Secrets never stay hidden forever.
Kemplan sat in front of the fireplace watching the salamanders dance among the flames. His eyelids were droopy, and he needed sleep. He let himself drift, and then shot up, realizing he needed to add another log to the fire. He pushed himself off the old leather chair with the high back and waddled over to the stack of logs beside the fireplace. He picked one up with his chubby hands, removed the gold fencing that surrounded the fire, and threw it on top of the other logs. The new log was instantly devoured by the flames. He smiled and turned towards his chair.
There, perched on the bottom cushion was a piece of parchment. Kemplan glanced up into the skies of the library. It was vast, the ceiling too high to see due to the shadows that collected above him. Eyes back to the cushion, Kemplan paused and gawked at the parchment. Never in all his time had a page appeared like that. He waddled over to the chair and delicately grasped the page.
He turned it over and stared down at the images before him. A Ferryman was perched on a throne, wearing the royal colors of black and gold. Across from him, was a Flame. They were staring at each other with a look that meant one thing--soulmates. Kemplan blinked and shook his head. He wanted to shove the parchment back into the high shelf it had come from. Memories clouded his mind as he revisited the past he barely survived. He nervously cleared his throat, and clenched his fist. There weren't many things in the Great Library that were forbidden, but this was one of them.
Kemplan opened his eyes again in the hopes he had been hallucinating, but the parchment was unchanged. On it, the sun shone down on the two, showering them in golden beams of light. Two ankhs, shaped like crosses with hoops at the top, hung at the edges of the beams of light, a symbol of their importance to the universe. Kemplan scoffed and threw the parchment on the chair. He paced the small embroidered rug, wringing his hands out. He was afraid to look at it anymore, afraid of what horrendous memories would flood his mind. He balled up his fists; glancing at the parchment each time he turned.
After a few paces he stopped in front of the fireplace and stared the parchment down. He crossed the floor, seized it, and tossed it into the fire. He tried not to watch as the flames licked at the edges of the enchanted parchment, but he knew it wouldn't burn easily.
Kemplan turned, expecting to find it devoured, but instead he was met with the staggering symbols that appeared overtop of the images. His stomach lurched, the message too blatant to mistake. He fell on his back and mouthed the word "no". Scrambling backwards, he tried to put as much distance between himself and that vile thing defying the flames.
There was a deafening screech from the fireplace and Kemplan instinctively brought his hands to his ears, trying to dull the sound. He closed his eyes and saw nothing but fire before him. He wanted to escape the memories but they came on hot and strong, and as he blinked he saw a flash of his wife, charred. He begged not to see the images of his children, his house, his life, but whether he recalled them or not, they were still memories that were imprinted on his mind. He would never forget.
He let out a gasp and stared back at the fireplace that crackled like it was about to explode. He rolled over and squeezed his eyes shut. Chaos. His life had become nothing but chaos. He let out a whimper as the crippling sadness rippled through him. He could never have that life back. He would always be trapped in the Great Library as the Great Librarian, and it would always be their fault.
He closed his eyes and tried to force the images away. Instead, he remembered what the High King Tor said: "It was said long ago that one of the Flames would fulfill a great prophecy."
Kemplan snarled. Precious but dangerous, the Flames were never to be trusted. Life was better when they were hidden. He gritted his teeth and waited for the fire to explode, hoping it would erase him from existence for good. A dead calm washed through the Great Library as darkness covered him. Smoke rose from the fireplace and Kemplan turned and sat up. He pawed through the smoke to where the page was and saw it glowing. He stifled his disgust and felt his heart drop.
And so it begins, he thought bitterly.
This is the legend of The Ferryman and the Flame.