The Library

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Good luck and best of times, traveler!

— Office of the Provost

    The Library [IC/OOC]

    Van de Kärne

    Posts : 34
    Join date : 2011-11-10
    Location : Thirteenth Floor

    The Library [IC/OOC]

    Post  Van de Kärne on Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:48 am

    The Library
    Table of Contents

    I. A Journey of the Mind
    ”It was majesty; we were traipsing on the feet of the Gods. It was magnificence,
    if I had ever known it. Awe-inspiring and endless; a labyrinth of hidden knowledge,
    kept away, safe, and secret from the misbegotten, soiled hands of the illiterate and
    the undeserving. It was truth, how the world was meant to be, how Creation was
    meant to be governed and ordered. It was marvelous and it took all I could do to
    remain my gaze upon its edifice, for in the same sense that it was beautiful,
    majestic, and the thing of dreams, it drove terror and horror straight to my soul...”

    II. A General Floor Plan
    ”In the name of whom was it crafted? An endless sea of books, parchment, and
    the fragrance of eternal study. What beings crafted it? How could the infinite be
    confined so simply; how could eternity be held in a single portion of the finite?
    It... It wasn't of this world; some heralds of a far-flung plane, surely, were the
    architects, the freed masons of this craft. Surely, nothing and no being of the
    soil upon this land could have birthed such a concept. Yet, still, why does it
    inspire me with such marvel and hope, that I know in my heart otherwise?”

    III. In-Character and Out-of-Character Regulations
    ”They keep secrets there, you know; they keep them hidden from us. Why,
    do you think, they keep things so restricted? So guarded? 'Deviance,' I say! That
    is what they are hiding in those marble halls, in those catacombs, in those black-
    tarnished tomes of carmine and violet sash. They're working with something that
    shouldn't have been disturbed. They, they're a society, you see; a world to themselves;
    a place where we cannot tread, nor would we willingly wish to mar. They are an
    Ivory Tower, a pinnacle we cannot see, a peak we can never hope to surmount.”

    Last edited by Van de Kärne on Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:44 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Updates)
    Van de Kärne

    Posts : 34
    Join date : 2011-11-10
    Location : Thirteenth Floor

    A Journey of the Mind

    Post  Van de Kärne on Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:49 am

    The Library
    A Journey of the Mind

           Our journey began on the seventh day of the second month of the last year of the two hundred and first decade of the Years of Creation. We were warned that the sails would be unfurled nearly a week prior, but weather patterns had been less than advantageous; for nearly three months, storms had plagued us and our great undertaking. Day after day, while heralds called for us to depart, the yawning maw of the sea sought not to give us breath from the storms or their wake. This was obvious - even without the gossip of the time, with men, women, and children alike shaming us in our supposed “folly” - as from my room in the humble hostel of the “Ruffled Skirt,” I could count nearly eight hundred vessels come to berth in the harbor of Dzayer. Each seafarer with half-a-mind and at least one boot had taken-up port, preferring the rowdy strife of the city over the unrelenting calamity that the waves sought to bring them.

           I couldn't, in good faith, blame them...

           It seemed, even as the chilled winds swept down upon Dzayer, that our journey would never begin – our great task would remain unfilled. It was in this state of melancholy and morose dissatisfaction that a courier wrapped upon my chamber, bringing word from our captain, a man by the name of Isaac Davensa, that we would be departing without further delay or hesitation. Of course, while overjoyed with the prospects of finally leaving the dreary port, a city with a single claim to fame – its particularly “gifted” brothel maidens – I was cautious as to the prospects of sailing head-long into a shore-wind beyond my control.

           Apparently, upon further inquiry, it was not our captain that had made such a last minute decision, but our navigators. As a part of our contract, in conjunction with a seafaring convoy of three ironclad vessels from the auto-docks of Dartania and three ships-of-the-line from the fabled engineer-artisans of the Dusk, we had been benefited with a complement of roundheads – so-called “farseers.” Some, in truth, believed them to be little more than a fool's tale; in reality, while beneficial, they tended to be temperamental souls. Yet, largely, it was in their sight – as well as a cadre of star-watchers and various men of science – that the lives of nearly three thousand men were trusted...

           A dangerous game, or otherwise, we set sail during a reprieve from the torrential downpours that seemed to ceaselessly batter our hopes. Even so, it was into the setting sun we rode. We were hopeful and jubilant, even as the storms brewed just upon the horizons. Though gossip and sooth spoke of terrible calamities in store, our farseers told of an easy, plight-less journey to our destination. Why should we not have trusted them? After all, it was their visions, their delirium-dreams of marble halls and knowledge beyond fathom that motivated our desires; it was their whisperings, their oracles, of the forgotten ruins of that ancient civilization that was spoken only of in rumor and the mad-babblings of prophets to time. Were they not our guides? Were they not the truth-sayers of old...?

           Then again, as a once-great sage prescribed: “Truth is ugly; reality is hideous.”

           Our trust in the “navigators” began to wane a mere sixteen days after departing port.

           It was four days after we had left Port Leuske, stopping merely to supply ourselves with necessary provisions before daring to traverse the legendary Strait of Walidah. Notorious for its harsh seas, we had prepared for the inevitability of thirty cubit breaks, flanking our weakest vessels – as best we could – with the iron-keeled behemoths. Captain Davensa's “Ele Gloria,” the flagship of our expedition, masted at the head of our convoy. We believed – and not without considerable persuasion from my more experience shipmates – that this would see us through, that the ironclads could break most of the waves, with only the harshest surmounting them. We simply hoped that, if such did occur, the experienced sailors that had contracted with us would be able to care for the expected.

           We were prepared, but only for the beasts and burdens of the sea, not of the infernal brutality that looms above.

           Approximately thirty leagues off the coast of Khenemet – that desert kingdom of heretical Saracens and their ilk – we were ambushed by creatures of foul tongue and ferocious tenacity. A nine-deep murder of migratory dragofeyr swept from the low-rung ceiling of the Strait, casting down their brimstone like a lover's rhyme. The “Luna Mistress,” one of our ships-of-the-line, was caught off guard and devastated almost immediately. The beasts aimed for our heart, and struck true. In a single moment, the night air was illuminated by wreathes of flame. Nearly a hundred men fell to the first pass, their screams a symphony to our discord. A cacophony of callous cries that served to be little more than noise amidst the cracking timbers that burned like æther in the sweltering heat of the dragofeyrs' breath.

           Though well equipped to disband the pirates and lecherous brigands of Panthalassa, we were not ready to defends ourselves against the like of draconian kind. Amidst the chaos of attempting to improvise our cannons and blast-wands to fight the aerial juggernauts, our convoy fell apart. As the “Luna Mistress” floundered, the howling calls of the airborne pestilence screeching with each pass, only silenced when their prey was firmly embraced within their yawning gapes, the remaining ships-of-the-line attempted to about, falling behind as the steam-bore ironclads pressed on, attempting to divert the heaviest fire from their vulnerable escorts.

           Though we managed to fell several – the exact count, I do not believe any of us was sure – the “Luna Mistress” was lost. Though our cannons and rigged harpoons wounded and gnawed at the beasts, that only served to antagonize them, forcing their retaliation to be swift and without reproach. Again and again they struck at us, and each time, further damage was bore to our vulnerable expedition. The “Venus Royale” fought valiantly, however, defending the survivors of the “Mistress” as best its ship-men could. At least ten times, they returned to the flounder vessel, casting lines to those who could barely surface for air, and time and time again, they were struck the hardest. Yet, even so, they remained stout and firm.

           I, myself, witnessed them fell one of the infernal dragofeyr with a single bolt; it struck at its own heart, from which a burning flurry of streams rolled, igniting the “Venus Royale” even as it collapsed into the surmounting waves. I believe they could have gone on if they wished, but while we fought, trying as we might to save those we could, the Strait of Walidah gave us know respite, summoning the gods of the heavens to rain down upon us a gale.

           It was then that our captain – a bastard as he may be, he was correct, though my guilt tells me otherwise – made the decision to flee.

           We routed the monsters as we may, managing to anchor our flagship to the heavily-damaged “Whip-o-Will,” tugging her from the battle while they desperately tried to retrieve what souls had begun to flee the bloated and engorged “Royale” - a burning beacon on the crest of endless waves. Even still, the dragofeyr persisted, attempting to pursue us before the gale shifted in our favor, forcing us outward, ever-deeper in the great swathe of Panthalassa. In truth, this was a blessing, I believe; though the guilt still wracks me to this day, the final glory of the “Royale” as one of the monstrous behemoths roared down upon it, igniting its sole powder magazine forever seared into memory, I believe we would not have survived – the expedition would not have been fulfilled – had Captain Davensa not chosen to direct us to flee when he had.

