Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Priceless and Perilous Missing Books

Hundreds of books and scrolls are missing from the Library of All Worlds. So are a number of priceless maps of spherepaths and other realms. It is not unusual for books to go missing during major recataloging and reclassification processes in the Library. Books get misshelved or miscategorized; texts are discovered to be damaged, and are set aside for repairs and restoration; texts are removed from the collection and sent to Acquisitions for disposal on the book market.

Heather Scratch, the head of Collections, has embarked on an ambitious new numerical cataloging and reorganization project for the collection. Hundreds of texts have gone missing. Some of these texts are priceless or perilous works that were held in secret and/or secure locations. This is an embarrassing loss for the Library of All Worlds. Something is wrong.

Here is a list of several important texts that Heather Scratch has identified as priorities for recovery:
  1. The Book of Emerald Bindings. Everway used to have even more gates. Many opened to strange or hell-like worlds. The first Emerald King used blood magic to seal these gates. This text, written by an ancient Emerald, describes the gates that were closed and the terrible worlds beyond them. The text is also a spell-book which describes the blood magic rituals required to open and close gates.
  2. Fighting Arts of the Shallow Sea. This text is on loan for copying from the realm of the Shallow Sea. It is a martial arts manual describing the Eurypterid Fighting Style practiced and taught by the Floating Monks of the Shallow Sea in their barge temples. The fighting art has an outer form in which the hands are used for pincer-like flesh-tearing strikes, and an inner form involving the cultivation and use of poison chi. Several copyists in Acquisitions have already died of poisoning while handling the book; the pages have been tinctured in Eurypterid venom.
  3. The Book of the Rose Bride. This forbidden contemporary text describes the rites and practices of a gender-bending secret society within the House of Wisdom's Student Council. Exposure of its content would open the youth of Everway's most prominent families to unwelcome public scrutiny. The text is kept under lock and key. If the leading families discover that the text has gone missing, that will be another source of embarrassment for the Library of All Worlds.
  4. Chronicles of the Long Lost Golden Road. Describes a spherepath whose traverse has long been prohibited by the Keeper family.
  5. The Safe Book. Hidden in the stacks in plain sight and guarded by several Shelf-Bound spirits, this book is in fact an unimportant text that was hollowed-out to create a secret compartment. The book stores keys to several secret rooms within the Library of All Worlds.
  6. The Emerald Chronicles, Volume 43. The Emerald Chronicles is an incredibly long series of annals written by each successive King of Roundwander. The Library catalog is a little vague about the contents of this volume, which is generally a sign that a text contains Bad Things.
  7. Protocols of the Superintendent for the Destruction of the Gods. Describes the practices used by an official of the King of the realm of Loss Leader to shift peasant surpluses from the temples to the state by systematically destroying all traces of the gods and their temples. The Superintendent recruited lepers to "systematically desecrate divine images with urine and excrement, thus neutralizing their power before dragging them off to be melted down" for their gold. This King destroyed more than 4,000 images of the gods, before being betrayed and killed. Shortly after the regicide, the realm of Loss Leader imploded.
  8. On the Printing of Books. Describes the ancient and dangerous practice of building machines to print and reproduce texts in large numbers. This practice has been banned on nearly all spheres, and not only because it allows strange and dangerous ideas to proliferate. It also produces sudden, destabilizing  mutations in the common Tongue.
  9. The Atlas of Unconfirmed Worlds, a compendium of realms and spheres that are quite distant from Everway, and of which there is only one written record of a visit by a Spherewalker. The book is partly a catalog of dubious spherepaths, partly an atlas of distant realms real or imagined, and partly a bestiary. The text was uncatalogued and part of the collection of books, atlases, maps, and spherepaths held by the Chamber Platinum. It was therefore not part of the Library's re-cataloging process.
  10. Proceedings of the Council in the Matters Concerning Lord Answer, Or The Dragon Alurax, As Lord Answer Is Better Known. Council meeting minutes accompanied by voluminous reports on the recent incursion of the dragon Alurax into the city of Everway. The text contains many sensitive details on security measures taken, as well as on the state of military and political affairs in the city.

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