The Bibliovores
rating: +12+x

"Flip again."

"There's nothing here, Basar. It's been two days since we've started, maybe we should take a break?"

"Flip through the stack again. There has to be something—Stop. Look at that."

"What? You're not even facing me, how can you—"

"No questions. Not anymore. No time."

"Fine."


DATABASE OF THE MOONLIGHTS

SEARCH LOG: PG: 577

ID: BIBLIOVORE

TAGS: Book, Shelf_16, South_Shelves

TRACK RECORD: Remains unseen (Twelve Reports, Thirty Missions, Zero Sightings, Zero Captures)

DOCUMENTATION NOTES: Most documents mentioning the vicious entities known as the Bibliovores have been transcribed from eye-witness reports. Very little is known on the topic of the Bibliovores or the shelf that they currently occupy (South Shelf 16H). The entities for an unknown purpose and through unknown means consume or otherwise remove book covers from all books that reside on South Shelf 16H.

RELEVANCY: Extremely relevant. Potential harm to implants in the Library is predicted. Implanted knowledge and research efforts are also stunted in the Earth Science Literature area, which will most likely lead to a decrease in developments in that area once the books are left without identifiable covers.

CURRENT EFFORTS:

  • Squadron INVICTUS
  • Team Parallax
  • Unknown group of amateur ghost-hunters
  • Library Staff (efforts unclear but present)
  • Other minor, although undeclared groups

OTHER:

  • 10/23/[ERROR]: An official bounty on any information/materials pertaining to the Bibliovores has been raised, leading to an increase in groups currently diverting efforts to searching for the elusive entities known as the Bibliovores.

Basar faced me before I finished reading the entire doc. Strangely, I could sense that he had mouthed the words "bounty" just as I read the erroneous date, his silent words betraying his ill-tempered demeanor for curiosity.

"There is no sense to this." He muttered, his voice quiet.

"What do you mean?"

"The Library has staff equipped for dealing with threats like this. It does not make any sense that they are putting out an official bounty to hunt these - things. It would just add unnecessary chaos."

"I guess that is odd. Maybe they needed help-?"

"No." Basar had cut me off. He leaned forward in his chair, interlacing his fingers and resting his chin on them. "A single Docent - the lowest of the staff - is able to withstand gunfire, blunt force trauma, anomalous abilities, hell, just about anything without so much as breaking a sweat. They would not need support on something as small as a pest."

I nodded in agreement, but didn't know what else to say. It was strange, to say the least. Basar pulled out another page from the file and handed it to me. It was a photocopied page from some notebook. He continued speaking.

"But of course, everything is a lead. Like this. The first eyewitness report of the events taking place."


wyrm%20fixed

The Gatekeeper's Sketchbook.

Monday.

Hell, I can’t explain how much I hate writing in a sketchbook. It feels so wrong, y’know? Like I’m doing something forbidden. These pages were meant for art, for drawing, for visuals, not words. But, even so, my memory tends to be shit and I just have to document all that’s going on right now. It’s a fucking mess, literally, and there isn’t enough time to document everything visually besides a few simple sketches, so I guess I’ll have to sacrifice a page or two to writing. Just don’t expect any more out of me anytime soon, at least, not until I get a proper writing book.

book%20fixed

Regardless, point is, it’s as if a mini war has started in the Library. A bounty was posted a few days ago and it lead to a complete riot. Everyone wants dibs on the reward. So many people and creatures are coming out of the woodworks to participate you’d think there’s some sort of, I don’t know, party going on? There’s a lot of new entities here interacting. I don’t know how else to put it besides stating that its making introverts like me uncomfortable.

From what I’ve observed, there’s some sort of little critter, or perhaps group of critters, loose in the Library and the Library staff want them gone. Apparently they’ve been damaging books by ripping the covers straight off and then running away with them. Why they do this is unknown, but it certainly is a violation of Rule Two of the main Library rules - Do not damage Library property. So, yeah, in my opinion the staff have every right to use whatever means necessary to remove the nuisance from their property. It’s exactly the same as I would do back home, so I don’t really have a right to complain about their methods. Maybe I’ll take part in the hunt too, as, yeah, I do this type of stuff around home all the time too, so it wouldn’t be too difficult. Either way, I will be keeping track of these events, as I have never seen so much chaos in the Library before.


