"Greetings, my name is Ceris. I am the librarian here at Castle Avalon, and I'd like to show you my domain, scions of the Blood Royal. The library is next to one of the main buildings of the castle, connected to it by a bridge leading to the breakfast terrace on the roof. Ah, the walls of flawless rose-hued marble ... the arched stained-glass windows ... the cast-iron door ... truly, one of Prince Ludwig's masterworks in its simplicity. But I digress. Allow me to lead you inside ... "

Ceris the librarian is barely 5 ft. tall, with long, carefully groomed grey hair and matching beard. His blue eyes seem to be always smiling, and his voice is far too deep and booming for such a little man. He is always dressed in flowing blue robes. He's looking old, but then, he's been looking old for the last fiftyor sixty years, so that doesn't mean much.



THE FIRST FLOOR

Ceris walks up to the great doors and touches the handles. Without a sound, the ornately decorated slabs of iron swing open, allowing entry to the library. Ceris leads you out onto the black- and red-tiled floor of the main library room. Fully three floors in height, this room is magnificent. Wooden pillars carved with scenes from Avalonian history support two galleries rising over the main floor along the walls, allowing a good view of the dome that is the roof here. Red and dark grey glass tiles are arranged in the shape of the avalonian rose crest, giving everything in the room a reddish tint. Rows upon rows of shelves crammed full with books form a veritable maze. Here and there, gas lamps provide additional illumination. The large room is quiet, very quiet, and filled with the smell of paper.

Ceris turns to you with a proud smile. "This is the largest open collection of books in Avalon. Both works written by Avalonians and works found in the Shadows are gathered here. On this floor, you will find all kinds of fiction, from romances to war stories." He leads you through the maze to a small square in the center of the room that features comfortable-looking chairs surrounding a low table. "Here you can sit and read." He then continues through the maze to the other side of the room, stopping in front of an iron door, the metal shaped into grillework of amazing detail, with the ubiquitous rose on top of each half. " He pulls them apart, revealing a fairly large cage. "This is the elevator. It goes up to the breakfast terrace on the roof." He points at a golden lever in one corner of the elevator. "Just push it up to go up, or pull it down to go down." He closes the elevator door again and points at a golden button set in the wall next to it. "If the cage isn't here, just push the button and it will come here as soon as noone is using it." He smiles and leads you to a door of red wood on the left side of the room. "Behind this door is the collection of the ... ahem ... more adult literature. It is quite popular."

Yet another walk through the maze later you find yourself on the right side of the room. Ceris leads you through an arch guarded by two warriors in royal colors into a separate room. Vaguely baroque-looking desks stand against the wall with matching chairs, between them a low cabinet with about a dozen drawers. Ceris stops and turns to you. "This room houses the Royal trump collection. Only members of the royal family and the librarian can freely enter this room. This is all you will find on this floor. Shall we go up?" He doesn't wait for an answer and heads straight for the elevator.




THE SECOND FLOOR

The elevator takes you up, surprisingly smooth for such an antique-looking device. Ceris stops it at the first gallery and opens the doors, then steps out. "This is the first gallery. Here you will find the works written by members of the royal family, as well as books on the history of Avalon." He sighs. "Unfortunately, much of it was lost a long time ago, according to the stories passed down from my predecessors."

The gallery is made of dark wood, carved pillars supporting the one above. The walls are covered with wooden panneling of a light beige color, contrasting with the dark floor. Low shelves hold books of all sizes and colors, with the occasional bookstand holding a large tome. Again, gas lamps provide additional illumination where necessary.

Ceris leads you around the gallery, clockwise, pausing here and there to point out a portrait of one of the princes or princesses. "As you can see, some of them are in the older style, made when the subject of the painting was younger. Most of the portraits are newer though, made by prince Dante himself." He stops in front of a lovely painting of the city. "This is one of my favorites ... " He quickly turns away, once again assuming a more businesslike manner as he opens the first door. "Here is the study ... if you work on something and need frequent access to the books here, this is the place to do it. As you can see, the room is always ready for a visitor, with enough paper, ink, pens and empty books for anyone's needs. The desk has been positioned to get the maximum possible light. And if you get tired, you can rest on the couch over here."

He closes the door and continues on his tour, opening the next door. "This is the map room ... it is always kept dark, unless someone wants to look at a map. Some of the the older ones are need special protection, so they are kept under glass." He turns a knob by the door and gas lamps light up, revealing a room with maps on the walls, maps on tables, maps on tables under glass, maps bound into books standing on a shelf, and cheap maps in a stack next to the door. Even the floor here is a map, a mosaic showing the realm of Avalon. "You can find maps here of many of the better-known shadows." Then he turns the lights off again and closes the door, leading you across to the other side.

Ceris stops in front of a door decorated with countless carved roses in various shades of pink. "This is what we call the Pink Room." He opens the door and it immediately becomes apparent why he calls it that. The walls are the same pink marble as the outside, the floor is a darker pink marble, and even the wooden shelves standing in neat rows are painted pink, the rose carvings on them once again in a darker shade. Ceris gestures at the room. "Here we keep everything written by Prince Ludwig, or at least everything we could find. They are in chronological order, so the books on the far side of the room tend to be a bit ... unusual." He quickly closes the door again, leading you to the last room on this floor.

The last room Ceris shows you here is is fairly large, and looks like a combination of laboratory and library. Ceris gestures, "This is our sorcery collection. We even have a small laboratory here and the most common items needed for the various spells, so they can be tested right here." He smiles proudly, "I can say that this is one of the largest collections of mystic lore that can be found outside the personal library of Princess Tess, the lady said so herself." He closes the door again and heads for the elevator. "One more stop, and our little tour is finished."




THE THIRD FLOOR

You leave the elevator on the third floor ... this place at least looks like a library. There are delicate desks to both sides of the elevator door with matching stairs, but the rest of this floor is filled with neatly ordered rows of shelves. The floor is dark wood again, but the walls and ceiling are white marble, making this floor much brighter than the lower two. Ceris nods. "We're almost done ... up here, you will find books on everything not covered by the more specialized collections on the lower two floors. Arts, philosophy, biographies, shadow histories ... everything." He then grins and leads you along the wall to the right, stopping at an apparently normal piece of wall. There he presses several points in rapid succession, causing a section of marble to swing backwards, opening into a short corridor. At its end, you can see stairs. "The stairway leads back down to ground level. You can find a secret door leading to it on every floor. A matching corridor is on the other side of the building, but it is only used to get to the elevator shaft if there is trouble." He closes the secret door again and returns to the elevator. "And now my tour is finished. You can use the elevator to go up to the breakfast terrace up opn the roof, if you wish. I understand many people like to read outside if the weather is nice. Fare thee well, m'lord. If you ever need something found quickly here, don't hesitate to call on me."