The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Nine)
"Well, that's rude," the serpent said, reeling back. His scales that were the color of jungle leaves glittered against the sunlight. "Is that any way to treat someone you just met?"
"S-s-s-s-s-s-s-snake!" I stammered. My legs lost their strength and I collapsed onto the floor. I quickly shut my eyes, turning my face away from the giant snake.
"What are you doing?" the great snake asked. There was a hint of mild irritation in his tone. "Isn't it rude to turn your back on someone when they're talking to you?"
"You can't fool me!" I screamed. "I ain't getting caught in your death gaze!"
The snake let out a sigh of exasperation.
"Who do you take me for? King Basilisk the Murderous? I've never learned such powerful magic like a death gaze spell. I barely know any mid-level magic. Honestly, it's always the same with you humans and your tendency to grossly misunderstand another species based on the actions of a single individual or insignificantly small number of individuals. Oh, if only King Basilisk weren't such a bloodthirsty snake, us serpents wouldn't have had such a bad reputation."
As the snake rambled on, I gingerly opened one eye and peeked around, hoping to find an escape route. There was just one exit, and in my way was the snake's great big tail.
"Judging by your behavior, I take it you're new to the Monster Realm," the serpent continued. "You are, aren't you? Well?"
"Huh?" I said.
"I asked you a question. The least you could do is answer. Or have you lost your manners as well as your wits, boy?"
"Y-yeah!" I exclaimed. "Yes! I'm new."
"Well, then, I suppose introductions are in order," said the snake, reeling back. He completely blocked my view of the exit. "Welcome to the library, where all books from the ancient magic tomes of Merlin's disciples to picture books by human writers are held for all to enjoy. I am the librarian, Sylvester Slithers. Tell me, what is a human like you doing in a place like this?"
"I-I came to return something," I replied, my eye still rolling from Sylvester's mighty form to the exit.
"Oh? Let me see . . ."
Sylvester slithered toward the main desk. As he did, he shrunk and transformed into a balding, middle-aged man with a gray beard. He was wearing a worn out three-piece, blue suit with patched elbows and a bow tie. In my mind, I was probably going something like "Bwaaaah?" I mean, just a minute ago, that short, old man was a giant snake that could swallow a horse whole.
Sylvester the man bent down as he reached beneath the desk. When he straightened back up, he was holding the package that I had dropped into the returns bin only a few minutes ago. He tore the message tag from the package and read it.
"Ah, I see you've met our resident Cait Sith," he said, tucking the card away. "Much obliged. I was getting worried that I would have to fine her for a late return. It's never a good day when you have to fine someone as powerful as her."
He neatly unwrapped the book from the brown packaging paper and held it up above his head. I couldn't see the book very well, so I couldn't tell what its title was or what picture was on the cover, but I could tell that it was red and a hardcover copy. Sylvester puffed a breath and then let the book go as it gently floated up and flew away to who-knows-where.
"Well, everything seems to be in order," he said. "Off you go."
"Huh?" I went.
"I'm saying that I'm letting you go," said the librarian. "Or were you thinking I was going to hold you prisoner or something?I'm a librarian. Why would I need a prisoner? But if you are so inclined, I could bind you to this library with my magic powers and have you help me catalog all five-million-three-hundred-thousand-five-hundred-and-seventy-four books."
"I'm good!" I cried out.
I turned around and ran toward the exit.
"Oh, and boy?" Sylvester Slithers called out.
I stopped and turned.
"About that event you witnessed through the Memory Gem, please don't forget about it. There is a lesson to be learned."
And what lesson could that be? I wondered. That humans are bad?
"Humans and monsters can and have lived together in harmony," Sylvester said, as if he could read my mind. "And that it is a terribly sad thing for such a beautiful harmony to be ruined by the sometimes unreasonable prejudice of others. That is the lesson. You saw what happened. What did the people there, monster and human, look like after the invasion of the king's army?"
I thought back to that moment I saw through that magic gem. I had never seen such grief on a person's face before. And she wasn't the only one looking like that. Many of the monsters at that village were distraught at the wrong that was done to them.
"Whatever happened to them all?" I asked.
"What any group of people do after a huge tragedy destroyed their homes and their lives," Sylvester replied. As he spoke, he transformed back into a giant snake. "They mourned their losses, gathered up the rubble, rebuilt everything from scratch, and moved on with their lives. Not as they were before, of course. There is no returning to before that time. There most certainly wasn't for any of them."
"You know, there was a werewolf and a human girl," I said to him. "They were the first two that I saw. Whatever happened to them, specifically?"