There was never any stopping Basar once he applied himself—after a decent cup of coffee when he could get one, of course. This was known to all but a few rock-buried few, especially considering his recent exploits, like the search for the Makotex, the Fossil Races, and currently, the hunt for the Bibliovores. By this point, most who knew him were afraid, at least mildly, and those who didn't know him should've been. It wasn't because of his well-trimmed facial hair, but rather his reputation for more than participation that lead him to being known as one of the best investigative agents out there—and that, along with a select few other things, fueled him to the point of extinction.

Then there was also his abilities that were more than just extraordinary luck. Futursense is a gift that must be used for the benefit of humanity, and Basar treated it as such. Of course, it did not always provide him the chance to—hence, the two day failure in investigation, although things definitely seemed to be picking up steam now.

He extracted his attention from the diary account and faced the closed eyes and mouth of his young deputy, Harris Idle. Some may have thought he was sleeping, but Basar understood that it was his way of comprehension and immersion for auditory input. Harris was a good person and an inquisitive agent, Basar thought, but if only there were more time to train him. No matter now, since time really was ticking to find the Bibliovores, books were ripping and people were fighting as they read through piles of documents. They were in a dull room with several tables interspersed, or in other words, Basar's idea of an investigation room.

"Is that the end of the document?" Harris asked tentatively. He had thoughts boiling about him, Basar could tell.

"Yes. Harris, are you aware of the nature of our investigation?"

"Yeah…We're trying to find evidence about the location of the Bibliovore's home, right? Or at least anything we can use to stop them. In order to either claim the bounty for ourselves or at least minimize the length of the, uh, competitive investigations."

"Correct. If you have such a good idea of our mission, then why do you appear to have a doubt in the knowledge in your possession? Is there a detail that you are missing?"

"Well…I suppose I am wondering about the kind of people who are after this in the first place. How dangerous are they if they're in the Library, after all? And if they are dangerous, why haven't they claimed the bounty yet?"

Basar moved to a stack to his left and seemingly pulled out a random paper. His power was on his side today; he could feel it. He handed it to Harris, who began to scan it intently.


TEAM PARALLAX

Date: [ERROR, LOCAL TIME SYSTEM MISSING]
Report Code: BOUNTY_57_1
Report Staff: Svak Kavs, Alan Grakiminim… , Android#45
Mission Objective: To attain the reward set by Library Archivists for the capture of the organisms known as the Bibliovores.
Report Summary: On this mission, we were sent into the Library by means of the Parallax-controlled Way and used our pre-programmed holochron indicators to find South Shelf 16H (time elapsed: 4 days). Soon afterwards, we began to encounter Library staff haphazardly, delaying us by a few hours, since we wanted to avoid recognition stemming from the previous mission (time elapsed: 5 days). At the time of arrival at South Shelf 16H, we initially noticed the large size of the location: The shelf was not a simply linear one, and it instead was a circle that continued to spiral up into beyond, without any gaps that were left unfilled by a book (approximate diameter: 50 metres, approximate height: more than 7480 metres). This trait gave the structure a "dungeon-like feel", as reported by Svas, most notably because of the lack of light within the structure. The shelf plaque had 10 lines of text, with 5 lines scratched out harshly and made illegible, and the other 5 reading, "OR DON'T Wander / FOR YOUR Safety / AND STAY AWAY FROM / BOOKS OF / Despair and Misery." As of right now, we are camped outside the only entrance and exit into the shelf-structure, and are awaiting response from our superiors (time elapsed: 7 days).


Harris slowly opened his eyes. He saw something in his mind's eye, a burning vision that made him shudder. How strong was the enemy, really? He turned to Basar.

"Is there another follow-up document to that?"

Basar tilted his head as he reflected for a moment. "It appears to be the last log made." A beat of silence. "Are you familiar with Team Parallax?"

