A Wanderers' Guide To First Aid In The Library: Restricted Areas
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It’s… not as quiet as you would’ve expected. Most seasoned wanderers have heard the tales at some point or another. The hushed rumors rarely spoken of about the darker corners of the Library. But for a place that was meant to be desolate, the entire corridor hums with a faint but certain pulse of power. There are no patrons allowed in this hallowed area, so every treacherous footstep you take on the old stone floor echoes with distinction. But that does not mean you are alone, as even now you can feel them. This area is riddled with staff and the other unnamed things the Library wishes to be kept hidden. How many decades, how many centuries have you searched to finally arrive at this moment? You are so close now. No lantern-wielding freak, no mere LIBRARIAN will keep you from your goal. There's a flash of movement to your left as out from the shadows, a crumpled paper ball is flung your way. You shouldn't waste your time reading it, you have to keep moving. But curiosity gets the better of you. You unfurl the paper and start reading.

From the office of the Wanderers' Library chief medical officer: Dr. Norine Ray

Hmm… You’re somewhere you’re not supposed to be. Tsk, tsk my naughty wanderer, you should know better than this. The search for knowledge is an admirable goal, but we have boundaries for a reason. We really can’t have everyone walking into restricted areas haphazardly, after all. We'll have some Docents arriving at your location soon, so please just stay put… Oh, who am I kidding? You’ve broken the rules to get this far, why would you start listening to lil ol’ me now? Alas, I’m a doctor: here to help visitors to the Library minimize their injuries and illnesses. Including you. If you’re determined to continue onward with this foolishness, here are a few of the things you should look out for.

Night Bumps:

There’s a quaint human expression that references the “Things that go bump in the night”. It’s mainly used to cover for their species' fear and ignorance of the going-ons of the night. But every so often, the night actually does bump back. Identified by the spread of dark purple( often nearly black lumps) across the body, night bumps are a common affliction for those unprepared intruders venturing into dark, magically dense areas ( Like our very own Library’s Restricted areas!) Being an unnatural coagulation of concentrated darkness, victims suffer from a severe aversion to light. In turn, this aversion often leads to complete seclusion resulting in growing levels of paranoia. Quite a predicament!

Fortunately, Night Bumps are quite easy to treat if caught in their early stages. Assuming you can even find the person you’re trying to treat in whatever dark corner they’ve hidden in, all you need to do is drag them into the light. Prolonged exposure to sufficiently bright light will burn the infection out, just be sure to hold them down tightly so they don’t escape into the dark again before they’re cured.

*The mental deterioration of the infected is not to be underestimated. Their seclusion in the darker, deeper recesses of the Library has been known to produce feral, animalistic behavior. Packs of the infected have been known to prowl the shelves, attacking patrons and staff alike. At this time, we are searching for and removing the infected as fast as we can, but should you encounter any, your best bet is to run or hunker down and brandish your light source until the situation improves.

Shelf Sickness:

The Library is much more than just the tomes we put out for everyone to enjoy. Indeed, we have quite a selection that isn't readily available to the general public. Some readers out there might hear this and cry censorship, leaving to find some hidden literature for themselves. But have you considered the Library wanted some of those books hidden for a reason? Cognitohazards and cursed items could wreak havoc if not properly contained, and we all know how much the Library enjoys its peace and quiet. As such, the Library developed some unique self-protection measures, with Shelf Sickness being the common phrase used to describe the collective effects one may experience when trying to tamper with these restricted books.

The Library is fair with its punishments, often opting to start with a non-lethal option for dealing with patrons. Shelves have been known to rotate and shift locations in their entirety, trapping patrons in an ever-moving prison of paper and polished oak. You can’t find the right book if you can’t even find the right shelf! Assuming you can even find the proper shelf, your next hurdle would be to find the desired book. Every book in these areas has been warded to distort words and images making the contents quite unreadable. The only recourse is to undergo an elaborate ritual to remove any protections on the book, and by the time that's concluded, the shelf will have moved once again. You might say “Dr. Ray this doesn't sound that dangerous” Well my dear reader, you may be surprised. Time has proven it to be quite an effective first line of defense against the more snoopy variety of wanderer. Many give up or simply starve in the process of finding the novel they sought.

Then there are the more…severe deterrents. Odorless poisons, concealed Ways ready to transport you to goodness knows where, being driven to extreme irritation after being forced to talk to a particularly dumb Masked Canine for an extended period of time. Well, maybe that last one isn’t quite so bad, but don’t let that fool you! These hidden traps are but a small taste of the dangers you may encounter on your crusade for knowledge.

