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Saef Harken
Celestial Library

"Mhmm... is that so?" The Librarian replied to her 'guest', turning her head aside to face Saef with a cat-like smile stuck in her lips. "A cat's memory works better when they are feeling well," she added before spreading her arms against the table's cool surface and yawning majestically.

"As many cookies as you want while I'm here." Came the reply from the older looking man. Saef leaned back as she did a very good lazy cat impression. "A recipe from an old friend, passed down from mother to daughter for five generations. Quite good if I say so myself."

She reached for one of the cookies silently, gobbling it. She let out a seemingly satisfied purr before speaking, "Mmm... mmm... And what's it that you want of this place? It's rare to see anyone who fights in the frontline coming here as often as you."

That earned a wry smile. "I'm a Thaumaturge. Knowledge Is Power has a somewhat more literal meaning in my case. Besides I enjoy learning things. In my old life I was a scientist, a good one too. Discovering things is what I do. It's the only thing I still have to live for aside from killing Demons." He leaned back against a nearby bookshelf with a melancholy sigh.

"A scientist?" she replied with a voice that betrayed a bit of nostalgia. However, the next sentence carried much less emotion. "It must be a boring life to try to rid the Nexus of Demons."

A chuckle. "I'm not so jaded as to find combat boring, although I can see how endless eons might make one feel so. It is something of a hopeless endeavor at the moment though. Unless someone manages to find out how to capture souls and prevent rebirth." Saef's gaze roamed over the endless tomes that surrounded them. A small shake of his head and he looked back at the Librarian. A flick of his wrist and a plate full of oven soft cookies appeared between them. "Something you said last time I was here caught my interest. You said this place was full of dead tomes. What did you mean?"

The Librarian looked straight at Saef, a small measure of shock could be easily read in her expression as she spoke, "You probably don't want to risk yourself over that kind of knowledge. There are rules that govern this world and we are not supposed to change them."

The gravity left her voice as answered the actual question, "I meant what I said. Most of these," she looked around the library lazily, "are dead. Only lifeless Tomes that lost their purpose. You would understand it better if saw a live one like the one owned by Deva's 'guard'. Or this." She said, summoning a dark grey book, with silvery runes adorning its cover. It hovered a few centimeters over her palm, bound by silver chains as if it wasn't meant to be read by anyone.

If Saef still remembered part of the language in which the books detailing Deva's past were written, he would at least be able to discern the name of the Tome in the Librarian's hands: The First Apocrypha.

The Librarian's look of shock wasn't terribly surprising. This entire dimension was...wrong somehow. It was like the place had been set up by something or somethings and populated with all the champions of good and evil they could find. But who could manipulate gods like that?


A line of thought for another time. Saef could all but feel the thorns involved already. Of much more immediate interest was the book that his host had summoned from some pocket dimension or another. The First Apocrypha was unlike any book he had ever seen before. The magical aura around it was more than that of any magical relic he had ever seen up close. It was hard to describe it. More complex, more substance, just...more. He couldn't help but start to figure through its working as he stared.

"How is a living book different from a normal one?"

"How much different a factory robot is from Eos?" The Librarian replied with a question of her own.

"They are living because they are part of those who own them. Not this one, though. It's just an anomaly, a copy of something that shouldn't exist in first place and... a memento of a certain someone's folly." Her voice dragged into almost a whisper as she added, "Thinking that 'saving the world' was possible..."

"Most of the books here were just like this one, a long time ago. They belonged to many individuals and are the last proof of their existence. In a way, I'm as much of a gravekeeper as a librarian."

That was a sobering explanation. Saef's eyes went back to the untold numbers of books once more. Only this time he didn't just see stored knowledge. This time he saw the sum of people's lives. Gravestones that all but held the owner's soul within. You could fit an entire nation into this building. Or a world.

Again, sobering.

"Right, no dropping the books." The mage said as he idly grabbed a cookie from the plate. "What do they let you do? I'm assuming it varies from person to person but there must be some general description you could give. After all, they must have been pretty useful if so many people had them."

