A Moment of Respite
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Loose pages of one of Lady Fuchs’ many journals, found amid several tomes, in a corner dedicated to texts who have yet to be put into their rightful shelves.

First Cycle

Multiversal travel works in mysterious ways. Things usually get tricky when moving from plane A to plane B, especially inside the Library. The Library is a place with all the books in all of the worlds, but it’s also a hub for all universes to crash into each other. Less of a ‘multiple-car collision’ crash and more of a ‘friends coming into your house one day and staying over for several months’ crash. It makes my job both easier and way more annoying than it should be.

Either way, here I am, minding my own business when I noticed something off about a shelf. It didn’t look different, just ‘wrong’, in the same way taking an unfocused picture or noticing a hair on a screen looks. I stared at it for a moment, and the next, I was standing in a pine forest.

I had found a Way, and now I can’t find the Way out. I wanna say I’m shocked, but this happens way too often to be surprised.

***

If there is something to be shocked about, it’d be how utterly mundane this place is. It’s just a pine forest, like any other I’ve seen in pretty much any universe where pines and forests of them exist. The pines are massive in height, and a subtle mist covers the area, but other than this? A normal woodland, of which even the Library has several atria dedicated to.

The fauna of the area seems normal enough. A couple of different insect species is all I’ve found. The flora seems a tad more exotic than a couple bugs, but still within the limits of what one would see in the woods. A couple red orchid-looking flowers and blueish puzzlegrass is the oddest plantlife I’ve found so far.

Bug.jpg
A colorful bug


The terrain is interesting to consider, however. As it tends to be the case in pretty much every universe I travel to, my compass refuses to work how it’s supposed to. Not finding a Way out of this place, I decided to follow the north, see if there was more to this world than pines and mist. I left a couple of indicators where I started, and went on my merry way towards the unknown.

A couple hours after, the unknown was known once more, as I stumbled upon the indicators I’d left. The compass did not change direction at any point, and turning around points towards the proper directions, so there’s something funky but stable going on. For now, I know this place’s a rather small plane, about ten to twelve miles in vertical length. Will test its horizontal length as soon as morning comes. For now, it’s time to set up camp and rest.


Second Cycle

About the same length west to east, which means the plane is relatively round. Not surprising; most universes tend to pull themselves into spherical or spheroidal shapes. The compass seems to follow what I think a direction is. So if I go northwest, it’ll point towards a true north that does not exist, and will not deviate from it unless I change course. Makes navigation actually easier than it should be, albeit it takes a bit to get used to directions being so abnormally constant.

Onto better news, I’ve found some sustenance, which is appreciated. While I have food, I wasn’t exactly prepared for getting trapped in here. I was already pondering whether pine cones would make for a decent meal for tomorrow’s lunch when I spotted several bushes with what I can only assume is some type of wildberry.

Berries.jpg
The berries in question


I used my kit to test for any known toxins and there doesn’t seem to be anything to it. While you can’t be sure that a kit’s gonna detect every toxin in both the known and unknown multiverse, it tends to help me not get poisoned 99% of the time.

The test came out negative, so I put them in my mouth. A somewhat sweet flavor, followed by an astringent aftertaste, they could work well in a pie. For now, these will have to keep me going until I find a way to open up the Way back into the Library.

Reminder to future self: Invest in ‘outta-this-mess’ portable portals. In retrospect, this is something I should have looked into a long time ago. Can’t expect for all Ways to be two-way, or be compatible with other Ways.


Third Cycle

Ok, so this place is weirder than it looks. I’ve been thinking about taking a bath, because, you know, being dirty sucks, and next thing I know, I find a small waterfall. Now, that’s fine and all, forests do have their bodies of water, but this one is on a quadrant I had already checked. I made a map and all, and this definitely wasn’t here yesterday.

I decided to then fly up and maybe check the whole place from up high. Although the mist covers everything, I thought I would be able to check the overall terrain, because I could clearly not trust it from down there. So I turn into a bird, and fly up and almost crash into the same place I was just standing in after a couple seconds.

