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    • Chapter

      IX. A Name Hidden In Plain Sight

      Ambris Knot had a strange name. Well, not a strange name, just one that didn’t sound all that nice or interesting and certainly not one that, according to her editor, would inspire people to pick up her books. And she agreed. In the past months, she’d poured herself into imagining a fiction book all about an archaeological explorer going off on intrepid adventures. She had finally come up with a penname she liked, figured out most of the outline and the settings, and had a main character she was…
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      VIII. Hidden Tribes and Secret Airships

      “So,” Daring Sun said, wheeling after Ambris and helping her rearrange books, “this is going to sound like I made this up, but—” “Yes, that’s usually how made up things start,” Ambris mused, inserting a book into an open space. “Wait, wait, listen!” Daring exclaimed, handing a book to Ambris. “Look, you know how the Somisto people disappeared from Saddle Arabia thousands of years ago, and no one knows what happened to them?” “Hand me that book, won’t you? And yes, I…
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      VII. The Request

      There would be no backing down here. No conceding, no making allowances, no losing. Ripple might be the director, but she was Ambris Knot. He had a big office, sure, decorated with all sorts of antique relics and rare books, but the library itself was her office. She was the heart and soul of that entire place, and—! And—! “Yes, I know you have tenure, Ambris,” Director Ripple said with a big, boisterous laugh, adjusting the sleeves of his suit before folding his hands on his desk.…
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      VI. The Break Room

      They were in the break room when it happened. Lunchtime was usually a loud affair, the two of them engaged in archaeological conspiracy theories more often than not. But that time was quiet. Quiet as Ambris ate her sandwich, and quiet as Daring poked at her salad. Something was wrong—it didn’t take a genius to notice—but Ambris felt at a loss for how to ask or even whether she could ask. Daring was by no means a child, already one foot towards college, but all Ambris could see at that…
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      V. The Slow Path

      A smile pushed itself onto her lips at the sight of a girl and her wheelchair waiting by the entrance of the plaza. The first thing she noticed was that Daring seemed fine, which brought with it immense relief for Ambris. She was fine. The second thing she noticed was Daring wasn’t moving. Not wheeling herself in circles, not reading a book, not anything. Just staring into the distance. Ambris was no longer certain she was fine. “Daring Sun,” Ambris greeted, maintaining her smile. “You’re…
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      IV. Absence

      The phone call had been brief. She was really sorry, Daring had said, her voice quite low, but she couldn’t volunteer this week. Thank you for understanding. Ambris hadn’t dared asked what was wrong. She supposed she’d find out eventually. It was a lonely week in the…
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      III. The Podcast and the Trip to Braysil

      From behind her glasses, Ambris Knot squinted at her web-browser, sipping tea as she read the latest drama in the world of young adult novels. Her editor had advised her to get to know her would-be-peers, and though they had juicy gossip, it still paled in comparison with the outlandish drama she read about in the scientific community. Her reading was interrupted twice that afternoon: once by a child taking out seven books, and then asking what she recommended for an eighth book, which took much more…
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      II. The Examination

      Though Ambris knew how to use a computer, and in fact had been the one to insist the Canterlot library did all its filing and paperwork digitally, she couldn’t deny she preferred to do her first drafts with pen and paper. A computer felt impersonal, devoid of the author’s personality, while calligraphy had the author literally written all over it. “Cinder blinked, her heart racing at the sight of the ruins. They were…” Ambris’ murmurings drifted off, and she glanced at the list of…