Behind the door, the air smelt of antiquity and darkness. "The Exceedingly Rare Room," said Adelaide.
"Books?" Russell asked.
"No." She slid open the nearest cabinet. Inside were rows of small glass bottles, sealed with wax and badly labeled. "For instance," she said. "Water from the Pool of Mnemosyne. Would you like to remember everything?"
Russell remembered too much already. "No. And that one?"
"Oil." Adelaide swirled the bottle. "Rendered from the very last of Steller's sea cows. Smells awful." She reached back into the cabinet.
Russell regretted that his choice wasn't more intriguing.
"This will do." In Adelaide's hand was a bottle of brown apothecary glass.
"What is it?" Russell asked.
"Something to keep for later." She put the bottle in her pocket and slid the cabinet shut.
The day was not at all going as Russell planned, and this was the last straw. "Later when? And what? It was a simple resurrection spell."
"A spell?" She looked confused. "What are you talking about? And, out of curiosity, has anything ever been simple like you say?"
"It is you, madam, who have guaranteed that this is no longer simple. But the page I was translating was indeed a resurrection spell."
"Funny," Adelaide said, "I thought it was a magic trick. A complicated bit of flash to distract while you really did something else."
Russell would have sighed if he could. Vampires did not perform magic tricks like parlor magicians. What had this woman been reading?
Adelaide had been reading MR MARVEL'S RULES OF CONJURE. She had read it years ago and never stopped, picking up similar books along the way.
Those were not at all the sort of books Russell had been reading. "What I wish to do is raise someone with whom I can actually speak."
"You could do it with a ventriloquist. Easiest thing in the world," she said." But you want the real thing, don't you? That's much harder."
Russell almost asked Adelaide to produce a ventriloquist who spoke Anglo-Saxon. "I need to hear the words as they ought to be spoken."
"Why?" Adelaide opened another cabinet, which was empty, and put the heavy key inside. She pushed it to the back corner and shut the door.
Russell wasn't used to having to explain himself. He grasped for the words, then said, "Because dead shouldn't mean forgotten."
He hadn't meant to forget. It had slipped away without him noticing, one small piece at a time, until there was nothing left to remember. Russell had decided to fill up the forgotten space inside himself with words. Words from dusty and forgotten languages no one spoke. He stacked them in tottering piles, breathed in their dusty, lost histories, and tried not to think about whatever it was that he had forgotten.
Russell left the dust of his almost memories and spoke again. "If I am going to remember these words, it must be as they actually were."