Otherplaces – A’reanol, Library of (A to Z Challenge, A)

1 April, 2012

The Library of A’reanol

The City is Dead

Dusty Street

Rising among the dry ruins of the city of A’reanol is the vast complex, seemingly untouched, of the library. The city, once a vibrant port of call and center of trade, died in stages as the river that fed it and the ocean both receded and wasted away.  The nobles and scholars, magicians and priestesses all tried to bring the waters back but year by year, the city dried and people fled.  After a decade, even the deep wells stopped giving water.

The scholars and magi of the library refused to leave and refused to let the library be moved, sold or dispersed.  After a group of nobles attempted to force their way in and steal some of the most valuable of the works, the library barricaded and sealed itself off.  As the city faltered and water became scarce, the library faced raids, thieves and riots.  Every assault was turned back, though not every thief, and the library increased its defenses.   Wards and traps, magical and physical, surrounded the library by the time the city was abandoned.  Now, only the library survives intact among the ruins.

Books, books, booksThe buildings that compose the library are of myriad styles joined by covered walkways and once ornate gardens now overgrown with scrub plants.  Dust obscures the outlines of the buildings, the ornate decorations and the warnings for those uninvited to keep away.  The buildings of the library complex are kept in good repair, magics laid upon them turn aside the worse wear of age and weather.  What damage is done, is repaired by materials salvaged from the wreckage of the surrounding city, by team specially trained in the recovery of such.

The interior is lit by a variety of magical lights in a variety of colors, the interior has become so dry that no fire is allowed inside.  Wards against fire are scattered through out the library but they are of differing effectiveness, to a more limited extent, wards against vermin are placed throughout the complex, but the extremely dry climate has removed the threat from most sorts of vermin.

The librarians who remain are all no longer alive but most are active:

  • Many of the servants were mummified by lack of water.  They are wrapped in treated cloth and apply oils to maintain flexibility when such are available, but they rarely speak, communicating through slate boards and chalk.  They continues their tasks.  They do not fight unless forced but will raise the alarm, seal doors and activate traps against intruders.
  • The priestesses were blessed by the goddess and their spirits now inhabit the temple statues.  Most lack the will and focus to animate themselves for more than a few hours a day, spending the rest of the time asleep, but the five high priestesses are active almost all day, maintaining the temple, shrines and seeing that the collections are in good repair.
  • The scholar-magi built themselves animated servants, who would not need food or water, and some managed to transfer their essences into these animates with varying degrees of success.  The non-inhabited animates provide the bulk of the outer, active defenses and kept the buildings and collections cleaned.  The intelligent, inhabited animates have mostly become obsessed with some aspect of knowledge or research and spend all of their time pursuing such, occasionally to the determent of themselves or the library.
  • Other scholar-magi placed themselves, or at least their spirits, into books or other items, where they dream and think and ponder until awakened so that they can be asked questions.

The library welcomes those who seek knowledge, but such visitors must pay for the privilege.  The library accepts payment in knowledge and things they need (paper, wood, oils, ink, and other such).  But those who come to the library had best bring their own food and water, they will not find either provided for them.  Visitors should be away that magic that creates food or water is difficult in the library, but less so in the city.

Notes: First entry for the A to Z Challenge this year.  I will be doing Otherplaces, weird places that can be used when such is needed in a campaign, as my theme.

Photo of the dusty street by Ana Raquel S. Hernandez and the library by ben.gallagher and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic and Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licenses respectively.



  1. I like your theme, and I’m looking forward to looting, I mean, liberally sprinkling them about my own worlds…

  2. This is a fun idea for the A to Z Challenge. As a writer I love that you started with a library. 🙂

  3. What an excellent choice for a theme!

  4. Hi!

    Nice to meet you through the April A to Z. I’ll definitely be reading your challenge posts and other posts for inspiration for my gamebooks.


    Lloyd of Gamebooks – virtualfantasies.blogspot.com

  5. Nicely done, and you’ve inspired me to take up the A to Z Challenge as well. Kudos!

    • The more the merrier! Always glad to hear that it is inspirational!

  6. What a great little setting! I’m fascinated by the lost library of Alexandria, and as a former librarian any bastion of ancient knowledge is thumbs up by me. 😀 Very well put together. This is a nice little gem.

    • What writer does not love libraries? And lost or secret libraries are the most intriguing at all.

  7. This is very interesting. Great story!

    Kathy M.

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