"Each had a unique way to express their owner's wishes. Now that they are no more, the Tomes are just registries. Each detailing whatever was most important to whoever owned them. You might find all the tabs of an accountant's life, or a housewife's best recipes as easily as the secrets of a long dead world," she replied. "Again, except for this one. It's a copy of the first Tome ever, produced using the best combination of magic and science. Crafted to be a tool of progress, turned into a weapon of revolution, and finally, spending the rest of its countless days besides its owner, after failing to achieve either of its reasons for existing."

Hmmmm, Saef couldn't help but wonder what such a book would allow him to do. And if what she said about The First Apocrypha was correct maybe he could tinker with his own. Add extra features. No way to know but ask.

"How many pounds of cookies would I need for you to show me how to make one of my own?" He couldn't keep the joking smile off his face.

"Mhmm~" The Librarian let out a long purr. Her eyes narrowed to thin slits about the same time as her lips curled into a genuine Cheshire Cat grin, before she spoke, "I don't know, a DIY Tome kit is rare these days. There's a lot of theory involved, unlike building plastic models," while twirling her tail around.

"You have the potential; if you are willing to spend the time, I can show you how to do it but... I guess that cookies are a bit too cheap for lessons from the Librarian, 'Father of all Modern Tomes', right?"

"Well lucky for us I have a whole cookbook." Come the amused response. "Including an absolutely divine quadruple layer peanut butter and chocolate cake. Just looking at the thing is enough to give the normal man diabetes. And if it helps, just think of this as an apprenticeship. I'd be will into help with any tasks you may have need of me for. When I'm not fulfilling my normal duties of course."

Father? She may not have had a fully developed body but he was pretty sure the person front of him was a female. Come to think of it he only knew her as The Librarian. It would be a bit awkward to keep calling her by her position.

"Sorry, but I don't think I ever got your name."

"Hohoho?" The Librarian looked at him with a curious gaze, almost as if she could read Saef's thoughts at that moment. "Are you having any second guesses now? If you want to know... when your Title is as misdirecting as The Librarian anyone who doesn't know you will assume you are a man by default. I don't suppose that you want to see for yourself, right~?" She teased with a malicious glint in her eyes, like a cat playing with a cornered prey.

"Anyway, you can call me Si, just like anyone else. I have abandoned my true name a long time ago... so long that even I don't recall the last time someone called me like that," Si twirled her tail some more before adding, "I would be happy to be called Teacher as well, if you feel specially pupil-like, someday."

"Maybe one day Si." Came the slightly strained answer. She may have been an eternity or two older than him but he could help but think jailbait when looking at her. "Now then, would you like that cake now or should we set a later date?"

Fionn Harken

"Let's set up camp for the night. If the seal had weakened enough for overnight marches we would be seeing many more undead." A small rock clacked somewhere in the nearby ruins and Fionn glanced uneasily in the direction of the noise. "Maybe we should make camp in the wood line. I still don't trust this place."

Perhaps in contrast to his words the other Kindred of the group had moved out into the surrounding darkness. A set of wordless orders had set them into motion as they exited the ruins. The surrounding villages and minor lords needed to be warned of the danger that was rising in their midsts. It was a much more immediate task where any delay could result in deaths.

Fionn Harken

"I was quite literally born and bred for this. Fighting evil is my life's calling and I could never face my Kin if I ran from this. Fortunately I believe I've pieced together enough to shed some light on your visions. How much do you know about semi-ancient history?"

He settled onto a nearby rock as he spoke, glancing between the rest of the group before continuing.

"For those of you less knowledgeable, a short history lesson. Roughly five hundred years ago the ground we stand upon was the far borders of the Rzail Empire. The ruins we just cleared used to be one of their border outposts. Part fort, part village. They were an impressive civilization from a certain point of view. A major powerhouse with some of the most advanced technology possible on this planet. They controlled an entire subcontinent and were poised to take a lot more. Unfortunately the Rzail Empire was just about as evil a place as one could ask for. Dark magic abounded. Warlocks and necromancers could buy sentient subjects for their experiments with no more than a few coppers."

"Eventually the surrounding kingdoms could take no more and banded together. Led by a Paladin of my Order they waged war upon Rzail. It was a fierce war, hundreds of thousands of noble warriors died facing the endless hoards of undead summoned against them. The Rzail necromancers raised millions of the unholy beasts. And at the head marched their undead god-king Karnorouri. A Lich of immense power. Even defeat and destruction on the field of battle could not end his terror since nobody could find his phylactery. Slay him and he would simply reform in his seat of power, ready to raise a new army."

