The Library

Your head spins as you stumble out of the Way. Tears well in your eyes and blue dots dance over your vision. As you stand still, struggling to reorient, a man made of stone shoves past you, muttering to himself. A woman with stars where her face should be drifts through the air, clutching a bookbag. Three red, squat creatures argue heatedly in a language you cannot comprehend. And around them are the Shelves.

They seem to stretch on further than you could possibly see, further than anything you've ever seen before. A maze with no entrance or exit, enveloping everything. The volumes they contain run through every size, color, construction. The style of the Shelves is just as scattered.

You take your first step into the endless world, and the nausea fades. There's no time for nausea anymore. Not when there's a universe to explore.

Shelf North 01A, dedicated to the False Swedenborg

The steady gaze of the False Swedenborg beholds the 45 works contained on this shelf. Devoted Wanderers have discovered 8 falsehoods contained within these works.

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Shelf Lesser Easternmost, 490-Y-74, dedicated to Pangur

Pangur watches over the 45 works contained on this shelf. 961 felines gather daily to pay homage to her likeness.

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Shelf East-by-Northeast 48X, dedicated to Emily Redtooth

Emily Redtooth looks over the 41 works that have been or will ever be on this shelf. Her ineffable hourglass has ticked 15 Feb 2010 21:17 times since the addition of the previous volume.

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Shelf Upper Left 800M, dedicated to the Thorn Child

The Thorn Child beholds the 40 works contained on this shelf. 9 academics have gone mad attempting to understand its sorting system.

  • This shelf also holds the volumes of The Life Of The Seasons. It may only be checked out during equinoxes and eclipses. Patrons are strongly advised against reading it during the solstice.

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Shelf South 11075, dedicated to Ilvos of the Rusted Blade

The violent gaze of Ilvos beholds the 49 works contained on this shelf. 14 May 2013 13:33 dastardly thieves have tried and failed to steal its contents.

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Shelf Left, 545-P dedicated to Agnes Bogg

The likeness of Agnes Bogg oversees the 44 works contained on this shelf. The section of her catalogue that covers this shelf is 782 volumes.

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Shelf Outermost 888671-F, dedicated to Dread Wyrm Kragg

The likeness of Dread Wyrmm Kragg oversees the 38 works contained on this shelf. An estimated 14 wars have broken out as a result of arguments over its contents.

Concerning the False Swedenborg

In 558, tomes authored by an individual or collective, writing voluminously under the pseudonym Emanuel Swedenborg, began to enter into the collections of the Library. The collected eight hundred forty-three thousand volumes focused on the outcome of the War of Spanish Succession and its role in defining a new branch of metaphysics based on rhombuses. For many years, the Swedenborg volumes were treated as a reliable, if esoteric, authority on metaphysics and unwritten history2. As is the case with temporal beings, the lack of correlation between the predictions of the False Swedenborg and baseline reality did not appear to cause any concerns regarding his veracity. It was not until nearly twelve hundred years later, with the birth and eventual death of the actual Emanuel Swedenborg that the earlier writings were definitively attributed to “the False Swedenborg3." Attempts to discern the nature of this False Swedenborg or Swedensborg have proven unsuccessful4.

Despite the demonstrably incorrect and thoroughly useless nature of the False Swedenborg’s writings, their sheer volume and diversity of size has given them a new, practical dimension. Now, when a table wobbles perilously, Appendix C of De Coniuratione Caules is there to bridge the chasm between leg and floor. When a patron requires a stepladder, but there are none to be found, they may climb atop the lofty peaks of Malitia Tonstrina to retrieve the desired items. Although other thinkers may discern the movement of the stars or correctly spell the word "restaurant," it is the work of the person or persons masquerading as Emmanuel Swedenborg that truly allows the Library to function.

For the unexpected uses of your work, False Swedenborg, we remember you.

