Nestled in the heart of the sprawling city of Dhrelurias, is the structure from which the city drew its name: Dhrenarlivos, The Grand Library.
Constructed during a forgotten age, the library's white stone walls, stained by time; high, arched buttresses; countless clerestory, and pointed,
arched windows remained well kept by the structure's denizens.
Three towers, arranged triangularly around a central dome, pierced the sky from the core of the library, an area few outsiders have ever had the fortune to see.
Despite the immensity of the structure, its prominence within the city, and the knowledge housed within, the athenaeum saw little visitation.
Save for today. For today, a mass of people from all corners of the continent had gathered in the library's paved courtyard.
Among this crowd, a young woman with short, black hair by the name of Iurvia.
Dressed in a loose, thigh-length red tunic and leather trousers tucked into shin-high boots, she came from the town of Skrevurda,
near the eastern border as a means to part ways with her old life; a doldrums which wore upon her every day she lingered.
In the fury of arrivals, travelers drawn to the old library by some unknown command, she got swept away and now found herself in the middle of a twisting line.
Iurvia had never seen so many people in one place, not even at Skrevurda's annual harvest festival. Though she kept a straight face, her brown eyes betrayed her anxiety.
A consideration crossed her mind, to leave the line and head back to the city proper. But, as she drew toward the library's arched entranceway, curiosity won out.
Two sets of large, ornate metal doors stood open beyond the curved arches of the entrance. The line, fed through the left door, paused for minutes at a time.
These periods would have bored Iurvia, if not for the excitement of the line and her amazement at the architecture of the library.
She had never seen a structure like this before; her eyes moved over every stone in the archways and every tile underfoot ahead with a lively, curious gleam.
The doors, engraved with images of shelved tomes, quills and inkwells, and a bizarre border of odd, vine-like growths absorbed her attention between bouts of movement.
The noise of the crowd behind her served as music. However, what caught her attention most came after each jolt of motion ceased.
Between each pull of the line, a single individual would emerge through the right door and always with a different expression.
Some would giggle to themselves as if their minds had departed; others would beam great smiles as they took light steps from the building.
Each person dragged a curious look from her and led her to wonder what set them into such a state.
As the young woman continued her observance of the departing, she passed into the semi-circular entrance hall.
This chamber offered her new sights, which she devoured. Pillars, curved like the ribs of a great beast, ran up the walls and along the ceiling.
Stone benches as curved as the walls they pressed against lined the chamber.
Two open archways allowed her to peek into the next room: a long hall filled with desks, chairs, and a great many shelves stuffed with thick tomes.
The immensity of the space proved difficult for her to take in from such a distance, and so her eyes settled on an elderly man, dressed in finery,
approaching the archways with a smug grin on his face.
Her head followed the man as he passed the arches and departed through the door behind her.
In her turn to observe the figure's departure,
a man dressed in a dark blue ankle-length tunic cinched at the waist with a slit down the middle of the skirt and buttons running up from the naval approached her.
A silky, black shoulder cape hung from his shoulders, with embroidery mirroring the odd vine-like engraving of the doors.
Iurvia recalled this attire, minus the embroidery, on numerous people out in the courtyard. Perhaps, she thought, these individuals had an association with the structure.
The thought, combined with the man's approach, concerned her. Had her curiosity and inquisitiveness gotten her in trouble? Panic flashed across her face.
The expression did not go unnoticed by the advancing figure, who smiled in response.
The smile did little to reduce Iurvia's anxiety. To her, the situation looked dour; poisonous to her chances in the city.
To upset what appeared to be an important institution would be a death knell. As if the bell rang in her head, she dropped her eyes as the man stood before her.
"Salutations, young miss. I apologize if my approach has brought you discomfort. You looked to be one bristling with curiosity, and questions for which you had no answers.
" The man bowed at his stomach, his voice smoother and less angry than expected. "As overseer of the attendants, it is my privilege to offer any answers and explanations I can to those unknowing.
Iurvia flicked her eyes up at the man, nervousness clear in her features. She heard his words, but they were slow to sink in.
Her mind fancied paranoia and sought to pull hidden meaning from innocuous speech. Met with immediate failure, the suspicion subsided.
Though still uneasy, she forced a meek response, "He-hello."
"No need for nervousness. I am Head Attendant Nichlosh, overseer of the present event," he said.
"I...am Iurvia. It is a pleasure." Her voice came out uneven as she looked at Nichlosh's face. The man, older than she first thought, kept his left eye shut for a reason she couldn't determine.
Nor did she want to.
"A joy to make your acquaintance. Now, what thirsts may I slake for you?"
The young woman hesitated for a moment before speaking. "This may sound...odd, but what is this place?"
"Ah, a splendid question. One I oft find myself answering, actually.
" He clasped his hands before his chest, giving Iurvia an opportunity to see the missing ring and pinky fingers of his left hand.
"This glorious structure you now find yourself is Dhrenarlivos, The Grand Library.
Housed within these walls are a near countless number of tomes, scrolls, books, and other documents of knowledge. And, some, of pleasures."
As he spoke, the line continued its periodic march into the recesses of the repository.
The two kept pace and departed the lobby as a young woman adorned in a dress of bright reds and yellows entered from the hall with lips pressed thin, face long,
and a watery look to her otherwise crystal clear blue eyes. Iurvia's curiosity grew.