A subtle skittering made Lenwe jump in his seat and slam his book shut. Skittering meant bugs, bugs destroyed books and scrolls. They ate the glue from the spines, nibbled the stitching on the pages, and used the tubes as nests. Resolutely he stood, there were many things in life that Lenwe was proud to be. He was a scholar, a father, a husband, and a the third son of an Elvish Duke, classically trained with the sword as well as bow, as any proper Elf should be, but the one thing that made him turn into a quivering mess were bugs. The birthright of the Elves blessed him with eyes rivaling a hawk and with a bow he could pluck an apple from a tree at two hundred yards without damaging the branch. It also meant he could see every wiggling appendage and antenna of the nasty little creatures.
He was going to sound the bell to call in the servants to handle the invasion but he caught sight of the moon outside the window. Any alarm would wake the others.
“As it should be,” Lenwe told himself as he stood and adjusted his vest. “This is my domain.”
Grabbing a heavy tome he raised it high, ready to crush the skittering invader. He noticed it was Gemmel’s Observations of Airship Propulsion and he set the book down for one he didn’t enjoy so much. Sufficiently armed with an old ledger he used to prop up his personal lantern, the elf stalked around the corner and gave a yell of fright.
Just around the corner, hidden behind the stacks of books sat his son, bleary eyed and wavering slightly it looked as though he had been asleep until recently. Lenwe put the book on the stack next to the edge as his little boy looked up at him with dreamy ignorance he was almost thwapped with a volume of tax regulations.
“What are you doing awake, little one?” He gave his son a hug and picked him up.
“Story before bed,” his son managed to yawn as he curled against his chest.
“Oh,” he smiled and put out the lamp.
Lenwe had three children, two girls and one boy with his son being the middle child. He was proud to say that they all shared his love for knowledge. In fact his oldest daughter was starting her lessons at his former university next year. He had made sure she already knew the first two dynasties and could speak Elvish, Old Elvish, and Imperial.
“What story did you want tonight?” He asked his little one as he carried him up the stairs.
Lenwe clicked his tongue, “I have told all the ones with magic.”
“Please,” his son tried to beguile him with a sad look but the haze of exhaustion made him look silly instead.
He pushed the door open with his foot and gently laid his son on the bed, “have I told you the story of the day the magic disappeared?”
His son shook his head slowly.
“Long ago in the native land of the Elves there was a magical floating city,” he tucked the covers gently around the little form. “At the center of the island was the palace and its towers were so tall they touched the clouds. You see the Elves, being the oldest of the peoples, were the most versed in the use of magic. One day all the wizards, mages, witches, sorcerers, and warlocks gathered on the island.”
“All of them?”
“Did they take the train?”
“They didn’t have trains back then, little one, they travelled by magic.”
“There were doors that connected places even leagues apart and some magic users were versed enough to be able to simply speak to travel.”
“They didn’t use Airships, did they?” His little eyes were wide with fear.
Lenwe sighed, sometimes his academic side got the best of him and led him to give far too much information than was needed. Last year when his son had asked why he couldn’t take his favorite lantern on an airship Lenwe had explained too well what would happen if an open flame was allowed onboard. The poor little one still had nightmares.
“No, my heart, they did not use such foolish things.”
His son visibly relaxed.
“Now,” he patted his son on the chest in a slow, steady beat to match his heart. “All the magic users gathered in the floating city because for the past year their powers had been growing weaker. They thought that maybe if they were able to channel the ancient spells which kept the city aloft they could revive their precious power. With a vast store of knowledge between the assembled, they began to weave a spell which took days to complete.”
“What happened?” The voice was dripping with sleep.
“No one knows for sure,” Lenwe caressed the brow of his child, relaxing the muscles keeping the eyes open. “Before the spell was finished casting the city fell from the sky and to this day no one has seen the once great city. Magic departed our world and we began to seek new ways to live.”
“I’m going to find it,” his son mumbled as he drifted off to sleep.
Lenwe smiled, stood, and kissed his son on the brow. Passion for knowledge, truly his son would be a great scholar.