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Well, now Astrid was just acting like a deflated balloon. Any bigger of a sigh and Mel would have drawn the conclusion that if she pushed Astrid's buttons enough, Astrid would flip from workaholic to sensitive artistic soul. But hey, maybe it was part of a scheme - to weaponize a general aura of resignation, in order to succeed where angry death glares had failed (not to say that Astrid wasn't still trying the latter).

What Astrid was reading did surprise her, though. History. On top of that, it was history that wasn't particularly relevant to what Mel had figured Astrid's interests to be.

Perhaps it was to maintain her grouchy attitude towards the world? Mel could buy that. Nine hundred years had passed, and followers of a god were still murdering each other over holy sites and differences in their texts. The actual conflict between the religions was almost certainly more subtle than that, not to mention more serious than she was willing to think about right now, but she had never paid enough attention in Sunday school to have any chance at remembering the details. In any case, once Astrid finished the book, she'd be fully recharged on misanthropy, and could then go around eyeing people suspiciously for signs of wanting to put on heavy armor and kill others to regain access to Jerusalem.

It was a decent theory for why Astrid had chosen this particular book. Its only flaw was that it wasn't grounded in reality at all.

She supposed she could just ask.

"Is this for a report?" Mel squinted at the book. "The next thing I know, you'll be telling me that Robin Hood doesn't exist."
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The Dynamo of Volition · Beale Library