Subterranean Library

 

My steps echoed through the hall; footfalls striking against paving stones. My hand trailed against the wall to my right; I felt the deep grooves, and the roughness of stone. I smiled.

I’d been exploring these underground ruins for about three weeks, now. I’d come to love the feel of the stone, and its sense of stories untold, like the faintest smell of something just barely remembered.

Miles upon miles had been traversed, and I was still discovering new places within. The immensity of this structure, and my infinitesimal smallness within it, no longer frightened me. Rather, I was consumed with the need to know why? Who built this place, and what for? For this ruin was very much alive, in a way impossible to rationalize. Let me explain:

I could think a specific thought (emotional ones were best, like ‘the ocean’, for example) and the ruins would shift around me. Huge blocks of ancient stone would shift, rotating, sinking beneath other stones that were simultaneously arising from the depths. The very structure and shape of entire rooms would change, as my mood changed. Indeed, the place seemed to listen to me in this way, and respond to my thought.

There used to be only empty rooms, vast stone hallways, immensely tall ceilings above, and nothing to fill them, nothing to draw the attention. But in the last few days, I’d begun to learn to read what was engraved in the stones. I was coming to find that I was surrounded not only by an ancient maze of ruins, but also by a veritable treasure-trove of histories, and philosophies, and memories!

Months went by… and then, years. Reading the lore of the stones sustained me, and drove me forward. I learned of civilizations past, and of civilizations yet-to-be. I read of civilizations parallel to ours, similar, but formed out of very different dimensions. I absorbed the memories of entire lives; individuals I now knew intimately, but would never see. Histories of entire solar systems were played out before me.

I would walk without aim for hours, entranced by the effect of my footfalls on the texture of the floor, entranced by how the corridors shifted with my turns in direction. As the connection between my mind and the library deepened, it became increasingly unclear where I ended, and where it began. These ruins had become my home, yes, but they had also become my very body. I was no longer just a man. I now knew myself to be a vast repository of timeless, living information.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.