The Dark Library
2 years ago
1282, 15th day of Lycanum, Vespers
“It’s cold". I said as I was walking down an old abandoned street heading east by a nearby small mountain. It is there near the top of this mountain that my journey would end. The long trek from my home in the Khanduras mountains and the Aegis to the west and here at this old library in Westmarch.
The library is covered in vines and some trees. I could see some very talk and very old trees on the west side as I walked up to it. There was a rusty vine covered plaque in front of the library. You could barely make out what the first part said. But you could see something that read “The Dark Library”. I knew I had come to the right place.
I came to this library so that it could help me find out some information. Maybe find out some information about my adopted father. Maybe find out why he was killed. Back home my girlfriend wrote me a letter of introduction and told me to go meet a man named James Lourdes. He was the interim head librarian and curator of the library.
As I walked up to this very old building I saw the architecture. It was very dark and very eerie. Like something bad had happened there in the past. I felt like there was a presence there for sure, but I couldn’t put my head around it to tell. The entrance had two very tall wooden doors. You could see metal plating slightly rusted helping hold the massive doors up. On the left door was a door knocker. A simple design. A ring attached to the door and a plate where the knocker would hit. On that plate and a circular design that looked like three pieces evenly spinning around the center leaving a triangular shape. It was too rusted so I couldn’t make out much more.
I grabbed the door knocker and hit it a few times. I waited a few moments as the rain continued to pour down. I was starting to get soaked completely when a man opened the door. “Greetings Sir what brings you out this far out?”, he said as he let me inside. While shivering a little and lower back my hood I said, “My name is Kristof Allen Williams. I am here to speak with the interim head librarian and curator James Lourdes. Is he busy at the moment?” The man paused for only a moment. “I believe not. Here grab a torch It’s going to be a very dark walk down the hallway to the central lobby. Also watch your step as you head down this way.”
The man went first as we went down the stone stairwell. There were only a dozen or so steps before we went to the main floor. From there we went past multitudes of bookshelves with thousands of books. Some new; some old; and some rotting to pieces. The area was poorly lit as there were not enough candles going. So the use of the torch was more useful here. When we got to the central area the pathway went right and to the open area of the central lobby. “Wait here at the top of the stairs sir I will go fetch Mr. Lourdes for you.” I thanked the man as he went down the small stone stairs to the lobby.
The Central lobby was a very large and open place; very well lit too. From where I stood looking to the north I saw a rather large chair with a trophy of a demon skull setting above it as the top. It had some leather padding and some very ornate design work. At it’s left and right were tables with books stacked up, and near empty bookshelves also to the left and right of the tables with that chair at the center. Behind that chair is a small stairwell going a couple of flights up to a room. I had guessed it was the office.
In the middle of the lobby were long tables; two rows of five each. On the outer edges of the tables were racks that you could place a torch and let it burn for a time, and be able to take it with you when you left. When I looked to the south I could see a couple of towering bookshelves with ladders leaning against them. In-between them near the ceiling is a slightly boarded up stain glass window that partially had the circle design like that of the door-knocker plate on the door. “This place is so huge.” I said to myself. “The chances of finding what I am looking for are probably really high.”
As I stood there however a cold brief gust of wind hit me from behind blowing out my torch. I looked around for a moment. “The door must not have been closed very good.” I laughed a little but was startled to hear a faint moaning sound. It sounded as if an old man were in agonizing pain. As quickly as the wind came and went so did the moaning sounds and all was silent again.
A few moments pass by and I watch as the man talk with James; who was standing next to one of the tables by that massive chair looking over some old books. After a moment he left the lobby to the eastern wing and James came to greet me. James was a tall fellow. Wearing a dark brown leather vest with a white shirt underneath. He had black dress shoes on but they looked rather worn. He was also blond and had a goatee with a short beard. His pants also were the same color as his vest. He looked rather tired from his work that evening.
“Greetings Mr. Williams; what can I do for you in this old run-down place?” I reach inside my cloak and pull out a letter from one of my front pockets. It was the letter of introduction written by my girlfriend. She knew the man from some of her travels outside of the order. I gave him the letter. He opened the envelope and pulled out the letter inside.
It has been a long time my friend. Recently my boyfriend’s father was murdered and I had thought of the library you worked at for so long. Maybe you can help us out. There are not to many leads. But we do know his father had a friend that worked there many years ago and maybe there was some information left behind in the annals of that huge place.
