Return to The Books of The Dark Library

Book of Species

"Which species?" she asked, holding the book tightly in her hands. The tome had a highly professional appearance, with neat printed lines forming the words, "Book of Species". A puzzled frown appeared on her face as she considered the librarian's latest recommendation.

"Why don't you take a look?" The librarian motioned towards a table.

She placed the volume on the aged wood and pulled up a chair before it. The librarian watched from the side, leaning against the table as she opened the book and flicked past contents, preface and introduction.

She stopped when she reached the first entry. On the left was a picture of a shell-like object carved in stone, and on the right, several paragraphs of text with facts, figures, weights and numbers.

"Fossils?" she exclaimed, "Well, that's not very exciting."

"The book isn't about excitement - it's about learning." He turned a few pages. "Try this one."

She looked at the page before her. Again, there was a picture of a fossil - this time the small skeleton of a rabbit formed in the rock. She shrugged her shoulders and sighed. "It's still not that exciting."

Beneath the chair, a small shadow hopped unseen past her feet.

She skipped on a few pages and came to an image of an eagle, beak open and thin skeletal arms laced with faint impressions of feathers. "Now this is more like it. But why are they all fossils?" She looked up at him with questioning eyes.

His eyes briefly flicked to the white pages as a bird-shaped shadow swooped across the paper and vanished. Then he looked back at her, meeting her gaze in the gloom.

"Because they are all things that have died at some point."

She looked back at the book and moved on a few pages, stopping at some great cat-like creature. "That's really quite sad to think of," she said, "all these animals dead and gone. What if I've never seen some of them?"

Beside her, a large shadow with a sabre-toothed jaw slunk across the wall into the darkness.

A few pages further on, she came upon what appeared to be the fossil of a horse. She ran her hand across the picture, tracing around the body. A strange ridge of rock could be seen running out from the creature's head. She moved a finger along it slowly. "It's a unicorn isn't it? Oh wow!" Her hand pressed against her mouth as she quickly scanned the text for the strange creature, and on the bookshelf behind her a horse-like shadow thundered along the line of books.

"I had no idea unicorns were real," she said. "It's such a shame they're all extinct."

The librarian nodded in the dim light. "But all things die. At least we have some memories of them." He tapped the book.

"I know, but... I'll never get to see one will I?" A small tear formed at the corner of her eye. She flicked through the pages hurriedly, stopping only when she reached a picture that was bigger than the others, spanning two pages. It showed a huge winged creature, with sharp teeth and strong claws. The rock in the picture clearly showed the impression of scales, and the creature's posture indicated foul intent.

"Dragons too!" she exclaimed, sitting bolt upright.

A shadow started to form against one of the bookshelves and the librarian quickly flipped the book shut. "I think," he said quietly, "you've read enough of this book for today."

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