Late into the night, so late that it is almost morning, a single soul lies awake, surrounded by books and loose papers covered in scrawled notes. She is searching. She has to find him. He’s lost. He’s in danger. She flips frantically through the pages.
Her eyes burn, her head pounds. She takes a shaky breath and pushes forward. He is not nearby. He is not far away. He is somewhere Other. She cannot reach him. He is somewhere she has not been, has not heard of. She is searching with a blindfold.
She has to keep going. The longer he is lost, the more he may be Changed. If he is Changed, she cannot fix him, cannot truly bring him back.
She pushes down her rising panic. Breathes in. Then out. Keep reading. Keep looking. Next page. Next chapter, next book. Has she slept? It doesn’t matter. She has to find him. She shoves the scattered books out of her way as she reaches for the next one. She doesn’t read the title. She scans the pages.
Not here. Not here.
A hint. A fragment. But it’s something. She’d missed it before.
Digging through the discarded pages of notes and lays them on the floor in front of her. She has a point of focus now, and nothing else matters.
There. A name. A description.
More pages. More books. Light begins to stream through the window. She doesn’t notice.
A map. A doorway. She needs one more thing. Something to keep her from getting lost herself. What could possibly tether her here, when the only thing that is important is bringing him back? Finding him is all that matters.
She has it. She doesn’t stop to think. She doesn’t read the warnings. She just goes.
She is not prepared.