You think you know something, but then the universe just has to prove you wrong. Heb’beth thought as she headed to the Grand Archive’s refreshment area for a well deserved break.
She and the rest of the staff had spent the entire morning trying to find a lost tome. The records showed that they had the book in question, and where it was supposed to be located. But the records were, gasp, wrong.
Heb’beth had been the one to finally locate the book. After hours of searching, it turned out to be down in a sub-basement, setting on a box of cleaning supplies. One of the other librarians suggested a patron took it down there to look at the ‘racey pictures.’
She shook her head and put her hands in the sleeves of her robes.
Oh well, it’s nice to have a bit of excitement around here every once and a while. With everybody scurrying around, almost frantic in a hushed-librarian kind of way, it keeps things from getting too boring.
It was midday, so the port was busy with merchants and buyers, tourists, and natives all bustling about.
Cragial briskly stepped off the gangplank to his ship, The Interloper. Wasting no time, he reached into the inner pocket of his dark, full-length dress robes. He pulled out the DragonEye Amulet of Time. That’s what he called it, anyway. It was actually a pocket watch he had stolen from his mentor, the sorcerer Xerxes. Like all sorcerers before him, he could only assume the title of “sorcerer” by killing his mentor. When he finally had, he kept the timepiece as a reminder. In the cover he embedded a magic talisman, a blue dragon eye.
He held up the Eye to his mouth and murmured an incantation.
A bright light flashed behind him and a tall, vaguely humanoid shaped blaze-golem appeared. An entity of pure light, a blaze-golem was not to be taken… Well, lightly.
“Tell me again, slave, where is this library?” Cragial said.
“On the top of that hill, master.” The golem answered. “Are you sure we’re prepared for this? Perhaps we should learn more before—“
“Be quiet! We’ve discussed it enough!” Cragial snapped. He started toward the Archives. “If I knew what a chatty lightbulb you were going to be, I would have never conjured you!” He muttered.
He looked a back at the golem, “I am a sorcerer, there is nothing to stop me. Now shut up, walk behind me, and look scary.”
Heb’beth was sipping her tea when the doors to the Grand Archive burst open. A man in dark robes and full skirt stormed in. She knew what he was. Only a sorcerer would wear a full skirt. A creature of pure light followed him.
The sorcerer yelled something Heb’beth didn’t understand, something in bizarre tongue. As soon as he finished all the doors and windows in the building snapped shut. The only light left was the flickering of the small crystal sconces and the bright being of light — A blaze-golem, she realized with a start. They were in trouble.
“I demand the presence of the Granmaestro!” The sorcerer’s voice carried across the large open area.
“One moment, master.” The blaze said. It raised its arms and seemed to collapse into itself, becoming a small sun in the middle of the foyer. Two smaller suns broke off, all three re-formed into humanoid shapes. The two little ones ran off and out of sight, giggling as they went.
The sorcerer exhaled through his teeth. “Way to keep up the gravitas, golem.”
“Sorry.” The blaze murmured.
An ancient man was sitting behind an ancient desk, poring over the tome that had been lost earlier that day.
“Oh. Hmmm… These are nice pictographs.” He mumbled.
The door to his office exploded into light, splinters flying everywhere. “What the devil?!” He yelled, jumping in his seat.
“Close!” A little guy made of light said as he entered the office.
“Heheh, but not that close.” The other one said, following after.
Heb’beth was hiding herself behind a pillar. She was making herself as small as possible, so as not to be seen. She was thinking little thoughts, very quietly, in little circles.
“What should I do?”
“What can I do?”
“I’m no match for him, even without the golem!”
“I should have gone to the bathroom earlier.”
The two spark-golems threw the granmaestro down at the feet of Cragial.
“Here he is, oh Craggly-one.” One said.
“Heheh. Nice.” The other chuckled.
Cragial frowned at them, and they promptly shut up.
“You. Maestro. Tell me where you’ve hidden the Knowledge of Bemsgoth!” Cragial boomed.
