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PREFACE

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A pair of boots, complimented by the pitter-patter of bare feet, echoed through the empty, glimmering corridor. A chill settled upon a girl with brown hair and fair skin, raising hairs all the way to her wrist, where the chill was battered away by a single, naked flame. The flame flickered on the torch she held, eradicating every shadow that cast off the marble columns and towering archways surrounding them.

"Hurry! They're catching up!" she insisted, using her other hand to pull another girl along with her. This girl had golden blonde hair, in contrast to the other.

The brunette tried the first door— a white, wooden door with intricate, gold detailing. The door handle rattled in it's socket as the brunette tried to open it.

"Who is? What's going on?" the other girl asked, her voice laced with fear. She shivered in her lacey, white nightgown, and brushed her hair from her eyes. Unlike the brunette, she hadn't been expecting this— any of this— and had been safely tucked away in her quarters until the brunette had barged in to whisk her away.

The brunette turned to the blonde and looked her firmly in the eye.

"There isn't time to explain," she said darkly, and the severity of the brunette's words chilled the blonde to her very core.

The brunette tried the next door, which creaked open. She rushed inside, with the blonde in tow.

The brunette remembered the first time she'd ever set foot in this room. That had been a much happier time. Now, the library looked as dark and dreary as she felt— the books sat in their cases, watching the tragedy unfold before them.

The library itself was three levels high, and the bookshelves rose just as high. At night, it was a dark, forbidding maze, with secret rooms and passageways hidden everywhere.

Those passageways would be the key to their survival.

The brunette tugged hard on a particular book, sitting in a particular bookcase, and the shelves adjacent began to slide away, revealing a secret passageway.

"Do you trust me?" she asked, turning to the blonde, who frowned.

"Of course I do—"

"Well don't. Don't trust anybody. Just run."

The blonde remained frozen, trying to make sense of the situation. Then, her authority started to thaw through the ice that had encased her limbs, and a hard glare appeared in her face.

"I don't understand—"

"There is no time! You must go!"

The blonde hesitated. The last thing she wanted to do was run from the unknown, without a single reason why. Knots formed in the brunette's stomach at the thought of what would happen if the blonde didn't hurry up, and she cried,

"Go now!"

Finally caving, the blonde ducked into the secret passageway and ran. The brunette watched her retreating back, until voices echoed through the corridor outside, followed by heavy footsteps. The brunette's stomach twisted in fear, and she quickly yanked on the book once more. The bookshelf groaned as it began to slide back into place, trapping the blonde in the dark with a very final, loud, echo.

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