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DescriptionFor centuries, brave and noble warrior-scholars have protected mankind from the most deadly fruits of its fertile imagination, binding dreams, lest they become very real nightmares.
Over the many years, time and technology have shifted that balance yet again, making creatures of lore and legend virtually unstoppable.
It is up to those very warrior-scholars to keep the creatures at bay, and if they should find their way out, to return them from whence they came before all is lost.
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Excerpt:Something exploded, sending echoes of shattering metal, glass, and crystal down the hallways. It caught Master Nir completely off guard, which was surprising in itself.
Immediately he thought of his apprentice. "Raf?" Something had gotten loose, the roar he could hear even over the crashing din told him that and more.
He should have felt it. They make charms that can do it, charms that should now be active and were not. Nothing should have been able to unleaf itself without his knowledge or his instant and armed intervention. An unfelt unleafing was a disaster. Dagger out in case the menace was small enough to fit in the corridor, he stepped over to his 'armory' just across the hall.
His sword and crossbow hung where he kept them, hidden, oiled as necessary, sharpened as desired–and he desired them very sharp. Armor was more of a problem, but the old trick of disguising it as standard merchant's gear had been easily adapted to modern times. Hidden in plain sight, as it were. A man of purloined letters, indeed.
Stop it. This line of thought was unproductive. He'd chastised his many apprentices for the same fault and would not tolerate it in himself. Even less so, for they only had their few years of training to call upon, while he had ever so many more of real world, hands-on experience with just about every fanged, clawed, or winged horror mankind could imagine. His had been a name to conjure with, in his youth, and by the Unknown Gods it still was. He took pride in the fact that so many of his apprentices had lived long enough to become masters in their own right.
Not Raf, he feared. The crash, followed by the roar, sounded pretty distinctive. If he hadn't felt the unleafing, surely it had caught the much younger man by surprise as well. Unfortunate, if true; he was such a promising student.
The sword went on his hip, the crossbow to his hand, back-and-breast on…well, back and breast. At the last moment, he selected his shield and put it across his back, not that he expected to need it. If the beast got close enough to engage hand-to-hand, he was almost certainly dead. At least, for a little while.
He'd had enough of this King Commando crap to last seven lifetimes. Seeing as how he was only on his second, that was saying something. A little downtime between incarnations would have been nice, but a little downtime was exactly what could not be allowed to happen. That's what the charms were for, a tool of last resort, to kill anything that might kill him. No one said being a librarian was easy.
Go, go, go. Crouched over, crossbow at the ready. Out the door, down the hall, into the stacks. Tall stacks, heavy stacks, filled with nice thick reference volumes. Pretty safe from all except the small or the Lovecraftian, good for recon. The lower level beckoned enticingly on the far side of an unfortunately open space, but the lower level was located under the upper level, and getting to it would make him a sitting duck for what he knew was waiting for him.
The Librarian looked right. The Biography row was empty, as always, and afforded him a clear view of the entire length–well, almost the entire length–of the upper gallery. What genius had decided to put all the fiction up there? Oh, that's right, he had. They wouldn't let him use the new wing–it had instead become the children's room, specially reinforced–and the upper gallery at least had the glassed-in wall, as much of a cul-de-sac as he was likely to get. Couldn't see anything up there now, though. Glass didn't appear to be shattered, either.
Could he have been wrong? Granted, the crashing had been a bit peculiar, but the roar was pure griffin. Nothing sounded like a cat's roar coming out of an eagle's mouth except the thing itself. Griffins meant wings and wings meant a high perch. The upper gallery, the highest perch in the building, was notably lacking griffins anywhere he could see. Which didn't include the staircase on the other side of the elevator.
Nothing for it but to chance Biographies. The stack was only half-size, but with the shield on his back he should be able to withstand any sudden swooping attacks from above. From the far end he would be able to see past the elevator, the only place where the beast could be hiding now.
He drew up short at the end of the row, close to the right hand wall side. The row opened onto another large space, with the circulation desk on one side and the main lobby on the other. On the far side of that was a little mini-display for the art-project of the month. He scanned the reflections in the glass cases to make sure the area behind the circulation desk wasn't being used by some nightmare creature waiting for him to stick his head out. The beast didn't have to be upstairs, after all. Seeing nothing, he chanced a break across the lobby to the walls of the elevator.
Ex LibrisBy: Marc Vun Kannon