“What is all of this?” Ryne asked, blinking at the reams of paper, bottles of ink, stacks of pens, and various books scattered and stacked across the room already. It made her hug the volumes she carried closer to her chest.
“This,” Thancred said dryly. “Is what we call research phase. She’s in here somewh--Ah.”
The top of Aeryn’s head peeked over the table. “Oh, are those the copies from Il Mheg? Can you put them...um…” She shifted to her knees and looked around the room, blinking. “There, on that chair.” She pointed to a chair stacked with books near the window.
Ryne hesitated, but Thancred gestured for her to go on as he walked around the table. Ryne crossed the room, careful of a few scattered scrolls, to deposit the books as requested. Outside the open window, sunlight gleamed over other buildings of the Crystarium, before reflecting off the lake and dappling the forests of Lakeland. It was a lovely view, though today it seemed utterly wasted on the room’s occupant.
Thancred meanwhile crouched next to Aeryn. “When you requested tomes from the Bookman’s Shelves for cross reference, I thought perhaps you were in the middle of one of your frenzies.”
“This is not a frenzy,” Aeryn protested. “I have a method to my research, there’s just...a lot to go through. Even considering how much was lost to the Flood--if anything, it makes seeking what knowledge remains all the more difficult, and so I have to check everything that might apply.”
Ryne blinked. Was Aeryn, of all people, rambling?
Thancred’s expression remained neutral. “And how long have you been at it?”
Aeryn side-eyed him as she turned another page. “...Not that long…”
His eyes narrowed as he kept watching her.
“...A few bells. I think. Actually, what time is it?”
Before Ryne could answer (it was half-past four in the afternoon, according to the chronometer ticking on the bedside table), Thancred had snagged Aeryn’s arm. “That’s what I thought,” he said. He deftly caught the book she was about to drop in his other hand and set it on the table as he pulled her to her feet. “I’m under strict instructions from Urianger to be sure you take a break. Meaning an actual meal, not whatever you’ve been snacking on when you happen to wander near it.”
Aeryn managed to look pouty as she realized she was not getting loose. “But I feel like I’m so close to finding out if a similar discipline to Red Magic was used here on the First and if I can figure out how they combined Black and White Magics and take it back to the Source to show X’rhun and Arya--”
“Later,” Thancred said, leading her to the door. He glanced at Ryne and gestured with his head for her to follow. “For now, time to eat.”
“...I guess I am a bit hungry,” the esteemed Warrior of Darkness admitted in defeat as she allowed herself to be drug from her room by a man who had spent far too many years among fellow scholars to allow her an excuse.
Ryne smiled as she skipped along behind them. If Aeryn was in a rare chatty mood thanks to...whatever she was researching, maybe she would tell stories as they ate, and it would be part of the distraction and giving her a break.
Ryne made sure the door latched closed behind them, hiding the messy effects of an eager mage.