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In a time long past, a bolt of thunder cracks overhead. Panting, a woman sprints down an alley, carrying something swaddled in blankets, her feet pattering against the wet cobblestones.

As she rounds the corner, something horrid surges behind her. It is something that cannot be easily described in words, something resembling an amorphous mass of ink and tentacles, swarming with mouths and eyeballs. Each of its infinitely many eyes are focused on her, and she is aware of this fact.

As she runs down the winding side roads of The Library, the beast chasing diligently behind her, she finds herself idly wondering,

How did I end up here?

It was morning. The sound of the bells tolled throughout the Muses' neighborhood, slowly stirring everyone to rise. In the comfort of her own home, a woman with curly pink hair sleeps soundly, unaware of the toils of the life ahead of her. She almost expected the familiar cry of "Lorelei! Time to wake up!" that bellowed out from her mother, but she remembered with a grumble that she now lived alone.

It had been six months since her eighteenth birthday, and not much longer after that she had signed up for work under The Head Supervisor. Working for the Council directly was considered one of the most profitable lines of work in The Library, and though she cared not for money, she did care about living comfortably.

Additionally, the profession she had chosen was the most well-respected of the five available. Muses were responsible for writing all of the fiction in The Library, giving birth to the many Figments that enriched their world. Utilizing the primeval magical source that flowed all throughout The Library — the Ebnestra, as it were — and attuning it to gemstones of great significance, the Muses made the unreal, real.

The Interpreters interpreted the work, but were not expected to understand it quite as the original writers had. Their job was rooted mainly in the rehabilitation of Figments whose creators had died. They could also act as therapists and counselors for Figments and creators alike, who found themselves dissatisfied with life for whatever reasons they could find.

The Curators were responsible for the care of senile Figments. Those that could not reconcile their lives after the death of their creator became condemned to an eternal life of grievance, hysteria, and paranoia. These shelters for Figments were much comparable to the elderly homes that were run by the common folk of The Library.

The Designers worked to design new wings of The Library, as everyday it seemed that new people needed new rooms and homes. Additionally, they worked on public works projects, that enriched the lives of the Librarians and assisted them in achieving maximum efficiency. The Miners of course, mined the many resources The Library depend on for survival, most important of which were the gemstones through which Ebnestra could be attuned.

The Bookbinders and The Inkers had some of the most simple, but the most important jobs of The Library. They gathered ink from many sources — it was found that the type of ink one wrote with would change the quality and performance of any resultant Figments, and many creators had their own preferences — and bound the books that told the tales of the most important Figments. Manual labor was nearly unheard of in The Library, and as thus many of these books constituted the public works projects and enrichment centers that the Designers created.

But all of those jobs had sounded rather boring to Lorelei. She wanted to be a creator herself, a Muse that worked to create new people, new innovations, new ideas, new anything that The Library requested of them. It felt exhilarating to write fiction, and Lorelei had accidentally written a few Figments of her own in her early childhood, prompting attention from her parents and The Head Supervisor. She showed a strong propensity for the natural talent of a Muse, and she was ever grateful for it, since that meant she would not be stuck with a boring job.

And so it was that Lorelei found herself today, beginning her first week of training as a Muse.

"Good morning, class."

"Good morning, Mr. Salvatrix." came the familiar chorus.

"Did you all rest well? It sounds like I'm in a room full of zombies." he jested.

There was no response from the class. Typical of young adults.

"Regardless, today we will beginning our first lessons in the fine art of Figmentation. Now, I'm sure many of you have already dabbled slightly in the art yourself, for it's common among Muses to show a propensity for writing Figments at a young age. The theory behind this is not well understood, but it is a known fact that at least half of this very class is here because of natural talent."

He paused, looking out among the deathly faces of his students. It was always like this at the beginning of the year, but he found that soon enough the studying Muses would become more lively.

"The theory of Figmentation is as follows…"

The noise of her teacher's voice quickly droned out as Lorelei observed the classroom and the people in it. Her teacher — The Head Supervisor himself, was a man named Sinclair Salvatrix. He was not much older than the other students, and it made one wonder how he ended up in such a high position. In fact, some of her fellow students around her seemed to be older than the teacher.

He had jet-black hair, slicked back, and a bit of a scruffy goatee and mustache. His eyes were tired, and looked as though they needed to be bespectacled, but were notably lacking glasses. He stood with a slouch, but constantly corrected his back posture and attempted to look tall and dignified. And that he succeeded in, because he was indeed very tall.

