Chapter 5

Koen and the hallowed library

      Both Shepry and Koen had to immediately acknowledge the greatness of this spacious hall. The masonry of the walls, the stairs, the floor, and generally all of the building around them had such a smooth and finely crafted quality as to give an undeniable impression of somebody having great longing dreams to see this structure completely built. Both of them had to acknowledge this upon seeing it, but for Koen, the notion delivered a much deeper strike.
      "What is this place?" Shepry said in a reluctant break of the silence
      "It looks... Amazing." Koen responded, though at heart concerned little with his conversation, more with further exploring this grand place.
      He immediately ascended one of the staircases by the fireplace, determined to take in more of the structural beauty he'd already seen. In his devotion to his goal, he barely realized he was approaching little more than darkness, so Shepry caught up his slack, taking the lit torches from the sides of the main door to carry up. There was such a strange feeling overwhelming Koen. As he approached the dark second floor, he had absolutely no worry that anything dangerous or fearsome could lurk in the shadows. The pure silence and near divinity of the place swept reassurance over him.
      Once on the second floor, these two made the final realization of the nature of this building. Upstairs, aside from a few more chairs sitting behind the first floor's fireplace's chimney, there were many far-stretching rows of shelves filled with countless books.
      "Wow... It's a great, big, beautiful library..." Koen declared. Before long, the two of them split to go different ways, each to explore the library on their own. Shepry, less willing to be absorbed in the craftsmanship of this building, had on her mind such goals as finding another person within the library or looking for some specific sign of anyone who might live nearby.
      With Koen though... He let himself be carried away in the discovery. Upon taking in the full scene, any first impression would feel entirely too rude. This place had a sanctified atmosphere which will make the slightest noise seem overly intrusive. Could such a place really be abandoned, uninhabited? The library seemed so complete just on its own that even one footstep on its stony floor was like an alarm interrupting a sacred prayer. Yet Koen was still there. The library was so elegantly perfect on its own, yet still it allowed him visitation, in such a way as to make him feel unworthy, though still most honored.
      Without even searching thoroughly, it was easy to see that the place was empty. The ears could give such a straightforward notification of intrusion not perceived by the eyes, as any sound would shatter the perfect silence otherwise present. Any sound in this library was like throwing a stone into a perfectly still pond, as every ripple is clearly seen, all brought forth by this intruding stone, until the waves have settled and there once more is a pure aural slate. Solitude in here feels like an honor granted only to one who contributes to its pure silence.
      Koen thought the place so perfectly regal that he might never want to leave. Clearly it was a place built by great people for those similar to them. Perhaps whoever had the place constructed, whoever conceived the place first saw that the only way they could preserve its purity was to leave it and never return. Better to leave it as it first was than to see it become something less, no? An early departure may be necessary to prevent any kind of unwanted dirtying.
      These thoughts made their way through Koen's mind as he took in the full scene of the library. As he made several rounds, leafing through the occasional book and getting as close a look as he could in the design and craftsmanship of the library, he began to think that the only way to keep it as wonderful as he'd found it would be to leave before he could make any unwanted impression on the place.
      Traversing a staircase new to him, one that would take him from the third floor back down to the second, he began to wonder how anybody could want to leave this place though, so divine, hallowed, and free of blemish. These stairs led to a platform halfway between the floors before making a right turn and continuing on to the lower floor. It was here, halfway between the floors that he made such a horrible discovery that shattered his spirited enthusiasm for this beautiful location. There on the floor was an orange stain, a splotch made some time ago by some careless soul evidently spilling a sugary drink there and being so careless as to neither tell anybody nor make any effort to clean it.
      He sat in the corner by this spot, dimsayed. Now that he knew of it, it was too hard to find joy in the rest of the library. If he were to move, at any time that he got absorbed in the beauty of his surroundings, his thoughts would surely be drawn always to this spot tainting the area... So all he did was sit near this spot and stare at the floor where it resided. Before long, Shepry found him here. Apparently she already knew of it.
      "Disappointing, isn't it?..." She knew what a difficult discovery this was for him, and so had to choose her words carefully. "I was going to tell you, but I could see how much you liked this place. I thought you should get to have that as long as you want... Better than for me to cut it short for you..."
      She then looked directly to his face, and saw how his eyes were glinting in the torchlight. She thought he should be left alone, that this newly arisen conflict was now left only to Koen and the library, so she stood after a brief silence to descend the stairs once again. He rose to follow her almost immediately though, either recovering quickly from the shock or wishing to hide his despair.
      "Don't worry too much. I would have found out eventually," he assured her. They continued on the stairs to return to the first floor, the main hall of the library.
      Suddenly all sanctity was gone from the library's silence. No longer were they in a place that should have all outside noises shunned, but rather a place where it's really easy to hear each other talking. Koen almost jogged down the steps now, no longer making efforts to tread lightly. Instead, the resounding echo of each footstep was relished as a perfectly uninterrupted rhythm all its own. His pattern of one boot hitting the floor followed by one sock hitting the floor, accompanied by Shepry's two boots made an almost hypnotic steady beat.
      "At any rate," Shepry said, "I couldn't stay here for too long, as hungry as I'm getting." Maybe this would get him moving onward even more quickly.
      "Oh man, we haven't even had breakfast yet, have we? Well yeah, let's go find something to eat."
      In front of the fireplace, Shepry stopped him. "Since there are still embers in the fireplace, somebody must have been here recently."
      "Maybe last night or something?" Koen responded, now deciding to remove his other boot and to tie it onto his belt.
      Koen might have stayed there forever. Such a place would seem ideal to live out one's days to the end. Faced with such purity though, only to find out it had been tarnished by somebody with such little regard for something so lovely, it couldn't be. Beautiful as it was, it became less meaningful after that kind of deception, so Koen felt that he could do nothing but move on.

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