Library Shenanigans
rating: +17+x

A scrap of paper is stapled to this page and reads: "This became a story faster than I thought it would. Feels like you painted me to be a bit of an idiot, though. Dick." - A.V.

It was another ordinary day for the Library, a steady stream of Wanderers passing in and out at regular intervals. The front desk was busy, as usual, with those either seeking to get a library card or return books before their dreaded due date. This was one of the places that Volek enjoyed the most, considering the types of Wanderers he got to see. For example, a man that looked remarkably like a certain reality-show host turned U.S. president was currently complaining to another Wanderer about wait times. Despite the temptation to continue his people-watching, Volek had a job to do today.

After weaving through the crowd, he finally reached the front desk, which ran the entire length of the room. His hand came to rest on its ornate and carved table-top depicting the first Archivist. Just on the other side was just the man…or thing…he was looking for. It was a gigantic centipede-like creature whose body seemed to stretch endlessly into the farthest reaches of the Library above them. He was admittedly a bit grossed out by insects but when it came to bodies he had no right to talk, considering he was a skeleton at the moment. “Hey, Rounder! Got a minute?”

The Archivist glanced down at him. Was that a flash of annoyance he saw flicker through his eyes? “My name is-”

“Yea, yea. I know what your name is. But people like calling you Rounder so that’s what I’m calling you. Plus, it makes you seem more…amiable.” Being a gigantic centipede capable of quite literally tearing people's heads off, Volek thought Rounder could probably use a bit more amiability.

Rounder received an overdue book from a Wanderer, tossing it behind him into one of the many return-tubes. God knew where they all ended up or how the books even returned to their shelves. “I have no time for your foolishness, Volek. If you don’t have any Library business then it’s best you-”

He once again cut him off, saying in a hushed tone so that the others wouldn’t hear him, “Found your Consumer.”

Rounder stopped what he was doing, nearly dropping the book that he had been handed. He seemed to contemplate Volek’s statement for a second before withdrawing a “Be Back Soon” sign for his post. “Follow me.”

It took a few moments of nudging through the dense crowd waiting at the counters before Volek caught up to Rounder, following him into one of the back offices soon after. It wasn’t his first time in the Archivists' office but it never failed to amaze him. At the back of the room was a series of animated paintings depicting the Archivists, including Rounder. Seeing Jericho's picture looking down at him made him a bit sad, he missed chatting with the old fart. His smile returned as his eyes came to rest on Rounder's animated portrait.“They really did a good job on your painting, Rounder. Although, your rump is a wee bit too-”

It was the Archivist’s turn to interject this time as he rested a portion of his body on the chair. “Enough. Tell me what you know of the Consumer. Where is it?”

Volek couldn’t help but chuckle a bit as he slouched back into his seat, throwing his feet up on a small coffee table. Were the chairs here always this comfortable? “Slow down there, cowpoke. One step at a time. Let me explain what it is first.”

“Fine. Continue, then. Also, if you would…” Rounder said as he folded his many arms across his chest. His gaze was turned directly towards Volek's bony feet perched on the coffee table.

“Alright, alright." Volek put his feet back down and returned to a normal sitting position.

"Anyways, you’ve been going about it all wrong. The Consumer isn’t something you can catch or kill, it doesn’t have a corporeal form like we thought it did."


Volek gave a slight shrug. “I’ve been talking with a few other staff here and there about it. When I heard about a little trouble-maker eating stories, it got me interested. Anyways, it’s more of an idea than anything else.”

“An idea. So, how would you suggest it be destroyed then?”

“Don’t think it’s capable of being destroyed. I think the best thing to do would be to toss it somewhere. I was thinking either through some Way into bum-fuck nowhere or maybe into todash.”

Rounder narrowed his many eyes at Volek and said with a stern voice, “So you’re suggesting we just make it someone else’s problem?”

This was the problem with some Library folk, they cared way too much about some of the worlds connected to the Library. There’s millions and millions of worlds, what’s wrong with giving one or two the boot? “It’s either that or you let it keep siphoning stories away. Hell, you might have another few thousand years until it runs out of content. God forbid it reproduce though, it’d probably shave that down to a few decades.”

Rounder seemed to contemplate this for a few moments, his thousands of hands rhythmically tapping on the table.

“There are still discarded Ways to destroyed worlds, we can utilize those. Do you know where to find the Consumer?”

Volek chucked at this, his hand idly gliding across the leather arm of the chair. “Nah, not a clue. I know someone that does, though. Ever heard of a little goblin that goes by Sqr'Ik? Y’know, big ears, bald head, has a phoenix that-”

“Yes, I know of him as I know of anyone that enters the Library. What of it?”

“Alright, Mr. Grouchy. Well, you see, he was there with that phoenix of his when I saw the Consumer. I can’t track that thing, but that bird of his might be able to.”

Rounder nodded, retrieving a tome from inside the desk that was titled, Mevrald’s Bestiary of Unordinary Creatures. “I have read that certain phoenixes have such abilities. Even so, I’ll have Pages do sweeps of the area around where it was spotted.”

Volek lifted himself to his feet, drawing his hood back over his skeletal head. “Alright then! Let’s get going.”

“Lead the way.”

“Archivist! It’s good to see you again. Who’s that behind-”

“Yo!” Volek exclaimed, throwing up a bony wave as he and Rounder approached Sqr'Ik. From the drop in his expression, he had no doubt the goblin wasn’t especially excited to see him. He confirmed Volek’s thoughts not long after.

“Well, if it isn’t my least favorite skeleton. Hello, Anton.” Sqr'lk said in a deadpan tone.

“How many other skeletons do you even know?” he quipped. Poking fun at the lad was one of his favorite past-times.

