Recount of a Trip to Destral: Part VI - The Library

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

You can read part five of Keyaji's recount here.

by Keto Keyaji, Akutana e Metru Nui, recorded 85,024 a.A.

As I approached the great double doors of the library, I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow I was too insignificant to be allowed to enter the halls beyond. I told myself that it was just another library like the dozens I had visited in the past and that the secrets of the Brotherhood would be kept well away from the eyes of a Matoran like me. Nonetheless it felt as if the two Exo-Toa guarding the doors followed my every step with their unwavering optical sensors, even though none of them made the slightest move.

Getting closer, I could see that the doors bore a beautifully intricate design of intertwining Rahi serpents etched into their silver surface, adorned with different rare metals and gemstones. The symbol of the Three Virtues was also there, as well as the emblem of the Brotherhood, both placed so that one half of them was on each wing. As someone who has seen both, I can truthfully say that these gates put most of the decorations in Metru Nui’s Great Temple to shame, and it is only fitting, for behind them there is supposed to be the greatest collection of wisdom in the universe.

Since I had no idea where to find the texts I was supposed to look at, I had to tear myself away from the doors and turn right towards a smaller, far less adorned door which the letters above it marked as the entrance to the index. The dimensions of the room beyond seemed to be similar to those of the artifact museum on the other side of the hallway which I had visited the day before – a broad room that took up most of the length of the building which connected the Library Tower to the Inner Ring. Unlike the artifact museum, the index was cleaner, better maintained and – most of all – far more busy, though. Rows upon rows of shelves filled with stone tablets limited my field of vision, but at least half a dozen Matoran busied themselves in between them, occasionally returning to the front desk and noting down something in a list there.

The Ga-Matoran clerk attending the front desk at the moment had the unenviable honor of placating a very impatient Makuta who was loudly cursing the slowness of the workers. Multiple times the clerk tried to explain that the information her team was supposed to provide was spread over all four stories of the index, but the Makuta hardly even listened. Instead, she noticed me standing by the door and told me to get her the location of everything regarding the history of Konora and Tagah’s comments on Ursare politics.

I tried to explain that I didn’t work here, but the Matoran clerk warningly shook her head behind the Makuta’s back and gestured to the stairs behind her. I got the hint, clutched the scroll with my orders tight and clambered up the next floor.

The second story of the index looked just like the first, complete with a clerk behind a desk in front of a door leading into the hallway. This one – an Onu-Matoran – fortunately wasn’t beleaguered by a Makuta and was visibly glad for it, wincing whenever the volume downstairs rose. He gave me a quizzical look as I appeared, obviously noticing that I wasn’t part of the staff, but then must have realized what was the cause for my unexpected way of arrival. Apologetically he told me I’d have to wait until the ambassadress’ order had been taken care of, then asked how bad the situation below was so far. I answered that he just had to listen. Interestingly enough, he seemed to take that as a good sign, admitting that the last time the ambassadress had lost her temper the clerk on duty needed an entire week to recover – and he had been lucky. I kept my thoughts on the job qualification of an ambassadress who couldn’t keep her temper to myself at this point.

It took almost an hour until I finally left the index, having been provided with a protodermis sheet on which the locations of the various tablets I had to take a look at were noted down. Taking a deep breath, I now approached the magnificent doors to the library, only realizing that I had no idea how to open them when I already stood right before them. Several times as tall as me, I didn’t harbor any illusions that I had the strength to open them by hand. From what I knew of Exo-Toa, I also couldn’t expect any help there. In the end I resorted to just giving it a try. I thought that maybe I had to knock and someone inside would then open the doors for me. Just to be sure, I gave the doors a slight shove, however – as expected to no effect. When I was about to withdraw my hand to attempt knocking, something suddenly changed, though. I felt a warmth creeping through my arm into my hand into the door. I rapidly snatched my hand back, and then to my amazement observed how the double doors slowly opened inwards.

