Chapter 82: The Library

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It is very difficult to preserve knowledge on the Eight. This library has only been preserved out of secrecy and the courage of those who keep that secrecy.

-The Necromancer's Notes, Introduction to the Library, Preface.

***

Saefel Caeld, they say, was a city of cathedrals. The Commoner's Cathedral, for the masses who worshipped the God of the Luminous Doctrines, stood as a towering monument, a beautiful temple of spires and arches. The Palace of the Old Gods seemed to stand against it, more square than its counterpart, but still beautiful in its construction. The Chapel of the Noble Light, for the noble, richer followers of the Luminous Doctrines, while smaller, was just as ornamented as its plebian sister.

And then, another cathedral joined them, but not one of religion. This cathedral was not built upon the edifice of saved souls, but the foundation of wise and educated minds. This cathedral was not a fortress to combat sin and evil, but ignorance and the foolishness of the world. This cathedral was not the home of priests and monks, but of scholars and students.

They were right, Indra thought, to call the Great Library of Saefel Caeld a cathedral.

Thaen stared at the massive structure, craning his neck up to stare at the stained glass window, a giant disk of shining colored glass. "Why does this have to be so big?" he asked.

"For all the books," Indra said. "And places to sit, and the boilers."

"Boilers?" Karik'ar asked. Indra stood between the two of them, the Kai'Draen cast a shadow over her and the Vesperati.

"They have boilers to heat the building. They moved several bodies out of catacombs beneath to make room." Indra had been in those catacombs. Supposedly, some members of her own house, of House Selaine, were interred in the catacombs beneath the Chapel of the Noble Light.

"Ah." Karik'ar said. She could sense his anticipation, his excitement. "How much is the upkeep?"

"I don't know the precise amount, but it's expensive," Indra said. "They use enhanced coal to run the boilers underneath, and they purchase absolutely massive quantities of paper and ink for the scribe service."

"That's the service you mentioned," Karik'ar said, "where they copy down manuscripts for patrons, correct?"

Indra nodded. "Rather expensive, but that's because it's very time-consuming. It does help University students though. I've done it when I'm in a tight financial situation."

They stood at the plaza of the library, staring up at the great edifice. Instead of saints peering down at the masses, or reliefs of animals and scenes from the myths of the pagan gods, the Great Library of Saefel Caeld had two scholars, a man and a woman, sightless eyes affixed to some point in the horizon, with the expressions on their carved faces one of joyous hope. Hope for the future, no doubt. That was what the inscription said. 

"It's beautiful," Thaen muttered, staring up at the cold, clear sky. "We have things like this back home, but not underneath the sky."

"Underneath the mountains?" Karik'ar asked.

"Most Vesperati strongholds and cities are underneath mountains, usually. The second most populous city in Caeldar is completely underground, save for a few hovels and guardhouses at the entrances of the mountain.

"Yeah," Thaen said as they walked towards the entrance. "At home, that's where the kind of people no decent society wants around. All the brothels and moon spice dens and gambling houses are built-"

"Moon spice dens?" Karik'ar asked.

"It's a collection of fungi. They're hallucinogenic, but they're treated separately, to elicit different kinds of hallucinations." Thaen frowned. "Most of them aren't too fun to experience."

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