           He saved our lives... Though, on some nights, I still question whether our destinies should not have been entwined with those valiant, courageous souls aboard the “Luna Mistress” and the “Venus Royale”...

           Swayed from our course by the disaster in the Strait of Walidah, caught amidst the breathe of draconian beasts, and further persuaded to deviate by the gale that surmounted them, our seafaring expedition drifted into the quiet, haunting stillness of the doldrums. Our last point-of-course was marked twelve days after the gale left us and the seas began to quiet. It was the cyclopean monoliths of Kerberos' Maw that left us haunted, stirring our “navigators” into a restless cycle of agitation, unbridled rage, and catatonic whimpering. For the weeks to come, they served us no purpose, and were largely left to do as they pleased, reminded to do their best to steer-clear of the already vengeful sailors of the remaining vessels. Try as I might to vex my fellow shipmates in their anger, as the nights became more calm, the wind slowly dwindling into absence, I could not help but become consumed by that very sentiment of vengeance that they too had embraced.

           Were it not for their folly, we wouldn't have been struck; our men would not have perished at the hands of dæmons from above. We would not have— I digress. There is no justice in this, there is no reprieve from the pain of their loss in my anger toward them. There is no justice in this world.

           The doldrums were hell. Though our ironclads possessed steam-powered machinations, we strove to conserve our fuel, further diminishing our speed to a minimal gait. With the “Whip-o-Will” barely afloat, its hull nearly-ruined and large quantities of its provisions having suffered beneath the immolation of the dragofeyr, the necessity to haul the vessel only served to confound our movements further. Yet still, it was the uncooperative nature and the ignorant babbling of our “navigators” that perturbed us most; no manner of “persuasion” seemed to divine from them a course or heading. At best, they confirmed that they “sense our destination at great distance”; it served little in the way of comforting the crew – myself included.

           By the second month, whether by choice or necessity, our provisions were running low. Supporting the survivors of the floundered vessels with little more than our own stock had but a great strain on our supplies. Some men, though fed and not without water, even fell to madness in the doldrums. A shipmate described this as “heat sickness,” stating that the stillness, the quiet, and the endless barrage of the sun's glow had expelled the sanity from their minds irrevocably. It was at this time that we were forced to utilize the brig, seizing upwards of twenty men and locking them away toward the keel, hoping the dark and dank bowels of the “Ele Gloria” would drive the lucidity back into their bodies. Though it served to calm their confrontational demeanor, it did little to satiate the hungry vengeance that yearned inside them, that blood-lust to drive from the ship the “navigators” they so fervently blamed.

           As the months bore on, the situation became more dire. While the doldrums persisted, it was neither the incessant stillness nor the heat that drove our crew to the brink. Provisions began to, at last, run low aboard the “Ele Gloria,” though a committed system of rationing maintained us; as such, it was not aboard our organized and experienced flagship that social mores began to degrade. It was from the survivors aboard the heavily-damaged “Whip-o-Will” that news of desperation and vengeance began to spread.

           At the beginning of our voyage, each ship had been given three “navigators” to guide their individual journeys. It was the hope that through cooperation, the expedition would be able to maintain a collective heading; with the frightful attacks that ravaged the heart of our convoy, however, trust in the roundheads had diminished rapidly. With a continual inability to locate land – or even adequate wind – my shipmates began to harbor a deeper, more violent sense of animosity. It was not until two months into the terror and abhorrent hell of the still waves of Panthalassa, however, that their degeneration and immorality expressed itself to the remainder of my associates.

           On the tenth day on the fifth month of the year – placing us nearly two months behind schedule – the depth, the degree, of my fellow adventurers' depravity, distrust, and desperation became known. It was the middle of the night when we were awakened; a rush, a flurry of activity was on deck. The screaming is what constantly jars my memory so clearly; indecipherable, incoherent, primal shrieks that sounded only vaguely capable of being produced by the human throat. It was as if beasts had once more stumbled upon us, but it was not. In truth, we were the beasts; beasts that had discovered the own abyss of ourselves, of our own immorality...

           What few nautical souls that remained aboard the “Whip-o-Will” had resorted to discarding the very basis of human morality; they cast aside what separated them from the very creatures that had descended upon us two months prior. As I was told, as I was too horrified to leave my cabin to discover the truth; a coward I was, but it was the vile protestations that came from above that forced me to remain. I was only later informed of the truth; told of a conflict, of strife that had broken-out between two groups of men aboard the doomed “Whip-o-Will.” Factions split between the remains of the officers' corps and the navigators and expeditionary officers of the Guild. It was a fight over the “navigators” themselves; the roundheads and the perceived plight they had brought upon us all – at least, that was how the seamen and their lieutenants perceived it.

           The conflict ended, however, abruptly, when desperation brought to arms whatever means of brutality were available. Though each of our vessels had been fitted with weapons – iron-swords, blast-channels, harpoons – and a provisionally, well-stocked armory, the deep, repressed portions of my mind paint a darker picture. Mallets, hammers, boards were their weapons of choice, no doubt; whatever they could grab. Whatever the beasts could utilize to rend their fellow man from bone.

           ...Rend them from bone...

           They... They ate them... They consumed them like monsters, like infernal machines driven by hunger and thirst alone; they ate of their skin and their meat. They ripped away their hides like pork fat, and imbibed of their bodily liqueur. They were drunkards filled not with the lust of the grape, but of the lust of blood; even the heathens do not consume their own ilk. The heretical sand-men never drank of their own kind; surely, their acts of repeated internment and disinterment of their deceased – an act I witnessed first hand – was that of respect for their lost, not to consume their flesh in a ravishing frenzy. Yet, our men, even those of the Guild, were persuaded – whether by the prow or the tongue – to eat of their own kind, to consume of their own brothers. They... They...

           I was struck ill with the thought; yet, I heard word of our captain's wisdom. Once more, though with far little trepidation, the choice was made to leave them behind. So, in the heat of the night, basking in the glow of torch-glitter and wax, the lines were held taunt and severed. We made the choice to condemn them for their heinous acts; whether performed in desperation or not, we could not condone such actions, such willing deviance, such a total disregard of their humanity. As such, we left them adrift; we let them to the whims of the sea, whether they burn alive and their minds decay in the doldrums, or in the latter evenings their own ravaging desires consume them... I care little...

           Though our expedition had been whittled-down to a mere three vessels – the ironsides of the “Paramour,” the “Lady Elegance,” and our vanguard, the “Ele Gloria” - I could not bring myself to right from fever-stricken slumber to assist my cohorts in their duties. The thoughts of men resorting to such vile acts as those aboard the “Whip-o-Will” struck me with such vulgarity, such depravity, that even slowly eroded by heat, sickness, and hunger, I could narrowly drink my rations of water or stomach my servings of bread. More often than not, I merely waved them aside, instructing whatever journeyman or sailor that cared to bring them, to eat of them himself, or give them to those that were truly in need. No doubt, for nearly half a month, a fair collection ate well on the behalf of my own unwillingness.

           It seemed out fate was destined aside from slow starvation and destruction, however, as on the twelfth day after the tragedy of the “Whip-o-Will,” word was brought to my door at meal time by a boy that, by my recollection, appeared no older than thirteen. He brought word of the “navigators” and of good, strong tides; he brought news of our sails, once more, being unfurled and of our heading correcting itself. He brought news of a quickening pace, and of possible good fortune on the horizon. In truth, it was this young boys words – Amadeus, was his name – that I credit with washing the filth from my mind and the affliction from my body. For that, I am eternally grateful...

           The prophecy of Amadeus and the “navigators” rang true over the following days. As my sickness faded, I found myself capable of consuming the necessary nutrients to survive once again; I found myself walking the deck in the early mornings and late evenings, smelling the fresh, salt air as the gale blew across our bow. I reveled in the fresh sight of birds – flocks of them – foretelling of stronger tides and new lands approaching. It brought a stillness to my worried soul, a stillness that further strengthened me, even as our rations began to dwindle. I think I could have stayed on that deck those nights; on at least one occasion, I slept there, listening to the gentle swaying of the sea, the subtle rocking of the ship acting as my embrace, the creaks of the boards and the bellowing thunder of the “Ele Gloria's” steam engines serving as my proverbial lullaby. It was peaceful, in truth; a kind of peace I wouldn't experience again for quite some time.