The room behind was disappointingly small and only contained a desk in front of another pair of smaller and less decorated doors. Interestingly, the ceiling was covered by a mirror, which made the room appear higher that it was. Behind the desk sat a bored-looking Onu-Matoran, flanked by two purple Rahkshi. The Matoran looked up as the doors opened, then when I had entered asked me my name and what my business was, which he marked down on a tablet in front of him. I also had to show him the scroll with Makuta Yantra’s orders and my Tablet of Transit, before one of the Rahkshi stepped forward. I felt a slight mental touch that likely meant it was reading my mind, but the next instant the sensation was gone and the Rahkshi stepped back again. The clerk proceeded to tell me in a monotone voice not to bother anyone, to keep to the sections of the library I was supposed to visit and not to break anything. Each story of the library also had attendants who could assist me if there was any problem. I thanked him and went to the next set of doors, these opening at my approach to finally let me into the actual library.

Every great library I had visited so far had more or less the same appearance and aura, and Destral didn’t seem to be an exception. Shelves full of tablets defined the room, row after row, reaching high enough into the air that even a Vortixx would have needed a ladder to reach their tops. The corridors between the shelves often were illuminated just enough so that I could barely make out the titles of the documents as I walked past. The side corridors at times were so narrow, however, that without a lightstone you wouldn’t be able to see anything at all. A deep silence hung over the place, only occasionally disturbed by the soft scratching of stone on stone when someone removed a tablet from a shelf and a few hushed whispers in the distance. My footsteps echoed on the tiled stone floor.

At the center of the tower I finally came across a large spiral staircase. I can’t deny that I felt a certain temptation to climb down into the basements to get just a small peak at the artifacts and documents stored there, but in the end heeded my Makuta's warnings and climbed upwards. The notes from the index said that the sections on alchemy and botany were located in the sixth and seventh story, respectively.

Not being particularly keen of delving into alchemy at the moment, I decided to start on the seventh floor, but even before I reached it, a series of angry shouts suddenly cut through the silence, startling me so that I nearly tumbled down the stairwell again. I carefully crept up the stairs after that, trying to figure out what this commotion was about, but all that greeted me on the seventh floor was a De-Matoran cowering in front of a shelf, hands pressed to the sides of his head and several tablets strewn around him, which he must have dropped. Out of sight, but close, there was a debate in progress that could only be described as a shouting match. Even my ears were ringing from it by that point. From what I gathered, it was a disagreement about whether a certain plant was poisonous or not and if one of the two speakers had told the other when creating a new Rahi.

I gladly would have retreated, but seeing the De-Matoran obviously in pain from the volume of the exchange, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. There was no doubt that only Makuta would be talking about Rahi creation, not to mention dare making so much noise, so I did the next best thing I could, grabbed the De-Matoran beneath the arms and pulled him away to the other end of the tower, where I couldn’t quite make out the words of the Makuta anymore, although certainly hear them still. The Matoran I had rescued still cringed visibly and wouldn’t take his hands away from his ears, but it was clear it was about bearable for him now. I gave him a pat on the shoulder to signal him everything was alright, then took a look at my list and tried to get my bearings to start work.

The shouting died down to a loud murmur some time later, then after an hour or two the Makuta finally left. For me it had been slow going. I spent what felt like a small eternity just figuring out where exactly I was, then every tablet I needed seemed to be located at the very top of a different tower of shelves, forcing me to climb up and down and move the ladders multiple times until I finally found and reached them. I was just returning to my workplace – a chair in front of a huge curved table set against the outer wall of the tower – with another two tablets I had spent an ungodly amount of time getting, when I spotted the Matoran I had helped earlier clear away my painstakingly collected resources. I yelled at him to leave them where they are, realizing too late that a normal volume would have been loud enough for him to hear, and indeed made him jump and nearly break one of the tablets on the edge of the table. Quieter, I apologized, but told him I still needed the tablets. He hesitated for a moment, carefully placing the tablets in his hands on the desk again, then told me that my voice was originating from a point too close to the floor to come from a Makuta. He asked if I had been the one who dragged him away from the shouting earlier.

