For the first part of this story, here ya go. But really, a barbarian guy invaded a city and a witch sent him into our world.
Grog the Destroyer kicked in the doors to the library. He scanned the interior of the building. A desk with a woman behind it. The sound of children in the distance. Books all around.
To his right were older men and women in comfortable looking chairs reading large papers. Elders, Grog thought. He approached a small man wearing a black and gold round hat with a symbol of the Flower of the Saints. The man sunk into a red chair as Grog approached.
"Elder scholar, I am in need. I seem to have been sent here by a witch of Arathorn and must get back to destroy her. Can you help me?" Grog said.
The man said, "Ain't you a thing to see. Sorry, sonny. I ain't even gonna try. Talk to Brenda."
The old man pointed to the desk with woman behind it. She wore a smile.
"Can we help you, sir?" she said.
Grog stomped over to the desk and said, "Where is the witch of Arathorn?"
The woman behind the desk said, "I'm sorry, but you can't use that language in here."
Grog pounded a large fist on the circulation desk. "I don't have time for your nonsense. Tell me where the half naked witch is. Does she reside in this land?"
The woman said, "Yeah, I have no idea what you're talking about. Maybe she's in the phone books?"
Grog nodded. "She would be written about. Witches are notorious for recording their spells and actions and wizards record the actions of all known witches for breeding purposes. Where is this phone book?"
The woman smiled and pointed to the stairs. "Second floor. Or you could use the elevator."
Grog climbed the stairs, taking them two at a time. The second floor had many signs telling patrons where things were located. Computer lab on the left and reference desk to the right. Nonfiction books stretched into the distance on over a dozen eight-foot shelves. Grog ignored the signs and grabbed the first person he saw.
The man's cane fell to the ground as Grog shook his arm. His milky eyes behind giant black glasses swirled in their sockets. A slight smile formed on his lips.
The blind man said, "Thank you, sir, but I don't need help getting about."
Grog let the man loose. "I crave only your attention. Where are the Books of Phone?"
"Can I help you?" a voice said.
A young woman with flaming red hair sat behind a desk. Her expression said I'm worried about the man in the loin cloth.
Grog left the blind man who left the scene. He walked over to the reference desk where Felecia sat. Felicia took in the man and cursed Brenda, knowing the circulation librarian had sent this crazy man up to her. On the other hand, the tall, dark man was made of muscle and may just be a cosplayer or something playing an elaborate joke.
"I seek knowledge about the Witch of Arathorn. The woman downstairs sent me after the Book of Phones," Grog said.
Felecia cursed Brenda and nodded, "We have phone books up here. Is the… Is what you're looking for a place? Like a shop or something? I've never heard of it."
"She is the most vile creature. I did not expect her when she attacked. Red hair, not like yours which is a fetching shade of flame but a smoldering red, a dark ember of being that matches the robes she wears about her person, open to expose her breasts and crotch, which is also the same shade of red. I came upon her in the city of… I did not get the name of the city, but I was tired," Grog said.
"Wow," Felicia said. She putting her hands together slow, clapping. "I've hear of commitment to a bit but that's an amazing speech. Tone it down, though. Kids are around here."
Grog leaned over and slapped the desk, "I cannot tone anything, I am busy. Show me the Books of Phone."
Felecia said, "Woah, okay. Back up."
Grog flexed and his eyes raged for a moment, then he found himself. He told himself these were innocents around him, yet his sense of danger was all over. Then an idea occurred to him. He turned without thanks and left Felicia to wonder what was happening.
Back on the first floor, he listened and heard the sounds he knew he should have followed from the beginning. Chanting, laughter, stories being shared. Innocent voices raising up tales.
Right now the voices were singing something about wheels on a bus going round and round.
The large man approached the story time circle and sat with the children. Naomi stopped singing as she watched this happen, her grip on the book slipping. Her first thought was, holy hell, that's a real sword on his back.
The children continued to sing as the wheels on the bus went round and round. Then more and more of them noticed Grog. Some stopped singing and stared. Others smiled and giggled at the large man sitting with them like a child.