           Seventeen days after we regained our heading, the look-outs that had remained perched high aloft, locked dead-ahead in the crow's nest of the “Ele Gloria” released a symphony of shouts and glorious screams – screams of joy and elation. Land, they said, was merely hours away. Lush land, green land, fertile land. Surely, we didn't believe them entirely until we began to make shallow moorings off the coast of a rocky shore lined with thick evergreens; a living forest, a lively forest filled with the sounds of life and the scent of oaks and maples. Of course, at the time, I still could not muster the strength to go ashore with the expeditionary party – though, deep in my heart, I yearned to feel sand beneath my feet, to stand on land after so many months at sea. Yet, I pushed it aside, and much like my fellow crew members, I eagerly awaited the return of the forty men we sent ashore...

           It was eight hours – just as the sun began to set – before the soldiers, adventurers, and sailors returned. They brought with them the good tidings of several deer and elk, even a large, multi-colored bird they had managed to capture and fell. Several barrels were brought as well, towed behind their boats by the burly soldiers that rowed them, filled to their lips with fresh, cool water; water from a spring they discovered not too far inland. Even so, as food and water replenished our hunger, the only source of fuel for our waning engines that they managed to corral was more lumber. Aged lumber, as their tools were rudimentary, but enough fuel – we hoped – to keep our steady pace, and remain from forcing us to revert to purely trusting the winds as to where to take us. Fate, it seemed, had shined upon us.

           That night, however, fate was not on our mind, only the feasting.

           As we all drank merrily and ate our fill, however, chatting and prodding those brave souls that had left for shore, we discovered why they were so eager to return. As I was told, they heard sounds, ill, unnatural voices of the forest that yelled, shrieked, and whispered in their ears. Subtle nuances that set them on edge, pushing them, urging them to do hideous acts. Of course, Captain Davensa attributed this to shear delusion, elation over being able to stand atop solid ground; even so, with our portents boding ill until that moment, I took it upon myself to delve further. With the pliant nature of one man – a man named Johannes – drunk on liquor and filled on elk, I was able to find a clue.

           In the way he described it, it was not a horror that perturbed the men, but an uneasiness that tried to enter them. It was a disconcerting presence, in truth, as it was told to me; a presence that told of some... thing that watched the men as they toiled. As if a creature, a being, had permeated the very soil, tainted it, blemished it with its gait. Of course, one must remember, the man, the burly, middle-aged Johannes, was drunk off the grape and his fill, but I trust his words as I trusted Amadeus'. He spoke, though, as the night began to close, of eyes beneath the branches. Eyes that he could not help but stare into; eyes that, as he said, “made him feel as if death were his closest compatriot.”

           Over the following days, our pace slowed out of necessity; our captain ordered that we begin to conserve our fuel, and we began rationing what timber had been recovered from our mooring amongst the three remaining ironsides. Though our sails could propel us, we wished to arrive at our destination as soon as possible. For obvious reasons, the men had become restless at sea, yearning deeply for land, drink, and bountiful women. Of course, my own anxiety and eagerness was motivated by my desire to, at last, witness what the “navigators” could only dimly see, and what the ancient texts of the Guild equally failed to grasp.

           Even so, our slowed pace would end in detriment, for as we steamed ahead, our trajectory true, we knew one final obstacle remained in our path: the Maelstrom.

           The reasoning for our departure, as delayed as it was, was to prevent catastrophe from the cycle of tides, swelling, and gales that the Maelstrom often exerts. Though our understanding of the perpetual storm is limited, with some stating it is merely a natural occurrence, others preferring to attribute it to some mythological meanings, what we do know tells us of its dangers.

           As in nature, the Maelstrom exhibits cycles of its own life. It strengthens and weakens much akin to the flow of the seasons. Our point of departure, delayed as it was, and that delay only further exacerbated by our prolonged captivity within the doldrums, struck fear into the minds of our “navigators.” This fear only grew in depth and width as we grew ever closer to that navel of the world, their minds “clouded,” as the roundheads were want to say, by the churning storm itself, as if their minds were the skies that surround it. They spoke of danger and avoidance, trying to maintain our headings as close as possible to course, while preserving our safety from that growing maw of fire, steam, and wind. It was, even then, peculiar at how close to the truth they were; I wondered then, as I do now, even to this day, whether our expedition truly was a foolish enterprise...

           The Maelstrom was far worse than we expected. Though our “navigators” tried to steer us clear, our course demanded a level of cautious proximity; as such, when the first bands of that hideous abomination dawned on the horizon, Captain Davensa ordered all to the deck. Across the “Paramour” and “Lady Elegance,” the same command was relayed until each and every man was to bear witness to the great travesty that stood before us... It was like a storm, a gale, a hurricane, but it did not move, it did not change, it merely churned, its bands wistfully shifting amidst the clouds, capturing them, and drawing in their billowing bodies. It was as if it merely existed to devour, waiting for the appropriate time to strike; waiting to consume the entirety of the Keep in its greatest force. While adverse to its sight, I couldn't help but watch and listen; its machinations drove shrill chills down my spine, and its facade struck me like the force of all.

           As the rain began to fall, our situation only worsened. It was a rain that would continue to befall us until we crossed the threshold. It seemed, however, as if destiny had far worse intentions.

           Word crossed our line of the exhaustion of the “Lady Elegance's” fuel supplies just as we began to divert our course due East. At first, the orders seemed routine – merely divert course; but as our heading shifted, the “navigators” began to wail. Their wails were in unison, united in voice and pitch; it was then that they turned to screams, and the first gust washed over the deck of the “Ele Gloria.” It was a demanding wind, a hungry gale that demanded penitence for its trespassing; in the end, it would have it, for the first howl had shifted the direction of the “Lady Elegance” inadvertently.

           The second shattered its second mast.

           Our captain ordered full steam aboard the “Ele Gloria” and the “Paramour”; I think, in my heart, he wanted to spare us from what we were about to witness, but it served to only force us to watch... To watch as the “Lady Elegance” made her final call over the line: screaming. Screaming as it drifted closer, drifting each moment toward the heart of that abomination, the lustful behemoth that would never grant respite... The lustful beast that seemed to reach beneath the “Elegance” and, in a single instance, rip her from the sea in a final scintillation. Fire. Hellfire spewed from its bulkheads and ironsides; large, vibrant arcs of holocaust and... And...

           It was over quickly...

           Land. Land in three days. The Threshold, in three days. The men of the “Lady Elegance” died three days from our destination...

           Three days after leaving the final bands of the Maelstrom, land was spotted. It was a horizon dotted with greenery. A horizon of lush landscape; a horizon, not devoid of dangers, but peaceful nevertheless. Our captain slowed our pace dramatically in order to permit safe navigation through the countless straits, between endless rockfalls and jutting protrusions, righting our way through an archipelago so serene I believed I too had befallen the ultimate fate of my lost comrades. We parted the seas with our bow, and the men were awestruck by what they saw around them. With a seemingly infinite three days, three days where rain, thunder, and light-struck were our only company, to see sheep, goats, cattle, and even horses roaming freely on the majestic hills of this pastoral landscape brought of all us – even the mercenary souls that had, no doubt, begun to wonder long ago whether their pay day was worth the troubles we faced – to tears. Not a single man did not weep in the magnificence that we coasted through. Not a single one...

           We sailed for nearly the entirety of a day, bobbing a weaving through the labyrinth of nearly-impassable passages of stone and quarry. Some of us feared we would be lost to time in that maze, but as we drew nearer, the rain did not return, and yet precipitation fell from the heavens. Snow... Snow in the sixth month of the year... It was a joyous, if abnormal occasion; it allowed us to forget that from the moment the small, white tears began to flow, that our “navigators” had fallen into a sleep so deep, even Captain Davensa's fiery temperament couldn't awaken them. By that moment, it no longer mattered, for with each turn, in the distance, a literal glimmer of hope began to appear.

           At first we believe it was the fault of our vision; of course, what could be in this deep, virtually uncharted landscape. Yet, as we progressed, the glinting pearl afar only grew in brightness and contrast. For hours I stood upon the prow, watching as it drew nearer, as we, no doubt, entered the final stretch of our journey, and our destination slowly began to approach in earnest.

           Then I saw it...

           A bridge.

           The bridge shined like marble, burning between snow and the heavens itself. It stretched outward from the cavernous maw of a mountain, covering water at least three leagues in length, before ceasing its jaunt in a hexagonal, artificial island, constructed much of the same materials to which itself was bore. Even from the distance, I could see a few ships idled to its moors, empty of their contents. Across the way, men, women, and presumably children walked across the open ocean atop the megalith of a structure. Even from afar, the towering spires drew thoughts of intimidation and glory, conflicting thoughts, dissonance that did little to dissuade my eagerness to depart...

