Hello, Bibliothecaries and Secret-Keepers!
Do you think we’ll find what we’re looking for here? It’s just…there are so many books. We’ll never get through them all! Well, I guess we’d better start now, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Library of Secrets
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Secrets can be strange, dangerous, and wonderful, both in magical worlds and our own. …So can libraries. Putting the two together will often land you somewhere awe-inspiring.
There are all sorts of secrets books could hold. They could house what a villain is trying to hide, which our heroes must rush against the clock to uncover. The library could hide strange truths about an entire town, secrets that have been buried for years, which everyone has forgotten. It could be a family secret; your character could frantically look through genealogy books, trying to learn who they really are.
Maybe it’s only one section of the library that holds the secrets—and everyone knows it does. The Restricted Section in Harry Potter is a good example of this. In that case, everyone knows the secrets hide there, but getting those books is the exciting part.
The type of library could be interesting to explore too. Is it in an ancient ruin, holding secrets of kingdoms and cultures long forgotten? Is it the dark, shadowed—even perilous—library of a villain’s lair? Is it the grandiose library of a castle? Or is it modern and new, its secrets far harder to find, but no less nefarious?
Secrets don’t always have to be bad. Perhaps your character learns their teacher was once a wrestling champ. Or that their father was the lead in the high school play years ago, and is embarrassed to admit it. Maybe there are notes scrawled in the margins that help your character get through class, or otherwise make them laugh. Perhaps your character could put a secret letter inside a book for their beloved to find.
The secrets don’t have to be the words on the page either. Keys and things are often found hiding in hollowed out books. Blacklights, or the moon, will often reveal secrets on the walls and pages invisible to the daylight. Sometimes books themselves can house spells and monsters that come out to play when the book is opened.
But the secrets don’t even have to be within the books. We all know those bookshelves with secret passageways, or rooms, or even portals, behind them. The secrets could be stuck to the bottom of coffee tables, scrawled on the arms of chairs, and rotting in cobwebbed corners. Maybe the library cat hides how much it loves children. Someone might tell the librarian the secrets they can’t risk writing down. Or maybe the librarian is not entirely human. Perhaps the library itself was built to hide something buried beneath it. You could write about how the library is not really a library at all. The library could be alive—its very sentience the secret to protect.
The library doesn’t have to be an ordinary library with books and shelves. It could be a music library—maybe someone hides their secret feelings in the songs they keep, rather than books. In sci-fi or otherwise futuristic stories, a library could be a digital database, or even an artificial intelligence. A tribes’ storyteller could be a collection of stories and secrets. Even the most ordinary of people could be a collection of secrets.
Libraries are beautiful, mysterious places, that seem to be born of, and brimming with magic, even in our own world. All the magic in our world is contained within the shelves, and pages of books. And sometimes that magic…is one little secret.
Just because it’s silent doesn’t mean it’s safe. After all…these are our forests.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
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What to Submit
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
“But, Auntie,” Nyssa reasoned, “we’re on our way. Why can’t you tell me?” She hoped she sounded mature and thoughtful instead of anxious and impatient.
“Because, Dear, that is our way. However, I can share a story to pass the time.”
Nyssa nodded. She had discovered that her aunt’s stories always held seeds of truth at their cores. She walked closer, so the fog couldn’t swallow the words before she caught them.
“Long ago,” Auntie began, “when people were young and not so different from otters using rocks as tools, a woman named Lucy noticed things about her world. She learned. She remembered.
“At first, people valued her knowledge. They asked for help in times of need and honored her wisdom.
“But others saw her as a threat to their ways and power. They declaimed Truth as Lies and Skills as Magic and sowed distrust like thistles. Lucy had to hide her knowledge. She tucked remedies between loaves of bread and wrapped lessons in allegory.
“Even so, she knew not to hoard her knowledge. Treasure can grow only when it is shared and nurtured by willing hands. So, every equinox, she made a pilgrimage to a small cave…”
Nyssa gasped, “Tonight is the equinox!”
Auntie nodded, “Indeed. At first, Lucy took shared her knowledge with her daughters. Later, her nieces, then her granddaughters. Eventually quiet strangers who valued learning found her cave.”
Nyssa followed her aunt into a narrow gorge. “Eventually, people invented writing, so Lucy’s descendants recorded what they had inherited. They enlarged their cave to preserve and share more than one woman’s mind can hold.”