The maestro cringed back, “The Knowledge of…? But that’s a myth, there’s no such rune!”
The Knowledge of Bemsgoth was said to be a runic talisman that was infused with all the knowledge of the universe, or at least all the knowledge of the great sorcerer Bemsgoth. Either way, it was surely something that would look good dangling on a chain around Cragial’s neck.
“Yes. I thought you might try to play this game. Well, I’m not the gaming type. Golem, kill him.” A collective gasp was heard from all the cowering librarians around the chamber, and from the golem too.
“That’s not necessary, master, we could—“
“Are you questioning me? Slave?!” Cragial was livid, spittle flying from his lips.
The golem, lowered his head. “No… no.”
The two sparklings let go of the granmaestro and took a step back, dissipating into the air. “Not my scene man…” One of them muttered as they dissolved.
The golem turned his head and raised his arm: The granmaestro instantly burst into flames. The fire was so hot that it was merely seconds before the only thing remaining of the maestro were his ashes.
The brief scream of the granmaestro snapped Heb’beth’s thoughts back to the present.
“Oh god, the poor old maestro…” She thought.
“I will burn this archive and all in it if I’m not presented with the stone immediately!” Cragial’s voice echoed. “It is, after all, a stone. So fire should not hurt it at all, eh, slave?” The golem didn’t answer.
“Very well. Golem, you may begin.”
The golem slowly raised its arm.
Heb’beths mind was racing. “Ohmygod. Ohmygod. I’m not ready to die. I’ve gotta do something.”
She took a deep breath and stepped out from behind the pillar. “Stop! I— I’ll show you where it is.”
“Oh, look. A brave librarian. How refreshing.” Cragial smirked.
Heb’beth led the sorcerer and the golem through labyrinthian stacks of books and scrolls, winding further downward until they reached a level in what must be the dungeons of the Grand Archives. There they stood, looking at a sturdy door. The door had a large sign above it, with large red symbols that Cragial didn’t recognize. But a powerful light was shining out from behind the doorframe, so he knew something of great power was concealed within.
“Scribe! What does this inscription say?”
“Um, it’s ancient symbology. Roughly translated it means: Bemsgoth’s Stone of Answers.“ Heb’beth said.
“Excellent…” Cragial said, eyes full of dark dreams. “Go! Enter and fetch it for me.”
“Buh, I can’t! Only the most brilliant may survive the entwining process. Perhaps the Granmaestro could have… But even then, since it’s soul-bound, the knowledge isn’t transferrable. I’m, I’m sorry…” Heb’beth said, nervously.
“Hmm… Yes.” Cragial eyed her. “What do you think, slave?”
The golem considered it for a moment. “It makes sense, lord. Magic that powerful would need a security mechanism of some sort.”
“Yes, precisely my thoughts!”
Cragial turned towards the door. “My dreams are mere footfalls away.” He said, perhaps to himself. He confidently pulled the door open.
The object in center of the room was so bright Cragial couldn’t look directly at it. So much power, he could feel it.
He stepped closer to the light, the heat it gave off was tremendous. It’s the knowledge of the universe, it only makes sense it’d be hot. Right?
Another step forward. As his eyes adjusted, he could see something covering the light. A grill of some kind? Extra protection perhaps? Yes. That was it. No matter, it would not foil him, not now. Now that he was so close.
Step. He noticed the back of his hands were dry, cracked.
His eyes widened for just a moment, as he realized his mistake, then he burst into a puff of steam and meat chunks.
“Man, I really hated that guy.” The golem chuckled. “He thought he was so smart.”
The golem looked at Heb’beth. “That was good thinking, girl.” He seemed to smile, from what little you could make out of his face.
Heb’beth was wide-eyed, still staring at the place where the sorcerer splattered. “Uh, thanks.”
“So, what does the sign actually say?” He said, gesturing the sign above the door.
She looked at him absently. “‘Danger: Magic Reactor Room’ — It provides the power for the whole complex.”
The golem let out a big laugh as he closed the door. “Classic.”
Published August 2014