           Once moored to the small, constructed island, I readily assisted in the disembarking of our parcels and accoutrements of the sea. Eager to enter into our destination, I assembled my fellow agents of the Guild to assist. Within an hour of arrival, the entirety of our two ships were offloaded and we were preparing to cross the great bridge. In truth, it would take us nearly an hour simply to cross on foot, toting our supplies or dragging them on carts, our passage was slow, and it took the entirety of my self-control, my discipline, and will, to simply keep me from abandoning my comrades and running to the great, open abyss that dug-out before us. Yet, I remained staunch and stoic externally; after all we had gone through, I simply could not depart my fellow shipmates in our final hour of respite. It was not a possibility, though I thought of it every moment we walked, every single step drawing more anxiety, more nervous fervor to the surface.

           Correct, I was, in my presumptions; the bridge did, in fact, dig directly through the mountain to which it was affixed. Across this great void, however, lied the heart of our destination... Situated in an almost crater-like valley, surrounded on all sides seemingly, was our final goal. That singular place foretold in the texts of old, written-of by maddened travelers and soothsayers alike; it was the last remaining remnant of the great Ieidoss civilization. A final testament to the glory of humanity and what it could accomplish. It was the majesty of the Golden Age of the Keep itself, given form, and manifested in a space outside of time...

           As I walked into the openness of the pastoral fields that surrounded me, I knelt, bowing my head to whatever god I believed to be most grateful of my thanks, and I prayed. In what should have taken little more than two months, a nearly six-month journey we had spent at sea, fighting off the dreaded dragofeyr, abandoning our comrades to their deviant morality, dodging the shadows, and watching, helpless, as reality itself tore the last of our brethren asunder. With an expedition that had began with just more than three thousand souls, ended with a mere seven hundred, fifty-eight. Yet, all I could think, all I could muster was a single thought:

           “At last, the great Library... The 'Final Testament of Man'...”

    Last edited by Van de Kärne on Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:38 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Completion)
    Van de Kärne

    Posts : 34
    Join date : 2011-11-10
    Location : Thirteenth Floor

    A Journey of the Mind (Continued)

    Post  Van de Kärne on Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:51 am

    The Vestibule and the Great Antechamber

           We were greeted within the great vestibule of the Library by a man who seemed young, yet professed to be greatly aged beyond his years. A shallow-apparent man of brown, rust-flecked hair, and a limp, he identified himself as Sebastiaan van de Kärne, a professor, and the Provost of the Library itself. He thanked us for our journey, and expressed knowledge of events we had yet spoken to anyone, as if he had seen them with his own eyes. Already, he knew of our myriad of troubles, and expressed a subdued gratitude in our willingness to persevere; in truth, he struck me as a man that kept knowledge to himself, as if some great secret was urged to spew forth from his lips. Even still, he was a cordial, if pained man, as even though he walked with the assistance of a cane, he was slow, but lacked the cumbersome nature of a man who had only recently been injured.

           Almost immediately, as if rushed, he told us the purpose for the Library itself: built within the Ieidoss Age to house the knowledge of man. All knowledge. All information – without exception. He then told of his plans and of his own tribulations he had surmounted. He expressed a mild eagerness to give us, as he put it, “the great exposé” of the Library itself, and thought tired and weary, we obliged.

           As such, it was into the Great Antechamber to which we were lead. Even now, I fail in my words to describe it; it was like I had stepped into the astral realm itself. Copious shelves lined with an infinite amount of tomes, grimoires, manuscripts, and texts. Endless levels of floors and terraces; walls lined of stone with such master craftsmanship, I almost questioned as if man could have constructed such a thing, yet I held my tongue, awe-struck by the encompassing whole. Even still, it was the scope of the room that astonished me most; it seemed to go on endlessly, stretching across vast distances seemingly without demarcation, a central corridor lines with towering statures of Ieidoss thinkers, men of great power, and the warrior-kings of old.

           Though I could barely comprehend what was being uttered, the young Provost explained the nature of the Library to us. “A world within a world,” he elaborated so vaguely; he explained of the near-infinite nature of the Library itself, and of how it grew as if living. He explained that, honestly, he had never seen the entirety of its scope even in the nearly two years that he had been caretaker of the academic landscape. He spoke of how people, hundreds, perhaps thousands of them, lived in portions of the great institute, never having left its walls, hunting game and fowl between lines of shelves, bookcases, and ancient artifacts that no man had touched in a millennium. Admittedly, I found this hard to believe, but, somehow, the Provost's smile was capable of reassuring me, as if my trepidation had been expected – even desired.

           As we journeyed, I marveled at every sight, every scent; my senses were aflame with the pure... divinity of this great place. It was then that I explained the plight of our roundheads and their unconsciousness; once more, the Provost's smile comforted me. He explained the nature of the Library: a beacon, a glorious testament to a world lost from memory. He explained, at last, the “Threshold,” that within it, in truth, we had been in the Library itself for nearly a day. That the Library was not simply a building, but a near-infinite cloister, a sanctum, created by men of such wisdom, of such technology, of such science, that they had crafted a world from nothing, as if they themselves were amongst the gods. He elaborated, telling us of the psychic, of the spiritual, of the metaphysical weight of the great halls on those “sensitive in the way of thought”; how such a great construction could, often, render those with such ascendancy unconscious, even catatonic and comatose, until they became adjusted.

           Even then, I only half understood this man's oration and explanation. I was too aback, too enthralled with the location itself. A land that is more than land; a building that is not a building. Such higher thoughts escaped me, and it was only from months of deep contemplation, of meditation, that I began to herald a hope to one day grow to understand the implications of such a place...

           Yet our journey seemed to just be beginning, for we were leaned up flights of marble cascades, staircases of such an artisan's touch, that I couldn't help but touch the stone. We were ascending, I felt, not just in body, but in mind and soul...

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    The Restricted Sections

           As we wandered, seemingly ever higher, it was amidst a stairway of exceeding grace and particular fortitude that I paused and posited a question as to a seemingly bolted, identified door. Across its oak and wrought-iron portal, a single, blue sapphire as large as my fist lay emblazoned upon its surface, fitted directly into the iron without weld nor clamp.

           Without pause, the Provost told of the Restricted Sections; that each door marked by such a jewel – a jewel for each tier of restriction, each level of danger – denoted entry into such forbidden places. He spoke of tomes so dangerous, that merely touching their bindings could drive a man to leap to his own demise. He spoke of texts so profound, that the Ancients had forbidden their names from even being uttered publicly and amongst the “unenlightened.” Tomes, manuscripts, historical documents that had been signed by such tyrants that reading them would force the unknowing to fulfill their totalitarian orders from beyond the grave; grimoires of such foul majic – a term, I noted, the young professor seemed to carry with particular distaste – that entire armies of fallen men could be rent from their graves, left to wander and fulfill the wishes of whatever foul lord demanded their fealty.

           It was such a tantalizing exposition, that I approached the door as if to peer inside. Almost immediately, its surface shuddered, and an incoherent wailing echoed from beyond its surface. Though I had not so much as breathed upon its frame, I stepped back and watched as the stone of its frame crumbled and caved, encroaching inward, consuming the port in its nature, before every last splinter of wood vanished from my eyes. The door itself, a door leading to untold knowledge, had disappeared, consumed back into the whole of the Library as if it were some vestigial organ that had only recently befallen to an onslaught of the body's immunity.

           I tried to lodge an inquiry with out guide, but he merely continued, speaking on some irrelevant and unrelated subject, guiding the men that still remained ever higher, to floors above. It was only later, once I had obtained my Certificate from the Board that I discovered the nature of such things: that only powerful men could trespass into such realms without the Library's grace. That only casters, artificers, and thieves of legendary clout could ever dream of what laid beyond without the walls of the Library itself retching against them. Even so, once I achieved my scholarship in this land, I discovered why... For the young Provost had not lied: there truly were hideous texts, scrolls, shelf upon shelf filled with black-wrapped and sash-sealed volumes that foretold of the past, present, and future; writings so profound, that on many on occasion, even to this day, I must only read them through the reflection of glass...

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    The Agora

           As we entered into a large corridor, I took note of two, halberd-armed men, each dressed in an easily-identified blue-and-gold uniform, dressed in armor, crossed to flank the Provost. Though peculiar, as we rounded a bend, the sounds of bustling life made themselves known.

