Jer coughed awkwardly at her comment, as well as at the gout of dust that billowed gracefully up into the air, reminding him briefly of ribbons or silk streamers flickering upwards in dance. He gave the trunk a chagrined smile, clearing his throat as he moved closer to look at it.
“It is…a lot to keep up with, on one’s own,” he said, standing rather more upright than was entirely necessary, “and things do get away from one.” He smiled a little more naturally and leaned in to look. “Me. I am referring to myself there.” A flick of his hand sent the softly glowing orb to float up above them, its light increasing somewhat with height.
He reached forward, standing behind the trunk, to unlatch the mechanism that kept it locked, a smooth and nimble motion of his fingers that was almost incomprehensible in its speed. There was a solid, slightly grating click, and he eased the top of the latch out of the bottom until its teeth had been freed.
“Though in my defense, this one had deteriorated to the point of unreadability before even I started my tenure here.”
Jer creaked the lid open, easing it up and back until it rested lightly against his abdomen. The inside of the trunk was plain, but clearly very, very old; the rough, unlined planks inside were darkened and hard with age, and the parcel lying in the middle had all but fused itself into one solid organic mass.
“I’m not sure what condition it was in when my predecessor received it, but by the time I got into this trunk I couldn’t open the item itself.” He reached in and very, very carefully scooped it up, holding it softly but firmly in his palms the way one would hold a small, injured animal, a limp kitten or pup. He lifted it slowly until it was closer to eye level. “Most of the pages are sealed together with some combination of water damage and mold, and they’re so fragile that if we tried to turn them they’d just crumble.”