A Memento In Ink
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A reproduction of the book's cover for online viewers.

Time slowed as Eric's eyes slowly traced the outline of the figure in front of him. The strange markings across his features. The stony glare. The ragged tatters of a red cloak, that of a High Wordsmith.

The golem collapsed, seeming to fold in upon itself. Fine sand poured out of its torso, almost suggesting blood with its orangish hue. By the time Eric was on his feet, the entity had completely disintegrated into small bits of gravel and wet clay. Slowly, the shredded crimson cloth drifted down to rest on top of it.

Eric wrinkled his nose. Slowly, delicately, he peeled off the cloak, exposing the remains of his fallen comrade. His left hand began rooting around in the gravel, before emerging with the small copper case of the deceased. Blowing on it, a cloud of rock dust seemed to paint the air an alien, golden color. With a loud pop, it opened, displaying the name of the dead entity on a small red card. "Greggumm Brak". Beneath it, a pen with a rough patchy design sat on its side.

"Let's see how you died Brak. That was a nasty hole in your chest." Eric Aunger removed the pen and held it in his hands. With a quick brisk motion, he snapped it in two, sending a spray of ink into the air. The ink turned into a black mist, and began forming into shapes as the replay began.

A hulking figure stood in the bad half of the market. All around it, patrons would quickly glance up, then move to some other area for their dealings.

Greggumm slowed to a stop. He looked out upon the sea of makeshift booths offering dubious goods and questionable services. The majority of these stalls sold items that were socially unacceptable, or illegal in some other dimension. That wasn't why he was there. He made his way to a little booth near the outskirts of the cluster. A small shriveled figure sat at the front of the booth. He immediately knew this was a victim of the man within. He could tell by the jerking movements when their weight shifted, and the slow breaths. He also knew the entity in front of him wouldn't let him by willingly. The sunken eyes turned towards him, and looked directly at his cloak, before merely looking back down to the ground. If the sight of a Wordsmith didn't shake it or get a reaction, the entity really was too far gone.

He slowly drew closer. The entity in front of him was a human. Perhaps thirty years of age. Despite working with them frequently, he still couldn't figure out how to differentiate them by gender. The short hair on this one seemed to indicate a male, but he could never be sure. The shriveled skin was peeling up in places.

"May I go in? I have business with your boss." Greggumms deep gravelly voice seemed to shake the ground, and he was positive he heard the humans' bones rattling. The sunken-eyed human scanned him again, and he felt it's gaze piercing the deepest recesses of his stone core. "Sorry, Mister Wordsmith. Big boss said nobody comes in or out for a bit. He's expecting someone to try and shut him down, and he doesn't want any customers in the way." Alright, so this human wasn't the sharpest tool in the box.

"I'm here to shut you down." The emancipated human seemed to creak as it stood up. "I'm not supposed to let you in either. He's moving his goods already. Just let him finish, Librarian." Brak reached into the interior pocket of his cloak and pulled out his card-case, snapping it open. "Are you positive you want to do this, human? I can banish you from the library." The human seemed to shrink back. "I have to. If I don't get the drug, I die. You know how it works." The human suddenly seemed to panic further. "You won't do it. You know that banishing me is as good as murder. Please. Just go away. If you keep trying to get in, I die no matter what I try." The sunken eyes rolled wildly in their sockets. "Please Mister, leave." The High Wordsmith regarded the human for a moment more, then raised one of his large granite arms and brought it down on the head of the human. It crumpled beneath the weight.

"He can't blame you for letting me through if I knocked you unconscious." He walked into the tent, past a sign reading only two words. "Indenturement Pills."

The creature inside was waiting for him. "I'm closing up shop and moving dimensions. Let me go. I'm not distributing here anymore. You have no reason to arrest me." Brak ignored the supplier for a moment while scanning his surroundings. The crates in the back of the room were full of small white bottles. Each held one hundred doses. A single pill slipped into your drink or forced down your throat, and ingesting them became necessary for living. Engineered to have the most lethal withdrawal symptoms possible, they were a Slavers best friend. To his left, a large thick book sat on a desk. He walked over and peered at the page it was opened to. He could see the names of buyers, the amounts of slaves, how many pills were being shipped…the book slammed shut, a pink, coral-covered hand resting on top of it.