“If you’re both quite finished, I think it best we discuss the urgent matter at hand. Sqr'Ik, we have need of Salvador’s services. Do you know if he still has the Consumer’s scent?”

“Eh, Consumer…?” the goblin looked between them, confusion in his four yellow eyes.

“Ah, crap. Forgot to tell him what it was called. It was that thing in the Southern Section eating all those books, remember? It disintegrated my favorite cooking journal." Volek wasn't quite over losing Tarbo's Guide to Galactic Cooking. Rest in peace, buddy.

“Oh! Salvador should still remember the scent, yes.” Sqr'Ik whistled and a burning falcon quickly descended from one of the upper shelves, coming to rest on a nearby table.

“Salvador, I’m going to need you to remember that scent from two days ago. The scary one, remember?” The bird nodded, taking back to the skies not long after. Volek wondered as to how exactly a burning falcon didn't burn half the Library down, but that was a quip for another day.

“Alright, we just need to follow him.” Sqr'Ik said as he hoisted his backpack up.

“It’s your bird. Lead the way.” Volek said as he withdrew a fanciful looking tome from under his robes.

Rounder was the first among them to notice it’s presence, no doubt because of his connection to the Library itself. “It’s close.” he murmured, his enormous body snaking across the side of the shelves above them with dexterity unfitting of his size. Dozens of Pages swung from webs even higher, keeping a close eye on their group.

Volek readied his tome, flipping to a page detailing a blue runic circle. He wasn’t sure if this type of binding spell would even work, but it was worth a try. As for Sqr'Ik, he was already making his own preparations for the coming fight with his own grimoire. While the Consumer had no physical manifestation, they could tell where it was by the surroundings. Books closer to the epicenter had already begun to disintegrate, while the ones farther out had started to lose their contents bit by bit. This close to it now, Volek could feel a sense of dread start to set in.

Despite this, he was the first to take a step forward. “Alright, let's get this party rolling!” Volek began chanting from his tome in a language rarely uttered in the Library. He hadn't told him, but it was about a fifty-fifty chance this spell would work. It was one he created specifically to trap entities without corporeal forms, but he wasn't completely sure it'd apply to the Consumer. He very well could be the first torn apart by it, should it choose to move towards them. Within moments however, blue chains rose from the ground and began to blanket the area where the most damage from the entity was. Nearly immediately, they began to strain under its power, threatening to break at any moment.

“Whatever you two are going to do, do it fast!” Volek shouted, trying his hardest to maintain the spell. It was like trying to hold down a bucking bull, except that bull had no true form and was capable of literally erasing your existence. Alright, maybe it wasn't so much like a bull.

He wasn’t quite sure when Rounder had begun chanting his own magicks but suddenly found his chains, along with the Consumer, were quickly floating upwards into the air and away from the literature down below. Pages nearby hurriedly scrambled around, making sure no other books would be in its radius. Unfortunately, a few got too close to the epicenter, quickly withering away into nothing. “Sqr’lk, we need to take it to the Way thirty meters west! It’s under the overhang!" Rounder shouted.

“Got it!” From his pack, Sqr’lk produced dozens of paper slips. With a few words in the Ancient Tongue, they sped towards the entity, each of them sticking to pieces of Volek’s chains. Volek had just enough time to be impressed by the strange magick before it activated, causing the chained entity to begin hurtling towards the direction of the Way.

“Keep those chains held, Volek!” Rounder roared as the group ran alongside the now-flying prisoner. He could hear in his voice how difficult it was for the Archivist to keep the Consumer above the ground. Not that Volek was having a picnic either, he could already feel the bones in his hands begin to crack under the stress of his spell.

Somehow, either through sheer luck, their combined efforts, or a little bit of both, they were able to bring the Consumer to the Way. Rounder stepped forward and grabbed two books, slapping them together three times. With this, the Way opened, a shimmer in the air appearing before them.

"Drop your spells, now!" Rounder shouted towards Volek and Sqr'lk. As soon as they did, a rush of air knocked them off their feet and there was an audible pop followed by…..nothing. Books were no longer decaying and that uneasy sense of dread no longer lingered in the air. He couldn't feel the presence of the Way either, meaning Rounder had disconnected that world from the Library. Volek fell to his knees, all of the exhaustion from the encounter hitting him at once. “So…Rounder…where’d you send that fucker?”

Rounder didn’t look nearly as tired as Sqr’lk and himself, as he was already instructing nearby Pages on where to bring the damaged books. He turned his attention back to the pair. “Somewhere far away. A dead world with its literature still intact but nobody to read it. That satisfy your curiosity, Volek?”

“Yea, sure. I guess.” He watched as Sqr’lk got to his feet and cracked his knuckles. Salvador came to rest on a nearby shelf, looking at the trio curiously.

“Volek, don’t rope me into anymore of this stuff. It’s bad for my health,” Sqr'lk complained.

Volek gave him and Rounder a skeletal smirk from his sitting position. “Aw, c’mon. You guys both had fun, don’t even lie. This is gonna be a great story, trust me! They’re gonna talk about it everywhere!”

Sqr’lk rolled his four eyes, already walking off. “I’m going back to my research…”

Volek looked back towards Rounder. “Well, there’s still us, right buddy?”

Rounder’s many eyes gave him an annoyed look, but with a sigh he admitted, “You did well, Volek. I’ll give you that.” With that, he ascended into the abyss above the Library, bringing the Pages along with him.

After a few moments, Volek rose to his feet and dusted off his robes. He'd have to do some healing magic later to repair a few bones, but for the most part he was none the worse for wear. He wondered though, what was his next great escapade going to be? Maybe he should pay Malaise and Renmar a visit…

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