"Even so the forces of good were victorious. They pushed the undead hordes back and destroyed the mighty cities of that blighted land. In the final battle the Paladin leading them sacrificed herself to seal Karnorouri away. He was not destroyed for even at the end no one could find his soul jar. But with him in a such a powerful seal he was as good as dead. What was left of his forces were annihilated in short order."

Fionn paused for a moment and took off his helmet. It was probably prudent to leave it on this close to the ruins but he needed to feel a real wind on his face.

" I think the past five hundred years have weakened the seal. It's not broken or my Order would have noticed. However the signs seem to point to it having waned enough for the Lich to start contacting any followers of his that might remain. Likely to ready the way for his return."

Saef Harken
Celestial Library

So he was an Archangel. Touchy lot those. Hmmmm, the Laguna Hierarchy. Why do I get the feeling I'm not go into get along with those guys very well?

Whatever the case he was now free to continue his spell. One final twitch of a finger and the area was flooded with a smell that was, well...heavenly. The scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies assaulted the olfactory senses of anyone within a hundred feet, more depending on the sensitivity of their noses. It probably even reached the retreating Archangel.

Leaning down to the "sleeping" Librarian, Saef spoke calmly and warmly into her closest ear.

"Give me a few moments of your time and I'll make as maaaany as you want."

He couldn't keep the smile out of his voice. The comparatively young man wanted to see if her reaction was as adorable as her fake sleeping. Food was always a good motivator. And while he didn't know what the young looking girl/woman before him liked, come on who didn't like chocolate ship cookies?

Fionn Harken

"Of course, Nak."

If he had to guess, and when it came to mixing magic and mechanics Fionn's guesses were very good, the talking head had happened because that was where the driving intelligence of the golem had been stored. The blasted thing just couldn't resit a few last parting shots as its magical energy bled out the massive rents in its metallic shell. Of course he had no way of knowing if he was right. He had just slagged the thing after all.

But he had come to respect Nak far too much over the past couple days to say no. Maybe she could discover something helpful. Maybe he was wrong. Or maybe she just wanted to get a look at some of the more advanced machinery that existed on this world. Whatever the case was he would leave her to it.

Taking the lead of their two man procession the white armored mage led the way out of the ruins. They no longer pulsed with unnatural red light. With the destruction of the overseeing golem and the general mayhem that had been wrecked on the outpost's innermost rooms the intricate spells no longer worked. Nonetheless it was still a foreboding place. Night had fallen hours ago and the broken buildings loomed around them like the corpses of giant beasts.

Fionn was deep in thought as he led the way, his armor lit up to let the pair (trio?) see where they were going. The golem's words had been the final piece of a puzzle. A very unsettling puzzle. The increased undead activity. The demon he had met in the Oracle's shop. A certain recent archeological discovery. If he was right things could get very bad for a lot of people.
Fionn Harken

The sound of harsh mechanical laughter interrupted any further conversation. The grinding of rusty gears being horribly warped into a voice. And the origin if this terrible noise lay in center of the room, among the ruins of the final guardian of this unholy place.

As it had turned out the zombies had become more active due to the awakening of an ancient dwarven metal golem. Gears and cogs twisted in the same ways as the undead that used to inhabit the ruins. The group had thoroughly disassembled it just a couple minutes ago but the eyes still gleamed in the laughing head.

"Yesssssss, the beginning of the end is upon you. Cry out in despair for the Master is returning! Your pathetic corpses will join the faceless thousands of his armies! You weaklings can do not but tremble and await your dooooom!"

The unsettling boasts were somewhat diminished by the way the clockwork golem's words got quieter as the last of the magic left it. The red eyes losing their glow as the last words slithered their way into the air. A moment later a flash of light leapt from Fionn's hand, turning the disgusting piece of machinery into so much slag. The mage's face was obscured behind the odd helmet he had donned but his body language seemed unnerved nonetheless.

"Yes, this is no place for civilized speech. Leaving seems like a wonderful idea."