1: This bust is the only known likeness of the False Swedenborg, based upon the exceedingly precise skull measurements the author provides for himself throughout the fifteenth and nineteenth volumes of De Augustus Usus Lapilli. The utter lack of resemblance to Emmanuel Swedenborg is startling.
2: It is rumored that, upon reading the works of the False Swedenborg, the Library patron known only as "Hashim al-Muqanna" began his ill-advised attempt to unseat Muhammad as the Seal of the Prophets. For more information, please refer to Ibbik, 283 and Crane, 992.
3: In addition to wrongly predicting the continued Hapsburg reign over Spain well into the 23rd century, the False Swedenborg also incorrectly addressed several aspects of the true Swedenborg’s life, including date of birth, number of children, and country of origin.
4: A small number of Wanderers have chosen to devote their lives to discovering the identity of the False Swedenborg. Due to mutual infighting and recrimination, the various factions of Swedensborg Wanderers refuse to share information. However, let it be known for all those who would seek to uncover such information that the Library has definitively ascertained that the False Swedenborg is not the True Swedenborg of another, dying dimension, nor magician William E. Robinson. Requests from Archivists regarding these lines of inquiry will be ignored.

Concerning Pangur

In the days of the First Reconstruction, the Library was beset by all manner of foul creatures that attempted to compromise the integrity of its collection and its patrons. Too small for the Docents to effectively track, the Tribe of the Rat, the Silverfish1, and the Marmoset wreaked havoc upon the less-traversed areas of the stacks. It became impossible for patrons to safely access the outer reaches of the upper and middle floors, and even Librarians hesitated to tread in the more infested areas. At several points, it was feared that these disparate enemies of the Library might seek to invade the inner sanctum of the Library itself.

However, the mischief wrought by these beings was checked the very day that Pangur, along with her valiant companion, Bruno, made their way through a Way in search of grass to consume and regurgitate. With no natural predators and a large population of potential prey, Pangur and her descendants decimated the pest population of the Library within a generation2. Today, any patron may see between three and six dozen felines throughout their time in the Library3. In recent centuries, the population of cats in the Library has grown to the point that it has grown necessary to cull their numbers, primarily by means of herding large numbers of the creatures into various worlds.

Although followed by others of her kind, such as ibn-Garbe, Theodorous, and Mr. Mittens, Pangur was the first to walk the halls of the Library and ensure their safety.

For your ferocity and that of your children, Pangur, you are remembered.

1: Compatriot of the Hanged One.
2: Although waste disposal was initially a concern, the incorporation of the Roving Sands of al-Cho'lin into the Library's collection resolved the issue.
3: The question of the status of Pangur's descendants has been a matter of some debate. Although some maintain that the creatures are employees of the Library, and are afforded the same rights as Pages and Docents, they are wrong. More recently, the Egyptian goddess Bast claimed sovereignty over the roughly sixteen million cats of the Library, a claim that was roundly rebuffed.

Concerning Emily Redtooth

Named for her famed left molar (claimed to be carved from the wood of one of Yggdrasil's seedlings), Emily Redtooth led a life of singular vision- to become a watchmaker renowned across the multiverse. Beginning small, she was tutored by her mother in the ways of gear-smithing as they fled the horrors that stalked their home earth2. When her mother was killed and she stumbled by chance through a Way, Emily saw an opportunity to perfect her family's art.

She soon learned the idea was more complicated than she thought- the simple gears and mechanics of her ancestral timepieces would not suffice for many of the Library's inhabitants. How could a being that devours time track it? Or a soul that exists in all possible universes, at all possible moments?3 Thus she devoted herself to the study of chronology and mechanics. On her 90th birthday, she began work on her greatest project- creation of a singular timepiece that would measure chronology across all possible realities. After nearly seven years of work, tens of thousands of hours of labor, and the bribing of innumerable public officials the device, taking up half a wing of the Library, was complete. Unfortunately, when she died four years later, it was realized that no one besides her understood the mechanical or ontological principles behind its construction. With no one to repair it the device rapidly fell into disuse, and nowadays its chasis serves as on-the-go housing for artists wandering the multiverse after graduation.

And yet, for her ambition Redtooth is remembered.

1: It should be known that Emily greatly preferred her personal motto, "Hey, at least it works".
2: Emily was tight-lipped regarding most of her personal life. Academic work has shown possible ties between filigree in her earliest designs and architecture in the desert world of Lesh. Multiple scholars have pointed out how Lesh's triple suns have resulted in much complexity in predicting the day/night cycle, and rich legacy of renowned timekeepers. For more information, see Raphael Mordin's K.E 1881 work Regarding the Difficulties of Chronological Standardization in Triplicate Sun Worlds.
3: Emily concluded the answer was "tachyons".