"In a way. They're bounty hunters of some sort, and they normally hang out here in the Library, away from all of their clients and targets. Keep logs often and from each member on each squad for each mission. Each is skilled in some aspect of hunting, whether it's operating tech, fighting with supernatural talents, or just staying sane." said Harris. He knew he should be concerned when Basar was asking him the questions. Maybe it's his way of directing attention to the task at hand? He thought carefully. He never knew if Basar actually had some psychic power after that mission in Jerusalem with the mind-bender. "Am I right?" he asked.

"Correct on all accounts, although you missed the part where they are extremely successful with almost every contract they take on, since they are a large group with approximately 60 to 70 members that are all well-trained. So, as I already assume you have concluded, it is very uncommon for them to leave a log incomplete, or a mission unfinished. Like this one." He explained in monotone, although his body was moving quickly throughout the large stacks of paper around them, his hands grasping for a specific paper.

It had already dawned on Harris a few moments before. "And the Bibliovores are still on the loose. What are you planning?"

Basar anticipated the question. "We will make our own move. At the very least, we need to see our object of inquiry. And by the way, I have high hopes that we will not be required to venture in solitary. Read this."


6457th rotation around the Blazing Observer, 17/13

Madness, madness I say. Unlike anything I have ever seen before in the Library. This is supposed to be a place of knowledge, of learning. A safe haven of peace and rest in the center of a chaotic multiverse. Now, not even this institute of respite is confined from the violence and hate that is characteristic for many of the patron races.

Library staff has put up a bounty for an infestation of creatures referred to as the bibliovores. These beings, residing in or near South Shelf 16H, though they have apparently never been seen, rip off the covers of books. This is practically the only thing known about them. As a scholar and a naturalist, I am obviously interested in this matter myself. Why do they remove only the covers of books? Do they eat them? If so, why? They can't possibly be infovores, since the contents of the books themselves haven't been affected. Therefore, such a specific diet could not be a result of just dietary needs. Is it a cultural thing? If it is, that would mean that these creatures are not mere animals, but sapient beings with customs and culture, making their hunting utterly unethical.

On that note, I must recognize my bias in approaching this matter. I am a scientist, so it is the right thing to do. The fervent chase of these creatures and the way I see these mercenaries and other money hungry folk talk of them with nothing but outright despising reminds me of the way my people, the goblins, are persecuted on every world they have set foot on. It reminds me of all of the prejudice I have had to endure through my years as the only scholar within my kind, the disgusted looks of my colleagues as they set their eyes upon me and the whispers exchanged behind my back when they thought I couldn't hear them. I cannot help but feel sympathetic towards these beings.

I feel like I should do something, though my logic says otherwise.

…From a scientific point of view, though, if I were to get to the bibliovores first, the research data I would be able to compile would be invaluable. I mean, these things have been able to avoid the Docents to the point where the Library has asked others for help. This is… unprecedented. The issue can't be that the bibliovores would be capable of defeating a Docent in combat, because nothing can harm a Docent. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that the Docents are unable to locate the bibliovores for whatever reason. The trick can't be invisibility; the Docents can see through that. Or more accurately, the Wanderer's Library can.

Yes, the Library is alive and constantly feeding information to its protectors, allowing them to hone in on rule breakers in mere seconds. Therefore, the bibliovores must somehow be able to trick the Library itself. It could be through an antimeme, informational malleability, a dimensional phase, or something else entirely! The possibilities are endless! And, if I find them before anyone else, I can prove to everyone else that they don't need to be destroyed.

It is settled then. I will immediately gather my equipment and head out towards South Shelf 16H with my trusty Salvador.


"Before you ask, the author of this document is a well-known biologist throughout the Library community and beyond," said Basar, "and we will definitely need a knowledgeable and scientific mind on this contract. In all honesty, you and I are both aware that we are mostly investigators and fighters. The situation with the Bibliovores seems to have more depth than being deserving of investigators and fighters, it seems."

Harris stared blankly at him. "What are you saying? Are we going to enlist the help of a civilian?" He had thought that they were good enough. After all, it was their own contract, and it wasn't typical for Basar to ask for help.

