The Last Testimony
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The following is a transcription of the testimony of Shiloh A. Wrun on Day 13 of his trial, held within The Hall of Many Mirrors. Trial presided over by Archivist Mintari. Over the course of the trial's preceding days, testimony was received from literary analysts, Docents Latruven and Heliarch, and characters successfully extracted from Wrun's narratives. This was Wrun's first opportunity to respond to the charges levied against him.

I stand before you today a sullied man. Besmirched. Slandered. This room and everyone here has heard vicious, vicious lies thrown against me. Now, I have my chance to respond — to correct these mistruths and manipulations.

Chief among these audacities is the defamation that I believe myself to be divine. That I believe myself not constrained by our worlds' rules, that I am elevated above all others. Pure balderdash. A terrified lie spat from the mouths of small people with smaller minds. I have been brave, I have explored annals of literature not done so before, and that has frightened my accusers. They've constructed a strawman of me, a fairy-tale villain who stalks between the Library's bookshelves. Yet what I find most egregious, most shocking of all accusations, is that I did this all in the pursuit of power.

Because that accusation is entirely true. Do I desire power? Of course. Of course I do. But look around you for gods' sake…


WHO HERE DOES NOT?


Isn't that why we're all here? Isn't that what drew you, all of you, to this Library? Couch it in whatever flowery, vapid terms you wish — an exploration of the unknown, an understanding of your place in the universe, dominance over lesser beasts, science, academia, et cetera et cetera.

You are all here in the pursuit of knowledge? And what is knowledge, if not power?

This Library is special. We all know it, we feel its hum as our fingers carefully peruse a book's pages.

All worlds are comprised - at their core - of energy. And the lens through which this energy is most commonly interpreted by us is a simple one: words.

Imagine, if you will, what occurs when one sees brown, ancient bark erupting from the ground towards the skies, spiralling higher until splitting into a delta of smaller ancillaries which finally blossom into bright, rubbery, geometrically shaped sparks of green. All these constituent parts, all the energy comprised within them, is summed up in a single word. "Tree".

All this power and energy compressed into a single word, then all these words compressed into the tangible form of a book. Myriad ideas and emotions comprised into sentences, bound there by ink and paper for time immemorial. This energy is the core of the Library, its heart, lungs, brain, and blood.

It is not my fault I saw this first, saw what you were all blind to. How dare you judge me for seeking what you sought!

And now we come to the specifics of my so-called crimes. That I abused my own creations, sucked this power from them like a semantic vampire. Is it true I channelled power, strengthened my thaumaturge, through my works? Of course. Is this a crime? Of course not.

Would you harshly judge the mother who pushes her daughter to study hard, then run for office? The father who makes his son practice music when he wishes not to? These too joined power through their creations. The most I am guilty of is the role of an overbearing parent.

And yes, it is true that some of my stories are unpleasant. That some characters, my creations, find themselves in unfortunate situations. We all know it to be true that advancement may sometimes require sacrifice. Yet, were they not in these situations, they would simply not exist. I would not have birthed them from my mind.

You are the callous souls here today. For it is you who would damn these creations to non-existence. I gave them souls, I gave them wants, I gave them loves. You would rip this from them all because their existence unsettles your meek sensibilities? There is no such extant state which would be unpreferable to a non-extant one. To answer an eternal question, it is always better to be than not to be. Show me a state, a life, which would prefer never to have existed. I do not see it. And even if a soul claimed to desire this, it would be doing so using the cognition granted to it by existence. The ability, the privilege, to make that decision is a luxury.

I may not be divine. Cut me and I bleed. Slander me and, as is evident, I will anger. Yet to my characters, I am their creator. I write their fates. I shape their worlds.

To them, I am divine.

So let them cry, let them tell you of their horrors, of drowning, of Sha’Leigh, of facing the Many-Eyed Beast of Mdrova and not living yet still being able to tell the tale. Each cycle of each narrative served a larger purpose. My purpose. A purpose shared by all of you, the pursuit of power.

I am done with this. I am done with you all. I reject this court and its judgement. The verdict is already decided, and indicts only my will to do what needed to be done. [Unintelligible]

At this point of Wrun's testimony, docents were dispatched to the chamber due to increasing thaumaturgical activity.

So burn my books. Scrub me from the records of history. Do to me what you did to the countless brave others that came before me. I've learnt all I can from this place. Cast off my own shackles. I will not let you take what I've earnt.

Winds picked up inside The Hall of Many Mirrors. When the jury attempted to flee, they found the door handles to be burning hot to the touch.

You are all useless side characters. You have no say over this story's plot. I may hold no divinity, but at least I am the protagonist of my story.

Thunder echoed around the room as lightning struck from the ceiling of the hall. Wrun began to rise, slightly into the air. Thaumaturgical activity spiked even higher.

I am my own main character.

At this point, an unidentified man, who was not noted as previously entering the court room stands in the audience.

False. I am your main character.

A low murmur rippled through the chamber. Wrun floats above the court pews, looking at the man.

You drag me through every one of your stories, just to suffer. You gave me no name, no face, but you put me through hell all the same. You've destroyed my family, who never got pages of their own. You made me walk across a desert in an offhand sentence. You use me as a vessel for drowning innocents. You trapped me in Sha'Leigh. I am everywhere and everywhere I suffer, because of you. I am your constant recurring main character. Because you're no character. You're an author. A normal person who enjoys putting stories on a page and tasting none of the consequences.

Wrun falls from his place in the air. The winds fade to a low hum, and the clouds disperse from the ceiling. The chamber falls silent.


Verdict: Wrun has been found guilty, on all accounts charged.

Punishment: To mitigate the damage of his crimes, from this day forth, the stories of Shiloh A. Wrun shall be told no longer. The council has sentenced his works to damnatio memoriae: all of his works are to be burned on sight, every scrap of paper he has written on is to be torn to shreds, and every pen he ever held shattered. No record of his works will exist, excepting those outlining his crimes.

As for Wrun himself, if he wishes to consider himself a character, then we find no more fitting punishment than to relegate him to the place of his greatest desires. A stack of parchment is being fetched immediately.

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