Sylvester looked at me with those great big eyes of his, blinked twice and flicked his forked tongue.
"From what I remember of my research of those particular two, that day was the start of their many great adventures," he said after careful thought. "They left their village after the rebuilding was finished with mind for revenge. However, their honorable spirit and tight cling to morals pushed them onto a path of heroics, instead of revenge. The girl, I think, through her actions and accomplishments became known as the Hero of Heroes."
"Wait, what?" I exclaimed.
The Hero of Heroes. I had heard that name before. Wasn't that what Cait Sith called -?
"The Hero of Heroes and the legendary werewolf hero, Pembrooke the Moon Knight, eventually did avenge the wrong to their village when they confronted the evil king for his tyranny. The battle was fierce. Both sides had powerful magic as their weapons. It is unclear what happened after that. Some believe that the two forces destroyed each other in the final clash, while others believe that the Moon Knight and the Hero of Heroes were victorious and disappeared back into the shadows to live a life of peace. Personally, I'm hoping it is the latter."
"What? No one knows what happened for sure?" I asked. "Couldn't you use that crystal thing over there to find out?"
The serpent laughed. "You really think no one thought to use the Memory Gem to find out? Many have tried. But none could make it past the beginning of the final battle; not even with Memory Gems without the safeguards. But that is to be expected when looking into the past of people who have connections with the beings we call gods. We're allowed to see what makes them heroes, but we can never see them as they truly are: mortals, people, human, albeit amazing ones. The gods wish these heroes to be immortal, and so it shall be."
Sylvester slithered out from behind the circulation desk.
"Now, I think it is time for you to leave," he said. "It's closing time. I need to lock up."
"Huh?" I glanced up to the old Roman numeral clock hanging on the wall to my left. According to the old thing, it was already half past Five. Holy cow! Was it really that late already?
"Oh, shoot!" I cried. "I better get going. It was nice talking to you!"
"Good bye, young man," said Sylvester, bowing his head. "It was nice talking to you, too."
I ran out of the library, pulling out my phone. Not wanting to get lost on my way, I opened up my phone's map app, typed in the name of the restaurant and then ran where the phone told me to run.
Sylvester Slithers, the serpent, watched as the boy left the library.
"I say," the serpent said to himself after the boy closed the door behind him. "The start was a bit rocky, but he seemed to be reasonable enough at the end. Isn't that right?"
The Memory Gem did not answer when the serpent looked up to it.
"Showing every stranger you meet with a random event of the past, you're always up to some kind of mischief, aren't you?" Sylvester continued. He let out a sigh. "But then, you always seem to know what who needs to see what in order to learn and grow."
I made it back to The Dandy Monster restaurant just as Greg was finished with pouring a customer a cup of coffee. With a thin stirring stick, the sharply dressed blue-skinned vampire teen swiftly etched an image of a flower with the cream on the caffeinated drink.
"Sorry for the wait," Greg said as he brought the coffee over to the customer, an elf girl in a green dress. The way he walked and smiled was elegant and gentle, a total contrast from the aloof, emo guy I was still trying to get used to. "Here is your caramel macchiato with the cream decorated as a sunshine daisy, as requested."
The elf smiled and thanked him before taking a sip.
Greg straightened up and turned around. The gentle smile on his face faded, and once more, he wore a sour look upon the sight of me.
"Where've you been?" he asked.
Suddenly feeling shy, I shrugged and replied: "To the library."
Greg gave me a weird look, but didn't ask anymore. Instead, he nodded toward the back door.
"Get dressed for work," he said. "It's starting to get crowded in here, and we're gonna need all the help we can get."
Almost every table was filled with some kind of monster or weirdly dressed human. Some were dressed in modern clothes, while others looked like they just stepped out of a steampunk comic book. There was even a fish guy wearing purple robes with sparkly gold stars sown to the cuffs of the sleeves.
"Wait, what?" I said. Greg suddenly shoved a bundle of clothes into my arms and started pushing me to the back door.
"You're living here for free until Delilah finds our parents," Greg hissed. "The least you can do is help with the restaurant. Geez, Simon just had to pick today of all days to go to some lecture on magic at the nearby college. And where's Delilah? She should've been back by now. Now go!"
Everything was happening so fast that I didn't have time to argue. Before I knew it, I was dressed in a bow tie, waistcoat, and apron, with a notebook and pen in hand, taking a tiny pixie girl's order for a caramel cappuccino. And while I went to work, passing orders over to Greg, and bringing caffeinated drinks to customers, I asked myself over and over again "How in the world did I get here?"
- The Dandy Monsters: Night of the Eripmav (Chapter Eight)
Jay finds a library.