Chapter Twenty-Six

on April 5, 2010 in Evermist

© 2010, Patrick Hester.  All Rights Reserved

Chapter Twenty-Six

Eli, Narut and Fyet stepped into the library the next day.  There was no sign of the old man, Captain Shen, which relieved Eli.  He didn’t want another encounter with him.

He’d been surprised by the number of older men in the keep; he imagined that anyone who survived their time on the island, would escape the moment their terms were up.  To find so many older men who had joined again and again was more than a little disturbing.

The library was easily as large as the commissary, which had been built to serve hundreds of men at a time.  From wall to wall, there were shelves and each shelf was weighted down by stacks and stacks of books.  He’d never seen so many books before in all his life.  Suddenly, he thought it might not be too bad on Evermist.

The three men separated, each walking down a different row, eyes wide.  Eli ran his eyes up and down the shelves, trying to make out titles.  By the time he made it to the end of the row, a frown fixed on his face, he found Narut looking similarly confused.  Turning, he saw Fyet taking a seat at a long, wooden table.  He had a stack of books and started going through them.  Narut nodded to him and they walked over together.

“Fyet?” Eli asked.  “Did you find something?”

“I didn’t recognize the language,” offered Narut.

“Neither did I,” Eli agreed.  They both looked at Fyet, who was looking through his third book at such a speed there was no way he could’ve been reading them.

“I’ll bet it’s Templer,” said Fyet.  Eli frowned.

“Templer?  I’ve never heard of that.”

“Nor have I,” said Narut.

“Not surprising,” said Fyet.  “They don’t really like outsiders.  I only know about them because I used to make trading runs there with my da.  He told me theirs was the oldest city on all of Paerleon.  They don’t let many people trade with them, but my da makes some of the finest saddle’s in our village and the Templer’s like em so we always made a trip up at the beginning of summer and came back with a decent amount of gold.”

“Where do they live?” Eli asked.

“Up North East near Shelter Bay, just at the edge of the mountains that cut Corrac’amor off from the rest of the island.  No idea how big the city is, we only ever got as far as the gates.”

“You couldn’t see the city from there?” Narut asked.

Fyet shook his head.  “They have a wall, not as big as The Wall, of course.  But it keeps people out.  When they open the gates, all you see is a road leading up into the hills.  I think the city is up there somewhere, hidden away.”

“What makes you think these books are written by them?” Eli asked.

“I don’t think that, not really.  It’s just – there are signs on their gates, signs we couldn’t read.  It’s the same language.  I’d swear it.”  He pointed to a page, “See this character?  I’ve seen it before.  And this one,” he added, moving his finger down the page.

Eli picked up one of the books; it had a hard cover of faded blue with chipped, gold lettering across.  Opening it, the inside had a textured, patterned paper and the same lettering which he assumed was the title.  He’d never seen the language before and he prided himself on the amount of books he’d read.  Flipping through it, he found a sketch that didn’t make any sense.  He laid it flat on the table.

“Look at this,” he said.  Fyet and Narut leaned in.  The image showed a half-naked man with a beard, holding a large bow and apparently killing men who were attacking him.  There wasn’t a lot of detail.  The men, also half-naked, carried round shields and spears or swords.  It was very strange.  He looked at his friends who shrugged; they didn’t understand it any better than he did.

“Why would anyone keep books around that they can’t even read?” he asked, closing the book.

“Are there any of these Templer people here?” Narut asked.  “Maybe they take care of the library?”

Fyet was shaking his head.  “I doubt it.  Like I said, they don’t like outsiders.  I think they pay to keep their kids out of the lottery.”

“That’s a lot of gold,” Eli whistled.

“And doesn’t answer why they keep so many books around that no one can read,” Narut added.

“Because, it’s still history.”

All three looked up.  The man who stood before them wore the uniform of an officer, causing them to snap to attention.  He waved them off with a smile.  He was much younger than Captain Shen, with dark hair and dark skin, much darker than Narut.

“You’re new?” he asked.  They all nodded.  “Well, welcome to the Library,” he waved around him.  “Thousands of books, all written in an ancient language no one remembers anymore.  It’s sad, really, but it’s a part of our history so we keep them.”

“Why here?” Eli asked.  If the books were as important as he said, surely they should be somewhere other than Evermist.

“Do you know about Paerl?”

They all three nodded.  Paerl had been the capital city before Valles.  It had been destroyed centuries before.  Witnesses reported it there one moment, gone the next – all in a flash of light so bright it competed with the sun.  Anyone sent to investigate found themselves ill within days of returning and died soon after that.  It had become a quarantined area.  They said nothing would grow there, even now.

The Magistrate changed the capital to Valles and went on as if none of it had ever happened.

“Paerl was the capital, it was our greatest city.  This library is nothing compared to the one there, and it was all wiped out in an instant.  The decision was made to keep everything else here, where the militia could protect it.”

“But,” Eli said.  “No one can read any of these, can they?”

“There are quite a few books here that you could read, and I’d be happy to show them to you.  As for the rest, a few scholars make the trip each year to study them, try and translate them.  Someday, we’ll be able to read these books again and our history will be ours again.”

“Does anyone know what language this is?  It looks similar to what the Templers use,” Fyet offered.  The librarian – for that’s how Eli was thinking of him now – frowned.

“It does?  I wish they had more contact with us.  If they could translate these, it would mean so much to so many.  We don’t know what language they’re written in, only that it’s one of the ancient dialects.  There were so many of them, once, it’s possible someone still speaks it somewhere out there.”  He waved vaguely.  “Let me know if you want something you can actually read,” he added with a smile, then moved off.

Nicer than Shen, Eli thought.

“I swear, it’s Templer,” Fyet said half to himself.

“I still don’t understand why they’re here,” Eli said.  “Why not take them to Valles?  Why not have all of our scholars working to translate them?  If they really are pieces of our history, it doesn’t make sense to keep them all hidden away here on the island, does it?”

Neither of his friends could argue with him.

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