Saef Harken
Celestial Library

How he had missed the tall angel Saef had no clue. Judging from his aura the winged man was immensely powerful, perhaps as high as an Archangel. He didn't seem that bad a guy though. The stern tone softening after the initial spoken word.

"Captain Saef Harken of the First Heavenly Mechanized. I was involved in the recent battle in the Graveyard. Pleasure to meet you sir..."

The Thaumaturge trailed off his reply in obvious question as he remained kneeling next to the distractingly adorable keeper of the building they were in. Just then her hand found his and he couldn't help but smile down at her. Judging from the change in her breathing rhythm and all the shifting she was doing, the young looking woman wasn't quite as asleep as she appeared.

Hmmm, how did my assistants used to wake me up when I was being lazy. Either something I would really dislike or really like. So carrot or the stick. And since I want to get along with her...

His smile turned slightly mischievous as his unoccupied hand started twirling out a small spell.
Hey, free credits. How could I not?


Description: One of the latest from Atlas's many private weapons development firms, Current is a five foot long spear with a decidedly aquatic aesthetic. The entire outer casing is comprised of an advanced alloy impressed with a design rough enough to provide friction when needed yet smooth enough to easily allow the user's hands to slide along its length as desired.

Within the blade sits a harmonic frequency generator. When the titanium carbon alloy exterior strikes a target the frequency generator activates, causing the blade to vibrate in its best guess at the optimal cutting speed. Each subsequent hit allows the generator to to refine it's calculations. So the longer a fight goes on or the more often a certain type of foe is faced, the more easily Current can turn them into Julian Fries.

But wait, that's not all! When not in combat this remarkable weapon will remove small amounts of hydrogen atoms from the surrounding atmosphere and store them in a magnetic bottle just below the blade. On the user's command some of that stored hydrogen is accelerated around the exterior of the containment ring. Once they have reached sufficient speeds the packet of hypervelocity particles are launched at whatever target the user desires within fifty yards.

Saef Harken
Celestial Library

Oh that's adorable.

Ordinarily the Thaumaturge would have been gaping at the artistically piled collection of priceless artefacts and books that filled the space. However he had just walked through half a library of similar things. That and he was somewhat distracted by what he had found at the end of the trail of soft musical jingles. The Librarian was really going for the whole cat motif it seemed.

He made his way through the towering shelves with a quiet and even step. Sure he needed the catgirl awake to answer his questions but it seemed a crime to disturb the fairytale image before him. Pushing an errant book aside with his foot he knelt down next to the girl. Her soft, even breath shifted the small body in a way that made him want to...hug her or something. Maybe ruffle her ears. Was that an OK thing to do with catgirls? Saef wasn't sure.

Carefully he reached a hand out towards Si's head- no, her shoulder and gave it a gentle shake.


Saef Harken
Celestial Library

Well that had been...exciting. That was the first fully grown dragon he had taken on with anything less than a full battalion at his back. Doing it with only one other person was usually a good way to turn into a snack. Of course when that other person was the Imperator's own Herald the equation changed a little. Not that killing a dragon gave him much protection from his idiotic decisions.

Command wasn't very happy with him at the moment. The General hadn't gotten involved but Colonel McLoughlin certainly had. The dressing down that had awaited Saef on his return to the barracks had been unpleasant to say the least. Apparently there was some talk of putting him back in charge of small teams again. It was just talk for now and wasn't even an official demotion but he still needs to be careful all the same.

Aside from that the mission had been an unqualified success from the standpoint of his superiors. The battle had been won with a minimum of casualties and both the troops and equipment had stood up extremely well in the face of one of Hell's superior commanders. The weird readings that had caused the company to pull back turned out to just be the software dealing with the minor bending of reality the inclusion of holy magic had introduced.

All in all it could have been much worse. In an attempt to keep it that way Saef had gotten out of there after taking care of his company. Out of sight out of mind and all that. Plus that Librarian had said some interesting stuff. The Thaumaturge in him was itching for some answers. So here he was, once again standing in the mostly deserted Celestial Library.

"Librarian?" He called out softly. He had yet to hear of a person with that title who appreciated loud noises within their domain. He wasn't sure how to find her though. The building was as large as the store of knowledge held within. Plus, she seemed like one of those spooky types who always knew when someone said their name.
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