Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Page 1281

((The Wednesday Triple: page 2 of 3))
Another tremor arrived, but it was more noticeable this time, because a crashing sound followed it, as well as a whole lot of rustling paper.

Emiliana and Germal both looked out over the anciently baroque handrail, searching for the source of the commotion amongst the layered sea of bookcases. They couldn’t find it, but the noise never quite died down, only lessened to a background murmur.

“What do you think that was?” Emiliana asked as they continued on.

“At a guess, I would say the Library ate someone just now,” said Germal, “but... then again, perhaps not. It is not usually so aggressive.”

She squinted. “Are you saying that it normally eats people in an unaggressive manner?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. The Library usually consumes you via a kind of hypnosis. You begin reading, and then... you simply never stop. The desire to continue reading overpowers all others in your mind, even thirst and hunger and rest. And with every bit of knowledge you discover, with every new secret you unlock, a small part of your soul is overtaken by the Library. In the end, I suppose, you do learn all of the Library’s secrets. The only problem is that, by that point, you’ve become part of the Library.”

That sounded awfully familiar, Emiliana felt. “How do you know so much about it?” she asked.

“The acquisition of delicate information is my trade,” said Germal.

“...That is not an answer.”

“Alright, fine, Gohvis told me.”

The noise from before resurged and stole their attention again. This time, it sounded closer.

“You have heard the Library make these sounds before?” Emiliana asked.

“Yes, but only once. Gohvis had just discovered this place, and the Library was upset that it could not eat him. But that was years ago, and--”

A brown shade appeared, and then Ibai Blackburn was standing there next to her. “Hello, Em!” he said, all smiles. “Isn’t this place great?!” He had a whole stack of books under one arm.

Page 1280

((The Wednesday Triple: page 1 of 3))
As they continued, it was hard to not feel a bit overwhelmed by this place. Suffice to say, in her entire life, she had never seen so many books at once. Or even cumulatively, for that matter. And this scent. She had never thought of “knowledge” as a smell before, but that was what came to mind. Musty, papery, inky, dusty.

Comforting, in an odd way. Welcoming, perhaps. Intoxicating, too, somehow. As if every word on every page was simply waiting to be read.

She couldn’t claim to have ever been an avid reader, really, but this place was making her wish she was otherwise. Surely, there must’ve been all sorts of juicy secrets hidden around here. Why else would Gohvis be interested in a library?

She stopped following Germal and, almost unconsciously, found herself drawing closer to the nearest bookcase. A quick peek wouldn’t hurt. Her hand searched for a book.

Abruptly, Germal was right there next to her, holding her wrist. “I would not do that if I were you.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“The Library of Erudition has three very important rules, so listen well,” said Germal. “First, you can never take a book without the Keeper of the Library’s permission. Second, any book you do take will return to the Library within twenty days. And finally, if you attempt to break either of the first two rules, the Library will devour your soul and every bit of knowledge that you carry.”

Emiliana just stared at him.

He moved her hand back down to her side for her. “Perhaps I should have mentioned that before we came here,” he said.

“Yes, perhaps.”

“The Library is a great honey trap, of sorts. I have heard that it has a will of its own and that it can be rather malicious.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Page 1279

Emiliana found that rather difficult to believe but didn’t think being rude would prove useful, so as sincerely as she could manage, she simply asked, “Why?”

“Because, for one thing, as far as I have been able to tell, he always acts either defensively or with great precision,” said Germal. “Unlike many of his contemporaries, he rarely causes collateral damage. And for all their talk, many of the Vanguard’s strongest cannot truthfully make the same claim.”

That was hard to argue with, she supposed. All things considered, she didn’t really know as much about the Vanguard as perhaps she should have; but after hearing the Lady Stroud talk about what transpired at Rheinhal... Emiliana didn’t think she would be forgetting the names Sanko, Parson Miles, and Xavier Lawrence anytime soon.

“For another thing,” Germal went on, “Gohvis is not trying to annihilate humanity, as you have no doubt heard. On the contrary, he is trying to ensure its survival.”

Beyond all others thus far, Emiliana found that claim to be exceptionally dubious. She decided to keep her mouth shut, however, as she began to notice tall bookcases replacing the walls of the corridor. And indeed, they soon arrived at their destination. The hallway opened into an enormous chamber--much more enormous than she had been expecting, in fact.

It was a great stairwell, she saw, and each floor was filled with thousands of books. The wide pit in the middle of the room offered a view that went both above and below, and while she could see a distant ceiling, she couldn’t see a bottom floor.

Germal led her downward, and she tried to glimpse the titles of some of the nearest books, but they were in a language she didn’t recognize.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Page 1278

((The Monday Triple: page 3 of 3))
“What do you mean, ‘paper boy’?” asked Emiliana.

“A deliverer of news,” said Germal. “It is as mundane as it sounds.”

A rather brief and dismissive answer, Emiliana noticed. She tried a different angle. “How old are you?”

Germal found the question amusing. “A word of advice, cedo. Inquiries such as those are invitations for lies. You will have to choose your words more skillfully than that if you wish to learn anything useful from strangers.”

They came to an intersection of seven different hallways, and Germal chose the far right one.

Emiliana followed. “...So you are not going to tell me how old you are?”

“Would you trust my word if I did?”

“You’ve yet to give me a reason not to.”

“Ah. In that case, I am three years old.”

“...No, you aren’t.”

“And now I have given you your reason.”

Emiliana smacked her lips. “Very well. If you will not tell me about yourself, then what can you tell me of Gohvis?”

“Ha! He is not prone to talking about himself.”

“Yeah, I guessed as much. But is he as bad as everyone says?”

Germal stopped walking to look at her. “Everyone? Who is everyone, cedo?”

She wasn’t quite sure what he was asking. “Um...”

“You have not heard what everyone says, I should think. If you believe that everyone thinks him evil, then you have heard but one side of the debate.”

“Tell me the other side, then.”

Germal continued walking. “The Black Scourge. The Monster of the East. In this place, and many others, those names are all but heresy. Speak them aloud and you are liable to receive a lashing that you will not soon recover from.”

Emiliana just listened.

“Gohvis is a hero to many--and I do not mean only our kind. There are some places where he is even revered as the greatest hope for all humanity.”