A very short story this week on the Tale, written last week while I had the joy of having a cold. Still, I have written about sick days before, so I shan’t this … But I will write about something …
One of the happiest moments of Tera’s day comes when she peeks into the Library of the Realm, as she is wont to do. Being that she is the Head Librarian, of course, this means that she does so every day. She wanders the hallways, passes a fingertip over the rows and rows of shelving, regards the collections, the paintings, the many things that make up all of what is, truly, one of her most favourite parts of the Realm.
There is something about just being there, among the knowledge of the universes, that calls to her. It’s the idea that, with the opening of a book, she can discover a place she has never been, a story that she didn’t know. It’s the realization that, by wondering about a painting or a statue, she might discover a thought she had not had before.
Then there are the souls she encounters there. Some do, quite clearly, know they are in a place that is different from the typical library. There is something special about those who curate it, who tend the knowledge there and offer that freely to any that ask a question. Then there are the others, the ones that have no idea how they managed to arrive there, how they found the door, how it led to this place. They wonder about the librarian who calls herself “Tera:” who she is, why there is something about her that calls to them. Some find themselves encountering the truth, to learn who Tera is. Some are more intent upon the book they are searching for. In every case, the events that unfold are as they turn out to be.
Still, there is something about the place that that all these souls find their way to that they all wonder about most of all. It is, in each case, the stories that this ebon-haired woman has to tell, sometimes while her red tail swishes and her red horns glint in the light around them, sometimes not—it depends, really, upon the souls that she is telling the story to.
On this particular day, Tera was sitting in a bean bag chair, sipping at her hot chocolate and thinking about the story to be told that day. It had to be something interesting, for these particular listeners were the most critical of them all. They asked questions, some of them the most amazing, all things considered. Tera found them to be her singular challenge, but also her greatest joy.
She looked at the space around her, noting the pillows scattered here and there, a couch to one side, a few chairs of various kinds scattered about. She brushed a bit of lint from her red sweater, wiggled into the chair a little deeper, and set her mug on one leg of her jeans. While she pondered her red heels, she listened for her guests to arrive, but didn’t yet hear them, though she knew full well she would. She considered hiding her horns and tail, but soon decided not to. These particular listeners didn’t feel there was something wrong with a woman with red horns and a tail. Brushing an errant lock of hair back into place, she realized she still found that particularly gratifying. Oh course, her tail usually was hidden by the chair, so really all they saw were the horns, and those could well be dismissed as simply being a bit of costume flourish by a librarian with an odd sense of humour.
Having all of the time in the world, she wasn’t perturbed by them being a bit late; she knew quite well that they would be distracted by the Library itself, and their chaperones would need some time to gather them up and herd them towards where she was waiting. This always gave Tera a little laugh, and she took another sip of her hot chocolate to hide the bemusement she was feeling at the idea.
Soon however, there was a knock as the first of them arrived, peeking into the room and then ducking back out again. Placing her mug on the floor next to her, Tera called out for them to not be shy, that they were more than welcome to enter. When none did, Tera wondered if there was something wrong, and grew rather concerned. As she got up to see what was wrong, the visitors started to pour into the room, and what had been a quiet place in the library soon was a raucous wall of giggling and laughter. Tera couldn’t help but smile, seeing the young souls flood into the room, their eyes looking about in wonder. Some paused when they looked towards her, as she gave a wave to them all and then asked everyone to get comfortable with her.
There were a lot of new souls who came in, but there were some that she had seen before, as well, they being the braver ones that ran over, hugged her tightly, and then ran off once more. Some of those, of course, were teased by their friends about being in love with the librarian, and some got some pointed looks from their girlfriends. Many blushed and stumbled over an explanation, trying to justify why they did so, but, in the end, all they could say was: “Just wait. You’ll see!”
Soon, though it took a while, things settled down enough that the chaperones could find their own places in the room, for they would never miss Tera telling one of her stories. The Queen raised her right hand into the air and waved to everyone there, and then she told a story about something. What that something was didn’t really matter, or perhaps it did for some there. The story told about something that mattered to her, or perhaps something she had discovered in her life. Perhaps she explained something about the universe, or a bit of a tale about something she had seen. It didn’t really matter what the story was, exactly, just that something was told.
When she finished the story, some had fallen asleep, some were whispering to one another about what she had said, and some looked confused, with questions Tera could clearly see in their eyes. A few of the brave ones were waving their hands wildly, trying to get her attention, to be the first to say something.
Her Majesty, of course, answered every question put to her. Not all of her answers made a lot of sense, but, when a particularly clever soul had a moment of enlightenment, she found that especially gratifying. This went on long enough that she would look at her mug and wonder about getting a refill, but she continued to speak, allowing every soul that wanted to ask something to do so.
Eventually of course their time came to a close and they were all gathered up, to give “Miss Tera” a thank you for sharing her story and her library with them all. As each and every one of them left—the sleepy, the bright, the wondering, the confused—she made sure to hug each and every one as they passed by her beanbag chair. If nothing else, she had given them all something to think about, and, perhaps, in doing so, she would guide them to their futures.
Once they all had departed, she would pick up her mug off the floor, stood up, and started to walk towards her office, intending to put something into her mug to finish off her day.
But, just once, something a little different happened. As she turned a corner, a young girl, one of those that had been listening to her before, was waiting there for her. She scrunched up her nose and looked at the Head Librarian, horns, tail, and all. She seemed to be thinking about something; then she asked, in a small voice, “Are those real?”
Tera knelt down beside her and smiled: “Yes, they are.”
The young soul reached out a hand and touched one of the Queen’s horns, then gave a little poke to the red royal tail. She giggled when, in response, Tera’s tail swished and then darted behind her once more: “That’s cool.”
“I’m rather fond of them myself.”
There was a bit of an awkward silence, then the same young voice with an inquisitive tone: “How did you… get something like that?”
Tera set her mug on the floor beside her: “That’s something of a story. I’m not sure there’s enough time to tell it all.”
From which, a slight pout came: “Aw … Please? Something?”
Tapping her lips, Tera considered. Then she motioned with her hand for the young one to come closer. When she did so, the succubi cupped her hand and whispered softly into the attentive girl’s ear. This was something that she hadn’t told before, and, this time, what she was telling was very important: a story about what the Queen’s tail and horns meant to her, why they were something.
When Her Majesty had finished, she watched as a flicker of … something … a new something … passed over the young girl’s face: “That’s … something …really something. But … I’m not much of something.”
Tera nodded: “I think my tail knows you’re quite something.”
The Succubi Queen was quite surprised when she found herself being hugged, quite tightly: “So are you.”
As the young girl ran off to her friends, Tera watched her leave, a thought coming as she did …“You learn something every day.”
From across the way, a young red tail, her hair in a ponytail, watched, her hands cupped over her nose and lips, her eyes moist with tears as her own thought came to her … “I learned something that day.”
Since the Queen noticed everything, she noticed this, and glanced from the young succubi’s pony tail to that of the departing little girl. First, her green eyes sparkled with recognition; then, they moistened with tears as an important life-circle closed for her. In a moment, she was up and across the room. The two embraced, weeping happily, as horns touched and tails entwined.
In the grand scheme of things, Tera’s stories might help people learn something … but, sometimes, just sometimes, the little somethings caused bigger somethings that even she could never imagine.