A City Wrought of Silken Thread
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Did I ever tell you, young Wanderer, of the most glorious city I have laid eyes upon? 'Tis a story I have relayed to many before you, young and old, experienced or inexperienced in this Library's ways. My closest compatriots have heard it innumerable times, and I have spoken it, without variation, to nearly every fellow Wanderer I meet — I cannot help it, for out of all the wonders and jewels of knowledge contained within the Library, that wondrous city has proved to be the most memorable. And, in my centuries of patronage to the Library since it took place, this tale — unlike myself — has never grown old.

Ah, that city… 'twas six hundred years ago, when I was in the prime of my youth, that I first set eyes upon it; it was, at that time, the most awe-inspiring thing I had ever seen. It was situated in a secluded spot within the library, a sprawling metropolis of buildings in pristine upkeep with walls of delicate gossamer, interspersed with snow-white spires that towered above the mighty shelves at a breathtaking height. The roads of the city traveled in all directions — they wound around temples and houses in dizzying curves and spirals, cobbled with nothing but dust; side to side, twisting and turning, as well as up to the tops of the highest towers and down below the foundations of the magnificent city itself — yet all led to the city's centre, no matter how far they meandered.

Chasms, vast and empty, separated the wards of the city from one another — but this was no problem at all to its ingenious and industrious residents. With the finest and strongest of their threads, they constructed a dazzling network of bridges across the emptiness, complete with lights constructed of captured glow-worms. The bold among them lived suspended from these bridges, in hanging pods of their own design — like ornaments, teardrop-shaped and drooping from those heights to kiss the nothingness below.

I was burdened by a bundle of books too fragile to be left aside when I first discovered this place, and could only catch glimpses from afar upon my first outing. I endeavored to return there with my hands empty, and, upon a spell of down-time the next day, I managed to do so. I ventured with nothing but an open mind, using a ladder borrowed from a Librarian and the climbing proficiency of my limber, youthful body — ah, how I miss those days! — to reach the height at which the city was situated. Up close, I could witness the city in all its glory; its residents, seemingly unaware of my presence, went about their daily routines and rituals in peace. I hung there in awe, my face looming over even the highest spires and my wide eyes twice as large as an average resident — it was inevitable, then, that when my initial shock and wonder wore away, I noticed a multitude of the city's eight-legged citizens perched perfectly still upon the wiry roads and silken walls, all of their eyes trained upon me.

'Well, large stranger,' I heard a tiny voice barely break the silence from below, ''tis a surprise, to see your kind meandering these parts. Are you, by chance, lost?'

'Why, no,' I replied, more or less, 'of course not! I simply… I simply caught a glimpse of your beautiful city one day upon my travels, and decided today that I would take a closer look. I do hope I'm not intruding.'

The speaker, an older, larger gent with a thick golden stripe down his otherwise jet-black backside (which I later learned was simply paint, bestowed to all the city's elected mayors), climbed forward upon the tower upon which he perched. He leaned in close, and regarded my face more closely with all eight of his observant eyes. There were a few moments of silence — I feared for the worst, for ostracization or banishment, and held my breath along with my tongue — until finally, he cleared his throat to orate.

'Until you are content, large stranger,' he proclaimed, 'you are our esteemed guest!'

A cheer arose among the crowd, and I breathed a sigh of joy and relief. In this beautiful city, I had found a place to belong.

I enjoyed greatly my time as a subject of the first Mayor I met, and all those that came after; I savored every hour I spent alongside that town, a friend to all within; I assisted them with building and renovation when I could, and brought them newfound knowledge through the library's books; but time takes many things with it on its steady, unrelenting march, and sadly, tragically, this shining city in the sky was no exception. As the years passed by, I found the city growing colder and colder, emptier and older. The youth began to leave for what they believed to be a better life among the shelves of the Library below, and the elderly silently tended to their homes in their absence. The last such survivor, an old relic of 50 years, never spoke to me in his last days. He never uttered it aloud, but I knew he blamed me, my intrusion, and the Library itself for leading the young astray and leaving his home an empty husk, and I knew he was right. I found his corpse settled peacefully on his porch one morning, facing out to greet the still-bright glow-worm skyways; I buried him with the most delicate touch I could manage, in the most prestigious mausoleum I could find behind the city's central temple.

I returned to that city as often as I could, afterwards. Though it lay in a place which I knew no-one else would likely be able to reach, I tried my best to act as its custodian, clearing the quickly-settling dust from its buildings and streets and repairing what was eroded by time as well as I could. But dust settles all too quickly on both empty relics and fully-stocked minds, and my wanders through the Library left no more room for the place I once knew — I lost my grasp on the memories of my youth, and lost my way forever to that city where once I considered myself a citizen. The descendants of the youth who emigrated long ago remember not the place of their parents' parents' birth, residing instead in the cobwebs and cracks in the Library's extensive shelves, keeping out of sight, no help to me — I am the only living soul with firsthand knowledge of that city and its former wonders, and I will tell its tale to the grave.

Ah, a glum note to end such a fantastical tale on, is it not? Be reassured in the fact that my age and departing mind may have invented it on a whim, or brought a dream into my memory for me to treat as truth. I am old, after all, so very old, and my compatriots attest that this tale is altered slightly every time they hear it told. Although —

If you do find, during your travels to the heights of the Library, an aging city spun of silk, its winding roads and mighty towers as gossamer-thin and delicate as a memory…

Do return to me, and tell me all about it.

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