Lost Libraries

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Another small excerpt of my character Scarlette and her still in-concept novel

“God, it’s dark in here.” Scarlette said. It was indeed dark, and more ominous was that wherever she was… it was quite open. She heard her own echo as if she were standing in a vast cavern of some sort. But the echoes were too close together… perhaps a very long hallway. She couldn’t tell. To prevent any accident she gripped onto her friend Eric’s shoulder and made sure she could hear the breathing of her friend Azura behind her.

“Oooh. Spooky scary…” Azura said flatly. “You think after all you’ve seen so far, Letty, that you’d be okay with a bit of darkness. Besides, it’s not like you’re alone.”

“No… but I would really like to see where I’m going. I feel like I’m going to step off a cliff, or trigger a trap… I don’t know!” Scarlette panicked.

“Don’t worry, Scarlette.” Eric said calmly. “This isn’t Temple of Doom. The floor isn’t covered with spiders… in fact there shouldn’t be anything alive here at all.”

“A-Alive?” Scarlette stuttered. “You mean… there could be—“

“No!” Eric sighed. “There’s no zombies, undead, vampires, or any other such undead being here. As far as we know, anyway. This place isn’t frequently visited. Most people don’t even think it exists anymore.”

“Anymore?” Scarlette asked. “Where are we?! And how can you see where we’re walking?”

“Nuri, if you would.” Eric said, speaking to Nuri who had been silent this whole time. “Before Scarlette has a panic attack.” A few moments later, a light shone behind Scarlette. It glowed brighter and brighter prompting her to turn around and face Nuri. At first it was just a flame resting in a shadowy hand. Then it began to float in the air becoming bigger as it illuminated the entirety of the place they were in. The ball of fire revealed the long hall they walked down, framed by thick circular stone pillars. The ceilings were high, and the vastness of the space seemed endless. It quickly became easy to see. Scarlette took a moment to look at her friends. Eric walked in front of the group with his head covered and his hands in his hoodie pocket. Azura walked alongside Scarlette, a tan Caribbean girl with defined black wavy hair and attire straight out of Hot Topic. And lastly was Nuri, someone Scarlette trusted to be nothing but 4’10” fashionable bartender from the Middle East, who only recently revealed herself to be a djinn of royal descent.

“Well…” Scarlette said in awe as she looked around. “This is cool. Straight out of Nat Geo.”

“If only National Geographic could venture into places in different realms of existence. They’d have a field day with Atlantis and Shangri-La.” Azura added.

“So before I sound like a broken record… where are we?” Scarlette asked.

Nuri’s fiery eyes couldn’t contain the nostalgia floating through her mind. “It is a place I have not seen in a long time.”

“You’ve been here before?” Azura asked.

“Lucky…” Eric commented.

“I remember when this place was full of people…” Nuri said, still lost in her memories. “It was magnificent. Incomparable. And then---“

“The fire nation attacked.” Scarlette interrupted. “Sorry… I couldn’t resist.”

“Well… you’re not entirely wrong.” said Nuri. “Julius Caesar, set fire to his own ships, which then burned the docks, and then this place.”

“Caesar…” Scarlette paused. “So that means this place is…”

Nuri nodded. “The Library of Alexandria.”

“Eric, how did we get here from your closet?” Scarlette asked.

“Nevermind that. We have a book to find.” Eric noted. “This place was preserved long after its supposed destruction… much more was added to its archives. Maybe we can find out more about your powers.”

“Or where my mother is.” Scarlette added.

“Well we aren’t going to find anything talking here.” Azura huffed. “Nuri, if you could light up the place.” Nuri nodded, waving a hand in front of her. Soon every candle and torch was lit, and the true endless expanse of the library was unveiled. “Alright well… better start looking.”

