Authors: Brandon Dorman
As Brystal browsed the shelves at the end of the hall, a book on the very top shelf caught her attention. Unlike all the leather-bound records surrounding it, this book had a wooden cover and practically blended into the wooden shelf.
Brystal had never noticed the strange book before, and as she marveled at its peculiar camouflage, she began wondering if
had ever noticed it.
“Could there be books in this library that have never been read before?” she wondered aloud. “What if
the first person to read something?”
The notion was very exciting. Brystal rolled a ladder to the end of the hall and climbed to the top shelf. She tried to retrieve the wooden book, but it didn’t budge.
“It’s probably been sitting here for centuries,” she speculated.
Brystal pulled on the book again, with all her strength, but it didn’t move. Her feet rose off the ladder as she used all her weight to try to pry it loose, but even that didn’t help. No matter how hard she tried, the wooden book wouldn’t part from the shelf.
“It must be nailed down! What kind of sick person would nail a book to—
Without warning, Brystal and the ladder were knocked to the floor by something large and heavy. When she looked up, Brystal discovered that the entire bookcase had swung away from the wall to reveal a long and dark hallway hidden behind it. She quickly realized the wooden book wasn’t a book at all—
it was a lever to a secret door
“Hello?” Brystal nervously called into the hallway. “Is someone there?”
The only thing she heard was her own voice echoing back to her.
“If anyone can hear me, I’m sorry about this,” she said. “I was just cleaning the shelf and it opened. I wasn’t expecting to find a door to… to…
wherever this creepy hall leads
Once again, there was no reply. Brystal assumed the hidden corridor was just as empty as the rest of the library and didn’t see any harm in inspecting it. She retrieved a lantern and slowly walked down the hall to see where it led. At the end of the hallway, Brystal found a wide metal door with a plaque bolted on it:
She reached for the doorknob and her heart fluttered when she felt it was unlocked. The metal door creaked open and the sound echoed into the empty library behind her. Curiosity overpowered her judgment, and before Brystal could stop herself, she disregarded the sign and stepped through the door.
“Hello? Is anyone in here?” she asked. “Innocent maid coming through.”
Brystal found a small room with a low ceiling on the other side of the door. Luckily, it was just as vacant as she had predicted. The walls had no windows or artwork but were lined with black bookcases. The only furniture was a small table and a single chair in the center of the room. An empty candlestick adorned the table, and a coatrack stood beside it with only two hooks: for one hat and one coat. Based on the minimal furnishings, Brystal figured the room was meant for only
Justice at a time.
She put on her reading glasses and raised her lantern toward a bookcase to see what kind of books were kept in the secret library. To her surprise, the Justices’ collection was sparse. Each shelf contained less than a dozen titles, and every book was next to a file of paperwork. Brystal selected the thickest book from the nearest shelf and read the cover:
She flipped the book open and read the first page it turned to. After skimming a few paragraphs, Brystal had her answer:
In 336, while expanding their caves in the Southwest, the trolls uncovered a large amount of gold. At the time, the Southern Kingdom was still crippled with debt from the Four Corners World War. Upon learning of the trolls’ newfound wealth, Champion VIII claimed the gold was government property and ordered the trolls to turn it over at once.
Legally, the trolls had every right to keep their discovery, and they refused the king’s demands. In retaliation, Champion VIII and his High Justices orchestrated a sinister ploy to tarnish the trolls’ reputation. They spread nasty falsehoods about the trolls’ lifestyle and behavior, and after time, the residents of the Southern Kingdom started believing the rumors. The king banished the trolls to the In-Between, seized their gold, and successfully brought the Southern Kingdom out of debt.
Sadly, the leaders of neighboring kingdoms were inspired by the Declawing Act of 339 and used the same method to erase their own debts. Soon the trolls were unjustly ransacked and exiled from all four kingdoms. Other intelligent species came to the trolls’ defense, but their efforts only caused them to suffer a similar fate. Together, world leaders instituted the Great Cleansing Act of 345, which expelled all talking creatures other than humans from their kingdoms.
The troll, elf, ogre, and goblin populations lost their homes and their possessions, and were forced into the harsh environments of the In-Between. With limited resources, the species had no choice but to resort to the barbaric and primitive survival measures they’re resented and feared for today.
At first, the idea of history being dishonest was difficult for Brystal to comprehend. She didn’t want to believe a topic she knew so much about was filled with lies, but the more she thought it over, the more plausible it seemed. After all, the Southern Kingdom was a blatantly flawed and oppressive country—why should she believe it was an
Brystal continued looking through the bookcases and selected another title that caught her eye:
From the moment we’re born, women are brainwashed to prioritize motherhood and marriage over intellect and personal fulfillment. We’re handed baby dolls and aprons and told our greatest contributions are accomplished in the nursery and the kitchen. But that lie is as damaging as it is degrading, because
a kingdom is only as strong as its weakest citizen
! And a society with unjust limitations is less likely to prevail than a country of equal opportunity.
The truth is, what started as a joyful and loving faith is now a politically motivated ruse to control the people of the Southern Kingdom. Whenever the fear of incarceration is not enough to make people obey the law, the Justices alter the principles of religion and use the fear of eternal damnation to enforce their agenda.
The law and the Lord should be separate entities, but the Southern Kingdom has strategically made them the same. Therefore, any activity or opinion that questions the government is considered a sin. And every lifestyle or preference that doesn’t help expand the population is considered demonic.
Losing Faith in Faith
in her stack and continued searching through the bookcases. The next
title that gained her interest was called: