City of Ruins
She peddled her bicycle through the driving rain outside the city, through the streaming plains of water and soft, muddied ground. Her skin was wet beneath her silvery garments. She entered into a wooded area which covered her, providing some small patch of relief from the rain but not her tears. She continued steering through the scattered trees, breaking through into a large clearing as the rain began again to hit her face. She felt her feet slip, losing contact with the peddles as she rode. She lost her balance and fell, tumbling from the bicycle to the muddied ground below her. The bicycle continued on beside her, sliding down the slight decline and tipping over, quickly falling on its side. She sighed and closed her eyes, laying with her sorrows there in the middle of the grassy field. She laid flat on her back in the middle of the sea of green, the raindrops falling gently down upon her face, the clear water of cleansing coating the brown hue of her delicate skin with a glossy, wet shine as she breathed in the sweet air which accompanies a freshly fallen rain, so thick it was almost tangible. She would have smiled had her heart not hurt so badly. It was quiet there apart from the rain, but rain had always been calming to her, and she had needed desperately to get away. She opened her eyes and thought she felt a tear fall from her eye as it streamed down her face, warmer than the drops of water plummeting from the clouded sky. She breathed, beginning to calm, on her face a near perfect expression of peace, and a flash of hope could be glimpsed in her blue-green eyes, deep as the oceans.
A newness of life came as she turned her head, touching her cheek to the well wet grass. She glimpsed a structure in the distance as she prepared herself to rise. Far across the grassy clearing, tucked in near the line of trees and thick shrubs the forest bears and wears as its own illustrious garment, each uniquely and painstakingly woven, there was a building in the midst of it. She raised her head with interest, and her dark hair, shoulder length and tightly curled, spread out behind her, now drenched and heavy with an early summer rain. She lifted herself up off of the damp and muddied ground, captivated by this strange rectangular structure.
She moved slowly forward, beginning to examine its form. There were grand stairs to a broad entrance and a large dome on the roof of the center of it. She was transfixed by this strange aberration as she reached for her fallen bicycle, setting it upright, and taking hold of the handlebars. As she walked, she began to run with it, until at last she hopped up and mounted it again. She pleasantly rode the light downward slope toward this new found point of interest, unable to shake the feeling that the atmosphere had changed. Whatever it was that drew her to this place, it drew her more and more emphatically the nearer came, pulling at her core with ever increasing intensity of implicit necessity.
It was an old stone structure, immaculate but for its mild decay and the vines which gripped it. The smooth stone of the building seemed almost polished under the influence of the cold and driving rain. The vines which loosely gripped the structure, the leaves which climbed the sandy walls trembled and bent with the weight of the tiny silver droplets.
'How could it be that this is here? If this is the ruins, the city was destroyed by fire, but this seems almost... untouched.'
Being within several paces of it, she left her bicycle and curiously drew near to examine the walls. From this distance, she could see the wear on the old stone which was not readily visible from afar. She placed her hand upon the rock and traced over the scars in the weathered stone.
"What is this?" she breathed.
There was an inscription along the base, still readable, but partially covered by the grassy earth. She knelt down, digging out the muddied ground which covered the foundation, continuing to put her hands to work until the aged letters of the worn inscription became clear:
THE THRONE OF HIS KINGDOM IS E'ER ESTABLISHED
And again in another place:
THE KING IS MY FOUNDATION
EST'D YEAR 32, STEPHAN CALIPHUS KING
"Such an odd inscription," she breathed, her fingers tracing out the engraved lettering. "And I can't shake this feeling that there's something more," she muttered quietly.
It had been as if she were being drawn by a strange force, but it was more than a force. Not a force at all, really, but a person. It was as if someone had taken her by the hand and whispered, "Come with me," and so she had.
She made her way across the front of the building, constantly examining it with curious interest. Occasionally, she felt as if someone was standing there beside her, causing her to glance, but no one ever was. Now, there she was, standing before the grand entrance of this great ivory hall. The stairs were vast and used, the huge stone slates laid one atop another having been cut to perfection, making an impressive set of stairs on every side which led into a magnificent portico. The roof of the portico was rounded and beautifully carved within and without, its stone pillars the notable work of a skilled craftsman.
There was a plain band around the roof of the portico's edge, clearly exhibiting the writing which read:
LIBRARY FOR THE BETTERMENT OF PUBLIC HEARTS
Her interest grew with each word she read and, seeing the large stone stairs which caught the water as it fell reflecting the remnants of light which the thick covering of clouds could not hold back, she began to make her way forward and up them. She had never actually seen a classic library, only heard about them as being a part of the old ways of their civilization. They had a modern library in Pyre, but it was nothing like this and she had never gone but once as a child.
'I've always liked the idea of libraries. It's just that... I've never had need for them.'
The foreignness of it enchanted her, drawing her ever nearer the platform and pillars with which the entrance was marked. Boldly, she ascended the library stairs until she reached the broad wooden doors of the grand structure with its distinguished domed top. The doors had not even the slightest indication of rot or decay. The brass handles were polished, the wood was finished and firm. Slowly, she reached out, as if to grapple with destiny or grasp it in her hand. She took hold of one of the handles, and breathing in, she began to pull.