Chapter 20 (Masters are meant to help)
Jekor climbed the steps up to the library and shoved his key into the lock. He turned it.
Nothing. Had he left the door unlocked? Or had his master returned?
He bit into his lower-lip then swallowed. A deep breath later, he returned his key to his pocket and pushed the door open, stepping into the library.
Slips of paper covered the lobby’s tile floor. Complaints about the library being closed were scrawled across each. In the research room behind the counter, a liquor lamp shined through the cracked open door.
“Master?” Jekor edged forward.
Bang! The research room door swung open and slammed against the wall. Master Okij strode up to the reception desk, and his oversized fists trembled. The near-black skin on his neck grew taut as he gritted his teeth. A vein popped in his forehead. Beads of sweat rolled down from his receding gray hair, and he wiped them away with the sleeve of his white overcoat. “What is the meaning of this?” His deep voice rattled Jekor’s nerves.
“You closed the library for your stupid little project?” Despite his height, Master Okij appeared to tower over Jekor.
“It’s not stupid.”
“It’s a waste of time!”
“Gathering and recording details on the liquor spirits and properties is important.”
“No, it’s not.”
“It is!” Jekor stepped around the counter and slipped into the research room. “I guess it was too much to hope you’d help me.”
“Why would I help you conduct your pointless research?”
“Because it’s not pointless!” Jekor spun to face his master. “And when my full report on Lucidity wins me the scholars award for best new discovery, I’ll remember to mention how you tried to impede my research. And —”
Master Okij burst into laughter. “Did you just say Lucidity?”
“This I have to hear.”
“Well, while you were wasting time updating the royal ledgers, an important man came in here.”
A smirk tugged on Master Okij’s lips. “Who?”
“Kkaj the unbreakable.”
Sounds sputtered from Master Okij’s mouth, but none of them formed into words.
Jekor grinned. “He’s heading into the wastes tonight. And I’m following him.”
“You’re heading into the wastes tonight?”
“Obviously it will take a while to get there.” Jekor grabbed a pair of bags and his extra set of flasks. “Where did I put my notes on how to manipulate water?” A book crashed into the table beside him, and he started. “Thanks.” He grabbed a stack of paper and a fistful of pens, stuffing them into one of the bags.
“If you’re traveling into the wastes, then you need some things to protect you from the harsh environment.”
“Are you actually going to help me?”
“You are my student.”
With tears in his eyes, Jekor peered at his master. “You’re —”
Master Okij shook his head. “No need to get worked up.” He moved over to the large chest at the back of the room and pulled out four blanket-like things. “I assume you’re not traveling alone.” He held up one of the blanket like things, and it had a zipper on the side with a pillow sewed into the top. “Sleep inside this. It’ll keep you hidden from the monsters living in the wastes as well as protect you from the environment.”
“Yes.” Master Okij placed the two bedrolls on the table and held up the other cloth object. “This will act as your cloak during the day and your horses sleeping protection at night.”
“I know. How to make it was what won me the scholar’s award.”
“Also —” Master Okij pulled a slip of paper from his upper pocket. “— I know you aren’t the strongest with earth element, but with this pattern, you should be able to create food for your horses. I haven’t finished the design of the spell, and the food still makes humans violently sick.”
Jekor arched an eyebrow.
“Don’t worry. For some reason, animals can digest the food just fine.”
“Even if you complete it, my discoveries with Lucidity will ensure me the award.”
Jekor moved forward and wrapped his master in a hug. “Thanks again.” He packed his bags, bowed to his master then bolted out of the library.
Next: Chapter 21