If you’re willing, and I mean very willing, I’d like you to help me retrieve a book from the library. I say retrieve because it’s unwise to borrow. Dragons immediately sense when a book is removed, and their reaction is, well, less than favorable. I must here repeat the cardinal rule of the library: Never, ever, ever take a book home.
Several difficulties lie ahead of us, but I’ll only mention two, the rest you can learn by experience. First, we’re headed into the most populated area of the library: the fiction section (where all human history is shelved). Second, the books are dragon-size; you could host a dinner party on one if it was lying open. What does this mean? It means retrieving a book without being seen or heard by a reading dragon takes stealth, silence and a great deal of nerve. If you don’t wish to come, I understand. But if you follow me, you need to trust my guidance. I haven’t lost a human yet.
I’ll give you a moment.
Have you decided? Then I’ll open the door to the Spiral Staircase and we’ll head down into the mountain. Stay quiet.
Did everyone make it down safely? Shhh! Whisper. You’re safe? Good. You’ll notice we’re in a large tunnel that looks as if it stretches into oblivion in both directions. This is called the Broad Tunnel, and every path in the library leads off of it. Now, stay close and I’ll tell you more as we walk.
The book we’re searching for was written by a man who may have known more about dragons than he realized. His name was Charles Gould. He was born in England in 1834 and became a prominent geologist, being the first surveyor of Tasmania. No, you’ve asked a perfectly good question. And the answer is yes, he really existed; he’s only in the fiction section because the dragons don’t believe he existed. Anyway, as I said, in addition to being a geologist, he also authored a book. It was published in 1886 and was titled Mythical Monsters. In it, Gould claimed that the monsters of our myths might not be so very far-fetched, and that dragons may have actually walked the earth in the distant (or perhaps not so distant) past.
Turn here and watch your step. The ground is a bit uneven in the side tunnels.
As I was saying, Gould filled his book with reasons why the accounts of dragons may be distorted truths. I’ve read the book—but only the human edition. You see, I’ve heard a rumor that the dragon library retains a later edition, never published in our world, in which Gould wrote an additional chapter…one that explains the reasons for the division between our two worlds. If this extra chapter exists, it could reshape our relationship with dragons.
Here we are: the fiction section. Quickly, it’s alphabetized by author’s last name; find the “G” section.
Right. Geller…Goodman…Gordon…there it is—Mythical Monsters, by Charles Gould. Of course, it would be three shelves up. What? Absolutely not, we’re not about to stand on each other’s shoulders to reach it. Be realistic. Librarians are entrusted with the magic needed to retrieve gigantic books from gigantic shelves. Stand back. That’s it, a little farther. I’m able move books off shelves with precision, but making them land where I want is…well, just stand back. And be prepared to run if this book comes slamming down onto the marble floor. Echoes never seem to end in a place this big, and we’ll be face to face with a dragon before we reach the end of the isle.