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Norim peeks through the gaps between shelves and books. They look around. No one is watching. The lich dashes and jumps onto the top of the shelf. Their gloves help them not lose grip and keep their hands warm — something important in this part of the Wanderer's Library. This section is known for its low temperatures and the always-present snow. The lich’s eyes are fixated on a mysterious man in the adjacent aisle. Norim couldn’t get a good look at his face. But what had taken Norim’s interest was the Jailor’s insignia engraved on the stranger’s clothes.

They weren’t the only ones curious about him; one of the library’s Docents has their gaze on the symbol as well. This Docent is, at least two meters tall. A brass lantern hangs from a chain located where their left hand would be.

Suddenly, the Docent turns around to face the spying lich. Chills crawl down their spine as they make visual contact with the Docent. The flame of the lantern burns bright, brighter than usual. Before they realize it, the Jailor is gone. Norim wonders what’s going on. It doesn’t matter, it’s not their business. Norim would rather stay away from any Librarians, anyway. They’ve always hated those things.

“I think I’ll be going now,” Norim says.

No response. Docents don’t have mouths after all. They drop down and walk away at a fast pace. The Docent is nowhere to be seen. Norim sighs, relieved. They decide to browse books on the nearest shelf. Thicker covers protect the books from the cold. What should they search for? Perhaps something entertaining to take their mind off whatever happened just a few minutes ago. Or maybe they could get some arcane magic tomes for the rest of the Keepers of the Dead1, they’ll appreciate it.

In the corner of their eye, Norim spots a Page crawling through the shelf with their many arms. But they don’t seem to have noticed Norim. What’s up with them? The lich spots several footsteps on the snow below the Librarian. Pages don’t touch the ground, Norim knows that for a fact.

Following the trail with their eyes, they spot… the Jailor from earlier. He’s digging through his pockets but doesn’t seem to find anything. He keeps walking, seemingly frustrated. Norim returns his gaze at the Page, who’s now staring at them. Norim is dazed by this. Are they just overthinking this? Do the Librarians want something with them? Norim has done nothing wrong. It must be the Jailor, Norim thinks. Maybe, if they catch him, they’ll leave them alone. The lich is reluctant to do anything; they know what happens to rule-breakers in the Library. However, this is why they want to stay on their good side.

They cautiously follow the footsteps left by their target. It doesn’t take long before Norim finds them snooping around. On closer inspection, the Jailor is dressed in a green synthetic jumpsuit. He’s also wearing a tool belt with what seems to be rubber gloves and cleaning products. Norim notices this Jailor isn’t a human. His head matches that of an orange-colored octopus. The hands were a blend of human and octopus skin. How are they not freezing here? The lich doesn’t know what was the path that had taken this Jailor here. However, being followed by the Librarians doesn’t paint a good picture. They must have done something, right? Norim doubts if they should get involved at all. Maybe turning into a Librarian was the fate of this stranger.

That last thought horrifies Norim. The Jailor seems oblivious, looking at everything around himself. Norim doesn’t want anything bad to happen to him. The Jailor picks up a book and skims over it. Not too long after, he puts the book back on the shelf.

"I shouldn't have left on a whim," he whimpers.

He keeps wandering through the halls, followed by Norim. In one turn, the Jailor finds himself face to face with a Docent. They caught him, finally. Norim has had enough of the Librarians for a while. They’re the only thing Norim hates about the library. Infinite free knowledge is always nice. And their family, the Keepers of the Dead, live here too. If it weren’t for them, Norim would have left a long time ago. The lich doesn’t immediately leave. They’re… curious about the cephalopod’s fate.

The Jailor takes a step back from the Docent, who isn’t paying attention to him. Instead, it looks directly at Norim. The Librarians weren’t looking for the Jailor. It was Norim who they wanted. The confused man turns around, trying to make sense of the situation.

"What's going on?" he says.

"I-I don't know," Norim says.

The Docent approaches the fearful lich. Norim’s hands and legs shake like never before. They could even feel a little pain inside their chest. How can they get out? Instinctively, Norim turns around and sprints away from the Docent. Their runaway is cut short by a Page, hanging between the two shelves and blocking the path. Norim’s muscles tense. This felt like it had happened before. In a painful and long-repressed memory.

When Norim was just three years old and their horns had just barely started to grow, their parents took them to the Wanderer’s Library. The thing is, the young lich’s parents weren’t normal wanderers. They were Magpies. Their mother took the books from the shelves as she pleased. She stored them on a long red scarf. While she was busy, Norim’s father carried them on his shoulders as they looked for any suspecting Librarians. Nevertheless, two Docents surrounded them before they could even see them coming. One of the Docents picked up Norim and covered their eyes with their free hand.

“No, don’t take them! They did nothing wrong.” Norim’s dad yelled.

The young Norim cried for help. For a moment, they could only hear the screams of their parents, then… silence. After a while, the hand was finally taken off them.

They weren’t in the hands of the Docent anymore, or their parents. Instead, a smiling human held and embraced them. She tried her best to calm them down and took them to her home.

It has been thirty years since that occurred. They are going to have the same fate as their parents, and they don’t even know why. They close their eyes, slowly accepting the thought of their demise. Norim hears someone running towards them.

“Stop!” someone yelled.

Norim opens their eyes again. It's the Jailor. He’s standing between them and the Docent. He’s brave. Maybe a bit stupid, but brave nonetheless.

They look up at the Docent, who is looking at them. The brass lantern still burning bright like before. On their free hand, there's a laced, rectangular box. The Docent offers it to Norim as the Page watches from behind. Norim reluctantly picks it up with their shaking hands. The Librarians leave, leaving them and the orange octopus alone. They stare awkwardly at each other and then at the box.

"Are you going to open it?" he says.

Norim nods as they carefully undo the lace. They remove the top of the box to reveal its content. Inside of it, there's a long red scarf. Something about it makes them very nostalgic. Upon closer inspection, they notice several gaps with disjointed threads all over its length. That's when it hits them.

"It's an old scarf?" the octopus asks.

"Well, yes. This scarf belonged to my mother," Norim responds, “Do you think those Librarians were…? No, it can’t be them.”

The cephalopod looks closely at the scarf, making sure he doesn't get too close to the lich holding it. His face tentacles twitch slightly. When he's finished, he looks back at Norim.

“I can sense a story behind it,” he says.

Norim chuckles. “Mhm. Surely there’s a story behind that too,” They point at the Jailor’s logo on the stranger's green jumpsuit.

“Hold on, I can explain-” the man nervously plays with his hands, “I was tired of how the Foundation treated me like I was an anomaly and-”

“You don’t need to justify yourself. The Librarians wouldn’t have let you in here if you were a threat. Not for long, at least.”

"Oh," he looks relieved. "That's good to know."

"You can still tell me how you got here over some coffee if you want."

"Yeah, I-I-I'd like that," he stutters.

His cheeks turn into a red-ish color. However, Norim is certain that octopuses don't blush. There is more to this man, after all. Norim smiles at him and offers their hand.

"My name's Ennanorim Amberjack. Norim for short."

"I'm Sancho. Uh, Sancho Martel."

"Nice to meet you, Sancho."

He shakes their hand. Not a very firm handshake, Norim notices. Sancho's demeanor makes Norim think that he is very unfamiliar with the Library. He even may be lost. They feel like they have to help him. But they're unsure if it's because he reminds Norim of themselves or because they just really like this individual.

"Wait, coffee? Are there cafeterias here?" he asks.

Yep, he's definitely lost.

"Never been to the Food Court?"

Sancho shakes their head. Norim signs him to follow them with their hand. They have much to show him.

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