Stories

The Library of Thoth, Part 3 by Edward King

#fantasy #fiction #shortstories #Thoth #travel #travelers

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I took the ship between two jagged rocks, hoping to find some place to destroy it and thus stop its course towards my Homeland. However, I found myself filled with a most shameful Cowardice; and every time I skirted a jagged rock, I jerked the wheel away to save the ship and myself. Filled with a most wretched Shame, I brought the ship down on a pale beach and descended its rigging. I sat upon a black rock and wept.

Awakening from my display of self-Pity, I did become aware of a blazing Light high up on on the black Cliff above the beach. Thinking that this must be another human Being, and in dire need of Companionship, I fetched single Book from the deck, thinking that it would serve to Prove the existence of Thoth to a foreign Stranger. With the book in hand, I made my way up the cliff via a crooked Path.

When I reached at last the blazing Light, I found a most primitive House, consisting seemingly of bits of Driftwood nailed together and a roof of tropical Leaves. I knocked at the door and a man possessing a most Grey and scraggly Beard, with a form most bent and Crooked, appeared. His features were most Exotical in nature and did seem, to me, to bear a resemblance to those unique Characteristics of the denizens of Thoth.

In place of Speech, I handed him the book I had brought from the ship and I must profess that did flash over his face for a moment a most Awed look. Then his face returned to normal and He beckoned me inside his humble House.

The old man immediately turned to his Stove and did busy himself over his Kettle or Samovar, an elaborate contraption sculpted in the guise of an exotic Bird, the spout formed by an extremely long and narrow Beak. The house seemed to consist only of one room, and was most small and Hobbitish, being filled primarily with cooking Implements , preserved Foods, a large Fireplace and a small Bookcase. Though the books were written in a foreign Tongue, I ascertained that they were among the Low, Pulpy, Sensationalistic variety. Fanciful pictures were imprinted onto many of the pages, and I did notice various novels seemingly quite Indecent in nature, their covers embossed with images of scantily clad Maidens.

When the Tea was ready, he brought it out and poured out two Cups. He invited me to sit, while He remained standing.

“Thoth…” he said, his tone so low as to nearly be a Growl.

He made use of the occasion of sipping his tea to produce a most dramatic Pause. I did prepare myself to Halt him in his speech, and explain, through the use of Gestures, that the tongues we used to speak were entirely Foreign to one another.

“I was once the King of Thoth,” he said, upon Resuming.

Could I be hearing correctly—had this exotical Being learned, in some Academy, the English tongue? Was he making himself understood by some fantastical Magick? But he waved my questions aside as if they were unimportant or all would be Explained.

He sighed and there didst appear in his eye a most wistful Twinkle. “What I remember of Thoth is not the grand halls, the courtyards.  My memory has no place for Thoth’s famed Statues or paintings, nor its Philosophies, nor its great and magical Scientists.”

At this, my Mind was filled with images of Thoth at its height… the glittering Chalices held high for rowdy Banquets, the grand Streets quick with lusty carriers of Industry; the Sculptures, Frescoes and splendorous Temples. The books which I had Discovered were surely mere Leaves blown from the greater Tree of this society’s store of Literature, Science, and Philosophy. My heart quickened as I reflected that they could be the key to a grand History of their Society, and a foundation for its Reconstruction.

“No…” the old man continued, cutting short my mental Wanderings.

“I remember Thoth’s alleyways and avenues. Its dusty restaurants. The perfume of a line of cherry blossoms in the spring.” Some Notion seemed to strike him. “The perfume of a lady…”

He appeared to sense that he had stepped too Far, and didst become again quiet and Reserved.

Anxious to hear more, I didst Beseech him further.

“Some things are best forgotten,” he said.

He had a habit of staring into the distance most Absently as he spoke, and he did so now. He did seem Conflicted, unsure of whether to expound upon this perfumed Lady that was so close to his Heart. He sipped from his cup and didst delay some several Moments. Then he shook his head, as if to put his doubts aside.

“No…” he said. “If I was going to tell the story of Thoth, I would start with the day—”

He strode to the window, seemingly Eager to bring forth the fullest dramatic Weight of his words. But then his eye did seem to catch some scene of dire Significance outside the window, and his eyes widened in Terror.

“The ship…” he said. “You brought it here?”

In his terror, he did become afflicted with a most violent fit of Coughing, and began to shake alarmingly. I joined him at the window and did perceive a great Calamity in motion.

By some unnatural Power, the waters of the sea had gathered around the vessel, and threatened to submerge it in their vile froth. A great Whirlpool formed underneath. The waves did seem to bear an unnatural Darkness in their foam, like the darkness that did suffuse the very wood of the vile Ship.

