Chapter Thirty One: Jasmine

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"Are you sure this is going to work?" Imogen asked me a few hours later, for what felt like the millionth time. We were standing as casually as we could by the entrance to the 'restricted section', or so it had been dubbed by the little gold sign attached to a velvet red rope. It looked more like the VIP section of a club than the cordon for private family rooms. "Shouldn't we have an actual plan in place, rather than just 'sneak in while no one's looking and hope for the best'? We do think that these people are trying to kill us after all!"

"Relax, Im, we'll be fine. There are important meetings going on all morning. No one's going to be around." Before she could protest any further, I ducked under the rope and was off down the corridor. Imogen had no choice but to follow reluctantly after me. The invasion picture which had fascinated me before was hung on the wall directly opposite us. I couldn't even remember what had attracted me to it in the first place, but there was no time to stop and examine it now.

The library I had seen was a few doors down on the left. As I had predicted, we made it inside without seeing or hearing anyone and we shut the door behind us for good measure. It wasn't until Imogen gasped that I turned to face the room and realised that the problem with our task wouldn't be being seen, but finding the correct book before it was too late to do anything.

The room was at least two floors high and as large as an Arcan temple. Each wall was covered in shelves which contained thousands of books in every size, colour and thickness imaginable. Here and there the books were broken up by windows, letting in enough natural light for reading. The floor space itself was taken up by comfy looking armchairs and sofas, positioned around tables loaded with even more piles of books. There was also a grand fireplace, which seemed to be a central feature in Helian rooms.

"Where in air do we start?" Imogen gasped, incredulous. My own eyes were open wide. I had only glimpsed a few books on my way past last time and had no idea of the magnitude of the library.

"Erm, I guess the books on the tables are the easiest to get at. Look for plausible titles - anything you can links to Protectors or using Control."

Imogen nodded and moved to a table on the left. I started with the one closest to me, frequently shooting nervous glances at the door. Although I kept an ear out for approaching footsteps, all stayed quiet.

'From Tenia to Tryne: the Geography of the Helian Realm'; 'Staying Dry while Fishing'; 'Desert Dishes: What to eat if you are stranded from civilisation'; 'Second-Sun-Bathing'.

No. None of those were right. I looked on the next table, but it was covered with books from the same history series I had in my bedroom and if they had been willing to leave volumes on show, it was unlikely that they contained anything top secret.

"Any luck?" I asked Imogen quietly as I moved on to the nearest shelf.

"No, nothing even remotely close," she replied quietly from the shelves next to me. "I found a section on cooking and another on Helian sports. Did you know that they-"

We both heard it at the same time: footsteps, a lot of them, coming in our direction.

"I want you to follow us. We're taking you somewhere safe. We just have a few small tests to run." The voice trickled into the room, smooth and thick like honey. It wasn't Roxy's voice, but a male one I didn't recognise.

"Ok, that's fine."

Imogen went to gasp and I had to throw my hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. We could not be found now.

"That's Lorelie!" she hissed at me and I nodded back nervously. It sounded as though the takeover from my dream had already started.

The footsteps grew louder and louder and Imogen looked at me in panic. It sounded as though they were going to walk straight into the library.

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