Chapter 96

Conmer hesitantly reached out towards Tenra’s book, slowly transitioning from resting his hand on the book, to taking it from her – careful to watch the child’s facial expression as he did so. He may have been in a rush, but not so much of a rush that he was willing to take an action that the venomous nine-year-old might misconstrue as attempted theft.
As soon as Tenra released the book, Conmer’s analysis began. She showed no hesitation in giving Conmer the book, but he could tell from her eyes that she was impatient for its return. It was likely something very important to her, but not something private. A quick flip through the pages of Tenra’s little treasure confirmed Conmer’s suspicions, and exceeded his wildest hopes. He could only make sense of a few words, but the pictures were clearly diagrams regarding stealth techniques. Regarding the Art of Shadow. The pages were worn, and traces of water damage and food stains were prevalent. Such things did not befit a pristine schoolbook reserved for times of learning – it was clear that this manual was to be read during meals and in bed – to be absorbed and integrated into one’s very being. Perhaps, just as a lie was natural to a Rosearn, and honesty unnatural – to be hidden was natural for Tenra’s kind, and to be visible unnatural. Maybe their default state was hidden, and they had to make a conscious decision to stop hiding if they wanted to be noticed. As opposed to most human descendants, whose default state was visible, and had to make a conscious decision to hide if they wanted to remain unnoticed.
None of this excited Conmer nearly as much as the notes in the margins, though. They had been scrawled with various tools, pencil, pen, and… was that note written with ink and quill? Oh, but the wonders of these notes, there were dozens and dozens of distinct styles of handwriting, dozens of generations the book had been passed down through. They sketched over diagrams to make them more clear, added on to paragraphs, hid happy little doodles in the corners, and most wonderfully of all… they scratched out parts. These notes weren’t just commenting on the book, they were changing it, improving it.
Tenra’s people hadn’t just preserved the Art of Shadow, they’d refined it.


A note from the author ninja:

For Tenra, moving silently through the vents is easier than walking through a hallway while making audible footsteps.

The muscle memory of silent steps is so ingrained in her, that she has to focus completely on how she’s walking if she wants to walk in a manner most would consider “normal.”

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