The smell of ancient tomes is heady for one dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, and traversing the halls of an ancient library even more so. Dusty shelves, the smell of musty books in the dry air, dark halls lined with books… these are like ambrosia to the initiated. But the pursuit of knowledge can be fraught with peril, for hidden among these lost tomes a presence waits patiently in the dark. While the prey gently caresses the spines of arcane volumes, his stalker seeks to lure him closer.
A book falls to the floor, the startled explorer moves towards it to investigate. As he beds to pick up the book, he notices that one of the bookcases is actually a door and stands slightly ajar. The lure of hidden rooms in such a vast and amazing library is beyond temptation, and he slowly pushes open the door. Inside lies a circular room with book lined walls, and in the center stands a podium holding a massive and ornate tome.
As he opens the book, the sound of rustling paper and smell of musty books grows stronger. As he looks up, a monstrous creature places cold, dry hands against his face… its desiccated face stares down at him, it’s eyes sewn shut yet still seeming to see, words carved across its face. It seems to be hanging from the ceiling behind him, something like a cross between a man and a spider. The surface of its body covered in words and symbols, a vast torso that looks like the skin from several people had been sewn together and carved up like its face.
Before the scream can leave his throat, something hard and sharp pierces the back of his skull, and all that he was is drained away in an instant. As his companions search the halls for him, the sound of rustling pages and the smell of musty books follows them, searching for seekers of knowledge, searching for more.
If it were not for the help of a scorned mistress, we would never have gotten so far. The surface of the oak door was covered in an intricate pattern of symbols and words, though nothing we recognized. As we traced the pattern the mistress described, the carvings began to glow with an inner light. Suddenly the door opened with a soft puff of air.
Before us stood an ghastly sight… leathery skin covered the frame of a being that might once have been human and carved, ever so intricately open its flesh were words. It did not move upon our entry. In fact it looked quite like a mummy unwrapped from its linens. It appeared that one hand seemed blackened as if some intrepid explorer got their torch too close. As Clayton stepped closer to examine the cramped writings, I surveyed the rest of the room. Here was a treasure beyond anything we could hope to imagine. Books thought lost to humanity, hidden here.
I was just reaching to stroke the spine on an exquisite copy of Liber Ivonis, when Clayton shrieked. I turned to see my partner’s hand, held fast within the dried and leathery grip of this human book. How it had moved, apparently so beyond life, is beyond my understanding… but as I stood in shock, I could see it’s mouth begin to form words. The dry cracked lips whispered in a language I didn’t know, and my partner stood fixed to his spot, bond to the strange creature before us.
As I drew my gun, a sultry voice spoke behind me, “We can have none of that my dear…”. Something hard can across the back of my head with such force that I fell flat. Something warm trickled down the back of my neck. As I lost consciousness, I was certain that I could see the words carved into it’s skin glow and swirl and dance between it and my partner.
I awoke with a start, lying by the ghastly figure, no longer speaking, no longer moving. Clayton was no where to be seen and the rare books that had lined the walls of this secret room were gone.