The group split up, searching up and down the aisles for works of all kinds. Some were ancient, others in a more modern text that couldn’t have been more than a decade old. Scarlette was unable to read many of the ancient works, leaving that to Nuri and Eric. She pulled a book from the shelf, the markings on the binding were glowing a pulsating dim blue. Scarlette tilted her head and placed it on the table. The book was locked, with no key in sight. She tried to pry it open with her hands, and quickly became obsessed with trying to open it. With one last pull, she cut her finger on the rusty lock, pulling back her hand with a pained squeak. Her cut healed almost instantly as it always had, but blood still trickled down for but a moment. Her blood looked like it evaporated as it was absorbed into the leather book cover like a sponge. She heard a lock pin snap and the book was free.

“Everything about this is probably a bad idea.” Scarlette said to herself. She opened the book very slowly, trying to peek inside. Suddenly the book shot open. Scarlette let out a scream that echoed throughout the halls. Everyone rushed over to see what the trouble was, but instead found Scarlette sitting in front of a book, and inside its hollowed pages was a very tiny dragon. It seemed innocent enough, unbothered by the humans that swarmed around.

“I can’t leave you alone for two minutes.” Eric said. “What on earth did you do?”

“I don’t know!” Scarlette cried. “I was trying to open this book, and I cut myself, then the book opened and now there’s a tiny dragon. Why is there a tiny dragon?!”

“It’s kind of cute.” Azura said, placing her hands on her hips. “But it’s not going to help with our problem. We need to get ahead of the game. We need to figure out your powers, and find out where your mother is.” Nuri narrowed her eyes at the dragon before scattering away with everyone else. “Come on Nuri.” Azura said. “Scarlette, please just… sit tight.”

“Can do!” Scarlette said. She stared at the dragon who only looked back with big eyes that only melted Scarlette’s heart. “You are cute, aren’t you? Do you think you can help me?” The dragon nodded. “Oh, you understand me? Huh… Well… I’m looking for a book.” The dragon gave her a blank expression. “Right… I’m in a library. Um… I need a book on blood magic. Do you know any?” The dragon squeaked and flew up with its tiny wings, leading Scarlette away through the many aisles. Eventually they came across one particular book the dragon pointed to. She pulled it out and rested it on the table. After flipping through the pages, she realized that she couldn’t read much of it. “Hrm… this isn’t something I know how to read.” Scarlette pouted. The dragon walked up and nipped Scarlette’s finger causing her to bleed a single drop of blood. Once it fell on the pages, the texts became clear… well clearer. The dragon used its claws to flip the pages for Scarlette and then pointed to a particular text. “What’s this? Will it help?” The dragon nodded. Scarlette shrugged. “Okay. You’re the book wyrm. Get it… book wy—“ The dragon was not amused. “Okay… let’s see what this says.” Slowly she read over the lines that were still not translated entirely. “Canvar taya kin. Onun lan etion ozgur mar.” Scarlette raised a brow. “Creepy.” She looked at the dragon who began to convulse, and looked to have a small seizure. In sporatic bursts, the dragon began to grow, one bone at a time. “Uhhhh…. Guys?” Scarlette called. There was no answer. “Guys?!” The dragon soon grew too large for the table, and then too large for the aisle. “GUYS!” The others rushed over and gathered around Scarlette, only to slow in their run as they saw the fully grown dragon who’s head nearly reached the ceiling.

Eric frowned. “WHY?!”

The dragon began to chuckle and speak in an unknown language. Nuri then replied, seemingly in the same language. The two had a small conversation before Nuri nodded.

“Didn’t know you spoke dragon.” Azura said. “So what’s the deal?”

“We’ve freed one of the daughters of Tiamat.” Nuri said. “She’s feeling a bit angry after being cursed and locked in a prison.”

Scarlette tugged on Nuri’s shirt. “Just turn into the giant ifrit fire monster chick you did before and fight it.”

“And burn the library for real this time?” Nuri asked. “There is good news though. Out of gratitude, she’s going to give us a head start before she tries to kill us.”

“How kind.” Eric said.

“We should probably run now.” Scarlette said.

“Agreed.” Azura said, darting away, the rest of the group following suit. The dragon roared and chased the group in her endless rage. “Back to Eric’s closet, yeah?”

“I can’t take you anywhere!” Eric shouted.

Scarlette rolled her eyes. “Oh shut up and keep running!”

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