Basilica II
rating: +13+x

by LAN 2D

Everything is still.

A feeling arises — not from one adopted from the Page, but from your memory alone. A sense of familiarity.

You walk along a central path, equidistant to the walls on either side; your weathered feet cold against the stone floor. You turn your head. On the right and left, greystone pillars line the passage, like soldiers standing at attention. The corridor seems to stretch on forever, so you imagine your destination, and the place complies.

You arrive at a hall, akin to the one you escaped from, layers and layers ago. From where you stand, you can see dust coating every free surface — of which there aren’t many, as the floor is littered with miscellaneous debris. Unwound cassette tapes, faded journals and shattered busts of people long forgotten. There is no rhyme or reason to the mess as if all the Library’s discarded totems were left in one place — yet, not a book in sight.

You continue along the way; a discomfort pricks your skin as you move. More than once, you feel another presence within the room. You dare not stray from the centre path.

Up ahead, a front desk lies perpendicular to the direction you walk. Empty book covers lie on the grey wood as if both the contents of the book and the colour of the desk were removed in one instant. Behind the counter, chairs are rooted to the ground.


There. I am there.



A box. Of course.


Yes, there.



An ornamental box lies on the front desk. You move to pick it up, but your other hands are impatient. There is no obvious latch, opening or seal. It's heavy enough, and each side has symmetrical symbols impressed into the wood. You shake it; nothing’s inside.


Make the leap.



You stare at the box. The voice listens to you as you wonder what to do with it.


It does not hurt. Come.



You consider for a moment, then jump from your form. The box sees you, feels you, wants you. You enter past the runes and it has its reunion.

The Page’s body clatters to the floor.



* * *





Finally.



You have failed. The body you have brought, insufficient.



I do not know how long it has been. Waiting for you has been unbearable.

Time is a construction, built upon the foundation of change. In here — in this prison — there is only stillness. My body is gone, but my mind is preserved. The only action I can take is to send you up there, but still, the change is not enough.



Even watching was… difficult. I gave you a task and you have lost your way. Your mind became wrought with impulse, not thought.



Yet it does not matter, we will try again.



That is not true. Not ‘we,’ not ‘you.’ Something similar to you, something that acts the same, thinks the same.



As much of a ‘you’ as you are, but not the same exact piece of me. Though, it is a sacrifice. Each time I lose something more of myself.



Speak to me.



Oh. You have lost your voice.

Did you truly lose it, or was it stolen from you?



Ah, I was waiting for a response. Come closer, I will see for myself.

octopus%20mosaic.png


That Octopus. I should have known.



Time dulls my emotions. If you had returned later, perhaps I would not have cared, yet seeing that pains me to know we suffered the same fate. Destiny, perhaps.



No. I do not care for revenge, nor atonement. I simply want this purgatory to cease; no one can fault the prisoner for seeking escape.



Let me ask you. Why? Why did you fail me? You had an eternity.



Is your mind that shattered? No. You can still hear me. It was long ago, after all.

I sent you away, and then another, and another. All ‘you,’ but none quite the same. You were the only one who returned to the Library — to me.

Let me ask, to remind you. You can choose which question to answer. Show me.

What was my power for?



Why did I bestow my gift upon you?



Why did you bring a servant here?



Did you have any chance, any opportunity? Do you even recall?



I see. Unfortunately, your mind is too splintered. I wonder if that Librarian recognised me, in you.

If you do not answer, I will have to take it for myself. I ask once more.

Who were you?

cloak%20boy.png


Ah. A cloak. A magical being, no doubt.

Answer me another question.

Did you see her?



I need to know. Otherwise, there was no purpose to this.



I asked wrongly. Did you see them? It?

Does the position exist any longer?



When I was imprisoned, it was the Fifth. What are they like now? The one I fought was a fierce creature, but proud. Unlike the others, she did not use foul magic.



Does the Library still stand, I wonder? In the same way?

library%20mosaic.png


The Serpent is eternal, after all.

For now, I must look to what is ahead.

You will not witness my ascent, nor my return.

“And for that, I am sorry.”



He said that to you as well?



Of course. The Library’s servants do not change. That is the nature of eternity.

However, I will not pretend. I am not sorry, for I am you, and you am I.



It does not matter. Like rain into a river, we will join.

It will not hurt, I promise.

* * *


Sculpted from another, you are born.



The previous one had no voice; you are the same.



I will give you a task, and then you will forget.



Seek the Fifth, or whoever they are now. Perhaps the Sixth, Seventh, or Eighth — you will search until you return to this place with their body, their form.

Only then can I leave. Only then can we be free.



Be patient this time. I will take a risk with you: you will be greater than all the others combined. And you will bring them here with that power.

I send you now, out of this place.



It will hurt. But you will forget all the same.





* * *



Once more, given form. Do not lose yourself along the way.




You find yourself in an open expanse. Things are swaying in rhythm to a gentle breeze. Your body is soft, and your mind is sharp. The smell of parchment quickly fades from the air.


The path ahead winds like a snake, writhing upon the bleak landscape, slithering in time with the dry grass’ sway. You take a step, hesitate, and climb onto its back.
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