Wild Magic:

It should be blatantly obvious that the Library is a magical place. But when something like magic is so frequently used, one tends to lose perspective on its deeper aspects. How it’s produced, how it’s *refined* for use. But in the deeper thralls of the Library, far away from the notice of average wanderers, Wild Magic still flows freely.

Ancient, absurdly powerful, and utterly unwieldy- wild magic coalesces in the unregulated sections where it can remain undisturbed. ( Although it was from well before my time serving here, I’ve heard rumors the Library once powered itself entirely on Wild Magic, before settling on a series of much more reliable sources) Given its unpredictable nature, it’s difficult for me to write a proper warning on its effects. Those unprepared explorers who come across a pool of Wild Magic would be lucky to be vaporized on the spot. The less fortunate may see their conscience scattered and torn across the endless currents of eternity, their bodies distorted into horrors the likes of which even the Library doesn’t have the words to describe. Or perhaps you may just end up smelling like cheese for a while. There’s nothing to be said for a cure as every case is unique. Although, if you’re willing to ignore the warnings and go into these areas, you must also be willing to accept the risks you’ll be taking.

Conversion Coruption:

The Library doesn’t have many rules, but visitors are still expected to follow them. Sadly, there comes along the occasional rule breaker who needs to be…corrected. And if you’re reading this, then you’ve likely trespassed far enough to figure out where those rule-breakers go. Do you perhaps see those rows of cocoon structures? Those aren’t home to giant moths, but rather the rule-breakers themselves. Don’t touch them, or you may come to suffer from Conversion Corruption.

When rule breakers are restructured to serve their sentences, their mortal forms are deconstructed into a form of primordial soup. And when that newly born Page or Docent breaks free of its confines, some of that magical residue from the rebuilding process can be left behind. Conversion Corruption is the partial deconstruction and transmutation that occurs as a result of a non-staff member touching this leftover residue. Limbs can elongate or crumple, even splitting into multiple underdeveloped appendages, it all depends on where contact is made. It can be quite disconcerting to see a half-formed lamp begin to grow from your feet!

If you do come down with a case of Conversion Corruption, just remember these tips. Don’t Panic! Accidentally touching the affected area or splashing around in the source puddle will only cause it to spread further. Calmly wash the area clean and wait for the conversion process to stabilize. Don’t attempt to cut the area off, as it will grow back. Causing yourself more pain won't improve your situation. Your next move should be to report to your nearest staff member so you can be properly converted. It may sound harsh, but a full conversion is the only way to eventually revert the changes. Besides, if you’re suffering from this most unique variety of illnesses, you were somewhere you shouldn't have been in the first place. You can learn to live with the consequences or pay the price for your arrogance.

Well, that was pretty intense! I sincerely hope this guide has helped you navigate around most of the dangers in the inner Library. By now, I imagine my fellow colleagues have caught up with you. It saddens me that you won’t be needing my guides anymore, but I do look forward to working with you! Let me be the first to say: Welcome to the Library.

*This pamphlet is for general instruction only. The Wanderers’ Library takes no official responsibility for any disease, natural illness, or injuries a patron may experience during their stay here. They brought that pain upon themselves. Visit these areas at your own risk.

You refuse to admit it’s over, not now! How many hours have you been running? Your clothes are stained in bile and sweat as you force your aching body forward, desperate for an escape. But they haven't let up. You can hear them around every corner, behind every wall. The claws of Pages leaping over the shelves and the thumps of marching Docents. But you won’t let them stop you. You’ll find it. You’ll… never be able to finish that thought as the world fades to darkness. There's a dull throbbing in your forehead where the Docent struck you with its lantern. The Pages are already on you, grabbing your arms and legs, ready to haul you off.

In those final moments before your vision fails you, it reveals itself. A giant golden globe, like a pool of honey surrounding a fierce dagger-like pupil, peering at you from the shadows beyond the distant shelves. No, not at you- it sees through you with its inquisitive gaze. Seeing all you are, the questions you so desperately wanted to ask, your struggles: your story. The Serpent stares at you a moment longer, and you see its expression flicker. You watch as the great scaly creature considers indulging you, sharing the knowledge you’ve craved for so long. But that moment quickly passes. The Serpent turns away, slithering its colossal form back into the oblivion it came from without so much as a whisper. It leaves, allowing this chapter of your story to end.

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