Naomi said, "Um, sir, can we help you?"
"Continue," Grog said.
"Do you have a child here, sir?" Naomi said.
"While I have bedded many women, none have told me of children I care to accept as my own," Grog said.
The children started laughing and Naomi's face went white then red as the summer reading shirt she wore. The children's librarian had many issues with strange men over the years in her department, but this took the cake. She swallowed and tried to think of something to say when Rosa spoke up.
"You can't be here," Rosa said.
Naomi sighed. This would be the day that Rosa worked. The library assistant often caused problems with patrons. Just last week a father and normal patron had commented on the beautiful ruby earrings Rosa wore daily and the whole affair had to be documented.
"I seek knowledge of the Thorn of Arathorn. Please, continue with your musics of the wheels on this bus creature. If need be, I shall share stories and songs of my own for stories of your travels, teacher," Grog said.
The children's librarian digested that information and stood. "I'll be right back," she said.
Rosa said, "I'm not leaving him with the children."
"I'm going to call Chris," Naomi said.
"Are you a barbarian?" one little boy asked. He was small and dark haired and reminded Grog of himself at the age had he not been a slave in the Pits of Isaacson and made strong and scarred with fighting and rock breaking. Looking at the boy closer, Grog saw scars, though.
"I am, of a sort. I am Grog the Destroyer. That is what they call me, although I dislike the name. Maimer, killer, attacker, conqueror from time to time, but destroying is for madmen. I am not mad, little one. I leave things intact or able to rebuild. Remember that. Always leave them able to tell your story and able to rebuild. Then they are stronger when you attack again," Grog said.
"My name's Teddy," the little boy said.
"Yes, I'm sure," Grog said.
"I'm Billy and I"m not supposed to talk to you," A little boy in a red shirt said.
"Billy," Rosa said.
The boy cut his eyes to the woman and lost some fire in his eyes. Then he looked up again and Grog saw a smile. Grog smiled back.
"You need to leave," Rosa said.
"Why? I seek answers," Grog said.
Naomi came back to the story circle. She said, "Sir, can I talk to you over here?"
Grog lifted himself up with his powerful legs. Naomi found herself looking at the strap of his sword on his powerful chest. She thrust her hand forward. In it was a red summer reading shirt, triple extra large.
"Put this on while in the library, please," Naomi said.
"I do not wear red. It is the color of the Thorn of Arathorn. Are you members of the Cult of Arathorn, here?" Grog said.
"I don't know what that is. Put this on or leave," Naomi said.
"I do not wear red," Grog said.
"Then leave. It's the same shirt I'm wearing."
"With the colorful duck in pants reading to children?"
"Fine. As long as the garment is not pure red," Grog said.
Grog unbuckled the sword from his back and leaned it against a table. He had some difficulty pulling the shirt over his head, but in a moment wore the same summer reading shirt.
"It's tight," Grog said, buckling the sword back on.
"It sure is," said Brenda.
Naomi waved a hand at the circulation librarian. "What?" she said.
"Chris wants to know if he should call the cops," Brenda said.
"No, just tell him to come down here," Naomi said.
Moments passed and the librarians and the barbarian waited.
An older man in blue slacks and a yellow vest came down the stairs and headed towards the children's department. Chris Davies stopped short when he saw the large man towering over Naomi, Brenda, and Rosa. He almost ran. Peed his pants and ran. It was akin to seeing a tiger or bear running around the library. Chris's first thoughs was to call the cops, right away. Tell someone else to deal with this animal, as if the man in the tight red shirt was a stray dog or snake.
Except they saw him. Brenda smiled and got herself away. Naomi's face was a mix of amusement and exasperation. Whatever the half naked man had done was both interesting and distressing to the children's librarian. Or the distressing part could be Rosa, a constant thorn in Naomi's side as the bossy library assistant often equated library practices to her own familial concerns.
"Chris, this gentleman is Grog. He's sitting in story time," Naomi said.
"I am no gentle man," Grog said.
