The Library at the End of the World

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Alexandrian library. The Library of Alexandria?! Nara’s head was spinning. And they chose her to become one of the Librarians. Awesome awesomness.

First day of her life and she was brought to this great place. For it was the first day of her life and somehow she felt she was born to live here and work for the Library. It may sound ridiculous to you, but not all worlds are the same and this counts for the inhabitants, too. Sometimes babies are brought by storks, sometimes people just appear out of thin air.

So Nara, full of euphoria, followed Meerkat with her eyes jumping from one wonder to another. Of course, this caused her to bump into a few citizens of Bibliopolis. Each time she mumbled a hasty apology and soon her mind was captured by a new sight. Oh my, look at this tower. It’s standing upside down. And there is a giant! I hope none of these will squash me with their boot.

After two hours of walking Nara was too tired so they hired a stoneman propelled carriage with enough space for a centaur to fit in.

When they stopped for dinner and sleep in an inn and a waiter has put some kind of baked fowl in front of Nara. The rumbling of her stomach has reminded the newborn girl that she hadn’t had a meal in a whole day. It was good yet it was an unknown taste for Nara. She mused if it the meat was from a strange animal to her or if it was because the cook used spices she isn’t used to. During the day and the dinner she had like a hundred of questions for Meerkat but her guide avoided most of them and answered only a little.

They had a long journey ahead for the city was as humongous as it was old, so they had to try more ways of transportation. To Nara’s delight each was more adventurous than the last. They flew in a hot air balloon, were carried by a carpet like slug and rode a carved tree trunk underneath the city. After five days they have finally arrived in front of the Library’s main entrance.

The whole journey Nara asked herself how the library and the front door will look like. Suffice to say it didn’t disappoint her. The main entrance was one massive wooden door that was composed of a big number of smaller doors and those could be divided into even smaller portals. Some could be opened in the middle and were wider than taller, some were situated in the higher parts of the main entrance. Nara guessed that each of the different kind of doors is used for different kinds of beings.

The wood itself was carved but one had to come close to see all the tiny details in the carvings. Nara thought that she recognized a few creatures such as dragons or faeries but there was a number of those she couldn’t name.

The door wasn’t locked. Nara and Meerkat freely walked into a rather dark waiting room. Stu leaned to a small window: “It’s Meerkat Stu, rank Wordling. I’m bringing in a fresh Inscribling.” Whoever was sitting behind the tiny window remained silent but it did something that opened the door for them.

If the city itself was marvelous, the Library was magnificent at the very least. And this hall was, for the lack of a better word in the limited human speech, monumental. The walls rose higher and higher, so high that the ceiling wasn’t visible with a bare eye anymore.

The walls were decked with shelves, paintings, tapestries and windows made of stained or pure glass. Notably light shone through those windows even though the windows didn’t lead outside so there was no way the bright light coming through was daylight. In the middle of the walls among all the shelves and alcoves were inbuilt stairs, rope ladders and pawlatshes crossing the air. Where there was still free space, you could see levitate closets full of books, carpets and various inventions. Mostly machines that were supposed to be used for flying but didn’t necessary belong to successful attempts at constructing an aeroplane. Nara noticed some airborne globes as well.

The hall seemed to stretch in all directions, branching into side corridors or leading directly to a room. Nara has soon given up an attempt to remember how many doors they passed and how many turns on either side they made. She simply smiled at the Librarians. A few of them approached Meerkat Stu with friendly words but most of them exchanged polite greetings from a far. So not only is this place ridiculously huge but there are so many people they don’t know each other. That was frightening in a way but Nara pulled herself together fast.

Once Meerkat stopped and looked at her. “I won’t show you the whole Library because our tour would take days. Now I’ll take you to your class room. You have a lot to learn before you can become a Wordling like me,” he informed Nara, puffing his chest at the mention of his rank a bit. Again Nara had hundred questions on her tongue but Meerkat just turned away from her and walked to the classroom as he claimed.

After some more marching through halls and walking upstairs, the two travelers have arrived at the threshold to a truly fascinating room, even for The Great Library standards. This room was as tall as any other but it was slightly more narrow than the rest of the sky high halls and passages. Slightly was a fitting term because this court was as wide as a family of blue whales swimming in a train, it’s just that the other halls were even wider. The base of the room was round and it the middle of the circular floor stood an arc. A gigantic arc of victory built in the middle of the hall towering over all creatures. Even the tallest Librarians from the race of Giants reached only halfway to the top of the arc and only on their tip toes.

This is the Arc of Arcs. It’s built in the core, the heart, of the library,” whinnied Meerkat brightly. “That’s why we call this room the Core of the Lore. “It’s amazing,” breathed Nara.

The classroom itself wasn’t as amazing as the Core but it looked comfortable. It resembled more a cozy teahouse or a kindergarten craft workshop than a strict classroom. The seats weren’t in organized rows but you sat on a pillow, more of these formed a circle. There were some shelves and tables next to walls the color of the inside of a sweet potato, too.

A group of people was already there. Two of them turned their heads to look at the newcomer but the rest didn’t seem to care about her too much. Choosing to discuss something instead. For example there was one very old man with little to no hair and skin rich with liver spots that he looked a bit like an anthropomorphic dalmatian. A monkey-human hybrid with reddish brown fur and orange robes. He was one of the more curious ones and continued to stare at Nara even when she looked him directly into his own eyes. On the other hand there was the less than impressed dryad. She – Nara guessed she might be a she for her appearance was quite feminine for a plant – had brownish bark and few little branches with leaves sprouting from her body. She didn’t wear any clothes, not in an ordinary human’s sense. Her branches had colourful rags knotted on them. Nara would stand in the door and examine the folks in the room longer but a sound of a throat being cleared has made her jump an inch in the air.

Everyone sit down please,” those words came from the mouth of a talking griffin the size and hind legs of a domestic cat. The fore legs had feathers of about three shades of grey. The small creature cleared its throat again and repeated: “Everyone means everyone.” The monkey man in robes snickered. Nara woke up from her admiring of the cute cat birdie and rushed to a pillow. She looked to the door but Meerkat must have left when she was looking around the room. Suddenly the girl felt a rush of loneliness and self-doubts. Due to that she missed her cue. “It looks we have a dreamer here. Miss, you have missed my question,” scolded her the little griffin. The monkey laughed louder and he wasn’t the only one this time.

Nara blushed. First few minutes and she made a mistake. On the other hand everyone was caught daydreaming in their life at least once so instead of clamming up she said, albeit rather shyly: “It does feel like a dream. Few days ago I was told I’m supposed to be a librarian and now I’m here and everything is so big and new to me.” It was embarrassing but true. “Oh, a newcomer. You’re taking it very well. I knew cases that were shouting battle cries and shooting fireballs left and right when they saw the splendor of the library,” the griffin chuckled. Then it cleared its throat again: “I’m Caleban. I’m your mentor. Well, not your only one but you can say the main one. And you are?” “I’m Nara. Nara Joy. Meerkat said I’m Intri-, Inscri-.“ “Inscribling, my dear. That’s not common but not rare either,” nodded Caleban, then he turned to the other rookie librarians: “Wrinkl, tell Nara what does an Inscribling mean.” The old man blinked a few times before he began: “An Inscribling is a Character who was made up and written with the intent to serve as the librarian in the Great Library of Alexandria.” He finished wheezing a little. Caleban nodded again: “Right. Nara, you were literally born to become one of us. Welcome in the Great Library.”

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