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For Sonia M.’s latest challenge, we were asked to write a fairy tale. In the spirit of building up the world in which some of my other microfiction pieces occur, I’ve crafted for your enjoyment a library fairy tale. Here’s “The Library.”

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Ilyana, who loved to read more than anything else in the world. She’d heard stories about the library, but she’d never seen it in person until today. She’d expected something grand, and she was not disappointed. Towers soared upward, fingers reaching for the sky above. Tethered to one was a large airship, and she could barely make out the letters on its tailfin designating it “Bookmobile.”

The girl’s eyes were wide in amazement. Magic. It had to be. Electricity surged up and down her spine as she stepped timidly through the archway. Ilyana looked closely at one of the walls nearest to her and gasped in shock as she was struck by the realization that the entire building was made, not of brick, nor marble, nor wood, but paper. Millions upon millions of tomes, countless numbers of volumes of books, were housed here, within a structure made of their own kind. Spider-thin writing crackled across the parchment surfaces of the floors, columns, and ceiling, the words of long-forgotten authors lending strength to the library, binding the pages together with ink.

Nervously eyeing the guards who stood near the reference desk, she approached the wizened man and woman who co-occupied it.

“And what can we do for you today,” they asked her in stereo.

“I…I came to get a library card,” she whispered, barely audible.

“Ah, a new mind to fill,” the librarians replied. “We’ve been waiting for you, Ilyana.”

She gasped. “How did you know my name?”

“We are librarians, dearie, we know everything. We knew that you would be coming to us today, and we knew that you would be seeking this.” In unison, the two elderly librarians reached out, holding a small gilded piece of parchment between them. It had Ilyana’s name on it in a curved script, more beautiful than she’d ever seen it written. “You’ll want to go that way,” they added, gesturing to a long spiral stair.

“Thank you!” Ilyana grinned, taking the card and dashing off for the stairway. It seemed to go on forever, but the books and pages that composed it lent a spring to her every step. Finally, Ilyana reached the top of the stairs and found a single door, her name carved in the lintel. A small slot stood in the door, just at her eye level, the golden words above it reading “Library Card Here, Please.”

Placing her new card in the opening, Ilyana watched as the door slowly swung open to admit her. A voice from the books whispered “Welcome, Ilyana…” She knew then that this room was hers, and hers alone. She took in the walls and the books that covered the shelves. It was just for her. One book beckoned to her, and she opened the book to those first magical words. “Once upon a time,” it read, “there was a young girl named Ilyana, who loved to read more than anything else in the world…”


  1. Awesome mental picture, and I want to go to this library…I was picturing the words and letters written all over it to be constantly moving and changing, being written continually forever. Every book that has ever been written, will be written in future, ought to be written, were meant to be written…words that never end.

    • Thank you, Angela! Again, this is one that’s interconnected with a few of my others. It’s fun to imagine the coolest book-filled places that could have ever existed. I’m mildly obsessed…

  2. Wonderful pictures throughout the story. Robin

  3. Fabulous! I definitely want to go to that library too. Where do I sign up for a card? 😀

  4. Ahh! So recursive! A library within a library within a library within a… aaaah! My brain hurts!
    Awesome story, Philip. The airship floating above with ‘bookmobile’ on it, in particular, was outstanding.
    I’d love to visit, although I think they would kick me out when the Librarians did their ‘We know everything’ spiel and I said, “Then why did you just ask what I wanted here, eh, Mr. and Mrs. Smarty-Pants?”

    I get kicked out of lots of places for stuff like that.

  5. Beautiful!

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] The Library by The Swords of the Ancients […]

  2. By Listening « The Swords of the Ancients on 24 Jan 2012 at 11:56 pm

    […] I’ve been borrowing from V), this library is reminiscent of things that I’ve been writing about in the past, and it makes me very happy that I’ve been crafting similar stories to […]

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