Stories

The Library of Thoth

#fantasy

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It was in November, as my travels were beginning to take their effect on both my Body and my Soul, that I came upon the city of Thoth. I still cannot be sure of how I came to find it, surrounded, as it was, only by infinite wasteland, the numberless villages of insignificant tribes, and hidden among granite cliffs facing an obscure Inlet.

It was unlike anything I had ever seen—its short buildings constructed upon strange principles, its men garbed in strange dress; its language spoken in most shrill Tones.

Finding its people receptive to a foreign Guest, at the first opportunity I could find I had a courtier bring me to the city’s central Library. There I found, in a most modest Edifice, a collection that must have rivaled its counterpart in Alexandria for size; but which was written all in strange Hieroglyphics that I could not decipher.

I was filled with a most fluttering excitement, for reasons twofold: a quite Pure one, of discovering a new Science and Literature that might bestow innumerable Benefits and Joys upon society; and a quite Impure one commingled, a desire for Fame and Riches. With these twin Ambitions upon my heart, I tied a note in most effervescent verse to the foot of the mechanical bird (my Father’s) that I had brought on my travels, and sent it homeward. For a week, I lived in the rustic yet homely Hospitality which the city undertook on my behalf, awaiting the clarions of the British ships blown in on winds of Discovery, laden with ingots of Glory.

Seven nights after I arrived, I awoke in the tavern in which I had been lodged to a most strange and improbable noise—like the moaning of a multitude of corpses. I thought it came from within my dream, but when I awoke I found them scratching the windows and scraping the walls.

The tavernmaster came up and they tore him to shreds. I made it down the stairs by bearing a lantern in front of me, swinging it so as to cleave the mass of bodies that hungered for me as well. I ran outside to find the street filled with an awful light.

I looked to find its source and found a sight upon which mine Eyes and Brain could not agree. A hellish black Ship, the size at least of the flagship of Her Majesty’s armada, hung in the air above the Street. Its sails were made of a strange eternal fire, and in its berth it trailed pennants of black smoke.

Those hellish creatures—in the form of Humans but made of rotting Flesh—descended to the rigging and dropped to the street.

I tied my cutlass to a good strong rope and swung it clockwise around my head, and that kept them off well enough as I made my way to the Harbor.

When I arrived, I immediately discerned that my ship had been burned all to ash. I saw the horde advance upon many ships and burn them, too, in suchlike fashion.

Paralyzed by a fear which I cannot adequately express in this Narrative, I resolved to flee the town on foot, and try to find shelter in one of those primitive Villages. But before my feet would carry me away from that newly accursed place, my heart—filled with that twofold Passion I have previously discussed—bade me check upon the Library.

There I found the very thing I had feared: the hellish Pirates with their torches, laying fire to the bookshelves with most fiendish glee around the corpses of many slain Thothian warriors. Seeing this horrific Sight, I feared that it was the message I sent back home, my desire for Glory, that had brought this Attack upon the city. I feared that I had bestowed the fatal kiss upon its lips.

But more pressingly, I feared for my own life; and thus I turned from this scene, and my legs again resumed their former Purpose, carrying me from the city forevermore.

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