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"I hereby call to order ."

Everyone turned


Patch and Stellar

There is much debate over the existence of the Boilermen. Yes, they are present in the artistic renditions of Librarians but never are they present in the center. Always the Boilermen find themselves pushed to the side, filling the negative space of a story that only exists in the image.

Literature describing the Boilermen is few and far between, and descriptions are repetitive, copied in some places. Questions fly through every Wanderer's head whenever they come up in conversation. What is the Boiler for? What even are raw words? Those who go searching for the Boiler Room in the Archives either don't come back or never seem to remember their journey.

These facts have led many a Wanderer to not believe in the existence of the whispered fourth Librarian, even distrusting the words of the most prominent Archivists. Every now and again, a Wanderer will tell the tall tale of a fire in the library (a rare sight in the first place, especially if the Wanderer hadn't set it themselves) shortly followed by a behemoth with metal and fire for a face inhaling the flames. These stories have done little to convince the skeptics, and yet the stories continue to arrive, year after year.

- Excerpt from Of the Boilermen, Volume 22 by Aard Card


"Just because you're stuck looking like a clown does not mean you have to act like one."

Adakite and I stood at the Way between Shelf 72H North-West and Shelf 092 Zero-Start. It was funny really. For some reason whenever a Wanderer comes through this one they're shunted out about ten feet higher than usual, so we've been assigned to catch whoever happens to start plummeting towards the floorboards while a new solution was thought up.

The polite individual reminding me of my foreseeable future is Adakite, a perturbed golem made of wax. He's huge, way bigger than me in height and width, wears a tiny pair of glasses, and has a voice that's a mix of the human British and the gurgling of a hot pit of mud. His head practically melts into his huge torso, plus his legs look just slightly too small to support the rest of him, and yet they do. To top that wax sundae off, with his size, he only almost makes up for his lack of a personality. Adi barely understands humor and is a stickler for rules, which often means he's the one to tell me, "No, you can't ride a Page just to see where they go, please put the saddle down" which is just completely unreasonable. He's a good guy, he's just boring is all.

"Well, Adi, all you're doing is catching these poor people. At least I'm trying to brighten their day after such a scare."

Another human falls out of thin air, dropping into the waxy arms of Adi, who proceeds to unceremoniously dump her on the floor. Before she looks up, I slowly breathe out and put a goofy smile on my face, pulling out a new set of balloons and ripping open the package. I've explained why I do this multiple times to Adi, but he just doesn't understand.

He straightens his red sash, iconic of a Lower Wordsmith, looking down at me, quite literally and figuratively. "I am quite certain no one wants a balloon animal. Balloons pop, and popping does not fit in a nice, quiet Library. In fact, no one comes to the Library to be harassed by a clown in the first place."

To be fair, this is probably true, but I imagine no one comes to the Library to be dropped on the floor by a half-melted piece of cheese, and yet here we are. I finish the balloons, gingerly placing the new hat on her head. Despite what he thinks, I'm not acting; I am what I am, and that's just how it is. She gets up in a rather hurry, walking off towards the Main Hall, can't imagine why she wouldn't want to stay and chat.

"Have a good time!" Another happy customer, courtesy of yours truly.

I turn back to Adi, about to give a hilarious retort, I swear, but my ever emotionless guardian had forgotten to be, well, emotionless. The normal sour expression on his face had suddenly changed to mild surprise as he looked over where the Wanderer had just left. Briefly, I look down at the packaging for the balloons, just to make sure I hadn't bought the flesh-eating variety. Thankfully not, so I turn around to see what all the fuss is about.

{At the other end of the stacks, standing at the same height as Adi, maybe even taller, is some patron with a cast iron grate for a face, itself containing violet fire burning quietly. A large leather apron, along with strips of leather and furs trailing on the ground in the back, covers almost all of their body. Their arms, the only part uncovered, look like a beautiful night sky, with small white glowing dots and blue and purple markings making up a galaxy.

Prying my eyes away from the patron, I lean towards Adi, whispering, "What's with the guy you're staring at? An old flame of yours I presume?"

"This situation deserves more respect than your crude jokes." I frown, half because Adi doesn't usually respond so sternly, but also because this person reminds me of something I was told about the Library. If I said that though, I'd probably end up with a lecture about how I never listen. What Adi doesn't know, can't hurt him, so I'll just be general.

"Why? It's just some guy."

Despite the lack of conventional eyes, the depressions in his face go so wide I'd think my hat is on fire, either that or I just said something dumb, which, to be honest, is equally as likely.

"That is no Wanderer," Adi whispers, "That is a Boilerman. They're meant to stay in the Archives."

Oh. I knew they reminded me of something I had heard. Rumors about Boilermen showing up in the Library proper had been going around, but I figured they were just rumors. In fact, until a few seconds ago, I thought the Boilermen were a rumor themselves.

Adi pulls out his pen, a rather dull and boring one, and says to the Boilerman, "Hold on one moment. I'll just open a door and send you back to the Boiler Room."

Adakite began to move his pen through the air in front of the Boilerman, drawing an ink door into the three-dimensional space. As soon as it was obvious he was drawing a door, however, the strange Librarian lurched away from the Wordsmith, shaking their head slightly, moving towards Patch instead.

Patch frowned at Adakite, patting the Boilerman on the arm. "Look what you've done now Adi, you've scared them! I bet they get nauseous when going through those doors just like me."

"I don't see another way to return them to the right place," he said in response.

Slowly, Patch came up with an idea. It could convince his stubborn guardian that he can be trusted and it would get him some free time. "How about this?" he asked, "I'll guide this fella up to the entrance of the Archives, and then send them on their way."

"That isn't such a -"

"I'll stop making balloons for a week."

Adakite paused for a moment, mulling it over. "Just to the entrance?"

"Of course!"

He squinted briefly at Patch, searching his face for any hint of mischief. "You have yourself a deal. Be back soon."

Patch pumped his fist in the air and grabbed the Boilerman by the hand, pulling them back towards the main thoroughfare.

As the pair wandered off, Patch skipping and the Boilerman slowly lumbering after him, Patch barely noticed the bin full of newly made balloon animals.



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