The Black Library

The books rustle to each other in the dark. It's usually dark here in the Black Library, so they talk to each other often, exchanging gossip about the infrequent patrons who find their way through the cracks to run their hands in reverence over the spines (‘ticklish,’ complain the older books, the ones with cracking leather and loosening glue who will soon be soothed by the Wandering Preserver), sleepily talking about the wondrous new tidbits learned and preserved in their pages, or listening to stories, both old favorites and new tastes, from the fiction aisle.

There aren't many books of fiction here in the Black Library. The Acquisitor has been seen wandering the halls on occasion muttering angrily about the pace of publication and “They can't very well keep up with all these new mediums without more help now can they?!” The newest books tend to withdraw in themselves the first time they see this performance, quietly guilty at how much energy it must have taken to be found and brought home. Could they have spoken better, sent out their calls for attention, for notice, better, somehow? The oldest books, the ones rebound and rebound around letters of languages long dead, creakily whisper, in tongues accented by five, six, ten languages learned successively, that they had heard the same complaints when they first arrived. Everyone is pleased anyway when three new figures trail after the Acquisitor the next time they walk by.

The Referrer sees more patrons than any individual book ever sees, although this is not difficult, many a book sitting on a shelf is comforted only by their fellows’ description of these mythical beings. They don't get many patrons here in the Black Library, but the Referrer greets each one with glee for the challenge they will pose, the satisfaction evident in everyone's mien when they, the Referrer and the Patron, emerge from the Library's depths, quest complete.

The new books have vague memories of … something before their arrival. It's a warm feeling, calming even, of something communing with them, not like their whisperings in the gloom with the other books, different somehow. The memories fade in time, although books never seen by patrons tend to eagerly listen to these new stories, trying to hold onto their memories of the same. The ones lucky enough to sojourn out again closer to their arrival describe it as like, and yet not, being with a patron. A more purposeful mind somehow, yet not delving as deeply into their knowledge as a patron, copying something of themselves and sending it off. The reference collection, sitting as close as they do to the referrer, have found, touched even, those copies and have a name for the vague and unseen hands — the Metaknowledge.

Rarely, very rarely, the ground picks up a fine tremble, one that builds and builds, crawling up the shelves until all the books are awake, shivering in themselves until The Librarian stalks past, anger leaking from them in sharp, angry crackles, and disappears in the infinite gloom. The oldest books comfort the newer ones while the rest wait with still breath for The Librarian to come walking slowly back their way, gently cradling one of their numbers everyone suddenly realizes they haven't heard from in much too long. The Librarian will find the Wandering Preserver, their numbers will shortly be restored by one, and somewhere out there someone will have learned that The Librarian looks after their own.

And the books rustle to each other in the dark.