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The grand library fell in a torrent of stones, arrows, and fire.

They had seen to that.

The screams inside had long since gone silent. What had began as a hungry roar and an infernal blaze had quieted as the flames sated themselves. Bit by beautiful bit, the library fell, burying the only caretakers it had never known and serving as the only grave marker they would ever have.

They had seen to that, too.

They waited. Their lord stood in front of them, watching the scene eagerly.

They almost didn't see him when he rose from the rubble. He was just one more patch of darkness in the shadows cast by the dying fire and thriving night. He moved toward them slowly, deliberately, as though walking through water.

His clothes resembled the uniform of the library: loose tunic, leggings, and a sash proclaiming him to be a scribe. They were badly charred in places, and the once white cloth was smoke-stained gray and covered in places by thick ash.

His skin was splotchy. Parts were pale. Unnaturally pale. Other parts were the off-yellow color of old vellum. Other parts, the same texture and shade of dried papyrus. Ash and soot marred his gaunt face.

He looked up with steadily smoldering eyes.

"Why?' he rasped. His mouth was completely black, save for the few stray embers that floated out of his throat. "Why have you called me?"

The lord moved his horse forward, holding out an envelope. He smiled and leaned to give it to the burning man.

"A message for your lord."

The burning man took the paper. There were a few gasps from the gathered men as it smoldered in his hand. He continued staring into the general's eyes, even as the ash blew away in the breeze, leaving nothing behind. When it was gone, the burning man nodded.

"I see," he choked.

"And when can I expect a response?" said the lord.

The burning man looked off into the distance. "A week," he said. "Call me in a week. You shall have your answer."

The lord nodded. "A week, then."

The man sluggishly turned back to the rubble, and melted into the dark.

They waited a few minutes after, just in case it wasn't over. Then the lord smiled urged everyone on.

A week,
he mused. A week.

He would have to find another library.

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