He had the look about him that child prodigies often did, and it struck Lorelei that perhaps he had been one, and that that was the reason he became The Head Supervisor.

Around her, she saw many classmates who were mostly unremarkable. The most interesting point about any of them, she concluded, was that they all looked dead tired and as though they didn't want to be there, while she herself was lively and energetic.

Her energetic aura and her observation of the room seemed to catch Mr. Salvatrix's attention, for the next thing she noticed was that he had asked her a question. She was not sure what he had just said, though, and after a moment of consternation was forced to concede that she had not been paying attention.

"Sorry, what?" she asked.

"I said, Ms. Lorelei, can you tell me what the best gemstone for attuning high amounts of Ebnestra is?"

She blinked at him as though as he had asked her whether the sky was blue, but answered quickly.

"Citrine, of course. You don't even need to locate a leyline to use the Ebnestra if you have citrine."

Mr. Salvatrix's eyes widened and he looked at her, seemingly taken aback.

"Well done, Ms. Lorelei. I'm genuinely impressed. Why don't we try a few more questions, then?"

"Hit me," said Lorelei.

"I like your spirit. Next up: what is the most holy gem known to The Library?"


"Which gem can be used by other authors as a battery for producing Figments?"

Lorelei wracked her brains for a second, before landing upon the answer.

"Ah, Ebnestrite. One of the artificial gemstones, it's made by storing Ebnestra directly from a leyline."

"Very impressive. I'll leave you be for now, Lorelei. I can see that you know your stuff. Now, back to Figmentation theory… can anyone tell me what the main difference between the soul of a Librarian and a Figment is?"

Lorelei happily tuned out again, and absorbed the remainder of the lesson through osmosis.

It was night time now, and Lorelei returned to her quarters after a hearty day of lecturing. Mr. Salvatrix had given the general overview of Figmentation theory, and then afterwards she had gone to other classrooms, where more teachers had focused on small bits of the theory and expanded upon it.

Her teachers had all approached her with differing attitudes, and Mr. Salvatrix was the only one whose attitude she had really appreciated. Which she thought was good, because he was to be her boss. If one didn't get along with their boss, or at least their coworkers, then they couldn't really appreciate their work.

On her first day, Lorelei had made a friend. Her name was Magnolia, and her hair was a bright and lovely blonde. The first thing Lorelei noticed about others was their hair. The second thing Lorelei noticed about others was their attitude towards her, and Magnolia had seemed immediately interested in Lorelei.

It turned out that the two of them shared many of the same classes, and Magnolia was impressed with Lorelei's ability to space out and then turn around and answer the teacher's questions perfectly. A common tactic in schooling, it was meant to take a student aback and shame them for having not been paying attention, but it fell flat on Lorelei's seemingly all-hearing ears.

Magnolia had begun to talk to her, and through a series of events had arranged to come over to her quarters for the night for a bit of studying.

"Well, here's my place." said Lorelei, as she ushered her friend into her door. Magnolia nodded, and walked quickly in.

It was something that Lorelei found endearing about her — she was rather quiet, and always moved at the quickest pace she could afford, as if the world would end if she waited for more than a second longer than she needed to get to her destination. She ducked and weaved throughout others, and could vanish completely in a crowd.

Lorelei shut the door behind her, and sat next to Magnolia at her desk. Her friend was already beginning to pull notebooks and papers out of her bag and splayed them out across the desk in front of her.

"C-could you help me with my notes?" asked Magnolia. "I had a bit of tr-trouble keeping up in my classes, and I didn't want to ask for the teacher to slow down."

"Oh, sure. I don't really write notes, but I can help you with anything you need to know." said Lorelei.

Magnolia giggled to herself. "F-first day, and I'm already behind. Thank you for helping me, though."

"It's not a big deal. Now, where do you want to start?"

"O-oh, I think… somewhere around here? I didn't q-quite catch what Mr. Salvatrix said about the souls and stuff."

Lorelei smiled. "Oh, that's easy."

And Lorelei set about helping Magnolia study for the rest of the night, until it was time to turn in and rest up for the next day.

Class continued in a similar fashion for a while after that. It was a cycle of waking up, half-listening but absorbing everything in lectures, going home and helping Magnolia catch up, and then taking some time to herself before going to bed. She earned high marks in all of her classes, and a number of commendations from her teachers, even the ones who seemed not to like her.

On the weekends, Magnolia would often come over regardless, and the two of them would go out and hang. There were many recreational centers nearby the Muses' neighborhood, treated as a necessity to stimulate the work of the artists within. Some of Lorelei's happiest moments were had spending time with Magnolia, watching movies, reading books, and playing games alike.

