A breath of chill, stone-scented air drifted across his face, and Edrian opened one eye to see a thin, flickering beam of light come out of the wall, right where his floor-to-ceiling bookshelves should have been. Oddly, in the soft moonlight spilling through the sheer screens, the bookshelves were almost a meter to the right of where they belonged, and the light came from an opening between bookshelves and stone wall.
“Grandfather?” he whispered, understanding, and sat up quickly. Edrian grimaced as his mattress creaked. He preferred the old-fashioned bedstead, with ropes and natural cloth and fluff-bush filling in the mattress. That would have to change if he wanted to get up without alerting half the building.
“First lesson, my lad.” His grandfather held up the cylinder that produced the soft, flickering glow. It wasn’t a candle or a lantern or lamp, and the source of the light shimmered from gold to green to soft amber-orange and back again, pulsating just enough to be visible.
“The passage or the light?” Edrian asked, once he had followed Elbarto through the opening and the bookshelf slid softly back into place.
“Many things to make up one lesson. And here’s something it takes people their whole lives to realize -- the older you get, the more you realize you spend your whole life learning.” Elbarto handed him the cylinder. “Light without heat. How can that be?”
In the soft glow, a passageway extended in both directions behind the wall of Edrian’s room. His grandfather gestured to the right, where another opening revealed a narrow passageway filled with steps going up and down. They started downward. Edrian studied the light, which was soft enough that he could look directly at it and still see well enough to make his way down the steps without having to wait for his eyes to adjust. That pulsation … was it breathing? He hefted the cylinder. That was liquid surrounding the thing … a living thing?