Forgotten Embers

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The Librarian

The room where he stood was broad and lined with wooden shelves filled with books, the same which filled the floor space all around him. It was a grand hall with lofty ceilings, marble floors, broad doorways, and a well-polished wooden desk at the front in the center of it all to help and direct those who would come in search of a librarian for guidance. The main hall of the library and its trappings were magnificent. Even at a glance, it could be known that the craftsmanship was matchless - the carvings, the paintings, the bindings, everything had been done with such enduring perfection and careful planning. Yet, beyond that, there was much more grandeur and detail than the sharpest eye could latch onto, even after years of close inspection.

The ceilings and walls were painted a candlestick white. The bookshelves had carved into their sides images of vines, flowers, and other such things, and the whole of the room was trimmed with gold, save the desk and shelves of books, which had been fashioned of a dark cherry wood. The whole of the ceiling was plain and white, being as the walls were, but for the dome.

The dome itself was a thing to behold, a beautiful mural having been carefully placed upon the glass of its delicate frame. On it was painted a magnificent image of the sun rendered in various shades of gold with long, winding rays. Surrounding the sun and its rays was a deep royal blue, dappled with gold like embers of flame against the night sky. A single light suspended from the center of the painting on a long chain. The brazier which hung by its chains seemingly from the sky above it was made of finely polished brass, and a fire inside of it. There was a cord which held it also tied to the rail of the narrow balcony which lined the back of the upper portion of the room with spiral stairs to reach it. Around the top band of the brazier, etched within its metal framework, were the words: Kiss the Son. This fire was the only source of light within the whole of this grand and lofty hall, but still the light remained. The light it gave was a perfect, and the air itself seemed to shimmer around it, giving off a strange, magnificent glow.

He was a young man with a comely countenance and pale skin. He was tall, slender, and built for athleticism. He was well dressed, sporting a plain white long sleeve dress shirt with buttons on it along with a gold tie and sand colored vest with matching trousers. His hair was a light copper brown, thick and wavy, which he kept well-groomed and combed to the side in a traditional manner. The round gold wire-brimmed glasses he wore reflected the shimmering amber flecks in his warm brown eyes.

'Here it is,' he reached his arm up to a higher middle section of the shelf, taking gentle hold of the top of a dark green spire with gold lettering. 'Book forty-three of the Kingsmen Chronicles.'

He leaned the book back towards him and pulled it from the shelf with grace. He smiled as he looked at it in his hand, his eyes carefully considering the intricate pattern of the gold decorating the cover. Gingerly, he cracked it open, leading through the pages until at last he found the desired portion.

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not laid hold of it," he read aloud, proclaiming the fate of the nations.

The words on the page seemed to lift and alight as he breathed them out. They took their leave with letters aglow like newly born sparks, each word lit like the sun at the fiery break of dawn. Twirling with graceful movements in rhythmic flight, they floated and danced on the air as they were blown like swirling leaves in a crisp, cool breeze, and the fire reflected in his eyes. His speech was sweet and eloquent, each word, each sentence moving as a soothing stream flowing gracefully, smoothing stones as it washes over them. Still, they came forth with flashing conviction and impenetrable power - undaunted, unquestioning, and without even the slightest hint of doubt. Again, he smiled, touching his fingers to the page and brushing them over the black ink.

'How marvelous you are... how marvelous this light is.'

He walked back past the shelves to the front, holding the book in his hand and carrying it alongside him. He looked to the door.

'Dorcus said she'd be coming. It's about time, isn't it?'

No sooner had he thought it than he heard the door crack as it began to open, the sound of the winds and driving rain entering through it.

'Ah, at last! There you are...'

A young woman stood before him, dressed in a maurium sky suit and quite wet. "Hello! And, may I say, how exceedingly grand it is to have you here," he called out dandily, waving his unoccupied hand as a friendly means of greeting. "Welcome to Pyre! I've been expecting you."

She looked at him with fearful astonishment. Scared and startled, her eyes grew wide with terror. 'Hm... yes, but it seems she wasn't expecting to find me here, was she?' He looked on her with quiet compassion and careful apology, his eyes soft with empathy. 'No, not at all.'

He hung his head, a small smile still on his kindly countenance. "I'm sorry," he muttered softly, "I didn't mean to startle you."

She looked at him, tilting her head, her eyes questioning.

"My name is Benjamin Palmer," he explained, raising his head again as he mindfully approached, willing to present himself to her as nonthreatening. "You might consider me the librarian here. Of course, I like to think of myself as the bookkeeper," he stretched out his hand, and patiently waited for her to accept it along with the warm welcome. "Perhaps there's one that might interest you," he invitingly commented with a friendly smile.

He watched her eyes and noted the fear which gripped her still. "Please," he appealed to her softly, "don't be afraid. All's well, I assure you." He looked down at his hand then back to her face, which seemed to calm with the kindness of his words and demeanor.

For a long moment he waited before he withdrew his hand from the beautiful young lady who now stood statuesque before him. He frowned, feeling the pain which was within her, festering and pricking at her soul. "You've hurt a lot in life," he mumbled, softly considering the state of his guest and her needs, his mind still seeking how best to accommodate her.

Her eyes fell to the ground and she clenched her teeth as a flood of painful emotion flooded her face.

He stopped for a moment, visibly overcome with a heartfelt compassion which overwhelmed him.

"What is your name?" he at last inquired.

"Avera," she told him softly, still reticent to answer.

He smiled. 'Good. Then there is hope.'

"Well, Avera..." he said, touching his hand to the back of his head, "perhaps you would like a towel, something with which to dry yourself off a bit, and a change of clothes? If you're tired, a spare room, also. That I have, I can offer, and that I offer you, Miss..."

"Ibori," she said with a small smile of thankful amusement. "And yes," she added, coming to herself a bit, "I'd like that."

"Ibori?" he repeated, his smile becoming a small grin. "Good, then."

'Avera Ibori, eh? The same as Tyberion. I doubt such a thing as a coincidence.'

"Well, Miss Ibori, if you would be so kind as to come with me..."

He smiled at her as he walked over to one of the bookcases which lined the right wall of the library's main hall. He pressed against the center of one of the flowers, a particularly delicate wood carving on the side of the finely crafted bookcase. He applied the light pressure to the point of the mechanism which sunk into the space between the pedals until a faint click was heard. He removed his hand, and the bookcase slid back into the wall, revealing a stone stairwell leading downward, deep beneath the library's foundations.

"Coming?" he asked her, looking back with an invitingly curious grin.

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