Magnolia didn't have many friends of her own, and neither did Lorelei. The two of them stuck to one another like glue, and got along better than two peas in a pod.

Everything seemed like it was going well.

Like many things — love, the crack of dawn — it started slowly, and then happened all at once. No one had recognized the signs.

Mr. Salvatrix had been absent frequently, and he officially stated the week before that he had been very wrapped up in Council business. There was an important vote being passed — the vote that would ban Figments. A hush had fallen over the class. What would become of the Muses? Their whole life had been dedicated towards writing Figments, and now it seemed that they would be banned?

Mr. Salvatrix had only shook his head solemnly and said that he didn't know. It could be assumed that he had been strongly voting "nay," but nevertheless the vote pressed on.

There had been a recent uptick in criminal activity, the sighting of twisted Figments, escaped from the Curators' elderly homes and the Inspectors' offices, or appearing from seemingly nowhere at all. Classmates were staying home sick more often than not. But no one thought much of it. If anything, there was only a sudden shift in attitude.

A general unrest fell over The Library, and nobody knew what was happening until it was too late to stop it.

And so it was that on the morning of her second month training to be a Muse, Lorelei had awoken to an unfamiliar rapping on her door. Confused, she stumbled awake and answered the door, and was surprised to find Mr. Salvatrix himself.

He hung his head low and steeled himself, and Lorelei knew then and there that she was about to receive some grave news.

"Ms. Lorelei. I trust you've been sleeping well?"


The two of them stood in awkward silence. Soon, Lorelei broke it with the obvious question.

"What's the bad news?" she asked.

Mr. Salvatrix sighed. "You know that your friend Magnolia has been home sick for the past week, correct?"

She blinked, and already felt the tears welling. "Y-yes?"

"It seems that the sickness was nothing more than a cover-up. Ms. Lorelei, I'm very sorry to inform you that your friend is dead."

Dead? she thought, incredulous. How could such a thing ever happen?

"H-how… why… why did you feel the need to tell me?!" she cried, the tears dripping out freely.

"It was her last request before she left. Her parents' neighborhood has been under threat of twisted Figments for weeks now, and she returned home to protect her family. Before she went, she told me that if she died, she wanted you to remember her. I'm sorry." said Mr. Salvatrix, his voice akin to a gravestone.

"It isn't your fault," said Lorelei. "It's not any of our fault."

She wiped her eyes, and looked off to the side. She'd only known Magnolia for a month, but already she had become one of her closest friends. And already she had lost her, to the onslaught of twisted Figments in the beginning of what would become known as the Imagination Wars.

The rest of the semester went poorly, up until it was cut short. Lorelei was too depressed and distracted to pay attention at all in class, which was not much different than how she had acted previously, but now she couldn't even tune back in to find she had somehow absorbed everything that was said. There was simply too much on her mind.

She wondered idly, time and time again, whether her parents were safe. The Imagination Wars raged onward. The vote had been passed long ago, before Magnolia's death, but still the Muses were taught. What for? she wondered. We're useless now.

She wondered whether it would be a good idea to leave and go back home, as Magnolia had done. She couldn't decide whether she was genuinely interested in protecting her family, or whether she had simply wanted to die. In any case, anxiety won out in the end, and so she stayed, learning for as long as she could.

After all, wars don't last forever. Perhaps there would be a time in the future when this knowledge would be useful to her again.

Teachers and students alike began to leave, and were never heard from again. It was undecided whether they died, or if they were still busy protecting the outside world. Lorelei wasn't sure whether she wanted to know. The Muses' neighborhood was generally protected by high concentrations of Ebnestra and public works administered by the Designers.

It had been the Council's jurisdiction that the Muses were the most important job in The Library, and thus deserved to be the most protected. It hadn't occurred to anyone that these protections might fail, from old age or sabotage, or because the Muses had been rendered obsolete.

The motivations behind the ban on Figments were unclear, but from what little Lorelei understood, it had started from something small and snowballed into a world-threatening catastrophe. It was a known fact that creating a Figment brought a new being into reality, one that would exist alongside their creator.

But The Library was a finite place, and the imagination of the Librarians was limitless. New Figments were born everyday, and it was quickly becoming clear that there was not enough space on The Library for both Librarians and Figments to coexist. People feared that there would one day come a critical mass that would push people en masse off of the edge of The Library and into the infinite blue sky.

