“What did you discover, Folly?” Master Ferus was saying to his apprentice.
The oddly dressed girl frowned for half a minute before she spoke. “Frozen souls.”
“Ah!” Ferus said, raising a finger. “Yes, near enough. Well-done, child.”
Folly beamed and hugged her jar of crystals to her chest. “But why haven’t I ever felt anything like that in our study?”
“It is primarily a matter of density,” Ferus replied. “One needs more than a handful of trees to see a forest.”
Folly frouwned at that. “It seemed as if…they spoke to one another?”
“Nothing quite so complex as that, I think,” the etherealist said. “Some sort of communication, though, definitely.”
Bridget cleared her throat and said tentatively, “Excuse me, Master Ferus?”
The etherealist and his apprentice turned their eyes to her. “Yes?” he asked.
“I do not mean to intrude, but…what are you talking about?”
“Books, my dear,” Ferus replied. “Books.”
Bridget blinked once. “Books do not have souls, sir.”
“Those who write them do,” Ferus said. “They leave bits and pieces behind them when they law down the words, some scraps and smears of their essential nature.” He sniffed. “Most untidy, really—but assemble enough scraps and one might have something approaching a whole.”
“You believe that the library has a soul,” Bridget said carefully.
“I do not believe it, young lady,” Ferus said rather stiffly. “I know it.”
—Jim Butcher, The Aeronaut’s Windlass