurrying through the streets in search of shelter. It wasn't long before droplets of rain began to spatter against the earth.

She pulled her hood up and glanced around in search of her own shelter. The tavern was not an option. Even if Vyses had disappeared from town completely, there was still a chance that the ghost girl would reappear. After the last visit, Ravenna didn't believe that the ghost was benign and she had no idea how her powers would fare against death. The bookstore was also off limits, now that the dragon had entered town. The last thing that she needed was to deal with his constant complaints.

A huff escaped her. Most of the vendors that usually lined the street had retreated, their carts emptied and pushed against the walls of the buildings that lined the streets. There were a few larger shops within those buildings, such as the apothecary. Those seemed opened and filled to the brim with people.

Ravenna ventured deeper into the streets, into areas that she rarely walked. Houses made of stones and wood replaced the shops. Wooden fences surrounded the houses, blocking off the farmland that encompassed them. As she neared the edge of town, the forest started to grow thicker, offering slight shelter against the rain. She found a particularly old tree and sat at its roots, her back against the weathered bark. The tree hunched over, stretching toward the small stream that sliced through the ground in front of it. Its leaves provided slight shelter against the rain.

Ravenna made herself comfortable and glanced upward. She took a deep breath and focused. Snow appeared at her feet, quickly solidifying into crystals of ice. The crystals grasped at the bark behind her and crawled upward. Once the ice encased the leaves, it stretched outward, growing together into a solid mass of icy leaves and branches. The rain pitter-pattered against the ice canopy, harder now, as the storm clouds released their anger. Not a single droplet of water leaked through.

She sighed and leaned back, sinking against the ice-covered bark behind her. For a moment, she just watched the world around her. The rain poured downward, violently assaulting the stream. A thousand ripples danced across its surface, making its lily pads bobble up and down. The trees around her seemed to stretch upward, toward the sky, and embrace the torrent of water. Streaks of light bolted across the sky, followed by the rumbling drums of thunder.

It was peaceful.

Her index finger traced the edges of the book. The bookkeeper's words replayed in her mind: Ancient books tend to have a mind of their own. She wondered what it meant.

Ravenna quickly pushed her thoughts away and attempted to open the book again. The cover didn't budge. A frown twisted across her facial features as she pulled harder, trying to force it open. The leather didn't even crack, the pages unruffled.

"What on earth?" she hissed under her breath. The rain pounded harder against her icy shelter, thunder roaring in the distance. Her eyebrows furrowed as she examined the book again. Instantly her eyes were drawn to the edge of the book, where a metal clasp tightly grasped the bounder leather.

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