What are we to a Genius Loci, if not Aliens?

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The man who was named
Hopper had safely returned.
Xer relieved pages sighed.

As he always did,
he steadied his balance on
the shelves around him.

The Library made
no complaints; xe was grateful
for the work he did.

Archivist Haven's
voice beckoned the gatherer,
and he resumed work.

The Library smiled.
The Serpent's Hand treated xer
well, xe treated them.

Xer scars still ached from
the Bookburner's invasion.
Would they ever heal?

Xe did not know. It
pained xer to be severed from
the Tree Yggdrasil.

Xer Ways were damaged.
Scorched and corrupted by the
Bookburner's cruelty.

Xe could still recall
the scent of ashes from all
the tomes they destroyed.

Hidden by armor;
cold, unemphatic, hostile,
alien and wrong.

Their metal weapons
slaughtering whoever crossed
their path, armed or not.

The Rounderpede's screams
as the bullets tore through it
would haunt xer always.

The Hand arrived not
a moment too soon. Outraged
by the massacre.

The Library knew
not who either of these groups
were. Not at that time.

With thaumaturgic
elegance, the newcomers
retaliated.

The Bookburners fell
with naught a drop of blood spilled,
one by one by one.

Bullets flew, piercing
linen and spraying blood on
to xer hallowed floors.

Violent, but not lethal,
the Hand defended themselves
and the Library.

Great care was taken
to ascertain no more of
xer books would suffer.

Vulgar curses left
the armored fascists; the scale
of odds were tipping.

But the Hand could not
hold the line forever. They
were outnumbered so.

Fate intervened.
A noble sacrifice from a
dying Rounderpede.

With a renewed breath,
its legs pierced through their armor,
snapping bones like twigs.

Weapons peppered what
remained of its carapace,
but it was no use.

It cut through their droves,
like a scythe against wheat, with
a defiant screech.

The Bookburner's fate
was favorable no more.
A retreat issued.

The Hand acted quick.
Going to the Rounderpede's
side, with looks of grief.

The creature's last gasp
heralded a beautiful
song, last of its kind.

Its body stilled. Legs
curled against themselves, and
the Serpent's Hand wept.

Repairs would begin.
What little could be salvaged
from the fires, preserved.

The Ways could not be
fixed. The Bookburner's purge was
too thorough for it.

The Library mourned
the loss of knowledge and the
World Tree's connection.

Xe was but one of
many Libraries, all whom
collaborated.

That was no longer
an option for xer. Xe would
be isolated.

The Hand, bless them, tried
to find alternatives, but
they would come up short.

And so it would stay
for countless years after the
thwarted invasion.

The Hand made a home
out of The Library's vast
rooms and long hallways.

Xe did not complain,
grateful for their protection
all those years ago.

They explored the world,
writing new books to fill xer
bookshelves with their finds.

But some parts of xer
still felt empty. The Tree lived
in her memories.

The Hand were kind folk,
but there was still so much xe
knew not about them.

They were alien,
too. As was anything to
a Genius Loci.

Xe observed Hopper
and Silvia Haven, the
two in hushed debate.

He was a lucky
find. The worlds he discovered
all added more books.

But the story of
that breakthrough would have to wait
for another time.

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