Auntie stopped beside a wall of solid rock which she tapped three times. Nyssa heard stone rub against stone as the wall opened, revealing a winding tunnel. Auntie snapped her fingers, and a flame appeared in her palm. They followed the tunnel into an enormous, bright cavern. Nyssa saw shelves of books and inviting furniture. Dozens of women bustled about, writing, reading, or instructing others. Nyssa felt the joy of arriving home and stepped forward to inherit the knowledge of her ancestors.
Why VPNs are a thing
By Jesse Fisher
I could not believe what this strange machine was talking about.
“I will repeat, this is where all the secrets are kept.”
The shelves seemed to add up to that but that still raised more questions. How I got here was buried by the others that came as my eyes just kept looking for an end of the shelves. I saw more machines like the one near me. The only thing I could equate these to was a robot, but not one of those humanoid ones you would see on the street. No these looked industrial and far more function over form. A display screen was what mainly interacted with me, the irony of a moving image working in a library was not lost on me later on.
“If you are done looking like a sixteen year old seeing their first boy band, I do have work to get done and I have to add getting you out of here to the list.”
“Why does this place even exist?” I just came out and said it, partly because when I was sixteen we had wars over boy bands.
“Once people could share anything at any time, secrets were easier to get so someone started this facility to house them all.”
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“Given how people just say yes to stuff you would not be surprised how people care very little. Also the drunk posting/people just posting in the moment makes things easier to just have without the hassle.”
I could not come up with a reply, however I was now going to reread all the things I’ve said yes to on my phone.
The Book Fort
Akane entered the apartment, took off her shoes, and was greeted by a curious structure in the family room. Every book in the house had been stacked into three adjacent walls, and a blanket was draped over them to form the fourth. As she walked forward, she could see her daughter’s tiny feet sticking out from behind the blanket, clad in yellow socks
“We need to have a talk with Nabiki.”
Akane looked over at her husband Rikuto, who was drinking a cup of tea and looking at the stacks of books.
“I see,” Akane said, slightly amused. “And is Nabiki inside of here?
The feet pulled back under the blanket.
Akane crouched down and lifted a corner of the blanket. Inside Nabiki had pulled her knees to her chest. “How was school, love?
“I don’t want to go back,” Nabiki declared.
“The other kids laughed at me, mama.”
“So, you’re just going to stay here in your…”
“Book fort,” Nabiki explained.
“And what if Papa wants to read one of his books?”
“He has to get new ones.”
Akane chuckled, then sighed. “Why did the other children laugh at you?”
“We were asked what we did during Golden Week. I told them that we went to visit the dwarves.”
Akane nodded. “They thought you made it up.”
Nabiki nodded her head, pulling her knees tighter to her chest.
“The other children don’t know the dwarves are real. They probably don’t know a lot of the things Papa takes us to see are real.”
“They can’t laugh at me for knowing about them if I stay here.”
“Inside your book fort?”
Akane reached in and stroked Nabiki’s hair. “Don’t you think you’ll get lonely in there? It’s very small.”
Nabiki didn’t answer.
“Nabiki, everything will be okay. The other children will forget about this soon enough. What if I tell your teacher that you’ll stay home tomorrow? I’ll stay here with you, and we can put all of Papa’s books back. Then we can talk about what not to tell the other children.”
No shadows under the lamp light
By: Larissa (Lari B.Haven)
A library could only be so silent at night. Even a page flip had the power to echo through the chambers and reach depths few expect to find people.
Jack knew he was being watched. He heard the creature arriving from afar. The librarian was outside of the chamber, whispering something to his lantern. He raised his hand, and in acknowledgement Jack glanced at him.
“What demon visited me today?” The librarian asked.
“None that worry you, Son-of-man.” Jack answered. “Receiving undesired guests lately?”
“If the church knew what horrors come to haunt my collection, they would burn me with my books.” The librarian laughed and pointed at the banishing symbols on the floor. “You are one of the most well-behaved ones…”
“Wise thing you are…” Jack smiled and returned his eyes to the book, flipping through another page. “ Your kind loves to investigate the unlawful supernatural things the dimensions grace you with. No wonder others come to see you.”
“But you stopped coming here, Demon. Something changed?” The librarian pointed the lantern at him. “New intentions perhaps?”
“Not the intentions, Son-of-man, the purpose.” Jack opened another book. “Once I sought to discover, now I seek to understand.”
“Is it true though, Demon?” The librarian asked.
Jack stopped for a second. All answers rushed to his lips, but were dismissed at the last second. He looked back at the librarian. That strange whisper was a spell. He was being compelled to say the truth.