The Polypling stared up at him intently, waiting for a response. Brak grunted and looked down at him. "Technically, I can. The law states that you cannot possess indenturement class drugs inside the Library, with the intention to distribute anytime in the future. Even if you intend to distribute in another dimension, which you just admitted to, that is still at some point in the future. And you are most definitely still in possession. " The bulbous pink and red creature opened his mouth, then promptly shut it. The saltwater smell in the room intensified. "I suggest you start talking, unless you want to spend a few years as a docent. As it is, you'll be lucky if all we do is bar you from the Library. Who's your Cook?"

The slimy chunk of coral shifted, then suddenly took off, ripping a hole in the tent wall as it ran out into the bustle of the market. Brak didn't bother giving chase, instead leaving that to the docents and pages he had patroling the stalls and guarding the exits to the mass of shops. He wouldn't get far. Sure enough, the red man was back shortly, suspended two feet in the air by some pages.

Greggumm walked over to the struggling sea creature. "Just remember, I gave you a chance…" The entity flailed wildly. "I'm sorry. Please no. It was dado, I swear! He makes what you order now! Cleaned up his act! Just don't-" The card in Braks' granite hand began to glow. "dado isn't in the game anymore. Do I look like I'm stupid?" The Polypling shrieked, and began to shimmer-

Eric winced backward from the whirling cloud of colored ink. It was never fun to watch a tranformation. He caught a glimpse of something small, or at least small to everybody else in the room, rising up from behind a large crate of the drugs. Greggum didn't.

The newcomer never even threw a glance at anyone in the room as they emerged. The Wordsmith was watching the Polypling change with a strange, sadistic sort of interest. The pages, too, seemed spellbound. The man lowered his hat over his face and tried to exit quietly, undetected. He almost did. The transformation finished before he made it completely out the door. Brak turned, and a rather pleased look was replaced with one of anger and embarrassment when he saw the person before him. The Wordsmith had been caught doing something unthinkable. Taking pleasure in dealing out punishment.

The red-robed golem stood to his full height, nearly scraping the top of the tent with his head. The man took off running, Wordsmith and Pages in tow.

The human vaulted over stalls, ducked under carts of food, and dove through tents. The pages were on his heels the entire way, careful not to disturb anything. The large Wordsmith trailed behind. The pages were nearly on the horizon when something strange happened. Brak couldn't completely see, but one of them seemed to collapse downward, landing on the market floor. As Greggum drew closer, he spotted the large stumps on the end of its front legs, where something large had pierced the carapace. The High Wordsmith picked up the pace. He could still see the other Page, and it was growing nearer and nearer to the edge of the market, on the border of the self-help section. It suddenly reared back and leapt up and over the shelves, following a small blur, and a hat that could barely be made out. Greggum swore deeply as he finally reached the edge of the market, nearly 30 seconds later. If he had checked the tent more thoroughly…

The Golem hopped over the shelf, only to spot the bobbing of a hat turning the corner, and a dead Page laying among the ruins of a smaller bookcase. Greggum turned the corner quickly, and something hard and sharp drove its way into his torso. The figure stood in front of him, holding a large pickaxe and drawing back for another swing. Up close, the strange business attire seemed to gleam in patchy tie-dye colors. The metal hit him in the torso again. Something cracked. "Sorry, Mr. Wordsmith. I have a good thing going, and I can't let you fuck it up."

The golem fell to his knees, and in a last half-hearted effort, swung at the head of the human in front of him. He missed, but caught the brim of the hat, knocking it clean off, and revealing the face of his opponent. Strange, twisted sockets stared at him, and he found himself trying to draw away. The pick impacted with his torso again, and he felt something shatter. The human drew away and disappeared among the shadows.

Eric set down the broken pen and began drafting a letter to the heads of the Wordsmiths. He was in his thirties now, but his back ached like he was fifty, and he found himself wondering if the desk job at which he had confined himself were to blame. He continued the letter, which contained a description of Brak's misconduct, and theories as to the mystery figure that killed him.

It probably wasn't dado, but perhaps an impersonator of some sort. As he wrote, he continued reflecting on the sick way Brak had smiled as he watched the transformation happen. Perhaps, sometimes, a story didn't have a "good guy". Maybe it didn't always need one. Eric finished the letter and began walking to the Archivist who would make sure it was delivered.

The Archivist looked outward towards him. It was always unnerving to talk to them. This one, a strange centipede of some sort, had a head shaped like a human's house, but rounded in a way that looked both unnatural and unsettling. The windows bore into his soul as he handed over the letter, made uncomfortable small talk, and then, eventually, headed back to his desk nearly fifty meters away.

Somewhere in the shelves, a crushed hat lay on the ground, abandoned.

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