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The unwritten part of the final Book of Duties has dwindled under her fingers and her industrious pen. Now, only seven pages remain unmarked, awaiting her touch so that the volume may be closed. But the girl hesitates, pen in hand, mind brimming with the words to fill it, but also with fear and dread.

What happens when the Duties are complete? Part of her holds on to that terror of the unknown, and she pauses indecisvely, savoring those last few moments when there is a certain direction, a definite focus to her world. Seven pages. She trembles at her desk, fighting with herself, willing her hand to move, the pen to write.

Inside the Gallery, the various sigils begin one by one to glow, sending their support and love in a palpable golden wave that swells through the halls and bleeds under the door of her Study. It is as if a high, clear note had sounded, shattering that indecision. Her pen drops to the page, and with relief and abandon she begins writing the final chapter of her story in the Land of the Sainted Cross.

(Author's Note: Yes folks, I'm graduating. Very. Soon. Now.)
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The girl paces restlessly across the floor, skirts failing to rustle with the muggy heat of the room. The night outside sparkles and wavers with heat stored in cobbles and stone blocks during the hours of brightness and released grudgingly by the masonry in the dark hours. The girl knows this academically, but remembers that she has never seen the sun up over the City. A timber creaks beneath her foot and she winces, thinking that she should attend to the maintainance of her palace, but her thoughts travel onward without a care for the upkeep of her architecture. A niggling guilt remains behind though, which eats at her concentration and loops endlessly, dangerously towards chaos until she plunges her hands through a plate glass window, the glass melting and reforming itself to her will around her hands and torso. Her hands resting on the outer sill she takes deep, gulping breaths of the still stifling air, hoping to clear her head. But the City's lure of a thousand amusements only shatters her concentration further and it is only with the utmost care and by sheer force of will that she removes herself from the window and returns to her Ballroom. The skeletal dancers whirl on in the pressing heat and damp even as she dashes from the room.

Eddie finds her a few hours later perched upon a barrel in the vast catacombs of the Palace cellar, candle by her side, quill in one hand and her Book of Duties in the other. The air is cool and dank, dark and without the distracting sparkle of the burgeoning Summer to distract her here. She is scribbling furiously, letting no thing distract her save the redipping of her pen, and the shadow servant sees that there are but a half score of pages left in this volume of the Book. She is writing furiously, and doesn't look up when a tall glass of lemonade and a plate of gingersnaps appears by her side. It is as if she is waiting, the whole world is waiting, for that final page to be filled, for the Book to be closed and that penultimate volume finished.

She writes on into the night, a newly filched candelabra from the vast Dining Room by her side. They know to give her support, and not more worries in this last stretch of the Book.


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May 2009

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