           “Welcome to the Agora,” was all the professor uttered as he continued.

           The entirety of the place was... unbelievable; if I had not witnessed it myself, I would not have believed it. It was a market, massive, and maze-like. Hundreds, thousands of stalls, shops, and bureaus filled every nook, every cranny of the “room.” Hundreds of men, women, children, even animals roamed about, plying their trades and purchasing goods. Yet, even so, the Provost assured us we were still merely within the main annex of the Library itself; he continued in stating that the Agora remained as one of the few “townships” discovered within its halls. An entire town, it seemed, suspended in reality, living, yet only within the scope of a single building.

           Upon questioning, the crippled man elaborated, telling that Staff, scholars, and students alike, often frequented the massive market for goods. Everything from food to livestock, parchment to pen, weaponry, even enchanting artisans could be found within the Agora. It was an entire civilization, an entire world of itself; it was a microcosm within another microcosm. It was a place that the Library nurtured, an expansive, mercantile landscape that one could spend hours, days even, wandering amidst its stalls, never once seeing the same item twice.

           As our seemingly purposeless meandering continued, I took note of the change in the architecture. While before, the masonry seemed pristine, within the Agora, it was eroded; sanded cobblestone lined the floor, with towering sandstone pillars rising to support ineffable arches of metal and glass, ceilings that seemed to welcome not the sun, but light itself into their lenses. It appeared a much older place – an assumption our guide confirmed. It was, in fact, one of the oldest portions of the Library, likely the original foundation itself – a notion which boggled me even more was informed that, in truth, we were wandering through the fourth floor of the great, academic homeland. At the time, however, I chose to never initiate my wondering as to how such a thing could be; an original foundation that was above that of a newer. It was simply another mystery that, to this day, I cannot seem to truly fathom.

           Yet, it mattered little, for soon, as if the young Professor Van de Kärne had wandered these halls for countless eons, we were exiting the Agora, and traipsing to higher floors. Once again, staircases of ineffable majesty became the norm; countless doors passed us, some marred with sapphires, others rubies, each the rough size of a fist. I assumed these constructs were further sections restricted from the layman; further minds of knowledge and learning that beheld ever greater fruits of justice, teaching, and enlightenment. I did not hesitate, however, as our journey was still continuing. Our passage had not been truncated yet, and my mind still reeled with what possible amazement the great Library still withheld...

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    The Dormitories

           Barely one hundred men remained as we stepped into the eighty floor dormitories. Most had long-since departed, either returning to their vessels to fulfill their final duties before a much-needed rest, or wandering, admiring the artistry around them. Even so, after nearly an hour into our journey, it was only then that the young Provost stopped and sat, positioning himself in a small, red-cushioned chair that seemed to have been placed in expectation, as it was the only in sight.

           The Dormitories were of far more modest beauty, but a homely beauty never the less. Large, encompassing rows of stained glass eyes peered out into the world beyond, gleaming our party sight to a shallow brook nearby, a garden just in view. It was then, however, that the young Sebastiaan explained that, much like the remainder of the Library, the Dormitories “were as needed.” He further extrapolated, stating, that as new travelers found the Library, and even more joined into the Library's secondary annex, the University, rooms and beds were “made available” to the weary. This, of course, piqued the interest of many.

           Each dormitory held at least a bed, a clothes bureau, and a desk for belongings and personal affect. The professor further explained that there were more than adequate bathing and lavatory facilities available for cleanliness and relaxation alike; more than anything, I believe this drew the attention of nearly a third of what remained of my fellow shipmates, many pealing out of their garments as we began to walk once more, diving head-long into steam-filled stalls and near-boiling bathing pools. What few that departed and didn't bath, chose at random rooms and collapsed into what would become their new homes, many, assuredly, almost immediately drifting into a long-needed, restful slumber.

           Even I nearly departed the tour, only remaining under urging from our host. He explained that only a few more locations need be introduced, and further delved into the mystery of the Library, explaining that, in truth, one of its greatest marvels dwelt not four floors more. He spoke of its particular beauty and machination; admittedly, I was intrigued. Even as the fatigue grew in me, I couldn't help but remain.

           As such, we wandered higher. Further passages lead us along increasingly narrow corridors and entries. More and more doors were marked with rubies and firestones of names I can, not even to this day, harken to remember. It was a myriad of colors, stone, iron, wood, and all the things that composed the institute to its greatest extent. Such was to the reason as the next location to which we visited, only further forced my mind into intellectual and mental submission...

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    The Astrarium

           Our journey, at last, lead us beyond the confinement of the walls of the Library itself. We were lead, politely, onto a narrow segment of stone and metallic masonry. Our view – and the full scope of our height – was finally revealed as we began to step toward a collection of domed edifices. By my count, we were at least, at last, upon the twelfth floor. The vision I grasped, however, seemed to betray my senses, as people wandered as mere specks seemingly thousands of feet below. Even so, what soon came to pass even now befuddles me...

           We were entered into a large room composed of pristine masonry and near-divine construction. Informed as to its name – the Astrarium – I came to understand soon enough its purpose.

           It was a machine, in truth, modeled and designed to depict the flow and movements of the heavenly bodies; the celestial spheres that only the greatest of scholar seem able to identify. The great orbs that dwell beyond the sky and rest in the night with the faint starlight that even laymen can glimpse beyond the setting sun. Though, within the great dome, the sun never set; for in the center of the great machine, rings moving around it in accelerated pace, the artificial sun sat: a great diamond, unblemished, polished, and lacking a single facet. It was, as best recollection, the closest to a perfect sphere I had ever laid eyes upon; yet, considering the rarity of such precious stones, the size of it baffled me, for the artificial sun was the size of a small home, and befitted only the center of the room.

           Around the great diamond, smaller precious gems were suspended by collections of riveted discs and rings, each scaled – as I was told – perfectly in comparison to the central fixture. Each planetary body's representation further represented the visible glow of its respective sphere: the gray gem of Mercuruius, the blue sapphire of the Keep, even the massive firestone of Jove.

           I stood in this room for some passage of time; what few of my compatriots remained, too, remained still, watching the movement of such beautiful and meaningful instruments. It seemed, too, that our guide did not protest, he himself caught in the majesty of the spheres that hung above, bathing in the glow of the sunlight that pierced the glass panes high above them. Yet, as I watched, wondering, the young host looked stern, then announced his willingness to depart. As such, we obliged – if but begrudgingly.

           As we followed back into the main annex, the professor leading us through even more narrow corridors and upward along winding, iron staircases, he admitted that he must continue his work, and that he would try his best to keep the following locations and introductions short and brief. He admitted that only a few locations remain before he, too, would be forced to depart. Even still, those of us that remained, followed him, listening to him as he explained the tune of the great Library...

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    The Aerial Docking Tower

           As the staircases became more narrow, we realized the walls, too, had grown close. It was only upon exit of a small, single-width, wooden frame that we realized why...

           The Provost explained the location as the “Aerial Docking Tower” - the highest point in the Library in its entirety. All around, like spokes to a wheel, large docks extended out over nothingness. Seemingly endlessly, large ballasts of air, steam-powered dirigibles, and zeppelins hovered, floated, moored to the great spokes. He explained that, more often than not, the easiest method of reaching the academic core of the world was by flight, not by ship. Once again, though, he expressed condolences as to our plight of travels, catastrophe, and jeopardy. Even so, he suggested, that further expeditions be made by air as to avoid such calamities.

           As we stood, however, even I couldn't hold myself back. While many of the remaining men held their backs to the masonry walls of the central fixture, casting long shadows from the swirling, glass light that stood above them, it was merely the Provost and I that stepped to the edge, leaning against the wrought banister, and peering to the land far below. From such a view, much of the Library was revealed to me; in the distance, the annex grew outward, flowing between, through, even under entire mountain chains. In each direction I looked, it took mere moments to discover yet another, at times disconnect facade of the Library's enormous girth and size.

           Though perplexed at the sight and the sounds of rushing air, steam, and machinery, I was not unaware of the faint glare that the professor had cast upon me. Though a learned man, perhaps not as learned as our host, I knew what it meant; I was being inspected, watched, as if by a kindred spirit that knew of my interests and wants. Only a moment, however, did the gaze remain, before it too was dismissed, Sebastiaan departing back to the central apex of the Library's spire.

           I remained for a moment longer, watching as, in the distance, a bulging dirigible floated almost effervescently away against a backdrop of stone and agrarian greenery. It was a beautiful sight, truly, simply to sit and watch as yet another cadre of souls departed one place for another, they too beginning a new journey in their life. I wondered if their own adventure would be safe, and in my heart, I said a silent prayer for their well being, hoping to the gods that no mortal soul need die to see such majesty as paradise, when the Library itself would suffice.

