The Blessed Isle, Arjuf, Six Months Ago...
"Dragons sweet mercy so lucky what a find what a find what a find!"
Crane was practically giddy as he burst through the library doors into the main study hall, still in his full traveling attire with satchel at his side and sword sheathed behind him. Slamming a thick-wrapped bundle down at one of the reading tables, the scholar remained eminently pleased with himself. The trip south had been a real winner, Crane thought as he unwrapped the bundle with painstaking care. The book was huge, bound and ornamented in orichalcum, with a spine that had to be moonsilver and etchings in starmetal and jade. The symbol of the Anethema, the Unclean by his records, adorned the cover, and each pristine page was written in Old Realm. Crane basked in the beauty of the tome only for a moment before unlatching it and starting to read. It wasn't until the cold steel touched his neck that Crane froze.
"L-look, whoever you are, the library's closed for the day. There's no money here, just a bunch of old books."
"I'm not sure. That one there looks valuable enough." The voice sounded familiar, Crane couldn't quite place it...but then, his options were clear. Crane grabbed the book, closing it and holding it protectively to him and whirling to his feet away from the blade-wielder.
"You're not touching this on-" Crane's sword was halfway out of its sheath before he recognized the young woman before him. "M-miss Arathea?"
Crane forced himself to laugh, some of the tension breaking. "Whew...you really had me going for a second there, scared me half to death. What're you doing here so late, I mean, I didn't think I merited so much attention."
Arathea remained tense, her expression alarmed. He'd remembered her name - again - and she wasn't using her Destiny. "You should've listened, you stupid little bookworm!" she hissed, regaining her composure.
"Miss Arathea, what are you going on about? C'mon, have a seat, you won't believe what I found down south..."
"Shut up!" Arathea snapped, shifting her stance to one more aggressive. "I told you to stop. You just had to keep sticking your nose where it never belonged, didn't you? Now, your curiosity is going to get you killed."
Crane put up a hand defensively, taking a cautious step back as confusion wracked his mind. "Wait, wait. You're not kidding."
"No, Crane, I'm not. That book is too dangerous, and you're far too curious to ignore just for being a mortal. I'm here to kill you."
"Wh- I don't- What are you talking about? This book isn't dangerous at all, I read it on the journey back here! It's a historic account of the First Age, the most complete reference I've ever seen! It's got everything, geography, political makeup, policies, laws, even design schematics, and it's..." the wheels turned in Crane's head. "It's all true, isn't it? And you don't want anyone knowing something about the truth in here, do you?"
"This is beyond your understanding, Crane."
"So tell me then!" Crane demanded. "Why does the idea of educating people on the truth scare you so damn much?"
Arathea sneered. "There are books that should be written, books that need to be read, and some books that should never be opened. You're holding one of the third, and it needs to be destroyed."
"So, that's your plan, huh?" Crane scowled back at the purple-haired girl. "You just kill me, burn the book, and let the world go on, ignorant as it ever was?"
"That's the idea, Crane."
"No, no." Crane's sword was in his free hand in a flash, the scholar holding a defensive posture. "That's just not gonna happen."
"Crane, you can't fight me."
"What, you think I don't have the skill? You think all this time avoiding certain death in the back-end of nowhere the little bookworm hasn't figured out how to handle a sword?"
"You're pushing what patience I have left, Crane. Hand over that book."
"Catch me." Crane snarled, the tip of his sword flicking out over the table, snagging an oil lamp and sending it flying at Arathea. As the magistrate yelped in surprise, Crane bolted out the doors, into the twilight, a peal of thunder ringing across the city.