Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 196,187,703 Issue: 898 | 17th day of Eating, Y22
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A nerd finds herself in the Altadorian Archives


by mauveandpurple

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Finneus, the Archivist, made his way through the archives, looking for Laura Kasatkina. A scholar-in-training from Brightvale, she began working at the archives a short while ago, endearingly excited about the dauntingly vast library. Finneus was more than glad to nurture a young mind's love for knowledge and literature, but he couldn't help not being anxious when someone ventured into the archives by themselves. He remembered with dread the amount of Neopians who had to have search-and-rescue teams sent after them until the reveal of Altador's true history, after which the ordeal was limited to the poor archive workers. It took a patient soul to work in the Altadorian Archives, someone who did not suffer from both agoraphobia and claustrophobia.

      He finally found Laura sitting on the marble floor of one of the many rooms in the library, a stack of books on her side, a stack of papers one her other side, and a paper between her white paws. She was completely absorbed in her lecture. Finneus wondered if she would even notice if he screamed next to her ear. He did not. Instead, he walked up to Laura.

      “Miss Kasatkina!” Finneus said. “There you were!”

      Laura's head shot up, as if she had been woken up from a dream.

      “Hello, Sir!” She said, smiling.

      “You worried me! You've been in here for hours!”

      “I'm so sorry, Sir! I did find the book you asked me to look for.” She said, slapping the stack she was referring to. “But I found these Altadorian police records and I got hooked!”

      Finneus smiled, remembering his own early years as an archival assistant, full of curiosity and with the attention span of a Mootix, jumping from one volume to another. “What are they about?”

      “Oh, it's about this sensational theft cases that happened many years ago!” Laura began, gesticulating as she narrated. “This Aisha named Antonia was working as a maid for this Gelert noblewoman named Felicia, and Felicia was... kind of a brat, honestly. She was treating Antonia pretty badly. And Antonia was sick of it, so one day she stole some of Felicia's expensive jewellery and left - she just walked out of the manor, in broad daylight. Felicia didn't notice anything missing, didn't notice Antonia not being there, for hours! Antonia had a guilty conscience and couldn't go through with it, but she couldn't go back either – what if Felicia saw her? - so Antonia went to the docks and threw the jewellery into the sea!”

      “Oh my goodness!”

      “Right? Antonia then went to her sister, Mariola, who lived on the hills. Antonia told Mariola that Felicia fired her and she needed a place to stay. Antonia was apparently planning to leave Altador the next day, at six in the morning, but the authorities came after her at five !”

      “I can see why the press would be interested.” Finneus said. “This is quite a dramatic story.”

      “But that's not all!” Laura interrupted him. “Some Neopians felt sympathy for Antonia! They saw her almost as a martyr for the poor, common, working-class Neopian! Her throwing the jewellery in the sea was a revolutionary act! Antonia became a star overnight!”

      “Oh my-”

      “So Antonia had this dramatic story and she was really beautiful too, so the press started writing her as a hero! She had fans and fanbases! The courthouses were full to the brim and demanded her to be set free! It was insanity!”

      “It does sound like tha-”

      “Look at this headline! Look! 'Acquittal for the Prettiest Thief in Altador.' This was literally a headline in a printed edition!”

      “That's fascinating, Miss Ka-”

      “But then! Some new things came out about Antonia. Turns out she and Mariola had been sentenced before for theft, and you are not going to believe-”

      “Miss Kasatkina, I am sure this is equally dramatic, but I do need the books I had asked you for.”

      “O-Oh, yes, right. Sorry, Sir.”

      Laura got up from her spot, dusting her skirt, and handed him the stack of books.

      “Thank you. Miss.” Finneus smiled and the two of them made their way out of the library.

     *

      “Miss Kasatkina, could you lend me a hand?” Finneus called out. He waited for a moment and when he received no answer, he called out again, a little louder. Once again, no answer.

      Finneus poked his head out the door of his office and found the main hallway silent and deserted. Finneus walked over to the door leading to the archive and opened it.

      “Miss Kasatkina!” He shouted down the maze of books and documents. He swore he could hear an echo of his voice. After a moment he heard the distant pat-pat of Zafara paws on marble and soon enough he saw Laura come into view, many papers being held close to her chest.

      “I'm here, Sir!” She said, huffing as she came to a halt in front of him.

      “I need some help to carry some boxes. I'd rather not put my old back to the test.” Finneus explained.

      “Of course I'll help.”

      They went together back in Finneus' office, where Laura effortlessly picked the box filled to the brim with papers and put it on the shelf Finneus wished it to be.

      “Thank you, dear!” Finneus said, sitting back at his desk to resume work. He watched Laura pick back up the papers she had been carrying. “Another police case?” He asked.

      “Oh, no, these are seed catalogues!” Laura said, smiling sweetly.

      “Seed catalogues?” Finneus blinked.

      “Yes, they are catalogues from which people can order seeds for their gardens. They have fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs, bulbs, even small trees! Well, I mean, they used to, these are very old editions. But they are so charming!”

      “That, I quite agree!”

      “All these illustrations are handmade and printed the old fashioned way. Somebody took the time to lovingly draw all these flowers! These could be botanical studies, they are so detailed and accurate! I found a plant encyclopedia and they are nearly identical!”

      “It is indeed impressive.”

      “It is! I could look at these catalogues for hours! Did you know Pebeanjay flowers used to cost only 100 NPs? And that lilacs used to be the best selling flower seed for almost two whole years?”

      “Yes, yes, fascinating. Why don't you go read them?”

      “I will!” Laura said, running off like an excited child.

      Finneus smiled and returned to his papers, keeping in mind to check on her after a couple of hours. He should warn Laura to eat plenty before coming to work since food was not allowed in the archives. Thinking about this, Finneus eyed the half-eaten Altadorian Cobb Salad on his desk. He pushed it a little behind a stack of books, so someone coming in wouldn't see it and catch him breaking his own rules.

     *

      After a few days, Finneus knew where to find Laura when he needed her. Sure enough, there she was, surrounded by documents and books and papers, long-forgotten and found again by Laura and now taking over all her time and attention.

      “Hello, Miss Kasatkina!” Finneus said, still too endeared to be genuinely mad about her slacking off. At least she was reading and broadening her culture while at it.

      “Hello, Sir!”

      “What are you reading this time?”

      “About Faeries!” She said, showing him the hefty stack of papers she was picking her reading material out of. “These are records of the quests Neopians have gone on for them and a tally of all the items they had been asked to look for and their prices in comparison to the value of the rewards they received in exchange. One time, in the past, the Fire Faeries have demanded 50 consecutive Bow Ties!”

      “That's a lot of Bow Ties!”

      “Yes! And Queen Fyora has asked, so far, for 400 Bacon Tacos in total.”

      “Oh...kay...”

      “And the most common item Air Faeries asked for over the length of one year, exactly 365 days, was Hook Polish.”

      “Huh...”

      “And did you know-”

      The End.

 
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