CARLING REACHED UP AS high as she could and rapped her delicate knuckles on the rough wooden door. She shuffled her feet with impatience, put out that her journey home to her village of Duenton was being delayed. But when Adivino, the historian of the Minsheen herd of Centaurs, summoned her, she knew it must be for a good reason and required her immediate attention.
The door swung open. She lifted her chin and looked into the face of the historian as he greeted her with a warm smile. “Come in, my dear,” Adivino said as he motioned for her to enter his cottage.
Carling stepped directly into the old Centaur’s sitting room. It felt crowded by time and dust. The wooden plank bookshelves that lined the walls sagged under the weight of hundreds of scrolls, the history of an entire race squeezed into a single room. A large, intricately carved desk set in front of a formidable fireplace formed the focal point of the room. The surface of the desk was piled high with more scrolls, quill pens and bottles of ink in many colors.
“You wanted to speak with me?” asked Carling, walking across the room and stopping in front of the desk. The young Duende’s three-and-a-half-foot height enabled her chin to just barely reached the top of the desk.
“Yes, my dear,” said Adivino, as he stepped around the desk and turned to face her. The old Centaur shuffled his four legs stiffly due to his advanced age, but his eyes sparkled with the sharpness and intelligence of youth. He looked down at the tiny Duende with her fairy features and startling violet eyes.
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