I flew up a couple more times and effectively, this world is recursive. Going up leads to the same point again, which is fairly disorienting but whatever. The pines don’t have crowns, they just don’t end. Would be interesting to test what digging down would lead me towards, but I think I’m gonna leave that for later. For now, focusing on that pesky Way.


Fourth Cycle

So the usual Ways don’t seem to work. I’ve tried about twenty or so that I remember off the top of my head, and a couple more I have written amongst previous notes, and it seems whatever this place, it interferes with other universes. It also interferes with the Library, which makes no sense because I came from there?

As this place doesn’t exactly seem to be a trap I guess it has a certain way to leave that I’ve yet to discover. I hate riddle-centric places. Riddle-centric anything, really. Nothing ruins your day like having to solve a puzzle to get anywhere.

Anyways, at the very least whoever made this place was a forgiving person. I’ve got cut, dry logs for campfires, as well as an axe to chop them with, and the waterfall of pristine drinkable water has a pond extension with fishes. A couple of edible mushrooms and berries have appeared closer to my camp as well, and I’ve begun hearing the chirps of birds, although I haven’t seen any yet.

Are these parts of the puzzle, or is someone tending to my needs? I swear, if this is some sort of dollhouse dimension…


Fifth Cycle

Not having any luck with the Ways. I’m starting to run out of rituals that don’t involve bodily sacrifices. I really do not want to resort to that kind of escape, especially because there’s a big chance they fail.

Regarding the puzzle, there’s been a sudden bloom of all kinds of flowers, giving the area a really nice aura. Now, the problem is I have no idea whether I’ve done anything special so is this progress? A hint? A ‘screw-you’ message from a culture I’m not familiar with? I only have questions, and not a single answer. Unless the new camping set I found next to my camp is an answer, or a reward, or anything past just a couple aluminum cooking tins and a set of thermal bottles.

That dollhouse theory is starting to feel more and more real the longer I stay here. Hope I get out of here before I meet whoever’s been maintaining the place.


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Eleventh Cycle

Today’s catch is a couple of lagomorph creatures, half a dozen catfish-like fishes, a bunch of rainbow colored tubers, and more berries. I put the meat to smoke, and decided to put the clay oven to good use, make a couple tarts. I gotta use it for something, no?



I don’t think I’m getting out of here anytime soon.


Twelfth Cycle

Ok so I got out. Turns out the solution to the puzzle was way different than I expected. For starters, there isn’t any puzzle, nor a dollhouse, nor anything of the sort.

It’s a sanctuary.

At some point last night I thought ‘If this were to be the place that would see my end, that would be ok’. A cry of defeat, one of designation. One of peace. I had come to terms with my entrapment, and that felt freeing. In hindsight, I should have seen that one coming; the moment I stop looking for an entry, the entry appears in front of me.

Today I woke up and left my tent. Right in front of it stood the way out, a stone passage covered in moss and yellowed pages. In front of it stood a small figurine of a woman, a wooden carving covered in green luminescent paint. Some sort of effect it had, because before I noticed, I was holding it in my hands. The carving spoke fourteen words, then collapsed into ashes that the wind carried away.


Effigy.jpg

This is my sanctuary, a single moment of respite. It shall be yours too.




I didn’t have the energy to ponder them, instead walking through the portal, back into the Library. Like how most small-scale universes work, only a couple hours had passed outside of it. I saw someone standing nearby, and asked them about this ‘sanctuary’.

Apparently everyone around these shelves knows about it, a small bubble built by a woman by the name of Zakkh. A woman who wanted something to call her own. A little paradise all to herself, and when she passed, the place became a world where one can forget about all anxieties and problems. Just plop down and relax. Smell the freshly cut grass, feel the wind on your face, be transported into the ‘past’, when things were 'much easier', and 'much better’ Ha!, all that jazz.

So I guess I was trapped because I did the opposite of relaxing? I feel like a lesson to be learned here evades me. The one solace I can hold onto is that were I to ever step into such a world again, I will know how to step out of it.

And, if I ever need a place to relax, away from both known and unknown, I know there is a place I can visit now.



Not that there aren’t already about 30 places I would go to were I ever need a break, but hey, having more options is always good.

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