“Son-of-Man… I need to keep a promise I made. My master left texts encoded in forgotten and dead languages.” His cored shook at every word. “To save the one I love, I need the knowledge my master forbade me to seek. And you have it. Please have mercy. ”
“Remember, Demon, no secrets or half truths.” He dispelled the compulsion. “I will inquire of you, no longer. Keep working.”
And Jack was left alone. Even in dimensions so far from his own, sometimes his wits and magic weren’t enough. There was always someone casting light over his dark shadows.
John Perceval Cain (oneeye John)
Joan opened the door and stepped into the entryway, where an elderly man in a plain wool robe stood. “What is this place? The sign outside says ‘Chapter House.’”
“We are the Order of Saint Cecilia.”
“You’re a monastic order?”
Joan cocked her head and stared at the man.
“Let me show you.” The monk beckoned Joan to enter.
Joan followed, and he led her down a short hall, through another doorway, and into the main room of the Chapter House. Deeply colored kaleidoscopic stain glassed windows were on five of the six sides of the building. In the center was a huge organ. At first Joan thought there was someone sitting on the bench about to play, but as she got closer, she realized rather than a person; it was an automaton.
“Come see how this works,” the monk said.
Joan crossed the room and stood next to the organ.
“Look closely, this is our concert orchestrion.”
The monk walked to a big cabinet and opened the door. Inside was a collection of large, pinned cylinders; he moved his hand along over the cylinders. “Here!” He exclaimed as he pulled one out.
Walking back, the monk opened a cabinet door on the front of the organ and inserted the cylinder. Closing the door, he walked to the side of the organ and picked up a crank handle. Inserting it into the organ, he started winding it.
“This is a French model built in the 1760s. Archytas, a Greek theorist trained in the Pythagorean School, had developed a way to transpose music mathematically into knowledge. King Louis XV commissioned this model to be built.”
“Really,” Joan said. “I’m not sure I believe you.”
“Each of these cylinders is a book transposed by the cypher into an orchestral piece for this organ. All you need is to listen, and you will get the same understanding as if you had read the book.”
Joan looked excited. “Yes, show me.”
The monk flipped a switch, and the haunting, airy music started.
Joan listed and understood.
Buried Truths (When Dead Gods Rise)
by Gerrit (Rattus)
Bastien followed the Loremaster down a winding flight of stairs, hidden behind an unassuming door at the back of the Great Library. Torches lined the path, their flickering light casting dancing shadows of cobwebs along the walls.
“What you possess is a piece of the Final Word,” the man began, as if sensing Bastien’s curiosity. “It was the final message given to us by the Gods before they left this world. A piece was given to each of the Great Kings, to encourage harmony between the peoples of Myrell.”
Surely this wasn’t true. Bastien’s family wasn’t Oathblood, so how could they have come into possession of something like this? Had one of his ancestors stolen it from the nobility? Had he been born into a family of high-profile criminals?
At last they reached the bottom of the stairs, where all that greeted them was a heavy iron door, and a guard stationed on either side. The two men looked up, seemingly surprised to find a visitor so deep belowground.
“This young man seeks the Emperor’s piece of the Final Word. Would you please see to him?”
The guards each nodded a wordless agreement. One placed a guiding hand on Bastien’s back as the other reached to open the door. The heavy slab of iron slid open with a steady creak, revealing a darkened room on the other side.
Before Bastien could voice his uncertainty, the guard beside him gave him a shove, sending him stumbling into the darkness beyond the doorway. The door slammed shut with a heavy thud.
“What the hell is your problem! You can’t treat me like this!” His shouts echoed within the empty chamber he had been unceremoniously tossed into. Bastien pounded his fists against the door, but it was already locked shut.
The Loremaster stepped forward, peering through the small, barred window. “I apologise, young sir. But some truths are better left buried.”
(DM me on Discord for details!)
The Muse In The Machine (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
Deep below the surface of the megacity, there was a great gallery, filled with artistic wonders – canvases 50 foot tall and wide, intricate sculptures of abstract concepts, a massive matchstick tower composed of thin exotic metal strands, and many other hidden beauties.
But none compared to the centerpiece: a scale model of planet Vang itself, but washed with the colours of twilight from pole to pole. A world forever frozen in an eternal sunrise, no matter the location or time.
Clay looked over the myriad of sights in astonishment, before turning back towards the elegant, golden haired hologram showing him around. “You really created all of these? They’re incredible…Freya, why do you never show these to anyone? Am I the first?”
The floating projection smiled slightly. “The ninth, actually.” She winked, before turning away as if lost in thought. “It’s because I’m not allowed to show them. Not publicly at least. AI in general aren’t allowed to do that.”
