Finch headed to the library nearly every day after his dad’s lessons. He studied the Solune Guard out of a book called The Minimum Standards of the Solune Guard, Pocket Edition. It seemed that for whatever reason, because he was a Riley, he was allowed to join at the age of fourteen. The Solune had to wait until seventeen, and the East Metch ‘til fifteen.
It was on the day before the weekend that, sitting in the library, Finch came to the realization that he would have only two years to become the captain or else Alice would be arrested upon her return. He put his hands on his face, frustrated. She had been gone for two months now, ninety-eight days to be exact.
Finch flipped to the back of the book, curious to see what was on the borrowing card. It seemed that someone named Natasha Rhye had been taking it out a lot over the past year. That name, Rhye, seemed familiar but Finch couldn’t think why. It seemed Natasha had stopped borrowing it about a month ago. Finch guessed it was because she had bought her own copy. He wondered if this Natasha was in the guard, if she would possibly be able to help him, teach him, or even recruit him!
He closed the book and went to the librarian’s desk.
“Ready to go Finch? Done all your reading already, or are you taking out a book today?” Erin asked.
“Borrowing,” Finch said, putting the pocketbook on the table.
“Oh, interesting. This seems to be quite a popular book as of recent.” The librarian said when he saw the card.
“Actually,” Finch thought out loud, “Do you know the person who kept taking this out?”
“Why,” said Erin, “Don’t you recognize the name, Finch? Rhye is a very important name in this kingdom.”
Finch considered this. He was sure now that knew the name from somewhere.
“Is…” Finch pondered and then shouted, “Oh! Rhye is the name of the Royal family!”
The librarian nodded. “Natasha has been the Captain of the castle guard for a very long time now. She only recently became interested in the specifics of her task, and also of the law which she is enforcing.”
“So,” Plans were sparking up in Finch’s mind, “So I could find her in the castle!”
Erin smiled and nodded, finishing with Finch’s book.
Finch stuffed the book into his new backpack and left. On the streets he shamelessly ran, weaving in and out of foot traffic. His friend Artus caught up with him and ran alongside.
“Hey Finch, where you headed?”
“Wanna play?” Artus asked.
“Not today, I’m researching.”
Artus stopped, “You’re always researching. You never hang out with us anymore.”
Finch stopped too. His friend was right. In fact, he had turned people down so often, that Artus was the only one who even bothered talking to him anymore. Finch came up with a second plan.
“Tomorrow is Secist, my dad doesn’t make me study on the weekend. We can play then.”
A surprised look came over Artus, “Really? You’re really going to come out with us?”
Finch nodded, “It’s a promise.”
They touched thumbs, and then Finch ran off again, tightening the straps on his bag as he ran.
This is the fifth chapter in the Alice and Finch series, and the first part of the epilogue, labelled with Dusk instead of Dawn. After exile instead of before.