Syntax Sam stared down at the oily pool of evaporating context on the floor, frowning. They nudged it experimentally with the tip of their left boot, recoiling when it flowed up and around their red combats in a thin sheen. Sam panicked, shaking their leg wildly in an attempt to dislodge the clinging rainbow goop, but it quickly wafted away into irrelevance, followed soon after by the remains of the puddle on the floor.
This was normal: small quantities of context never lasted long in isolation, at least not without some solid fact to anchor to. But Sam’s attention had already drifted. They could swear they’d heard a noise just now too, something they’d never heard before in the Library… there it was again! It sounded like it was coming from just a couple shelves away.
Granted, noise itself was nothing unusual in the Liminal Library. If you were to tiptoe through the polished marble galleries and curving, beshelved corridors of the Bon Mot Monarch’s palatial repository, you would hear a constant gentle susurrus. This ever-present rustle was the heartbeat of the Library: the restless sound of books sliding to fill gaps and exchange positions in an endless cycle of literary self-evaluation.
But the noise in question was not made by a book. It sounded, Sam thought, like the roar of a lion which had been shrunk down to minuscule proportions. Which was odd, because while nearly anything could happen in the Kingdom of Words (and often did), it rarely happened here in the Liminal Library, at the well-guarded center of the Bon Mot Monarch’s seat of power. Sam abandoned their quest for From Die Jesu to Sharkbait Ooh Ha Ha: a Guide to Practical Chanting and set off in search of the tiny lion.
As they emerged into one of the main spokes radiating off of the central hub of the library, they nearly collided with a Well-Phrased Knight going the other way. Sam recognized her as Helene, one of the handful of Knights who regularly patrolled these halls.
While not decked out in armor as she might be on outside duty, Helene was nonetheless clad in the smart fitted tunic and leggings of a palace guard, complete with toughened paper bracers on her forearms and an ink-woven blade at her belt. Her sharp martial outfit made Sam’s own pleated red skirt and pale blue crop top seem pretty shabby and casual in comparison. At least Sam’s combat boots lent them a semblance of professionalism.
Helene snapped a quick salute, which Sam returned with a nod of their head.
“Syntax Sam! I didn’t know you were prowling around in here,” Helene said. She seemed on edge, distracted.
“I was looking for a book, actually, but I thought I heard something a couple of shelves over. Like a little lion roaring,” replied Sam.
“A lion, huh?” said Helene. She kept shooting glances over Sam’s shoulder, towards the heart of the library. Sam picked up on her mood.
“What’s up, Helene? Something the matter?”
“Not exactly… only, I’ve seen an unusual number of Fictlings floating around the shelves today, and I’m wondering if something funny is going on with the fact supply.” Helene gestured to the narrow channel cut into the floor which supplied fact and context to the library’s shelves in a steady stream. “I was just heading in to check it out, make sure everything’s fine.”