The staircase wound in a tight spiral, deep into the mountain upon which the Burning Library sat. Finally it terminated at a long, rough-hewn tunnel. The air was thick, but not as noxious as above, the ward seeming to have protected this section from the worst ravages of Kyros’ Edict of Flame.
As we rounded the last corner, we saw a large cavern lit by molten rock and fire, an enormous stone altar rising out of the unrelenting liquid. Bodies surrounded a large, floating scroll that seemed to pulse with a light all its own – the Silent Archive. The order’s most powerful Sages gave their lives to stop the Library’s collapse, to protect this single magical artifact.
Drawing weapons, we spun defensively at a sound behind us. The Censor ambled casually toward us, casually cleaning her nails. “While I assumed it would be you who would emerge as the victor in this game, I must say I’m quite disappointed you were able to dispatch all of my soldiers so readily. And without any serious injury to your team, no less. The fear of death is a great motivator, but causing death seems to motivate you a little more, hmm Fatebinder?”
I regarded her coldly. She used us to get to the Archive, much as I knew she would, but her callous disregard for those who followed her grated at me. I held no love for the Disfavored and their signature focus on discipline, but the Censor seemed to have no loyalty at all, a position I found to be much more dangerous. “You still have to retrieve the scroll for me, you know.”
We approached the ritual altar apprehensively, careful eyes out for any sign of the protective magics which held the chamber safe from the Edict waning. Letters seemed to drift in and out of existence upon its surface, in more languages than I had ever seen. There was a palpable aura of energy, of vitality, which surrounded the floating scroll.
Understanding struck me, unbidden knowledge seemingly forced into the forefront of my mind. The Silent Archive itself was the artifact which ground the protective spell, that kept the ruined structure from collapsing under the oppressive will of Kyros’ magic. If the scroll were to be taken, the spell would collapse and doom everyone still inside the library – namely the Censor and ourselves.
I asked Eb to stand forward. She obeyed, hesitatingly, trying to keep her distance from the immense power contained by the Silent Archive. “Give me your staff.” She began to complain, telling me of the long history, the wars fought and won with the power it contained, but I cut her off. “I know.”
Taking her staff, a powerful magical artifact in its own right, I could feel the threads of magic throb and pull in the air, as if caught in an impossibly large loom, able to be touched, if one knew what they were doing. I closed my eyes and twisted my fingers, carefully twisting the threads away from the Silent Archive, wrapping them around Eb’s staff. I don’t know how I could do this, I’d never had any magical training, but standing in that place, in the presence of the Archive, I knew what had to be done to both save the library and retrieve the tome.
As I opened my eyes I saw Eb’s staff floating where the scroll once stood, hovering in a position of prominence in the middle of the altar, pulsing lines of magic secured to, and by, its resonance. I looked down, and in my hands lay the Silent Archive – the whole of the Sage’s wisdom, condensed and compiled into a single magical volume.
Kyros’ Edict, cast years ago, demanded the removal of all “forbidden knowledge” from the Vellum Citadel, the structure that would, by the Edict’s own power, be reduced to the Burning Library we knew today. I had little doubt that, once I removed the scroll from the grounds, the Edict would finally resolve and these lands may begin to heal.
I met the question gaze of my companions and nodded, the deed done. It was time to leave this place.