The Last Library
If libraries were people...
Ziizakgh sat on the floor, waiting to be summoned.
There was nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to talk to. Nothing to think of but the hours of waiting and nothing to hope for but that next time, she'd be able to satisfy her master's questions without being beaten or betraying her people.
Not that there was much chance of avoiding either. Ziizakgh wasn't a warrior. She wasn't even a fully-trained member of her people. She was just a young library. The last library.
There used to be tens of thousands of them. Now there was one.
There was no one left to betray, she supposed. No one to protect. It still felt like betrayal to share the dead's secrets.
“Get down and be quiet. I'll come back for you, I promise. Don't let them find you. Be good now. I love you…”
Her guardian's footsteps echoed through the ground to her body, narrating his run over moss and needle. His run away from her.
The footsteps faded to silence, and he was never seen again.
Ziizakgh jumped as her master's voice rang through the keep.
Ziizakgh scrambled to her feet, smoothed her clothes, and sprinted out of her room. She ran down stone ramps and carpeted hallways, her feet telling her the path to the master's office.
Jumping slightly to board a wooden contraption with silk-covered runners, she rode down the final ramp and slid to a stop at the solid oak door.
Thud, thud-thud-thud, thud.
Ziizakgh closed her eyes, bowed her head, and entered the room with her hands forward, palms up. Small, weak, and meek. Just how he liked her.
“The fardujekgh sashol. What are they?” her master asked. He wasn't much for small talk.
Ziizakgh knelt to the floor and cleared her mind. Her palms read the stones below, hearing the echoes of all the steps that came before. She sent her mind outward – through the stones, beyond the keep. Mountains and jungles and rivers flew by before she found her quarry.
It was near the coast, gliding through the corals and ocean boulders. Invisible as she was, the creature spotted her. It knew her kind and shot through the corals to the deeps beyond.
“I’m sorry uncle. Forgive me,” she thought through the waves. A leap over the waves was the old copper dragon’s only reply.
She felt a tug on her mind. Her body was being shaken. The leagues made the pain feel small – inconsequential.
It felt like her mind was grabbed by red-hot tongs and wrenched backward, travelling the leagues in a heartbeat. Her mind slammed back into her body and she fell over from the force.
Her master handed her a cup of almaso and watched until she finished every drop. “What are the fardujekgh sashol?”
Ziizakgh forced herself to her feet and stood as she had when she entered the room.
“The fardujekgh sashol are sea dragons, older than the legends. Their hide is tough, covered in uncounted scales of fire crystal. When they hatch, all the scales covering their body glow. They glowing fades as they grow, until only a single line of luminescent scales remain, horizontal across the body and wing edges. The adults' scales only glow in direct moonlight.
“Their wings are long and flexible, with scales only around the bones, not the inner wing. They have a top fin just beyond their wings and two side fins mid-body, all for balance and control. They have both gills and lungs and can fly short distances through the air on misty days. They have no legs, but they have something like a hand at the primary joint of each wing.”
Ziizakgh paused for a moment to breathe. The drink was starting to wear off, and the strain of travel was making itself apparent.
Ziizakgh faltered. She knew what would happen if the master caught one.
She felt his arm moving through the air a moment before his hand connected with her face. Her head snapped to the side, shoulders following suit, and collapsed from the force of the blow.
“They... they have no defense beyond the strength of their bodies and ability to fly above and below the waves,” Ziizakgh said.
“They have no fire to spit or control over air or water. They have little magic–”
Her body rammed into the wall, courtesy of her master's foot.
“Magic!” he shouted. Then he paused. “Ha. I'll show them strength. I don't rely on magic. Magic is for children's tales and weaklings.”
He turned and walked around his desk, then paused again.
“Return to your room. Stay there.”
Ziizakgh struggled to her feet and again stood as she had entered the room: head down, hands forward, palms up. As she backed through the door, she heard the master muttering to himself.
“Magic is weakness, and weakness is death. I will kill the demons who rely on it.”
Ziizakgh's skin glowed as she walked up the hall. A small path, wet from a single tear.
Her footsteps echoed up and down the empty ramps, thudding softly in carpeted hallways. The moon shone through arched windows, making her skin glitter with more streaks of tears glowing copper.
At her room, she sagged against the door and slid to the floor, still crying.
The master would not be happy when he learned she had lied.
About the Creator
Lover of nature, friend of the stars, weaver of legends.
Storyteller and photographer, I aim to give voice to the voiceless and share the beauty of creation.
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