Note: This story concerns Nilandia and takes place in Platinum. More information can be found in her profile.

It was after midnight, when most of the Shining City was safely asleep, when she crept through the streets. No moon sat in the sky, so she trusted the torches lining the vars to light her way. Though she was no hunter, she had enough of her people's blood in her to know how to move silently and unseen when she needed to.

She wrapped herself tightly in a mantle the same hue as the greenest faenor, as if a shield against any who came near. A hood drawn over her head obscured much of her face, though the faint golden glow of a glimaerstone between her eyes undermined total concealment. Constantly scanning the people she passed, she made her way to the library and slipped inside.

Now out of public view, she tensed all the more, knowing she was more likely to be seen here than anywhere else. But she had no choice. She had to know.

She tugged self-consciously at the edge of her hood as she stepped toward the librarian's desk. Normally, she would present an odd picture, but she had visited so often lately, always under a moonless sky, that the woman behind the desk had expected her.

As if out of habit, she touched her forehead and clasped her hands in a gesture of greeting. A strange gesture, one the librarian had never seen before. The woman had meant to ask about it, but her guest had always vanished with a simple "Thank you" once her query had been addressed, and she'd never had the chance.

She spoke quietly and succinctly, her Elven perfect but still infused with a melodic accent the librarian couldn't quite trace. "I seek something new tonight, my friend. I need a study of the Lord of Nightmares, and information on a group known as the Collectors."

The librarian pondered for a moment, trying to recall if she'd ever heard of an organization by that name. Before she could answer, however, another voice sounded behind her guest.

"My poor dear, are you not sleeping well? Whatever could be the matter?"

The hooded woman visibly tensed and took a slight breath as another figure emerged from the shadows, an adult Illistim clad in black silk robes pinned with a small, pallid vaalin circle enclosing a silver rod above the left breast.

She tugged once more on her hood and did not turn to meet the speaker. "I am fine, sir. There is no need to concern yourself with me," she murmured.

The man smiled, half-expecting such a response from the woman who had refused him before. "I can be nothing but concerned for you, my dear. You are most precious to me."

"To your work, you mean," she returned. Though she still did not face him, he could sense she was shutting him out once more, guarding herself against his inquiries with shields so strong that even he couldn't penetrate them.

Gently, patiently, he tried one last time. "You would be of great assistance to us if you could---"

But she abruptly turned on her heel and held up a hand to stop him. "If I could submit to your scrutiny? Allow you to examine me like you would a rat or a fish? Renounce any hope to privacy I would ever have? I know your offer, sir. You have given it many times, and each time I have declined it. Do not think that tonight will be any different."

With that, she turned once more to the librarian and murmured, "Thank you. I must be on my way." She then swept past the man and back out into the streets.

He watched her go for as long as he could and then shook his head, almost in disbelief. That someone so strongly devoted to Lumnis would refuse to assist in advancing Illistimi research was incomprehensible to him. The contradiction fascinated him almost as much as the girl herself.

He stood thus pondering for several moments before the librarian broke into his reverie. "Master Yaril, who is she?"

A faint smile crossed his lips. He wished he knew for certain. "She's a riddle. Someone you don't meet but once in a lifetime. Perhaps several lifetimes."

Before the librarian could say anything else, he disappeared down a corridor, back to his research.