Raena Dee Kraft
James folded the letter and put it in his front pocket of his vest. “Well let’s see what I can do for you Mr. Williams.” He put his hand out and I put mine out and we shook hands. “Just call me Kris. No need for formalities.” James nodded and we went over to the table he was looking over some old books. If there was one thing I had a passion for it was completeness. I heard rumors that the old library was slowly being renovated but at a snail’s pace due to finances and lack of staff to help.
I had a desire to help this place get more organized. While I looked around James went over to the large chair and grabbed a large map behind it. The map was very old and bound by some small rope.
I pushed away some of the books while he laid the map down. He untied it and let it unfurl onto the table top. “Wow this place is larger that I thought.” I said in amazement over the large map. James smiled and laughed a little. “This is the full known layout of The Dark Library. It has a distinct ‘H’ shape to it at an angle so that it fits into the side of the mountain behind us. We are here.” James points at the center circular part of the library at the middle. This is the central lobby; also considered the oldest part of the library.” James moves his hand and points at the top left. “Here is the northwest wing. Most of the books there are old and have been forgotten. These wings on the west and east sides are newer but they house most of the lost books.”
“I just haven’t had the time to get to them. These wings also have two floors and a basement. One of these basement areas has a hole in it that leads into the mountain. The huge trees you saw outside; well their roots are so huge they have grown into the walls there and broken through. Many books that were there are considered lost forever due to the damage there. Most of the northern part of the northwest wing is partially covered in moss and other plant-life. You could check there later if you wish.”
I pause for a moment and look over the map and see so many places that have been marked off; or been added to the map. “I’ll check there later,” I said while taking my cloak off, and sat it down on the table behind me. “Let’s see about helping you with some of these books; I’d like to help get this place kind of fixed up. Maybe help light some of the corridors so we can find some more books. I saw some old books near the front that were literally falling apart by the wind that blew in when your assistant and I came down the stairs after closing the door.”
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. The library was so silent you could hear it echo in the lobby. James’ assistant ran out of the east wing of the lobby entrance; around the tables and up the west side to go answer the door. “My you two have been busy today; first you have me come in and now another.” James smiled a little, “We haven’t had this many knocks on the door in months.”
A few moments go by as we look over the map and talk about the library when we get interrupted by James’ assistant. “Mr. Lourdes there is a Mr. Littermann here to see you.” James got a concerned look on his face as he walked away from the map. “As in Paul Littermann; a close personal friend to King Justinian IV?” His assistant nodded, “Yes sir he wants to speak with you about the library.” James became surprised for a moment, “What are you waiting for; let him in. It is still raining out there you know!”
James turned around; came back to the table; rolled up the map, and put it behind the chair. In a hurry he grabbed some of the books that were on the table and sat them down on the table to the left of the chair. I grabbed the rest and placed them on the right table.
A few moments later Paul Littermann walked into the west lobby entrance and came into the lobby as James went to greet him. He was a stout man. Not very tall mind you but not to short either. His hair was long and white. The way he was dressed you would have thought he was a noble-man. I was sure he was also a rich man. The quality of his clothes made mine look like a poor mans rags. I didn’t know too much about him other than that. But if he was here it could be either good or ill for this old library. If the place would be shut down I could lose one of the best sources of information I know. I doubt the libraries in Caldeum would even help me.
- - - -
After a few hours of James and Paul meeting about the library’s future I grew worried. I wanted to get my information done and finished; but I also didn’t want to see this place fall a part and get shut down. From what I gathered from the meeting. The previous Head librarian and Curator was killed a few months back, and James had taken over so that the place would not fall to ruin too fast.
But that was not helping the flow of money coming in from people checking out books and the amount of people coming in to visit stopped completely over a month ago. The library was in dire straits, and I wasn’t about to let that happen. I wanted to get this place back to whatever former glory it had.
“Well that’s about it then James. The Library is done in my view. I’m sorry that all of your hard work to keep things afloat after the last curator; John Willkinsen died. He was very diligent in his work.” James nodded and had a somber yet sad look on his face. “He was a good friend too; to you, Elena, and me for sure.” As I sat there I began to gnash my teeth a little and got more and more annoyed and angry. I couldn’t hold it in anymore so I stood up quickly and slammed my hand on the table. “Let me take over then. I want to see this place back to whatever former glory it had. This place has a wealth of so much information. I don’t want to see it lost. It had so much history from what I can tell. I don’t want it to fade from existence.”
