There are many kinds of self-imprisonment, and many a dark arts preying upon them.
- Know Thyself, Dreamer's Handbook
Lucy slammed a book onto the table. "Look!" Her triumphant expression didn't quite match her bloodshot eyes.
Eric sipped more tea. Ahh, still warm.
"What is it? If you stop hovering and take your hands off it, we might see actually something," Rose said.
Lucy's intense expression remained unchanged, but she did raise the book so they could look at the cover.
Eric saw faded words on black leather, and a skull adorning the cover. 'Spells and Command of Unlife', a grimoire of necromantic arts. Marked on the bottom with small letters: property of Sinar the Raiser.
Rose extended her palm, motioning for Lucy to hand it over. She did, and Rose briefly examined the book. "I don't see what the big deal is."
"Don't you get it? It's a book on necromancy!"
Eric smirked. "Don't tell me you've spent all this time in the library."
"I did, mostly. How did you know?"
"Your eyes are red. You really should blink once in a while."
"So what's in it that's so exciting?" Rose asked.
Lucy bit down on her lip before answering. "...I don't know. I didn't read it."
Eric laughed, and took the book from Rose. The cover was indeed made from leather, and Eric wondered what animal - or human? - it came from. It had a small clasp.
"But... why?" Rose asked with a confused half-smile.
I know why - you didn't dare do it alone!
Lucy shrugged. "It could be trapped... or cursed."
"Where did you find it?" Rose asked. "You didn't steal it, did you?"
"No! Of course not! It was on an upper shelf with other books."
"You've been acting weird lately. Ever since we fought the zombies, I think. Is that what you've been doing? Searching for information on them?"
Eric slowly moved the book under the table and undid the clasp. Nothing. Of course not. Maeve wouldn't keep anything dangerous in plain sight.
"Yes- well, no... I mean... I hoped to find something to help me understand necromancy, but there are many other interesting books as well."
Eric listed through the pages. "...decay means disarray! It invites my refined influence and..." The first part of the book was written with almost indecipherable handwriting - uglier than mine.
"So..." Rose leaned forward and licked her lips. "Do you think we should open it?"
"No!" Lucy was horrified. "What if Maeve finds out?"
The latter pages were written with impeccable penmanship, though. "...acolytes are expendable. My art makes them greater in death than they ever were (or could have been) in life! Ignore the..." The letters seemed suspiciously the same, almost like a printout. Maybe he couldn't read his own handwriting, and used a magic pen?
"Well, no one actually forbade us to learn about such things," Rose reasoned. "When Mr. Smith talked about dark magic, he didn't say we shouldn't learn about it, did he?"
"I think that was implied."
"Hey, listen to this." Eric read aloud from the book: "'A fresh corpse is good, but a ritual kill is better. Start at the moment of great change and instability, as the lifeforce begins to flow away. Don't let it completely dissipate! Kinetic animation requires much more effort than necromantic animation. Weave the force back on itself so it retains power but gives up control. The lower soul stays, the useless higher goes. When-'"
"Gimme that!" Lucy snatched the book from Eric's hands, almost overturning his mug. She closed it and fastened the clasp with haste. "I can't believe you opened it!"
"Are you cursed? Do you feel sick?" Rose inquired.
"Come on, it's not cursed! It's just a stupid book by some self-important idiot," Eric said.
"But..." Lucy pondered, clutching the book. "Languages change how we think, right? So does new knowledge. Maybe the knowledge in this book is intrinsically evil or something."
"You think I would be corrupted by words? Like, a forbidden fruit type of situation? No thanks, I like to think I have more backbone than that - and you do too. I'd rather see and decide for myself, than have it decided for me."
"...ideologies... designed use... religions?" Rose muttered, following her own train of thought.
"No, not corrupted, but reading changes you... Maybe changes you in a bad way; maybe even without you noticing."
Eric shrugged. "So what? I guess I have to trust myself to stay strong and make good decisions. What's the alternative? Succumbing to ignorance or superstition? You really can't think that's better."
"No, that's not what I meant. I just... you really think we're ready for this?"
"We are," Rose said. "After you went berserk on those zombies, I think you got scared by how you acted, and that's why you spent all this time hiding in the library. I'm with Eric. If this," Rose pointed to the book of necromancy, "will help you find out more about yourself, you should go for it. It's worth to risk the curse or corruption or whatever," she waved dismissively.
"We all change," Eric said, and took another sip of tea. "More honey, anyone?"
Lucy breathed in deeply, nodded to herself, and exhaled. She unclasped the book and started flipping through the pages.