Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop

Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
#1
Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
The Balloonist's Fragment

I had escaped. I fled.
As I passed over the land, I saw everywhere evidence of the thing we had unleashed. Vast swathes had been blackened and burned, clear signage of the path it had taken south. I seemed to be following a similar path, which wasn't something I wanted to do. But I couldn't control the wind, and I feared staying at our camp even more. With the surviving members of the Expedition should have been a safe place to be, since the thing had passed us by and headed away. But something was off in everyone's faces, in the way they reacted to things a second too late, even in the tones of their voices. After the last night, I had known I couldn't stay. It hadn't left us untouched.
The land here was flat and rolling. I had left the mountains behind with our camp, and if I had been on the ground I could have seen a medium-sized hill for miles against the horizon. The ground was a bright green, except for the burnt areas. Grass sprouted and wildflowers bloomed as the far North enjoyed its brief summer. Here and there were snowfields, but no trees - they couldn't survive the winter. There would be no true darkness, only a sort of twilight for a couple of hours around midnight, so I could pilot the balloon for as long as I was able. I was glad of that.
The thing I was following - for I was following it, wasn't I? - where was it going? And why?
I was glad that the Expedition had brought along this hot-air balloon. We hadn't known exactly what we'd run into, so we'd brought along a lot of things - the intended purpose of the balloon had been mainly to get aerial views of objects or topography that we couldn't understand fully from the ground. It certainly hadn't been intended for actual travel. I'd fired it up by myself in the early hours of the morning, while the drinking and feasting - no guards left on watch - was sliding over into slumber and stupor.
Even now, with more immediate things to worry about, I watched for signs of the Old Builders. They were why we had come, and I couldn't stop myself from craving more discoveries.
But there were none. I confess to you, unknown reader, that as my balloon floated over this desolate land, so far from any humans but the ones I'd left behind, a deep blackness took hold of me, and it began to seem that there never had been any other land but this weary, monotonous one.
As the day wore on, the sleep I'd avoided returned for me with a vengeance. I fought it off once, twice, but realized that I could not continue to pilot the balloon. I found a promising spot to sleep and lowered it to the ground.


You enter Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop.

The shelves are stuffed, bulging, and many of the things they're stuffed with are simply piles of paper haphazardly clipped together. More books and papers fill any empty space; it looks hard to walk in here.

Bilfred Baker sits behind a desk covered with more stacks of papers, several lumpy ceramic jars filled with pens and pencils, and a single gently spinning globe. He is a wrinkled man with unruly gray hair and a drooping mustache.

"What're you looking for?" he asks.

SpoilerShow
Quote
#2
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
"Where it is the bathroom?"
Duck, duck, duck, duck, GHOOST.
Quote
#3
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
>Magic.
[Image: DGBpqSL.png]
Quote
#4
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
"I think... Yes, I remember now. A dream-book. Some time ago, I purchased an empty dream-book. Something to put the dreams from mind to paper, ease the night into a peaceful slumber. When the dreams stopped, I found myself no longer in need of the book and gave it to another in need."

"By now the book has traveled far and wide, with a story, I hope, of its own to tell. Even without reading the dreams, the pages tells a vibrant story. The writers style, the inks they used, the condition of cover and page. Vibrant fuel for a tired writers imagination. I couldn't say if the book I once held is here now, but I have a feeling it is, or another like it."
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
Quote
#5
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
(08-10-2018, 04:46 AM)Arcanuse Wrote: »"I think... Yes, I remember now. A dream-book. Some time ago, I purchased an empty dream-book. Something to put the dreams from mind to paper, ease the night into a peaceful slumber. When the dreams stopped, I found myself no longer in need of the book and gave it to another in need."

"By now the book has traveled far and wide, with a story, I hope, of its own to tell. Even without reading the dreams, the pages tells a vibrant story. The writers style, the inks they used, the condition of cover and page. Vibrant fuel for a tired writers imagination. I couldn't say if the book I once held is here now, but I have a feeling it is, or another like it."
Noot noot doot doot.


[Image: etSKUQC.png]
Quote
#6
RE: Bilfred Baker's Marvelous Bookshop
from Proverbs and Sayings, Collected Over Many Years

An eel at morning, an eel at evening.
- from a small fishing village on the North Coast, often beset by storms

When you pass through a gate, be careful, lest you close it on your shadow.
- from the steppelands east of Oazikieria


You’ve passed this shop many times, and each time a faint memory has tugged at your consciousness, but you’ve never been able to figure out exactly what it is. Now, upon succumbing to the desire to enter the shop, it comes to you.

“I think … Yes, I remember now. A dream-book. Some time ago, I purchased an empty dream-book. Something to put the dreams from mind to paper, ease the night into a peaceful slumber. When the dreams stopped, I found myself no longer in need of the book and gave it to another in need.

“By now the book has traveled far and wide, with a story, I hope, of its own to tell. Even without reading the dreams, the pages tell a vibrant story. The writers’ style, the inks they used, the condition of cover and page. Vibrant fuel for a tired writer’s imagination. I couldn’t say if the book I once held is here now, but I have a feeling it it, or another like it.”

“Ah.” Bilfred Baker smiles.

“That sounds like a book I’d actually have,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many people come in here looking for the latest installment of 'Bogus Blainard'. Such garbage! I always have to disappoint them.”

He twirls one end of his moustache around his finger. You wonder if he does that instinctively or if he’s trying to look like a villain from a silent movie.

“The books I sell come to me by strange ways. If one, alone and friendless, scribbles one’s thoughts onto a roll of paper and stuffs it into a bottle, wishing desperately to reach someone, somewhere, that bottle may come to me; I am known also to scavengers, scrapers, and traders of all sorts of odds and ends, who travel to places that you will never have heard of; they know that I will pay for the scraps they bring me. Crows, ravens, and magpies fly often in and out of my attic, and in their scatterings and lining their nests, I regularly find some fragments of interest. But, of course, I scarcely have time to read all the stuff. It is up to my customers to decide if any of it ever finds a home.”

He gestures further into the store, beckons you to follow.

“Over here should be dreams … I think …” he says. None of the shelves seem to be labeled.

You look through the shelf he’s pointed you to. There are several old, cloth-bound books on it, accompanied by a large typed sheaf. Other papers seem only scribbled on.

“Of course, it could be anywhere else in the store,” Bilfred adds helpfully.

You study the spines of the books. What did your dream-book look like? … You don’t remember, exactly. You don’t think it’s any of these, although they do seem interesting. A book on the use of dreams for divination, a stapled-together pile in progressively worse handwriting that at least starts out as someone describing a dream they had, and what actually appears to be a record from a mental hospital are all on the shelf.

“Don’t see it?” asks Bilfred.

“No …” you say.

“Well, as I told you earlier, it could be anywhere! I’ll leave you to search for a while.”

You look through many more books, but you still don’t find your dream-book. Eventually you return to the front desk.

Do you want to purchase one of the books, leave the store, or talk to Bilfred more?
Quote