Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Every One, A World (A Writer's Quest, Chapter 2)

     "Here we are." The storyteller brought me to a hill a couple miles from the settlement where I first met him. It was mid afternoon and I felt tired and sleepy from walking and the heat of the sun. I watched, yawning, as he set down his bag of books and papers and withdrew one volume from it.

     "Read that," he said, handing the dusty book to me.

     I looked from him to the book in my hand, and back. "But--"


     "When are we going to travel to the worlds in the sky?"

     "You'll learn everything soon enough," he said. He was surprisingly brusque. I wondered if he was getting tired of my company and trying to occupy me with something else. "In the meantime," he was saying, "read."

     I sat down against the tree, grumbling in discontent. I opened up the book. The look and feel of its dry, yellowed pages added to my tiredness. I began haltingly to read the first sentence. "Dyra had lost..." I started back awake after drifting off briefly. I read the next words. "Dyra had lost everything, and..." It was too much. I yawned and closed my eyes.

     I opened them to see the storyteller standing over me, his arms crossed and his lips downturned.

     "So how was the book?" he asked.

     I was silent, judging that it would be best if I didn't say anything.

     He sighed, and muttered something under his breath. To me he said, "Alright, I understand. You want excitement, adventure and wonder, right? Get up. There's something I need to show you. Close your eyes."

     I did as I was told, and felt him grasp my shoulder. I waited. Nothing happened. I continued to wait. Still nothing. I was getting impatient, but worried about the consequences of opening my eyes before he told me to. I kept them shut and waited.

     After what seemed like several hours, I heard him say, "Now you can open your eyes."

     I did. The world had suddenly changed. Rather than the sunny sky which hung over us earlier, the sky was now dark, and filled with hundreds of the stars. What was more odd was that it seemed to be wrapped around us, as though we were standing in a round room and the sky formed the walls. I looked down and saw that we stood on some rocky formation that didn't have any visible foundation.

     "Where is this place?" I asked, in quiet amazement. My breath formed vapor in the air as I spoke.

     "The Library. It houses every story, every book, every world that exists. Look," he took a few steps farther out. He stretched his hand out and took hold of a piece of the sky and brought it back. Upon looking closer, I realized that it was a book with night blue covers and a bright star on the spine.

     "You've heard me say that every star is also a world," he said. "Well, every star is also a book."

     "Every book is a world?" I reasoned.

     "Yes." he spoke with a kind of silent awe, the same kind that filled me as we both stood in this place. "You must understand that books are our link to these worlds. You cannot access them without first having an understanding of and respect for the written words. On the other hand, if you do have that understanding and respect--" He took the book in one hand and opened it. The book's shining golden pages held words stamped in ebony ink, which faded into illustrations painted in living, breathing color, that moved and shifted and changed. "This is what you find," the storyteller breathed.

     We stayed there, gazing fixedly into the book for a long time. But after an hour or more we had to leave. The storyteller closed the book and returned it to its invisible shelf along with the hundreds of others like it.

     We returned back to my land, though I still didn't know how. Upon arriving, the storyteller picked up the old book and addressed me. "Alright, now, boy--" He hesitated. "Say, what's your name, son?"

     Up till then I hadn't realized that we had never been formally introduced. "My name is Rakseld," I said, bowing respectfully. "Well met, sir."

     "Indeed," he replied, some of his former pleasantness returning. "You'll know me as Teacher or Sir for the time being. Now, Rakseld, I want you to read this book carefully and think about it. Pay close attention to the construction of the world in which the story takes place. Write down what you liked and what you didn't, what was good and what wasn't. Analyze the characters and the situations they encounter. Write all this down and give your report to me. And have it done--" He paused to think. "By this time in two days. Understand?"

     "Yes, sir,"

     He handed me the book and I took it. He sat down quietly with his notebook again. Before sitting, I turned to look out toward where the sky met the horizon. The night sun was beginning to rise, and stars had begun to appear in the darkening sky. I remembered the Library, the millions of stars that shone in the sky, and every one of them, a world.

     I sat down beneath the tree and began to explore.

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