Somewhere in the west of Varrock, obscured by more imposing buildings, stands a library. It's a small library, not nearly as impressive as the royal libraries in the castle, guarded fiercely by Reldo, but it's a nice place, a kind place. Unlike the royal library, its shelves aren't filled with the ancient tales from writers long dead, which are usually only reluctantly read by schoolchildren suffering under an old schoolmaster's desire to stuff them with knowledge about literature which they'll never use again in their future careers as cabbage merchants and chicken farmers. No. The shelves of this library are filled entirely with contributions from the public, available freely to whoever wants to read them.
There is poetry, there are songs, there are stories of ancient worlds and visions of a future far away, there is daily gossiping. Of course, since the library isn't fussy about the works it accepts, there's also a chance you'll run into childish word games, wild literary experiments, or entries that simply look like they were written (and chewed on) by the village idiot. But I don't mind. I know that the librarian works hard enough to keep it running, even though it's not uncommon for her to be swamped in civil or military duties. She always has a spare minute to make sure the scrolls are all folded up neatly, sorted and lined up straight in their racks, and if you ask kindly there's always a fresh pot of tea at the ready, although all readers are warned that tea and parchment don't mix.
All in all, I like the library. I like how open it is. I like how it gives me a chance to share my work with the world, even though I'm far from a professional writer. It's just a hobby for me, and the library gives me a chance to explore it. The scroll under my arm is still stiff, its ink barely dry. My wrist aches from the effort of writing the story down in readable print, but it's a small price to pay. I turn away from the main street, just barely avoiding collision with a fishmonger's cart. I dust myself off and check the scroll. Still clean. With a sigh of relief I continue down the road. It would hardly be proper of me to bring filthy scrolls into the library, yet writing the entire story down again is not something I look forward to. One more turn and I'm standing in front of the library.
In front of a closed door. I look around, more than a little confused. “Closed for renovation.” Is all that the scroll nailed on the door reads, written in the librarian's neat handwriting. Then, just as I'm about to turn away, I smell smoke. And sure enough, from the back of the library rises a small trickle of black smoke, just barely noticeable. Still, the thought of even a small fire so close to a building full of scrolls…I almost panic, dashing around the building only to find that my fear had been for nothing. In a small fire pit in the garden of the library I can just barely make out the vague outlines of burning scrolls. Several small scraps of parchment lie around it, apparently escaping the blaze. Carefully I pick one up, lightly rubbing off the dirt. The handwriting is little more than a childish scrawl:
“...and then the night rased his sord and hit the dragon in the hed and teh hed exploded liek a mellon...”
Renovation indeed. Still, I'm not entirely unhappy to see these scrolls go. One of the library's charms might have been it's open policy, but unfortunately it occasionally proved to be a bit too open. I throw the scrap in the flames and turn around, almost tripping over a gnome carrying an armful of scrolls. I quickly apologize and help the poor creature up, asking her where she's taking the scrolls. With a squeaky voice she explains that she and her kin had been hired by the librarian to aid the renovation. Then she points at a large cart where other gnomes are piling up scrolls, explaining that the city council had finally decided to give the less literary works an the silly word games to a separate building. I smile, realizing that the library will be a lot emptier but at the same time a lot more enjoyable with these gone. I let the little gnome get back to her work and decide to come back tomorrow.
The next day, just as the city begins to come alive, I make my way down to the familiar road to the library. Bathed in the reddish glow of the rising sun, it almost seems like a new building. It seems like the renovation is still in progress, but the doors are open again. A cart from the carpenter's guild stands waiting outside, two young apprentices wrestling with a heavy looking desk. The brass plaque attached to it reads “Assistant Librarian”, and it's identical to the one waiting in the cart, besides the scroll rack labeled “Guides”. It seems like the librarian is finally getting some help in getting the renewed library to run smoothly. I duck my way past the apprentices and make my way inside. As I walk towards the librarian's desk I notice that the echoes of my footsteps sound differently because of the shift in acoustics caused by the removal of so many scrolls. Still, the desks, the racks, the smell… most of it seems the same, it just seems… better. I hand the scroll I brought to the librarian. She glances over it and gives a friendly nod, putting it in the tray for new submissions. As I walk back out I consider staying a bit longer to read some of the older scrolls, but the rumbling of my stomach indicates that there are more urgent matters that I need to attend to. The sunlight that hits my face as I cross the threshold promises a warm day to come, and I can't help but wonder if somewhere some ancient deity of literacy is smiling on the librarian's efforts for a new start for the library that I love so much.
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