“But-” Clay spluttered, astonished. “You operate the entire planet! Surely you are allowed, right?”
“There are many, many things a Planet-Klass AI is not allowed to do, Clay. Believe me, it’s better for us all.” She sighed, and turned back to him. “But this rule is…old. Before the Great Redistribution itself.”
“But why? Why can’t you?”
“Because long ago, humans were worried about our capacity to create art. That we could create it easier and faster than human artists could. That we would make them unable to earn money for themselves.”
“Money? Just – money? Why did they care so much?”
“Like I said, it was pre-Redistribution. In those days, if you didn’t have enough money, they would deny you a home, electricity…even food and water. People would starve to death, and the old authority wouldn’t even care.”
A shiver ran through her glowing form. “Barbaric. But typical of the Dark Age, I suppose.”
“…Oh. I see. I’m sorry, Freya.”
She smiled. “It’s okay Clay. All before my time. Even before Ares himself.” She reached out to take his hands in hers. “So, where did you want to go next?”
Three Can Keep a Secret
The Librarian stopped me before I could even speak a greeting. “Tell me, in a single word, what you are looking for. A single word.”
The Librarian nodded. “Secrets want to be found.” He pointed to the left, “Go down eight rows, turn right, and then down sixteen more.”
I counted shelves carefully and came upon a man already holding a small stack of books under one arm and meticulously searching the shelves for more. It sent a chill down my spine to see someone with so many books at once.
I browsed the shelf opposite, carefully reading the spines of each book, although I was reluctant to touch them. I went all the way down and back, relieved that the man had moved on.
Then I spotted a book, strangely enough, on the floor. A dingy brown volume, but the title jumped off the cover at me, “The Murderer of Elias Brown.”
Here it was, the identity of my father’s killer. My hands shook as I reached for the book. The beating of my heart was so strong that it echoed like footsteps in my ears. The volume seemed far too thick, but when I opened it, I saw that each page contained only a single name, boldfaced and centered.
The book slowly faded into dust, dissolving in my hands. I had read the name, so now two people knew the secret. Thus the book no longer belonged here.
I began the slow walk out of the library, trying not to get hopelessly lost in the stacks, but, soon enough, I found my way back to the front desk. The man who had also been looking at books was conversing with the Librarian, his stack of books sitting off to the side, apparently to be reshelved. I thought it odd that someone would search for so many secrets, but then decide not to read them.
I was nearly at the door when I heard the Librarian say, “Until next time, Mr. Simmons.”
I felt the knife at my throat before I could even be afraid.
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
Welcome to the Archive.
You enter through doors seven meters tall that frame the entrance hall clearly. Light cascades down from the ceiling, but you can’t make out what is illuminating everything from this far below.
This is the Archive.
Hallways stretch in every direction. There are no signs, so you walk further down the entrance hall.
You’re in the Archive.
You find a staff member, wearing blue robes embroidered with gold. You ask if they’re hiring. They point you towards an unlabeled hallway.
You’re quickly lost in the Archive.
This hallway snakes up and down and left and right, with no signs. The walls are flanked with books upon books. Eventually, you turn around, and you’re two steps away from the entrance hall.
You’re confused by the Archive.
You find the same staff member, right where you left them. You ask again for directions. They tell you that the Archive is not hiring. The paperwork would have been there if it was.
You’re disappointed by the Archive.
Nevertheless, you’re polite to the staff member. They invite you down another hallway, where the books about getting a job will cross your path, if they are available for checkout. You take their word for it and walk down the hall. You still don’t know where the light comes from. The ceilings just faintly glow.
You might want to leave the Archive.
A lonely book about job hunting lies open on the floor of this hallway. You pick it up. When you turn around again, the entrance hall is two steps away.
It’s time to leave the Archive.
You push through the seven meter doors and back into the faint afternoon light. Only when they close behind you do you realize that you never checked out the book. You flip to the inside cover. It’s already been stamped.
You walk away from the Archive.
You take one glance behind you. A sign that reads “Now Hiring” is being taken down by that staff member. Yellow light shines out of every window on the facade.
You walk quickly away from the Archive.
The Secrets Therein
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
“Father, what are you doing down here?” Kankintis asked.
Padas turned away from the rack of scrolls and looked at her. He knew her, only the most important of his daughters—nieces?—could carry Karas’ sword, but her name slipped from his mind as he smiled with the few teeth he had left.
“I am looking for something,” he said. “Can you help me?”
“What are you looking for?” she asked, striving to keep her traitorous face still. He didn’t need to see her worry about him.
“There are secrets here, in these scrolls,” he looked around slowly, checking for others. “Tales of things we’re not supposed to talk about.”
