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September 2022 Newsletter

The Labyrinthine Library

A man standing in a mysterious library, digital art style, illustration painting

I’m Ivarlis the Librarian. Perhaps we’ve met before. I hope your visit to the Reading Room is going well. Sorry, I can’t stay and chat about new releases. I’m in a spot of bother at the moment.

There’s a dragon in the Smoking Room.

My dream is to return the Labyrinthine Library from a feral place that occasionally devours readers and rooms, to something civilised. And what could be finer than a Smoking Room, where you visitors in your dinner jackets and fine gowns may puff away on your cigars, cigarettes and pipes of choice?

Vintage 1900 fashion man with beard. Smoking tobacco pipe. Standing in old wooden room. Wearing a black dickens hat.

Only after having entered the Smoking Room to clean it, I’ve been distracted. Right over there is a giant, red-scaled beast filling this interdimensional space only the way a magical creature can. And it’s coiled up on a pile of books, scrolls and illuminated manuscripts. Aside from this purloined ‘hoard’ of literature, the room is full of trash. Old television sets, a gramophone and a newish coffee machine.

The dragon cracks a yellow eye open. A puff of smoke trickles from one nostril.

If it breathes fire in here, all of those books are in danger.

Being the Librarian, I have access to certain powers. And what I need is a dragon slayer: a knight to rid me of the dread beast so I can return the books to the shelves. I reach for pen and ink, and fill out a card to call forth for my champion.

There’s a thump. A new figure appears next to me, holding a phonographic record. It’s a young, blonde woman in a red leather jacket, with dark sunglasses covering her eyes. She’s half-elven, like myself (although human on her other side rather than ogre). The smell of ice and darkness drifts off her–a sign that she’s empowered by Tenebra, the dour Underworld. She’s a revenant: those who return from the grave to fulfil their unfinished business.

The last revenant I met stole a book; I hope this young woman is more refined. She looks around, curiously, holding the record to her chest. My problem is she doesn’t look like a dragon slayer, although one must never judge by appearances in the Indigo World.

“Sorry!” I raise my hands to show I mean no harm. “I’m the librarian here. I summoned you. Are you a dragon slayer, by chance?”

“No.” She studies me, then the beast and the room. Luckily, she’s taking this all in her stride. “A musician. I was at the record store, and now I’m here.”

A musician? Is that what I need? The dragon watches me, like a cat studying a mouse. The tip of its tail twitches.

“Ah, do you know songs that would make a dragon sleep?” (I’m rather dubious at this; her voice is a little husky for someone I need to have the tones of a nightingale.)

“Lots of 70s and 80s rock. If you think music will work, I’ll need a guitar, or—” She looks down at what she’s holding. “A record player.”

“Quickly! There’s a modern gramophone over there!” I say. “I’m sure the LIbrary summoned you for a reason.”

As we talk, the dragon rumbles a warning. The room shakes.

Hurrying, the young woman places the record on the turntable. A terrible blare of wailing guitar, synthesiser, and modern drums emerge from the speaker.

“No!” I reach to stop the cacophony.

“Wait!” the revenant says. “I think he likes Outside Sky.”

Sure enough, the dragon is tapping one claw in time to the horrendous beat. Definitely distracted.

“I have to rescue those books.” I reach forward to rescue the tomes the dragon is sitting on, but the beast rumbles and puffs smoke again. A lick of fire kisses the air.

“How about we leave?” the revenant whispers.

“This isn’t over,” I tell the dragon as we escape to the Foxglove Reading Room.

The young woman introduces herself. “I’m Lukie.”

We shake hands. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“How do I get out of here?” Lukie asked. “I was going through the old records at Final Vinyl, and there were a few boxes to go through before closing time.”

I clear my throat. “I’m afraid the Library is temperamental. It enjoys collecting stories from people. I’m sure if you tell it something interesting, it will grant you membership, and you can leave.”

Lukie leans back in her chair. “A story, hey? How about this one? It’s about death, love, murder, high school and revenge. I’m sure the Library will dig it.”

“That looks exciting. I hope the ethereal spirits enjoy it.”

Sure enough, after Lukie finishes her tale, the Library grants her membership. She puts the card in a pocket. “I’ll be seeing you, Ivarlis. You owe me a record.”

Final Night now available in hard, ethereal and phonographic, er, audio versions! Review it on your favourite store, Goodreads or Storygraph if you enjoy it (or in your electrical journal of interest).

Review copies available upon request.  Just don’t disturb the dragon..

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