Thursday, September 19, 2019

161 - “In the Library” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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"I am Normath Collector. I am the Guardian of this temple of the Seekers." He was an older man with long, silver hair, and he spoke with a tired airiness to his voice.

Thissraelle walked down the hallway, a few paces behind him and Korr. They hadn't invited her to come along, but they hadn't stopped her, either.

Korr responded, "Collector is an interesting name. How did you earn it?"

Normath had an eager smile. "That's what I want to show you!" They topped a stairway and turned down another hall, opposite the direction they'd originally come from.

"Thissraelle!" Eddiwarth caught up to her, catching his breath. "Where are you going? I thought you wanted to see the eelwhales!"

"I did. They're beautiful. Thanks for coming to get me." She didn't stop. She didn't really need to, as Normath and Korr weren't walking very fast anyway.

“Well... where...?” Eddiwarth just looked at her with furrowed brows and fell into step beside her. The hall was cut into the stone, like almost every structure here in the temple. It was not long, and there were several doors on either side along its path. It was lit by small oculi imbedded into the walls just below the ceiling, just like most of the interiors she had seen here.

“There are an awful lot of oculi in this temple,” she suddenly thought out loud. “It must have taken a lot of wizards to charge them up. Or a long time.”

The old seeker stopped for a moment and looked up at them. “Back in the great reality, it would have. The Vast, however, is a magical place, sometimes strangely so. I often get to the point where I take it all for granted.” He smiled to himself, then stepped toward one of the doors.

“The great reality?” Eddiwarth said, “What’s that?”

The old man turned his hands in the air as if he were shaping a great ball. “That’s the universe that your world - our world - is in. That’s where you came from. Twynne Rivers, Umbrawood, Emberfire... Those are all little dots in the great reality.” He grabbed the handle of the door and pushed it open.

They stepped out onto a narrow balcony overlooking a deep, wide hollow pit. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth stepped forward, timidly looking out over the edge. There was no railing. Across the chasm, she saw that the balcony was actually a ramp, spiraling gradually downward into the depths of the cylindrical space.

“Welcome,” the Seeker said, “to the heart of our temple.” As Thissraelle looked back, she noticed that the wall behind him was made entirely of shelves and berths filled with books and scrolls. She rushed to them, running her fingers gently over the leather-bound spines. Some were short, some were thick. There were so many different colors and languages in the imprinting. Her mind immediately flashed to memories of Granthurg sitting in the library of the forest abbey, while she sat relaxing with some tea. She rushed down the ramp, touching the books and the scrolls. Occasionally, a shelf held small figurines, sculptures, or a helmet. Oh, Granthurg. You would love this place! Granthurg! 

She began to cry. In the short time she’d been here in The Vast, she’d thought about him, but still wondered where he was and if he’d lived. She’d been so focused on The Vast, on Karendle, and Heathrax that she hadn’t had a chance to feel his absence. The weight of that emptiness suddenly bore down on her heart. Oh, Granthurg, my friend.

She heard the old Seeker talking to Korr. She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand and stepped back up the ramp toward them.

“, I’m the Collector, and this is my collection. Well...,” he corrected, “...OUR collection. I’m only its caretaker. We’ve gone through the whole world, in many different times and places, gathering records and writings. Histories, philosophies, poems, stories, maps, ledgers...”

Korr wondered, “But shouldn’t the people of these places and times keep their own histories? Why collect them here?”

The old man laughed. “Oh, we don’t keep them! We make our own copies and store those here.”

“That would be very difficult, rewriting all of these tomes. There are thousands!”

“Hundreds of thousands! Maybe more. But we don’t rewrite them. This is The Vast, son! We use magic!”

Thissraelle stepped up to them, still wiping her eyes, as he continued, “We are the Seekers of the Great Reality, but only because we come from there. In fact, it’s The Creator we’re seeking. We believe--we know-- He is real. Looking at all of creation from here in The Vast makes it impossible for us to come to any other conclusion.”

He waved his hand before him, and suddenly they were all standing on the familiar terrace near the dormitory wing of the temple. Startled, Thissraelle looked around her. The sudden dimensional shift left her feeling a bit dizzy.  Normath was unfazed. “Look above you, around you.”

She did as he said, taking in the clouds sparkling with color and the masses of matter floating past. The eelwhales swam away in their own steady path, trailing thin wisps of color in swirling eddies behind them.

“What we’re really seeking is the Creator Himself.”

Korr asked in hushed tones, “Have you found Him?”

“Oh, no! Heavens, no!” the old man laughed, “ Not yet, anyway. We just keep finding more of His creation.”

Thissraelle stood thoughtfully, as Normath continued, “And each of us needs to sense His guidance and find out what He wants from us, individually.”

Yes. Guidance. I’m starting to see. Maybe I just need to trust the guidance I’m getting.

Then, in a breath, they were all back in the cavernous library, standing on the ramp. Thissraelle blinked her blurry eyes and stepped up to the shelves. On one was a clay sculpture, a sphere, with a map of her world etched into its surface. She traced her hand around it, recognizing the small shape of the continent and mountains that form Wynne. Her home. She tapped a finger on the dot that was Twynne Rivers, and drew a line up to the Emberfire Mountains.

A shriek and a whoop sounded behind her and echoed through the huge empty space. She jumped and saw Eddiwarth waving his arms frantically to keep his balance, and falling outward off the edge of the ramp.

“No!” She shouted, and ran toward him, grabbing for his hand. Her feet slipped a on the stone floor, and and her leg slid forward out from under her. She missed his hand and tumbled after him. She felt her foot slide off the edge of the ramp, out into the emptiness of the pit. Her backward knee hit the stone, and she spun away. Her stomach twisted inside her as she fell. She screamed and closed her eyes. A moment later, she heard Eddiwarth laughing. She felt no air rushing around her.

She opened her eyes. The rows and stacks of books weren’t flowing past her. They weren’t falling, either. Nervous, she looked around as she flipped and spun in the air, floating toward the center of the pit chamber. The world sphere she had been carrying whirled in the air beside her.

“What’s going on?” She called out to Normath.

Eddiwarth was chuckling and twirling himself as he swam in the air. “Look! I’m an eelwhale!”

“Oh, there’s no gravity in the pit. That’s so you don’t have to walk all the way down the spiral if you want a book,” Normath answered. Thissraelle was finally able to twist herself so she wasn’t twirling, and she folded her arms across herself and drifted to the other side. Korr sat down on the edge of the ramp and tentatively waved his hand out over the pit, trying to feel the difference. He looked up at Normath, who shrugged. The only explanation he gave was, “What can I say? It’s The Vast.”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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