Surely the Books would be lost! I looked to the old man for help. Surely the king of Thoth, a man of Valor, would be able to assist—I could not salvage the ship and Library on my own. But beside me stood only an old and Downtrodden man, doubled over in fits of pain, in most Pressing need of assistance himself.

To be continued. Like this story?

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Stories

The Library of Thoth, Part 2

#books #booty #fantasy #fiction #magic #pirates #Thoth #zombies

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Read Part 1 here.

On the path away from the city, I came upon a most strange Situation: A resident of Thoth, slowly pulling a large Cart laden with many Books which he had salvaged from the Library. Checking once behind me, to make sure that neither of us were pursued, I followed him at a distance to see where his strange Errand might lead.

The lone soul ended his quest at a cove quite off from the main harbor, upon which was docked a small ship. He proceeded to lead his cart down the rickety Gangplank of the ship and began to unload the salvaged Books onto the Deck.

Feeling it safe to reveal myself, I stepped to the dock and called out a hearty “What, ho!”

The man looked up, not understanding my words but perceiving that I was not one of the wretched Marauders. I desired to beseech of him that I might join him on his voyage, and to demonstrate to him my skill as a seafarer; but before I could form any such gesture, there was a great whoosh and a crack and both of us turned to the horizon.

There, garbed in a cloak of fire and ash surely worse than the Devil’s itself, suspended in the sky, was the cursed Ship.

The Thothian and I, forgetting all barriers in Communication, prepared ourselves to fight. As the marauders were mostly upon the town, there were only some few soldiers left upon the ship. They descended fearsomely down the rigging to meet us on the Shore.

We fought with the combined valiance of our two Nations. I, with British courage, swung my sword and cleaved the skull of the first Savage.

The Thothian, with movements most Eloquent and Strange, like a dance around the Beach, most bewildered the two Invaders left. They loped around in a dizzy daze. He gripped one by the arm and launched him roundly in an Arc above the sea.

As he watched the first invader plunge into the sea, he turned his gaze to his Ship, as a worried Parent upon the Child it loves. His face  filled with Horror. Bolts of fire flew through the air, piercing the sails of the good Thothian’s ship. I turned my gaze to see a Band of horrid Archers firing arrows from the deck of their own ship.

Horror of horrors! But worse: I turned back to my distressed companion just in time to see the third Fiend on the shore, in fiendish burst of Clarity, thrust his sword into the back of my Companion.

He looked at me, and with eyes filled with pleading passion, seemed to entreat me to something. He gestured off the side of the ship towards his vessel, and I saw that its sails were now completely Burned. He indicated the books aboard the ruined vessel most passionately. Then I saw that his life was gone, and his eyes were as dark as those of our horrible Enemies.

The bravery of my fallen Companion somehow overtook me and allowed me to overcome my past Foolishness and Cowardice. I slew the final Monster on the shore. In a burst of passioned Strength, I threw his rotten Body up towards the Archers, and thus did knock two of them into the Sea. Then, remembering the Rope I had previously employed, I slung my sword up to the deck and did Defeat the final archer.

I saw in the flying vessel, despite its terrible Appearance, a much greater prospect for returning to Britain with the Cargo of precious Books. The fiery sails lit up my mind with an uncontrollable Ambition, and I foresaw the riches I would attain when I returned. I began to carry the books from the broken, landed ship to the damnéd skyward one.

From the deck of the Skyward ship, I descended a set of most Demonic and Rickety stairs and stacked the books below board in a kind of Galley. When I came up above board, I found more of those foul and wretched characters scaling the rigging, as if the ship had spawned them from the sea. I brandished my cutlass but it did not much ward them off. I looked above; the fiery sails were ever-billowing as if filled with some ghostly wind; and yet the ship stayed in its place.

I reached down and hooked one of the beastly creatures by a loop of his tattered tunic, and pulled him up onto the deck. I entreated him to tell me how to sail the ship. However, I saw no light of intelligence in his eyes, but only an anger surely brought from Hell; I was no more capable of communicating with him than with the Thothian. I threw him overboard and was quite satisfied with the Splash this produced below.

Possessed by a sudden Impulse, I strode to the fore of the vessel and gripped the Wheel. I found in the grain of its wood a strange Enchantment, and perceived that my mind, bound up with this Magick, could propel the ship to move upon its own accord. I made use of this power and brought the ship away from the Cove. Several Fiends still clinging to the rigging of the ship fell and streamed like ballasts into the dark waters below.

Sailing through the sky, quite away from the terrors of that night, my heart was quite filled with a Triumph that I confess did cloud my Judgment. When this Triumph passed, blown away on the cold wind, I bethought myself that no matter what the value of the portion of the Library I had saved, the burden of whatever curse clung to this wretched ship was surely heavier.

Filled with a great Shame at the thought of my ambition bringing this curse beyond the primitive city of Thoth and to my beloved Great Britain, I changed the ship’s course.

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