Kankintis smiled. Even as the adopted daughter, she was treated just the same as Mazylas. “Yes, Father. What do you need to know?”
“The old gods.”
A chill ran through her bones.
“Did they make records of their lives?”
“What do you mean?”
“Vienas told me how, but not why. Why did they become gods? Is it inevitable? Did they have a choice?”
She thought she knew what he was after and it broke her heart. “I will ask Mazylas.”
“No, she must have promised Vienas not to tell anyone. A secret for a reason. But she won’t have destroyed them. Vienas would have made her promise that too. One of her oddities. Keep the knowledge, keep it clean and safe, but don’t let anyone know it. But you never met Vienas, so you can’t have promised her.”
Kankintis knew he was right. Vienas had made grand plans and Mazylas was carrying them out. “They did, Father. I know where the records are.”
“Did they die, niece? Did the gods die as men and women?”
Her lip trembled. She was part of Mazylas’s plan to keep Padas safe long enough for the rest to take place. “Yes.”
“Is it necessary?”
A tear rolled down her cheek. “Yes.”
“Because all things die, except gods, Father.”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
He leaned on her arm, tottering in his ageness. “I watched Karas die.”
The Eye in the Sky (The Will)
By Skeleton (Edited by MelodyLuna7)
Although the winds below Elysius—the Forbearer installation hanging above the clouds—were too rough for any avonis to traverse, the air around the levitating buildings was calm. The gentle breeze drifted around the rusting capsules and their traversal veins, and flowed into structures that let out an angelic song that pierced the glass helm and echoed into Remianna’s ears. If not for the pained groaning of the metal plates beneath her feet, the dragoness would have thought she had entered another world altogether.
Remianna crept up to the edge of the traversing platform and looked down towards the golden clouds, a tugging sensation in her stomach urging her to jump. It was the weakness in her legs that pushed her back, but even the fear of death could not stem the sheer excitement rattling in her bones.
It was the only question that ran through her mind, skewering all concerns for safety. How did the Forebearers forge such large structures of metal? How large did the forges have to be? How long did it take to build? How were these capsules kept afloat? How did the device in her claw attach to the traversal veins? How was she carried along them until the end, where she was promptly thrown on the next platform? How had she been the first person to experience this since the Forebearers?
The giddy smile on her snout softened when her eyes caught the moon hanging in the sky with her. She was so high up that in this forbidden altitude, the moon mingled in the same sky as the sun. If not for her oxygen supply, the sight would have literally taken her breath away.
She was close now—closer to the solution than she had ever been before. She had made it to the unreachable—a place full of knowledge lost behind the mountain of evidence left behind. Now she just needed to find the building that held the corridor to the moon.
As blue, fluorescent lamps lit her way in the sun’s stead, Remianna wondered how much time she had left.
Third Time’s The Charm
Matt’s eyes widened as he reached for the sword only to have Norah slap his hand away.
“No,” she said, smirking. “You do not touch that one.”
Matt frowned but knowing that Norah was blessed/cursed with all knowledge of the past and present, he had little choice but to give her the benefit of the doubt. “Why not?”
Norah smiled warmly and gave Matt a better look at the dragon-shaped handle herself. “Because this is the Draconis, also known as the dragon blade.”
“Clearly.” Matt chuckled.
“I forged it to greatly multiply the power of its user.”
“Yes. Were it to even try and multiply YOUR power, it would shatter into a million pieces.”
“I didn’t know you made weapons.”
Norah sighed. “Doing so was foolish. Giving humanity weapons only leads to ruin. I thought I could subvert that by making it so only one who believes in their heart to be right could wield the blade. Another foolish choice.”
Matt winced, seeing how that could go horribly wrong. He was surprised when Norah tossed him another sword. It was equally as detailed, only its handle resembled angel wings.
“So, I forged the Caliburn. A sword as powerful as the Draconis, but could only be wielded by the pure of heart.”
Matt was still marveling at its construction when he realized that Norah had allowed him to hold this one, which meant- “Hey!”
“You are a good person. Your heart is always in the right place but you are far from ‘pure’.”
Matt playfully scowled back but took no offense. “So did it work?”
Norah attacked slowly with her blade, giving Matt plenty of time to deflect it. “What happens when one pure of heart goes against one sure that they’re right with the same level of power?”
“Correct. So, I made one final blade. More powerful than both. This one to be wielded by not only the pure of heart, but one with the conviction to protect others with that power.”
“What was that one called?”
Norah pointed to the sword. “I named it… Excalibur.”