           A shout from one of my fellow agents of the Guild jerked me back to reality, and I quickly turned, following the herd like rats in a maze...

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    The Rectory

           Once I regained our increasingly-fatigued party, our host was explaining a location called simply, the “Rectory.” At first, I questioned why such a place of science and intellect would house the home of religious and spiritual ascetics and mystics; yet, my misplaced presumptions were cast aside once the small door to the narrow room was opened...

           It was a tavern.

           The Provost explained that the name had come about from a pun; a joke of irony as utilized by te particularly unsavory lot that often frequented the tavern itself. He explained that, more often than not, he didn't care to visit the location, preferring his company within that of the intelligentsia, not the gruff, rough, and tumble of airship and zeppelin pilots, cargo-haulers, and the mercenary crowds that often relaxed within the confines of the Rectory, drinking of liqueur and the tastes of the flesh.

           It was at the mention of these guilty pleasures and vices that a sizable portion of my remaining cohorts departed, eagerly rushing into the tavern on the roof of the world, hoping to score not merely food and drink, but a chance to lay between the supple thighs of the women that dwelt within its walls. Even I was momentarily tempted, the sound of ruckus laughter and merry song filling my ears, even as the scent of hops and freshly-baked bread washed over my features. Such was silenced, however, as the professor allowed the door to close shut.

           He announced, in short, that one final location remained. After which, he would leave us to our will, he himself returning to matters of great importance and prospect. Until then however, he remained our guide, leading us with the sound of his voice and the subtle “click” of his cane against the floors. We followed our piper, listening as he pointed-out and explained numerous minutia and details often overlooked. It was apparent, however, that from the nearly twenty souls that remained, few were interested any longer. Many wore the faces of men who would prefer to be spared the details and just allowed to wander; others were obviously becoming frustrated.

           Even still, I followed; diligently, I listened. Eager, I learned...

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    The Crossings

           It was a terminal, of sorts, to which we next found ourselves being lead. All around were people, individuals, leading their lives as they saw fit, awaiting something no doubt of great importance. Above, metal girding held structural sway over the entirety of the room, allowing only the glimpse of light to permeate and illuminate much of the interior. Several troughs, however, dominated the landscape. Three rails lined their features, one after the other, and for a moment, I wondered for what we were waiting.

           In such a process, my periphery field caught a glance of our host. In his hand he held a single disc; by look of its engraved, golden surface, it appeared as a timepiece of sorts. Yet, as he watched, a broad smile began to transfigure across his features. As soon as it formed, however, the small device was shut and slid into the breast, coat pocket of his attire. On cue, it would seem, however, he stepped forward, stopping a mere pace from the edge of the closest trough, just as a gentle rumbling began to shake much of the chamber into which we had been herded.

           At first, the sight of the trembling behemoth startled me. I wondered what machinations drove its glossy, crystal-like, gold-laced surface. I wondered if this entire journey had been in vein, as steam and various gaseous emissions flowed from various, unseen slits along its service. It appeared much like a serpent, yet it lacked eyes or a true maw, and its “flesh” consisted entirely of a grid-like, golden pattern, partitioned by wide panels of glass. Even so, as it drew near, I saw what it held, for within it were seating, tables, chairs, and various accoutrements and accessories of only the finest comfort. People, too, were held within its mass; hundreds of them. Many, though once seated, had placed themselves along various lines of the juggernaut, lines noted by the considerable absence of furniture. Their reasoning soon became apparent...

           The monstrosity lurched to a halt almost immediately before the Provost. I remained still, shaken in the awesome facade upon which I gazed. Yet, even still, in an instant, the eager anxiety that had at first shown itself and riled my gut into knots upon the sight of the Library, returned with a frenzied fervor.

           The glass and inlay panels of the serpentine automaton pulled back and parted, revealing an otherwise unseen and occult entry into its gullet. Out from which, men, women, and all matter of travelers poured out onto the platform of the odd, locomotion station. Over the bustle and speech of the departing and entering souls, I heard the professor explain the location as the “Crossings”: a sort of station of travel; he made an analogy to a railroad, of which I understood, but did not believe a simple railway was of adequate comparison given the sight of the machine before me.

           Even so, my slack-jawed features quickly tightened as our guide entered the first “car” of the machine, taking a seat immediately to the right of the entry, toward the nose of the featureless leviathan. I, in quick pace, forced my way past my brethren, talking roost across from the individual that had gone so far as to enlighten us to the unique eccentricities and some of the greatest locations within his figurative home. In this last stretch, I wanted to hear, perfectly, what he had to say of the machine I expected to transport us.

           In a matter of moments, my wish would be granted...

           As the last of the souls entered into the glass snake, the doors finally lurched once more, sealing us within the mechanical carriage. It was then that Van de Kärne began to speak, informing us to set aside our fears, and to merely enjoy the ride and watch as the scenery.

           I took his statement to heart, and believed the ride would be leisurely, but as the first waft of sterile cleanliness entered my nostrils, I felt my assumptions had been incorrect. As if on cue, rather abruptly, and without any warning, the serpent jerked, and within it, we were suddenly rocketing at such speeds that I cannot define. The people on the platform watched, some amazed, others barely noticing as the glimmering giant propelled itself forward, rapidly accelerating on – I presume – the rails that dwelt beneath our very feet. Even so, it was not the acceleration which startled me, but the sight of a tunnel opening ahead, only the distant mountains and their lush grasslands visible – not a single rail in sight.

           Several of my compatriots began to scream, some digging their nails into the luxurious upholstery upon which they sat. The Provost, however, remained stoic, looking ahead, a faint grin curled into the corner of his lips. I tried as hard and with as much will as I could muster to remain just as featureless and disconnected, but the fear that swelled in my abdomen nearly forced my statuesque facade to fracture.

           For a moment, I thought we were flying.

           The rails had switched. No longer were they below, but above. The large machine was now dangling above the open air; yet, just as soon as this occurred, as I peered upward, I noted the shift in the rails backward, curling into a death-defying loop. Once more, the fear began to rush through my veins. It was unfounded, however, for as we made the bend, looping back toward the solid roofing of the Library, though the machine itself flipped, the interior portions of the carriage – upon which many of us gripped – did not.

           Our host who, undoubtedly, was appreciating in great nature the sights and sounds of my comrades, explained that the internal heart, the core of the machine, was positioned on rolling trunions, allowing its interior to perpetually remain upright, even though the machine itself shifted. The glass walls were to permit unimpeded and unobstructed views of its surroundings – surroundings that, as we once again entered into the Library, flying high above rows and rows of shelving – I began to consume like pleasurable delicacies.

           It was only a matter of moments before we were stopped. Most of my cohorts departed almost immediately, their stomachs likely twisted and turns into vile, impossible knots by the mere minutes-long ride. Myself and four others remained, however, to view several thousand more feet of the great, Ieidoss construction, before they too departed.

           At least, it was merely the professor and I. We remained still, silent even, as several further stops were made. Each of us, in our own way, watched the other, questioning their motives, wondering what secret intrigues the other held. I hardly took notice as the lighting of the Library began to dim, and the internal illumination ports of the machine flicked into activity, basking the carriage in a dim, artificial luminescence. Just as well, I made little note of the slow slopes we rode, going ever farther, ever deeper into the labyrinthine complex of the Library's primary annexes.

           Yet, as Sebastiaan at last stood, his eyes cold amber, he stared at me as the machine began to pull to a halt, the surroundings at last drawing my attention. No longer was the pristine masonry of the Library present, only eroded, white stone, flecked with moisture and dark stains of some substance I could not hope to define...

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    The Catacombs and Conduits

           “This is my stop,” was all the professor uttered as he disembarked from the open gateway of the serpentine train.

           Looking around, I took note of the rest of the carriages, visible dimly through the glass panes that made-up the surface of the machine. The entire thing, in each carriage, was empty; I was the only soul to remain to the end of the so-called “exposé.” While overwhelmed with a sense of pride, elation even, I confined it to the interior of my mind, preferring to shift my attention back to the man who had so graciously shown me what would become my new home.

           “This is the last stop,” he further reiterated, “and I am afraid, where I am going, you cannot...”

           With such a simple departure, he turned, the subtle clicking of his cane echoing off the mildew-stained walls of the last stop. Even so, as he departed, I made no attempt to leave my seat; some deep portion of my mind made me remain where I sat. Regardless, I did look, I did consume the surroundings of the carriage in as much detail and as quickly as I could manage.