I was a little confused as to what he said about my voice and the floor and thought he must have seen me before, but when he turned his face to me I could clearly see from the dim, unsteady glow in his eyes that he must be blind. When I recovered from my surprise, I introduced myself and he thanked me for my earlier help and apologized for clearing away my tablets. He explained that it was his task as a library attendant to clean up after the visitors, if I didn’t want him to do that, I’d have to hang a pendant from the back of my chair as a sign for him. He pulled one out from under my tablets and handed it to me – a simple angular stone marker on a chain. As I followed his instruction, he introduced himself as Shavah and offered to help me find the texts I sought. Gladly, I accepted.

What I quickly realized was that Shavah, despite his blindness, navigated the corridors between the tall shelves perfectly. He even knew exactly where dozens of tablets were located. When I inquired about it, he told me that he used his naturally enhanced hearing to navigate around obstacles. On top of that, each floor of the library tower was attended by different Matoran – usually two, working in shifts – and he had been working here for so long that he had memorized the floor plan and the rough location of most texts. He proceeded to show me how he could quickly sort the tablets without needing to read them – each stone tablet had a code deeply engraved on its side, scrolls on their handles and metal sheets at the very bottom of the page. Shavah would use his sense of touch and thus within an instant knew where the text belonged. Similarly he could always get his bearings by feeling for the codes on tablets nearby should he ever loose his orientation, although that was rare, as he assured me. A friend of his who worked on the eleventh floor once had been led astray by someone not putting tablets where they belonged, however, and only after a week did he finally find his way back to the exit.

This seemed weird to me, after all the staircase in the middle of the tower was easily visible from wherever one would climb a ladder to reach the top of a shelf. I asked Shavah if his friend was also blind, which seemed to surprise my De-Matoran friend. He told me all library attendants were blind, as the Makuta couldn’t allow just anyone access to their knowledge, but needed the attendants to keep things in order. Before Shavah and his fellow Matoran were brought in, the library supposedly had been a shambles, only the dedicated work of the then Head Librarian, Makuta Sachel, restoring it to some form of order. The Matoran then were tasked with keeping it that way.

I asked if they had known that taking the job would cost them their sight – from personal experience I knew that some Makuta didn’t even consider that their servants might disagree with their ideas. It isn’t malice, the idea just never seems to cross their mind as a possibility.

But Shavah shook his head, telling me that only a few of the attendants who were recruited later on were blinded, and they willingly submitted themselves to it in return for the safety and continuity Destral represented. Most of the attendants, like himself, came from a De-Matoran settlement on the Southern Continent. At some point way in the past some kind of illness struck their village, resulting in a quarter of the population loosing their sight. The first months were tough, for although the region was fertile, loosing a quarter of all workers while still having to provide for them was difficult. It thus was a great luck that half a year later a Makuta arrived in the village, having heard about their problems and offering the blind Matoran to accompany him back to Destral, where he’d see if he could do something for them. Unfortunately he eventually could only restore the sight of a handful, and even that not fully, but at that point the Head Librarian took pity and offered the rest jobs as library attendants. Even to this day many of them thanked Mata Nui for this good fortune, for none of them could imagine their blindness would have allowed them to find a better life elsewhere.

As a healer I of course was interested in this mysterious illness, of which I had never heard before, but Shavah couldn’t tell me much more beyond that he went to sleep one night and awoke being blind, which didn’t really give me any leads. I wondered if Mistress Yandra could have been the mysterious savior of these Matoran, but then recalled that Shavah had talked of the Makuta as a he. Potentially it had been the Brotherhood’s physician, although I had only heard of him, yet I dimly recalled my Makuta saying he knew a great deal about Makuta viruses and similar phenomenona.

As much as I’d have liked to talk to Shavah further, however, it was clear I had already wasted enough time just collecting the texts I needed. Through the window above my desk I could see that it was almost midday by now. I thanked Shavah for his assistance, then unrolled my Makuta’s scroll and started my work.


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