Taliana tethered the threads as best she could, warding the doors and hoping that they succeeded in finding their friends and fighting the Shade. After she felt things were secure, she returned to her own hunt, following the thread with a deep determination.
She followed the thread until she came to a point that stopped her in her tracks. Closing her eyes, as though to clear the air of any falsehoods, she looked again — just to be certain. There it was, clear and certain, the green thread stretched out to this door, she was not imagining it. A door that technically was outside of the web she had where guests were supposed to be unable to go. But there the man was, inside the family library.
This time, for the first time all evening, she opened the door knowing what would be on the other side. Her favorite place in the entire house, a much-loved hideaway for her entire family, the library stretched over multiple levels, with spiral staircases leading to higher shelves. There were window seats and comfortable chairs tucked away into nooks and crannies among the shelves.
Tens of thousands of books called that space their home, written in various languages, collected through the generations and across the worlds. Taliana had long ago learned that time moved uniquely here, spaces condensed and shifted. Some of the books on the shelves had not yet been written in their own worlds — and some were merely the aspirations and dreams of their author, which may never find their way to the pages for which they were intended. She remembered as a child reading a story that she had loved, only to go back some weeks later and find that book contained a different story.
“The author changed their mind,” her mother explained patiently, consoling the teary eyed child, “the story you read filled their mind, and our book, but they decided against it and it faded from existence. But think, think about how special it was that you found such a story, in just the moment it moved through their mind.”
Taliana looked around the familiar room, spotting the man almost instantly, without even having to consult the threads. He was moving slowly, looking at the shelves, clearly searching. She watched as he came to a particular shelf — the one her father most often visited — and his search slowed.
So that was what he was after.
“I can’t let you do that,” She did not raise her voice but it carried easily, stopping the man in his search. He turned and for the first time that evening she could see him clearly.
He was handsome, quite handsome and Taliana frowned. Why did villains have to be handsome? It was distracting. And he was quite certainly a villain — she did not question that.
He flashed a smile at her, charming, as though hoping to calm her. More than hoping, she keenly felt a charm working its way through the air. He was trying to use magic on her, no question about it. But by now Taliana was simply weary. Dre’gons, shades, zombies, thoroughly twisted threads and messes at every turn. She had always though the Masque a grand time, but with an evening like this… she wanted to simply sleep for the next months. She didn’t have time for charms.
“You will leave. Leave this library, leave this party, and never return,” she offered simply, evenly, stepping closer to the man, “you will leave alone, taking nothing with you. Is that understood?”
“Ah, but I cannot.” He continued to smile, his hand moving over the bookcase until it came to the one he was looking for. Without looking he seemed to know which book it was, his hand resting on the top of it automatically, reaching to remove it from the shelf. “You will let me leave here, certainly, but I take this with me.”
“We cannot let you do that.” Taliana gave a sigh, “really, was it too much to ask for a simple party this year?” Shaking her head she held her hands out in front of her, preparing. Managing the threads was a skill she learned from her mother, the focus of the evening, but she had learned from her father as well.
The mans smile was cocky as he moved from the shelves, book in hand. He did not speak, but his expression made it clear that he did not think she was a threat. He moved across the room, towards the door.
“No,” Taliana drew on the energy of the room, putting the threads of her family and ancestors to work. While her mother specialized in weaving and untangling, her father was quite skilled in animating and knotting those very same threads. She smiled as the ancestors threads, drawing in from around the house, reached to wrap around the cloaked man. Literally rooting him in place. Taliana approached him, taking some glee in the fact that his smile had faded to a scowl. “That book, it is not going anywhere. Most certainly not with the likes of you.” She wished she knew who he was, and why he was trying to steal the Book of Evegran. But it was unlikely she would ever know — such explanations rarely appeared in real life.
As the web of ancestors wrapped around him she removed the book from his grasp, taking it into her own hands. The power of the book warmed her hands, but there was a thread of cold around it and she leveled a glare at the man as the threads twisted tighter around him. He had already been working to destroy the book. A book that held the hopes and dreams of an entire world. Destroying it would mean devastation to the world — it would still exist, but it would be a painful existence.
Carefully Taliana returned the book to the shelf, and turned another glare at the man “I told you, we cannot let you do that.” He could no longer speak, the threads constricting around him. They were no longer acting on her command, but out of a sense of protection. Her family had roles to fulfill, and those roles were not easily forgotten, nor easily let go. Even long after death, protection of the worlds was a duty not taken lightly.
Knowing that the threads of her ancestors would take care of this problem, she left the room, returning to finish the party. A few threads to tie up, a few guests to bid farewell, and then she could rest. Until next year.