"Correct and incorrect. I am saying we will enlist the help of an experienced and qualified field biologist whom I plan to contact immediately. I am a little shocked, frankly, that he did not spring to mind earlier."

Harris surprised Basar. "I have no objections whatsoever. I think that's a good idea." Now that he thought about it, they really were out of their depth when it came to scientific research, and on the bright side, it wasn't as if they would have to rely on him for safety—they were both trained fighters, with a little supernatural talent on their side, too.

Harris smiled. They were forming a little team of their own.


Basar24
To: Sqr'lkTheGoblin
Re: Cooperation Request regarding the Bibliovores
Date: 29 Feb 2020, 11:27


Greetings.

I am Basar, a freelance combat investigator. I am writing to you today to ask if I could accompany you on an expedition to South Shelf 16H, to address the infestation in the Library: the Bibliovores. In short, I have received a contract to gather more information on them, and I am sure you are aware of the bounty that has been placed.

How do I know that you are searching for the Bibliovores as well? All I can say is that I merely have a hunch.

I will be bringing my deputy along if you choose to accept. We are both trained in supernatural combat situations, and have had many successful contracts before. My full name is Mukade Basar, if that rings a bell. You can also verify my credentials in the Wanderer's System, as I have established myself there.

In the event that you accept working with us, any bounty or reward attained from the Library will go to you only, and we will follow any objectives that you have for yourself, and make sure to not interfere. Please reply as soon as possible.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mukade Basar
Freelance Investigator
Basar & Co.


My search for the bibliovores begins. I have departed the Forgotten Shelves and headed towards the location of South Shelf 16H. The Library is vast, and I have a lot of ground to cover. This will be good for me though, I imagine. It has been a while since I last had to walk considerable distances in a short amount of time. The last time was on my journey through the Screaming Jungles of the Sky Stair Isles, if my memory doesn't fail me. On my way though, I have encountered a wandering Docent. I will attempt to coerce some new information out of it, as I am sure it has some.

"Good day, fine gentleman," I said in order to divert its attention towards myself. It stopped and looked at me, though it didn't respond. Docents don't exactly appreciate small-talk.

"Are you aware of the bibliovore infestation in South Shelf 16H?" I asked, even though I already knew the answer. The Docents live in a hive mind of sorts, so they all know the same things. However, in science, sometimes you have to ask the obvious questions first before you get to the ones you really want the answer to.

"Affirmative," spelled the letters of fire which shot out of the lantern affixed to its hand, and swirled around the being before dissipating. The Docents have no mouths, so they have to communicate in this manner.

"Then how come you are unable to deal with it?"

"Haven't received order from Library," it answered. Ahh, so the Library hasn't even instructed its minions to deal with the bibliovores in the first place.

"Why not?"

"Unknown," it simply said. Well that was a dead end.

"How does the Library itself feel about the issue?" I asked, interested.

"Confused. Unable to understand. Internal paradox detected within thought process," the Docent said, tilting its head ever so slightly.

How ironic, that the largest library in the multiverse, the sentient collection of literally all knowledge in existence, is unable to understand something. The thought is undeniably terrifying, though also slightly amusing.

"Lastly, what lifeforms can the Library detect in the immediate vicinity of South Shelf 16H?"

"Pages," it said and walked past me, when I had no further inquiries.

Another thing I must mention is a request for accompaniment and "cooperation" from—


The two investigators interrupted me as I was writing in my journal. I was quite surprised at their punctuality.

We met in the Jazz Parlor, as I requested from them through the email I sent a few hours ago. They came over to my booth seat, which was equidistant from the entrance and the stage opposite. I positioned myself there so I could drown in the music playing and sight Basar & Co. when they arrived. It was also conveniently visible to the nearby security guard, if these "investigators" were to attempt anything to harm me. As you may have guessed, however, I did not personally believe that they would attempt anything; Basar's credentials were indeed verified by the Inquisitive Guild, and I respected his formality.

But just in case, I did end up bringing a shade-thrower.

