She could only see the glow at first, but as she straightened back up, she could make out features – plains-people, plains-straight hair and plains-flat nose. She bowed again, just to be safe.
“Oh, none of that,” laughed the voice. Male, or male-like. “We’ll take care of this place. It doesn’t need these stones to be sacred, you know. It doesn’t need anything but this place to be sacred. But if you’re worried – and you look like you’re worried – there is something you can do.”
There was always something she could do. “Yes, honored one?”
“It won’t even take you out of your way.” The god-touched sounded even more amused. Raizel didn’t know how to feel about that. “There is a thing, a Journal. It is known as The Found Book, because it is always found at the wrong time, showing up as if by magic. It looks like exactly what one needs – and then it does things to one’s brain that are unhealthy, to say the least.”
“You want me to destroy it?” Raizel didn’t mean to sound tired, but she felt like she was becoming She Who Destroys Trash.
“No, no. I want you to subjugate it. Much as you’ve subjugated this one here. I’ll give you the golden rope to do it, and when you succeed, I’ll give you 20 forn.”
Twenty forn was more money than Raizel had ever held in her life. “Twenty… How do I subjugate a journal?”
“You wrap it in golden rope. It will hold anything – and may be useful for holding this one until you get to it – and will bind it to your will.”
“What am I supposed to do once I have it, uh, subjugated?”
“Put it on a bookshelf, bury it, dump it in the sea. It can’t be destroyed – that will free it – but otherwise I do not care. It simply needs to be bound.”
“And, well, where am I to find this thing?”
“I have a strong feeling it will come to you. You’ve been attracting attention, Raizel of the mountains.”
“And if it doesn’t come to me?” She didn’t think about the rest. She tried very hard not to think about the part where the god-touched one knew her name. “What then?” Twenty forn was a lot of money.
“Then look where the chaos lies, and there you will discover the Found Journal. It will look like an ordinary book, until you open it. Then it will look like whatever you think you most need. So be careful. It can be very dangerous, although the pixie-curse on you ought to protect you at least somewhat. You can see things for how they really are more than most people. Here.” The person pressed a length of golden string into Raizel’s hands. “That’s yours either way, for being interesting. It will come in handy with this one, I can tell you that. He’ll squirm right out of your hands, and believe me, you don’t want that. You find the book, you bind it, you do what you will with it as long as it stays bound. And twenty forn is yours.”
“I’ll see what I can do, but I make no promises and accept not geasa.”
“As I would not expect you to. It’s a hard enough road you’re walking. Go with her, son of the corvids. She’s going to need you, whether either of you like it or not. And this place – this place will be fine, with Raizel of the Mountains’ name writ upon it for all to see>“
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” he complained. “I want to stay here, to guard this place.”
“But that is not your lot right now. There are things you need to move past. Go on, son of the Corvids.”
“That’s not my name!”
“No.” The deity-touched smirked at the Diamond Raven. “It’s what you are. That is rarely the same thing as your name. Go,” the deity-touched repeated. “Do not make me say it again.”
Go they did, moutain-child and Diamond Raven. Raizel led him by the rope around his neck until they could no longer see the glow of the deity-touched. Then she stopped and looped the golden cord around his neck. “Don’t run off with that,” she warned. “It wasn’t your quest.”
“If you don’t want me to run off with it, maybe it shouldn’t be around my neck,” he muttered.
“I can think of other places to wrap it,” she threatened, and that made him quiet.
“Well, then. Let’s see if we can get to the train without anyone else asking us for help.” She had no hope of that, but it was good to think positive nonetheless.