           In truth, it looked much older than any portion of the great Ieidoss' last remnant I had seen; even older – far older – than the Agora. Various portions of the walls were entirely missing, revealing only harder, more solid, larger slabs of quarry beneath. My former host, I took note, had turned from view, following what appeared to be a distant, winding, circular tunnel, presumably leading even deeper into the lowest foundations of the ancient architecture of the structure. For a moment, I listened, hearing the “clank” of chains and wrought, likely to a gate or some other means of prohibition. Even so, it was not that sound to which I took note.

           As I sat, straining, lurching my neck forward, still remaining seated, as if I simply could not force my body to comply with my demands to “explore,” I heard a faint rumbling. A distant churning, as if gears were grinding against one another; ancient, antediluvian machines whirring into life, forcing some great mechanism that remained unseen into fruitful awakening, as if they themselves had been sleeping for countless eons – perhaps even before the Ieidoss ever grew...

           My contemplation was broken when the sound of the serpent roared into life, the door proverbially slamming shut before me. It had, however, only served to dissuade my interest for the moment, as some deep, yearning part of my darkest heart told me the truth laid beyond the final crossing... Yet, as the great behemoth moved forward, I found myself in the waves of an epiphany.

           The great expedition was over, and yet, even so, my journey had just begun....

    Ignatius Hope                
    Plenipotentiary Agent;                
    The Cartographers' Guild                

    Last edited by Van de Kärne on Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:15 pm; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : Completion)
    Van de Kärne

    Posts : 34
    Join date : 2011-11-10
    Location : Thirteenth Floor

    A General Floor Plan

    Post  Van de Kärne on Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:52 am

    The Library
    A General Floor Plan

                   Tower Subsidiary
    • ( FLOOR SIXTEEN )Aerial Docking Tower; The Rectory; Currency Exchange Station
    • ( FLOOR FIFTEEN )North Tower; South Tower
    • ( FLOOR FOURTEEN )East Tower; West Tower

                   Upper Subsidiary
    • ( FLOOR TWELVE )The Astrarium; Library Annex; The Crossings Upper Station; Currency Exchange Station
    • ( FLOOR ELEVEN )Restricted FIRST Class Sections; Library Annex
    • ( FLOOR TEN )Restricted SECOND and THIRD Class Sections; Library Annex
    • ( FLOOR NINE )Restricted THIRD Class Sections; Library Annex

                   Middle Subsidiary
    • ( FLOOR EIGHT )Library Annex; The Dormitories
    • ( FLOOR SEVEN )Restricted THIRD and FOURTH Class Sections
    • ( FLOOR SIX )Restricted FOURTH Class Sections; University Annex; The Crossings Middle Station; Currency Exchange Station
    • ( FLOOR FIVE )Restricted FOURTH Class Sections; University Annex; Library Annex

                   Lower Subsidiary
    • ( FLOOR FOUR )The Commissary; Currency Exchange Station; University Annex; Library Annex; The Dormitories
    • ( FLOOR THREE )Restricted FOURTH and FIFTH Class Sections; Library Annex; The Dormitories; The Crossings Lower Station; Currency Exchange Station
    • ( FLOOR TWO )Restricted FIFTH Class Sections; Library Annex
    • ( FLOOR ONE )The Vestibule and Antechamber; Currency Exchange Station; Library Annex

                   Subterranean Subsidiary
    • ( SUBFLOOR ONE )Archives; Historical Records; Library Annex
    • ( SUBFLOOR TWO )Archives; Historical Records; Library Annex; The Crossings Subterranean Station; Currency Exchange Station
    • ( SUBFLOOR THREE )Historical Records; Artifact Holding
    • ( SUBFLOOR FOUR )Artifact Holding; Catacombs and Conduits Entries

                   Restricted Subterranean Subsidiary
    • ( SUBFLOOR FIVE )Catacombs and Conduits First Level
    • ( SUBFLOOR SIX )Catacombs and Conduits Second Level
    • ( SUBFLOOR SEVEN )Catacombs and Conduits Third Level; The Crossings Restricted Station
    Van de Kärne

    Posts : 34
    Join date : 2011-11-10
    Location : Thirteenth Floor

    In-Character and Out-of-Character Regulations

    Post  Van de Kärne on Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:41 am

    The Library
    In-Character and Out-of-Character Regulations

    Library Visitor Code of Conduct
           Though the Library and its tertiary annexes prize freedom of information, travel, and access regardless of creed, ethnicity, nationality, or faith above all things, for the safety of fellow visitors, students, scholars, and Staff, the Board of Proctors have established an acceptable code of conduct for all visitors to the Library or its tertiary annexes. Though primarily concerned with the assurance of safety, these regulations are also enacted to insure ease of access to text, tomes, and volumes by all wishing to perform studious research and eager study.

           As such, all students, scholars, and visitors are required to abide by the following code of conduct while within the walls of the Library, within its tertiary annexes, and while within the over-arching grounds of the archipelago upon which the Library sits. Violations of the following code of conduct will be punished according to the Staff personnel on hand; grievous violations will be forwarded to the Board of Proctors for review unless reprimands are otherwise stated.

    • Code One: The Library and all of its tertiary annexes strive to maintain an alignment of “true neutrality” in regard to international affairs, conflict, strife, and diplomacy. As such, all individuals are granted the right to access to the Library and its tertiary annexes insofar as the contents of the Code of Conduct are not violated or otherwise transgressed, and all Library premises are to be treated as “neutral ground.” As such, at times, the Library may hold host to competing individuals, factions, organizations, envoys, or sovereign conferences of diplomacy; regardless of rank and station, each individual is expected to understand and comply with this Code of Conduct, and any willful violation thereof is grounds for reprimand.

    • Code Two: All visitors, students, and scholars are required to maintain a peaceful and contrite manner while within the walls of the Library and its tertiary annexes. Conflicts may arise, however, and in such a case, the conflicting parties are requested to vacate the immediate level, floor, or subfloor within which they are located, preferring antagonistic relations to occur outside of the main walls, and upon the pastoral grounds of the Library's main grounds. This is to insure no damages are incurred to Library property or associated persons.

    • Code Three: All visitors and students are requested to return Library property that has been checked-out in a timely fashion. By default, the period of lease for non-restricted texts and artifacts is limited to fifteen (15) days. Further extensions may be applied for on a limited basis of five (5) days; further extensions may only be granted by the Principal Librarian (or a member of the Board of Proctors). Over-due charges in regard to visitors will work on a scale based on five-day dockets, with the initial five days charging fifty (50) copper, with each following five days adding a further fifty copper to the late fees.

    • Code Four: Restricted volumes, texts, or artifacts may not be removed from the Restricted Section in which they are housed, may not be leased, and may only be reviewed on Library premises. Exceptions may be made by lodging a request three (3) days in advance with the Principal Librarian or a member of the Board of Proctors. Lease periods for excepted volumes default to normal lease procedures unless otherwise noted by the authorizing party.

    • Code Five: Students, visitors, and scholars are asked to remain quiet while in “reviewing areas” or within Library annexes housing of actual tomes. Speaking is permitted outside of “reviewing areas,” inside the Commissary, the Crossings Stations, and all other areas not utilized for academic research or study. Requests of assistance directed to Staff members are excepted from this code.

    • Code Six: Students and visitors are required to pay a ten (10) copper surcharge for each utilization of the Crossings Railway; this surcharge cannot be waived, as all modest fees accumulated are utilized for the maintenance of the Library and its annexes, as well as the continuation of information growth. Scholars are exempt from purchasing fair at Crossings Stations and may travel free of charge.

    • Code Seven: All visitors, students, scholars, and Staff are requested to utilize only Helenian Ounces as payment for services in the Library. Due to the volatile nature of conflict and strife in the Keep, currencies minted by other sovereign banks, financial institutions, nations, or organizations will not be accepted as legal tender on Library grounds in any means or capacity. Visitors are asked to utilize the conveniently placed “Currency Exchange Stations” that can be found in the Library Antechamber, near Crossings Railway Stations, the Commissary, the Rectory, and other portions of the Library.

    • Code Eight: Visitors, students, scholars, and Staff are forbidden to access any floor label “RESTRICTED.” Any attempt to force entry, gain entry, or access such floors is grounds for immediate dismissal of the Library pending executive decision by the Office of the Provost. Scholars are permitted access to “Restricted Sections,” but as terms to their Certificate of Academic Scholarship, are not granted access to restricted floors. Only members of the Board of Proctors maintain access to restricted floors.

