Professor Volek's Compendium of Mysterious Pieces and Tales

The book in which these assorted tales and pieces are compiled in is hefty, above average in terms of weight compared to most of the books in the library. Its cover has no art, engravings, or any other depictions. It merely states in golden and fanciful letters, "Professor Volek's Compendium of Mysterious Pieces and Tales." Upon removing the latch and opening the tome, countless voices seem to shout out all at once from its pages then fall quiet, gone as quick as they appeared. What follows is inscribed on the very first page.

Hi there! If you're reading this, you're one of the lucky few that's gotten a hold of my life's work! Good for you! First-most, let me assure you that all the pieces within this collection are real and sourced via my own personal channels. And let me tell you, gathering stories across dimensions wasn't easy! I'm sure you're eager to keep reading, so I won't take up too much more of your time. If there is one thing i hope you take away from reading these collections its this:

The fantastical, the improbable, and even the impossible can be found just next door. All you have to do is look for them.

- Anton Volek, Professor of Derosena University
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Long before time was born, The Serpent wandered through the Nether with neither a destination or goal. It did not know the meaning of its existence, nor who had created it. There were others like him, but they differed in their desires. They were busy with their own matters, locked in an never-ending conflict over the right of creation. The Serpent, however, cared little for this struggle amongst the other gods. No, he was simply content with wandering through the Nether with only his thoughts to keep him company.

However, a chance meeting with a strange girl in red would prove The Serpent’s contentedness to be merely a facade.

“You look lonely.” the girl in red said to him, perched on her throne.

“And how would you know?” The Serpent retorted, baring his fangs.

“I know loneliness, Serpent. And you look the loneliest of all.” she replied with not a hint of fear.

“I do not need your pity, let me be on my way. I have places to be.”

“You need not lie, Serpent. You wander with no destination. An aimless god.”

He glared at the girl in red, furious only because her words bore truth. “And what of you, what is your destination? You are of my ilk, a wanderer.”

A small grin played upon her lips as she looked down on The Serpent from her throne. “No, we are much different. I have purpose, while you do not. Do you not want purpose, my friend?”

“I am not your friend.”

“That is not for you to decide. Answer my question.”

He reluctantly responded, seeing no need to lie to her. “I…I do want purpose. I want meaning.”

“You are smarter than you think, Serpent. Are you sure your purpose is not to spread that knowledge?” she said with a coy smile.

Spread his knowledge? Sure, he considered himself smarter than most, but he had never dreamed of being one to teach. He hesitated to answer for a moment and as if by reading his mind, she said, “Spreading knowledge and teaching do not need to go hand in hand. Instead, you could build.”

“Build?” he asked with some hesitation.

“A place to house your knowledge. Let others find it on their own, make of it what they will.” she said with that same coy smile.

Yes…a place to house his knowledge! An infinite fountain of learning that would never run dry. He would finally have a home. However, something still nagged at The Serpent’s mind. “I thank you for the guidance…but who are you? Why help me?” he asked the girl in red.

She smiled and for a very brief moment, The Serpent swore he saw cruelty in those eyes. “I have many names, enough that I've now lost count. You can call me the King of Red if you'd like, Serpent. As for my purpose…I simply wish to help a fellow wanderer.”

“You said you were not of my ilk, King.”

She laughed heartily at this, rocking back and forth for a moment on her throne. “I suppose I did. I’m a fickle one, from what I’ve been told. I’ve always had a hard time making up my mind.”

“You’re…an odd one.”

“And so are you. I suppose that’s why I like you so much. Make sure to invite me when you’ve made your Library, my friend.”

The Serpent would simply nod before he made his leave, his new destination in mind. However, he did not have the power necessary to create the house of knowledge he sought. First, there was a bargain for power to be made, one with flesh and machine.

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