So the vote had been passed. The creation of Figments was no longer allowed, until the day came that a solution to overpopulation was found. The job of Muse was now obsolete. The Library would be at a standstill until the problem was solved.

Lorelei forced herself to go on.

On a night like any other, Lorelei found herself on her walk to her quarters, after a long day of pretending to listen to her teachers' lectures. It was raining tonight, and thunder cracked occasionally overhead. It was dark and dreary, and it was deathly quiet outside.

That wasn't so strange, though. It had been quiet around here since the start of the Imagination Wars. What was strange was that on her way back, Lorelei heard the sound of a baby crying.

It wasn't uncommon for Muses-in-training to be parents. After all, they were legal adults, and young adults were often irresponsible. The Muses' college was also open to people of all ages, many of which were older than their teachers and The Head Supervisor himself.

What was uncommon was that this baby was outside, and that it seemed to have been crying for a while without anyone coming to comfort it. What a hideous thought it was, to think that a baby had been left outside in the rain, and had been crying until its voice was hoarse. Lorelei stopped and listened for a few minutes, hoping that she would hear someone else come to comfort their child in time.

But nobody came. Suddenly, Lorelei found her feet moving on their own towards the source of the cry. This child was in danger, being left out in the cold and rain, and especially more for the fact that it was incessantly screaming. She had noticed the defenses of the Muses' neighborhood wearing thin over time as the Imagination Wars raged on. The sound of a baby crying was bound to attract one of those horrid things.

She rounded the corner, and found a house with a number of holes punched through it. The baby was sitting in its crib, crying amidst the rubble of its destroyed home, and its parents were nowhere in sight. Lorelei stumbled inside, and over to the crib, where she picked up the kid and tried to comfort it.

She found herself staring into the eyes of a beautiful baby girl. She could not be older than a year, and her hair was a light purple. She cried unabashedly in Lorelei's face, seemingly unaware that she was being carried or rocked at all. Lorelei held a finger to the baby's lips and made quiet shh'ing sounds, until the baby took notice of her and calmed down, staring at her bewildered.

"It's okay, little one. It's okay. You'll be safe." she said.

As she cooed and comforted the child, something roiled in the background. It churned and bubbled, and crept its way towards Lorelei and the baby. She hardly noticed until she felt something cold, sticky, and jet black land on her shoulder.

Shuddering, Lorelei turned her head upward to accost the beast above her. It was a mass of ink, unfurling itself into tentacles and human limbs, speckled with eyeballs and mouths. The baby began to cry, and before Lorelei had time to think, the beast surged downwards, and she found herself running.

It was now long after Lorelei's first run-in with a twisted Figment. Luckily, she had managed to survive that encounter, and had saved the baby as well. Though things were looking lower than they ever had before, Lorelei was glad to say she had not forfeit her life.

The job of Muse was now completely obsolete, and Lorelei had moved back home. She sheltered with her family, raising the child she had found in the rubble at the Muses' college, with the help of her mother.

They never found her parents, and Lorelei would learn later that the most likely reason for why was that they had been absorbed by and removed from Existence by whatever that thing that had chased her was. It was the way twisted Figments killed. It left behind no blood or gore that needed cleaning, nothing that would leave hideous sights that would scar all those minds that looked at them, but it also left behind no trace of the people that had been killed. Nothing to remember them by.

They didn't know what to call the girl. Names in the Library were sacred things, something that could only be changed with the permission of their parents or legal guardians, or at the permission of a holy man. But it felt dehumanizing to call her simply "Girl." Lorelei had briefly considered the idea of naming her after her deceased friend, but she knew that she would only sadden herself.

After the ban on the Figments, Lorelei had taken to writing down events that happened in her daily life. She found it childish to call it "keeping a diary," and so opted to think up a more fancy name for it herself. She called the act "Chronicling," and it was a good use of the energy that she had once intended to devote to being a Muse.

At a young age, the child she had adopted had gotten interested in what Lorelei was always writing in her journals. After reading the journals aloud to her, the girls' eyes had lit up. For the years following, she copied Lorelei and tried to write down the events of her day as well, though she could not read or write very well and most of it came out illegible.

Lorelei found this quality endearing, and had taken to calling her child a number of affectionate nicknames.

When the day had come that Lorelei's proposal to the Council of Librarians for the creation of a new job was accepted —one that would allow frustrated former creators and Muses to vent their writing in a manner that would not affect reality and would record the history of The Library where no one had done so before — her "little Chronicler" became The Chronicler.

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