Concerning the Thorn Child

The Library is no stranger to beings of trickery. As a hub of travel and information intersecting untold numbers of worlds, it has become something of a mecca for those wishing to perfect the art of the jape. From court jesters to trickster gods, they came to the Library in search of the most difficult marks, the most intricate jokes, the highest stakes. And though none would call the Thorn Child1 the greatest of these schadenfreudians, it was certainly the most memorable.

The creature gained initial attention for its direct taunting of Library personnel, a line few were willing to cross at the time. As its fame spread, dozens would gather to watch it set Docent's cloaks alight, swap out the Page's carefully crafted sorting systems, and steal the robes of unsuspecting Archivists2. As its fame grew, so did the scope of its pranks. People would search for a text only to find its shelf levitating 25 feet in the air. Pies filled with singing glitter struck those exiting ways. Books transformed into animals that bit at passing patrons. No one could discover how child did what it did, and no one could stop it. It vanished as soon as a trick was done, inevitably seconds before the Library had it ensnared. Theories ran amok regarding its origins. A god? A powerful mage? An incarnated concept of buffoonery? None could be confirmed, and the child never made a noise but laughter.

It wasn't until many years after the Thorn Child's disappearance that a possible origin was discovered. Cythius Grolan Paeyne, searching through the stacks of the Library, unearthed the memoirs of a frazzled Archivist fed up with its work. Frustrated by what it viewed as the overly rigid nature of its compatriots, it used a blend of alchemy, lubrigious magicks, and blind luck to create a being to force the Library out of its comfort zone. Sadly, a creation expected to lay bare the hypocrisy of the Library and its curators seemed to find more joy revealing their bare asses.3

Still, for its effort, the Thorn Child is remembered.

1: The exact origin of the name is unknown, as the creature was never known to actually associate itself with thorns. Some believe it to be a mistranslation of "ulthus", a word in the Archival tongue that can mean both "prickly" and "nuisance".
2: Ten years after the last disappearance of the child, hundreds of stolen robes were discovered stashed in a hidden compartment beneath the shelf. The original owners were never found.
3: Before the Thorn Child, none had seen beneath the robes of the librarian, or at least been able to document that they had. This is considered by far the most significant of the Child's contributions to Library knowledge.

Concerning Ilvos

Ilvos of the Rusted Blade1 should have had everything he desired. Son of an emperor, heir to the largest kingdom in the world of Varnes, a life of easy luxury was guaranteed. And yet, it was not enough. For him, a kingdom was not enough, and peace was a curse he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy. As soon as the empire was his he sent his armies across the land, conquering all rivals, slaughtering anyone foolish enough to resist. Within years, he held the world in his hands. But that was not enough.

From a wandering prophet2, he learned of the existence of other universes. Raising his armies once more, he began a campaign to make all worlds his. His engines of fear slaughtered billions, and his flesh factories turned their corpses into members of his unfeeling, unstoppable armies. His artificial plagues rendered entire worlds sterile.

In the end, his defeat was a modest one: choking on a quail bone, surrounded by servants unwilling to save the life of their tyrant. Without him, his armies faded. The kingdoms he had created slowly crumbled. But the scars he left across the multiverse will forever remain.3

We must always remember the faces of our enemies. And so, Ilvos, we remember you.

1: Ilvos refused to enter combat with a well maintained blade, preferring the additional suffering worn steel inflicted on his opponents.
2: Now believed to be an uncatalogued incarnation of the Strife Singer.
3: Several expeditions have been made in attempts to retake his factory worlds. Though the armies protecting them are long gone, and the resources long depleted, the machinery grinds as effectively as ever, and the spells protecting them are no less potent. Those brave souls who volunteered for the task have not been heard from since.