When they slid into the seat in front of me, two things immediately stood out to me: their age and their markings. One of them was young and excited, while the other one was, with all due respect, old and worn. I was beginning to doubt their acclaimed specialty in combat, since the former seemed a little inexperienced, while the latter seemed outright tired. I, of course, maintained my demeanor and pretended to tense slightly, with the aura of a true intellectual with a backup plan in case something went awry. As for their markings, the younger one was covered head-to-toe in scars, while the older one had a tattooed eye on his forehead. The forehead-eye also appeared seared and forced on, as if it were a marking by an enemy, and not an ill-timed decision as a youth.

Again, I was beginning to lose the slightest bit of confidence in these two.

They introduced themselves as Basar (the older one with a three-piece suit) and Harris (the younger one with a camera around his neck). To spare the unimportant details, we essentially discussed the Bibliovores and our plans. Then, we finally arrived at the heart of the meeting: A second meeting.

"So when would you be available to travel with us to the South Shelves?" It was Harris' voice, the energetic one. It mildly reminded me of my own, when I was a younger lad.

"Well," I told him, "I was actually planning to go as soon as possible, and I had already packed all of the essentials by the time your mentor had emailed me." He appeared slightly surprised when I mentioned that I was emailed—by what else was I supposed to be contacted through? Telephone?

Basar spoke up next. "We were discussing the same plan. Would you care to leave now? We are ready as well; our bags are in the front—" He gestured to the entrance. "—unless of course you still need to make some preparations."

"Agreed. I just need a moment to empty my bladder, if you don't mind." I smiled sheepishly. Age was hot on my tail, and my excretory patterns were already showing it. "But before that, I do have one more question: What are your combat techniques, if I may ask?"

Basar and Harris exchanged quick glances. Basar spoke for the both of them. "I am familiar with hand-to-hand combat fighting, combat analysis, and firearm usage. Harris is a master of the mace, barbed whip, and yo-yo; he also specializes in combat with a switchblade a mage made for him that radiates with, ah, 'golden light energy'."

I raised my eyebrows and decided against more questions, lest I lead to rampant and excess questioning. "I see…Now, please excuse me for a moment. I will meet both of you outside."


The call of a magnificent, flaming falcon echoed through the impossibly tall halls of the Wanderer's Library, as it flew above and in-between shelves, its flowing tail trailing golden stardust. Below it, a trio made its way between the bookcases, prepared for adventure, as Harris would put it. Basar would have called it "investigative action", while Sqr'Ik described it as "field work".

Sqr'lk's large protruding ears twitched, and his bald, green head swiveled from side to side, as his four yellow eyes scanned his surroundings, searching for any danger. They were finally here, at South Shelf 18H. All of them stopped. Two more shelves down was South Shelf 16H. Sqr'Ik's phoenix perched itself next to him, on a nearby ledge protruding from a shelf. In its beak was a clump of pages: It was a book, with the binding torn and the covers ripped off.

"This is the place." Sqr'Ik announced. No more words were needed, as they had internalized the course of action beforehand: Basar would take the lead, a firearm at the ready for any threat. Sqr'Ik would follow loosely behind him, watching and noting everything down in his journal, and his falcon would be overhead the entire time, mostly out of normal sight as to not give them away in the dark mist that surrounded the shelves they stood in. Harris would trail from behind, looking behind him occasionally and remaining alert for danger from his view.

In less than a minute, they assumed position with their equipment out, and creeped on silently. Sqr'Ik spotted the plaque that read "Shelf 16H". There was a small rustling coming from behind the shelf and there was a small, purple flame floating in the air. As they approached, closer and closer, Basar let out a small gasp as the flame moved towards them and left the mild cover of the shelf dotted with books. Sqr'Ik came to an understanding. This was a pure specimen of the beings that everyone had been chasing, looking for, debating over. It was not, in fact, a dinosaur, an alien from another world, or some kind of fantastical humanoid never encountered. When the purple fire walked and turned the corner, the trio saw a Page.

A tiny click from the back of the group informed them that a picture had been taken by Harris, who could not give up the perfect opportunity for documentation. As a result, the sound triggered what seemed to be a lifetime of silence, as a transparent Page looked up at them, its fire illuminating the dark shelves around them.


A Bibliovore.
Image Unavailable
Finally caught on camera.
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