    • Code Nine: The first Subterranean Subsidiary may be accessed by Staff, scholars, and students or visitors that have been granted Staff authorization to access the archives, historical records, and artifact holdings in these floors. No visitor, student, or scholar may access the second – or “restricted” - Subterranean Subsidiary without written authorization from a member of the Board of Proctors; this includes access to the Crossings Restricted Station. Staff may maintain full access to both Subterranean Subsidiaries.

    • Code Ten: Airships and sea vessels may maintain mooring on the Library's archipelago or Aerial Docking Station for a maximum of seven (7) days; after the limited time has passed, airships and sea vessels must pay a mandatory fifty (50) gold to maintain their moorings. Personal vessels capable of holding no more than three (3) persons may maintain moorings indefinitely and free or charge.

    • Code Eleven: Theft of private, personal property or theft of Library property is strictly prohibited on all Library premises. Destruction or willful damaging of private, personal property or Library property is equally prohibited. Any attempt to do so will result in reprimand and consequences including, but not limited to: investigation, dismissal from Library grounds, revocation of scholarships (where viable), monetary compensation, labor compensation, banishment from Library access, and detention. All terms for severe transgressions and their consequences may be decided and deliberated by the Board of Proctors.

    • Code Twelve: The Code of Conduct for all visitors and personnel of the Library may be forced to change in order to conform with current threats or circumstances. As such, amendments may be added to the Code of Conduct following the presentation of an amendment, its seconding, followed by a deliberation and, ultimately, a simple majority of the Board of Proctors in order to successfully pass any amendment.

    Out-of-Character Rules and Regulations (CLICK):
    Out-of-Character Rules and Regulations
           The following rules and regulations directly concern out-of-character conduct within “The·Library” room. They should not be confused with the above, in-character, “Visitor Code of Conduct.” While both are of great importance, they cover two different aspects of the room – as stated – and, as such, punishments for “in-character rule violations” have no baring on “out-of-character rule violations” and vice versa.

           As a prerequisite to initiating in out-of-character conversation or in-character roleplaying in “The·Library” room, all members are asked to read, comprehend, and familiarize themselves with these rules. Ignorance of a rule will not be considered a viable “excuse” for its violation; likewise, ignorance of a rule, in the event of its violation, will not be grounds for leniency. As such, once again: read the rules, comprehend them, and familiarize yourself with them.

           This is the single, solitary warning one will receive in this regard.

    • Rule Zero: First and foremost, understand that yes, the Visitor Code of Conduct is, in fact, binding; however, the Creators understand that strife, thievery, deceit, and various other actions prohibited by the Code of Conduct are a valid part of roleplaying. As such, understand that these Codes are only binding in-character and their violation will not result in out-of-character reprimands. Furthermore, the only means of enforcing these rules are if Staff, members of the Academic Irregulars, and other individuals or entities charged with such responsibilities obtain evidence of or witness a violation. Do not misconstrue the Code of Conduct as prohibiting these actions from occurring... Just don't get caught.

    • Rule One: Don't be a dick; being a “dick” is prohibited unless your username begins with “Athe-” and ends with “-ism,” the Founding Creator of the Library and The·Library room.

    • Rule Two: Know the difference between “In-Character” (IC) and “Out-of-Character” (OOC) and strive not to mingle the two; if you have a character that is enemies of another, strive to not permit this in-character antagonism to cross into the out-of-character domain. Likewise, if you have issues with another play, strive to not bring that dispute into an in-character setting. The Creators ask that in the event of a dispute between players arises, that the dispute is taken to whispers when roleplaying is occurring; if it is merely out-of-character banter, feel free to air your laundry, just do not expect people to like the way it smells.

    • Rule Three: Godmoding/godmodding is defined as “attempting to force another character to commit an action through a post said character did not make; being unfeasible in the limiting of a character's strength or power; any attempt to portray a character's abilities in such a way that they are 'unavoidable, unstoppable, impenetrable, or otherwise impervious to harm'; and see 'Rule One.'” Such actions are strictly prohibited; instances of such will result in a single warning before banishment for a second offense. Grievous instances of such will result in an immediate banishment.

    • Rule Four: Metagaming is defined as “using information outside of the reasonable scope of apparent analysis; utilizing of information not otherwise available to a character; utilizing of information obtained out-of-character in an in-character setting without prior approval; reading of a character's profile and assuming such knowledge is available or otherwise can be publicly accessed; or see 'Rule One.'” Such actions include the utilization of texts, tomes, or volumes found within the “Restricted Sections” of the Library forum without obtaining a Certificate of Academic Scholarship, thus making them viewable in-character. Such actions are strictly prohibited; instances of such will result in a single warning before banishment for a second offense. Grievous instances of such will result in an immediate banishment.

    • Rule Five: The official room name of the Library's presence on the Keep is known as: “The·Library” - typed as “The[ALT+0183]Library” using ALTcode formatting. As such, any Staff member or scholar – not student or general visitor – is capable of opening “The·Library” room. If a member of the Board of Proctors enters, however, the original individual who opens the room must promote the individual; refusing to do so upon request will qualify as “room hijacking” and will be reported to a Global Moderator or Administrator of the Keep.

    • Rule Six: Though not always, in general, it is safe to assume the Library is a roleplaying entity rated MATURE; though profanity, gore, graphic violence, heavily-suggestive writing, political and philosophical satire, existential and ontological discussions, the occult, horror, mystery, suspense, or otherwise “mature” content is not always present, for the sake of safety, it is best to assume that, at any time, such may occur. This, however, is to be understood within the boundaries of the Keep's “AUP” as well as Forumotion Hosting Services' “Terms of Service Agreement.” As such, the Creators ask that most roleplaying sessions maintain a general “PG-13” rating, with such things as graphic sexual intercourse, extremely graphic violence, and other such content be restricted to private settings or whispers; as such, as a note, cybering is strictly prohibited in “The·Library” room.

    • Rule Seven: The Creators of the Library – known collectively simply as “<illuminati.bat>” – understand that the posting of multiple “paragraphs” may not be the preferred method of play for all those who wish to be involved in the Library and its plots, meta-plots, and side-plots. Even so, the Creators strive to build and maintain a community of above average and literate writers, players, and – ultimately – collaborators. As such, when an in-character session is occurring, while all individuals are welcome, the Creators ask that each individual strongly puts forth an effort to post no-less than one “paragraph” – qualified as five (5) to seven (7) lines of text, or one full “text-box” of the Keep's graphic interface – without the abundant usage of nonsensical, incorrect “fluff” or “unwarranted detail that serves no other purpose than to draw attention to one's self.” (As often display in the commonly-heard complaint of multiple “paragraph” posters “taking seven 'paras' to describe the moving of three strands of their character's hair.”)

    • Rule Eight: The·Library room strives to be a homage to the original, default room of the Keep known simply as “Library” – ultimately freeform and embracing. Even so, the room is technically user-created, and as such, upon joining the room, one consents to all policies described herein and understands that, ultimately, even in disregarding these rules, the promoted staff of the room have the right to warn, kick, and ban any user for any reason insofar as such reasoning does not violate the Keep's “AUP.”

    • Rule Nine: All promoted staff of The·Library room are required to abide by the “Three Strike Policy” unless otherwise stipulated. The “Three Strike Policy” is defined as: an individual commits an action which is prohibited by the “Out-of-Character Rules and Regulations,” warranting an initial warning. If that individual commits another act violating the “Rules and Regulations” – regardless as to whether it was the same action that warranted the initial warning – that user is to be kicked. If that user commits another action which violates the “Rules and Regulations” – regardless as to whether it was the same action that warranted the prior warning and kick – that user is to be banished. By default, all banishments expire after ten days; this can be changed upon request by the Room Owner and Creator (“Atheism”/”Van de Kärne”) only, in which case, in the instance of repeat offenders, harassing users, or individuals who strive only to disrupt the room, the Room Owner and Creator may lodge a request with a Global Moderator or Administrator of the Keep requesting a “permanent I.P. address room banishment,” prohibiting the user from ever entering the room again.

    • Rule Ten: The above “Out-of-Character Rules and Regulations” may be forced to change; in such an event, a Creator may lodge a request for discussion regarding the addition of a rule amendment or the changing of a previously implemented regulation. A simple majority of a quorum of available Creators is required to add or edit a rule or regulation. In dire circumstances or necessary instances, the Room Creator and Owner may use executive license to edit a prior ruling or add a necessary amendment.

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