Crocodilopolis
rating: +8+x

You know that most Wanderers who go hunting in the Eastern ranges are amateurs. Tourists, on guided tours with retired hunters. They do it for the thrill. So they can go back to their Grand Hall tearooms and exchange embellished tales of danger and excitement with their peers.

In reality, the stretches of shelves they nervously wander down are extremely safe, dangers cleared in years past by other hunters. Any ‘rare finds’ they might locate on the way are typically planted in advance by their escorts. Perhaps a noteworthy Powik Burnsworth novel, 2nd Edition. Or a ‘rare’ tantra, written down by a Yogi of the Cascading Ridge.

Tat, really.

It’s a lucrative retirement strategy for injured hunters who can’t make the long trips to the wilder edges of the Library. The books they plant are rarely expensive enough to cover the price of their escort, but then word will spread out of the ‘lucky’ find and the section will be swarming with day-trippers eager for a roll of the dice.

This has led most experienced hunters to ignore the first dozen miles of the Eastern ranges. They assume that anything worth finding has been picked clean long ago. But therein lies the rub.

Because it’s not actually matter of where you look.

It’s a matter of how.

You once spent a dozen or so years as a Page. Whilst the tedium has been unpleasant, the experience was enlightening. For example, you were surprised to discover that Pages identify unsorted books by smell. Books have a vivid scent to them, if you know what you're smelling for. A tragedy might have notes of vivid elderflower and dark chocolate. Sweet, but sharp and bitter. A comedy, on the other hand, always reeks of bananas. You don’t know why this is the case. But you made sure to note every single stench, scent and odour you came across.

And of course, the higher the quality of the work, the more vivid the smell.

That’s why you’re wandering the tourist stretches of the Eastern ranges. Something on the wind. A whiff of grasses and reeds.

You follow the smell, rewinding it like string through a labyrinth. Pushing through a man-sized stack of mildewed reference books that lean against a shelf, you find an open doorway. Inside, the air is dry and cool. Cold stone meets your palm as you lean against the wall.

On the centre of the room, laid upon a dais, is a reptilian creature. Long dead, wrapped in tight cloth. Undisturbed, maybe for a century? The sandstone walls are carved into shelves, upon them resting several tomes, sheaves and scrolls of papyrus.

You raise your hand to the first one that catches your eye.

Concrete, Steel and Sodium

Slain in Ailech, without Blemish

A Gravedigger in the Ten-Tongue Empire

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A writing desk. A study. A typewriter clicks away.

The other website, a barren land of salt and ash. Visit it with caution.
The other website, a quiet place of recollection and learning. Visit it with wonder.

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