Concerning Agnes Bogg, Alleged Cataloguer

The precise date that Agnes Bogg, as she is known, arrived in the Library is a question that has inspired countless debates. Still more controversial is the commencement of her obsessive cataloging of Shelves 334K-914B of the Easternmost Hospitable Wing1. While mortals will continue to prattle on, one thing is clear: her gargantuan, seminal text on the locations and organisation of its various accumulated texts have inspired scores of scholars, thinkers and pioneers in cataloguing the feral wilds of the Far Eastern Shelves, a place so disorganised and dangerous that it is said even most Docents fear to tread near. Bogg's incessantly meticulous system2 enabled the subsequent reorganisation of Shelves 1086M-1322X by the scholar-explorer Xing Wudi and his fellow lost Docents in the Year of the Bitter Mildew.

Some sources report that she, if, indeed, Bogg was a she, possessed fine black hair, either on her head or feet. Others suggest that she possessed a multitude of arms and at least nine heads, allowing her to compose her work in long-hand3. Still others believe Agnes Bogg to be little more than a pen-name for a collective of humans, like Luther Blisset or Seneca the Younger.

Little else is known of Bogg. What is believed is the result of conjecture from the various diaries, notes, and scribblings she left behind, as well as the Bogg Catalogue itself. Wanderers have described it variously as "harmonious," "beautiful," and "unreadable." Whether Agnes Bogg is alive, dead, or nonexistent in the first place, will be an issue debated by many future generations to come. Regardless of the opinions of patrons, none doubt the importance and utility of her work in cataloguing the Library for the understanding of mortals.

For your devotion to rendering the Library comprehensible, Agnes Bogg, we remember you.

1: The only other attempt at an undertaking of such a magnitude was made by dramatist and politician Fabre d'Églantine, who sought to catalogue the Library's entire collection along decimal lines. d'Églantine managed to catalogue only a single shelf before his decapitation in 1794. No patron has since attempted to resume his work.
2: Which would be later christened the Bogg Standard, in her honour.
3: Ma Cai has calculated that it would take "fifteen score decades" for an unassisted wanderer to complete a work approaching the magnitude of Bogg's. While blatantly biased towards a two-arm perspective, the calculation is roughly correct.

Concerning the Dread Wyrm Kragg

Born amidst the fearsome Callacrack Wilds, Dread Wyrm Kragg of Clan Morwul was famed for his brutal and unique style of empathetic healing magic, with heavy emphasis on enforced patient comfort, by force if necessary. It is said that Kragg, at the age of fourteen, attempted to treat Gelregg the Voluminous1 for her gout, resulting in a brutal melee that lasted six full days. After his victory, Kragg treated Gelregg both for the malady and the numerous wounds she had sustained during the conflict.

Wandering his world, Dread Wyrm Kragg's horrifically effective skills soon found use in the various battlefields and disaster zones he encountered. Within a decade, Kragg had mastered all that there was to know of healing magic. Growing restless Kragg began to explore the Ways, seeking masters who could impart a greater sense of purpose to his work. His exploration eventually led him to the Library in the Year of the Bitter Pages2.

Blighted patrons, willingly or otherwise, soon fell prey to his morbidly quick recuperative methods, and he soon single-handedly found himself responsible for saving the lives of many hundreds amidst the remains of the Central Northern Shelf Passage. When questioned, he maintained that he "HEAL GOOD [sic]" and would not stop until the wounded would "LET DREAD WYRM KRAGG MEDICATE… OR FACE DIE[sic]"3. He left the Library when crisis abated and order was restored to the stacks, and continues to roam the Ways to this day, performing his sacred forceful duty to the sick and incapacitated, whether they wanted it or not.

For your brutal healing and healing brutality, Dread Wyrm Kragg, we remember you.

1: Not to be confused with the Fourth North-Western Archivist, Gelgreg the Voluminous. Lacking extremities or blood, Gelgreg was not at danger of gout.
2: As is standard protocol for all significant years for the Library, all records of the Year of Bitter Pages have been removed from circulation and have been placed in the Archives for further study. Patrons in good standing may inspect, but not check out, Archival works relating to significant years. The exception to this is the Year of the Iron Duck, which may not be inspected under any circumstances.
3: The languages of the Callacrack Wilds depend heavily on context and elision, leading to controversy on the actual meaning of Kragg's statements. See Ng's 1987 treatise On The Semiotics of Brutalist Healings for discussion of alternative interpretations of Kragg's words.
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