James and Paul look up at me in a little bit of shock. Paul looks over at James, “Who is this young man James?” James shrugs, “All I know about him is he knows my dear friend Raena.” Paul gets a surprised look on his face, “Oh you mean Mrs. Kraft? Well then I say let’s hear him out then.” James nods, “He came in the library before you did. Apparently his father was killed. So Raena thought that we might have some information for him. Other than that I have not much more I know about him.”
Paul looked up at me as we shook hands. “What is your name my young friend.” I sat down and took a deep breath. “My name is Kristof Allen Williams. I came here to this library to look for some information.” Paul nodded, “Yes James told me about it. Why were you so annoyed just now?” I sat there quietly for a moment. “I cannot set here idle by and watch this amazing place be shut down Sir. There is some information I need, yes; but I am sure there are others in this world who would be in a similar situation with me. Maybe not having their parent murdered, but needing some lost knowledge hidden in one of the wings in this great library.”
I pause for a moment and look at James. “If it is alright with you James; I would like to take over your place as Curator and Head Librarian. I want to help you get this place in order. I want to give it some more life.” James nods, “I’m fine with that. I only took the job to keep the place from going completely to nothing. If you want to take over my post then that is fine. Be aware though that we use to get guests here in the lobby weekly at one point. I shared with them some of the newest books me and my assistant found during the week. As well as some new stories that were sent to us from various scribes and authors throughout the kingdom."
I pause for a moment and look at Paul. “Mr. Littermann what is the full name of the Dark Library? I couldn’t tell on the plaque outside other than some hastily carved writing say ‘The Dark Library’.” Paul laughed aloud for a few moments. “Ah that name was just an alias for the place. This library really didn’t have much of a name save for that. My dear friend King Justinian hated that this place was so run down and that it started to become a blemish to the city of Westmarch.”
“How about this Sir; if James and I with the help of a few more people get this library into tip top shape and get it into good working order would you think the King would like to have the library named after him?” Paul looked shocked for a moment. “If you think you could do so I am sure he would. But this place needs to be in the best shape it has been in years. I mean look at the stain glass window up there. It’s partially been boarded up. If that isn’t a sign of the age of this old place I don’t know what is.”
I sat there in thought for a moment and had a name for the library. “How about this Mr. Littermann; ‘The Justinian IV Library of Lore and Lost Antiquity’.” Paul adjusted himself in the chair he was sitting in and leaned forward to me. “That has a nice ring to it my friend. How long do you think it could take you to get this place in good enough shape that a King could but his name on it?” I smiled and looked at James. Hey James what would you think? Maybe in a year we could get this place all fixed up?” Paul turned and looked at James. “I think that could be done if we had some help. Maybe a team of renovators to help stabilize some of the rotting walls. On the north-eastern wing we have the top floor partially collapsed due to the wood rotting.”
“A year you say? You think you could even do that sooner?” Paul asked being concerned with the time. “I think we might”, I replied; “If things don’t go to bad with the renovations of northeastern wing and maybe the front entrance to the library. The first thing I want to fix up is that stain-glass window up there above the lobby. Who knows when that will come crashing down.” Paul pauses for a moment and ponders things.
“Well if you two think you could do it; you have my support. I know Mr. Lourdes can do this, but you Mr. Williams. I am placing a gamble on you. I don’t know you very well but I can tell your enthusiasm for this place. You haven’t even been here but a few hours and you show as much care for this place as the previous curator did. He would be proud. So be it I appoint you the next Curator and head librarian of this ‘Dark Library’, and I am sure James won’t have a problem with being your first assistant. Now James where did your assistant go?” James looked around and saw a note on the desk beside him. “I don’t know; what is this note here?” James looks over the note briefly. “Looks like my assistant had decided to resign after hearing that you wanted to shut down this library.” James said with a slight sigh as Paul moved forward in his chair for a moment.
“Well the stage is set then my friends. I will go let King Justinian know all that has transpired here tonight. Don’t disappoint me my friends. I wouldn’t want the wrath of the King brought down upon you if this place should not be ready. I could only imagine what could happen to the library let alone your necks!” Paul began to laugh aloud for a few moments. “Not that the King would really do that to you anyway.”
- - - -
(It was there that my life at the library would begin and maybe some of my answers about my father would be answered... or so I thought.)