Rosa crossed in front of Naomi and Grog. "Mr. Davies, this man came into the story circle and sent away the children. He has no child of his own and I want him thrown out of the building," she said.
"No man throws me," Grog said and reached for his sword.
Chris held up a hand. "Why don't we talk first?"
With a graceful motion, Grog side-stepped around Rosa and drew Metal Death, holding the sword against the library director's throat. Grog growled, "I am no gentle man. I came to seek information about the Thorn of Arathorn. This land is strange but the law of the sword are baked into all lands."
"I'm gonna call the cops," Rosa said.
"No," Chris said. At times in a man's life, he finds resilience within himself. Tests arise and the man can meet them or be defeated. Grog knew this well and instinctively. The eyes of the barbarian narrowed and met the eyes of Chris. Chris, in his part, felt calem for the first time in years. Political bullshit from the library , loud patrons threatening to go to the newspaper, old men saying the paid his salary with all them taxes. All abstract fears that lived in the dark. Now, here, for the first time in decades, Chris was confronted with an immediate danger and his heart slowed and his eyes unfocused and his mind centered. If the library's problems lived in the dark of abstraction, the sword was a bright light that cut through the bullshit.
Naomi and Rosa saw the change in the library director. The stuttering and shaking presenter at library conferences straightened. A good man, intelligent and able to somehow always find funding, a meek and mild man until this moment.
Gros saw and equal and grinned. He lowered the sword.
If need be, Grog would kill the man. But the resolve he swa in Chris's eye made him sure the man would be an ally. He had seen the look before in others. Bowman the Archer. Lecher the Thief of Ten Rings. The Pyromancer Tim. Now this library man Chris. He put away Metal Death.
Chris said, "Rosa, don't call the cops. Naomi, you and Rosa finish up story time. I'll take this warrior up to reference and will see what we can find."
Naomi said okay. She went with this turn of events because it got the children out of danger and sent the large half-naked man away. Rosa's cheeks flushed. Rosa in her capacity of a library assistant, was used to being heard and in front of her son she did not like to be ignored. If the man was not out of the building in a few minutes, she would take action. What form that action would take, she had not decided.
"You remind me of an old friend," Grog said on the way up to reference.
Chris said, "In what way?"
"Lecher was small and colorful man as well. HIs clothes and his hair were bright, like your yellow and blue. No one could deal like Lecher, should he begin to bargain," Grog said.
"Where is he now?" Chris said.
"Dead. In that way, you two are different."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"He died fighting the sorcerer Thom, the teacher of the Thorn of Arathorn."
"That sounds… interesting." Chris held the door as Grog continued.
"Indeed," Grog said.
IN the reference area, two men Grog had dismissed earlier stood watching. One held himself tall and straight, a white cane gripped in an old and spotted hand with a gray overcoat draped over his shoulders. The other stood back, holding himself away from the world as if guarding from attack. He wore a faded yellow scarf that hung limp and for a moment Grog felt a twinge in his memory, yet could not place anyone as old as this man.
"Dave, Ben, what can I do for you?" Chris said.
"We heard the excitement," Blind Dave said.
"I was looking for the paper," Ben said, his hands pulling at his scarf.
"Nothing much," said Chris. "Just some excitement at story time. I'm going to help my friend grog here with some research, but maybe, Ben they've got the paper with the mail downstairs. I'll call in a minute."
The blind man grumbled something and continued past the stairway doors to the elevator. Old Ben met Grog's eyes as if looking for something. Grog wondered about the old man but Chirls started walking away, so he followed.
"Now, who was this Thorn of… Arabia?" Chris said. He circled a desk and sat down in front of a computer.
"Arathorn," Grog said, watching the monitor glow blue then have text appear. He had seen something like this when battling the Sorcerer Longman, tablets that told two truths for every lie.
Chris typed but shook his head. "Nothing on Arathorn. Could be obscure or ancient?"
Grog said, "No. I was just there. The witch opened a way and sent me here."
"Witch? Well, maybe in mythology or folklore," Chris said. He stood and went to the 099 and 390 sections. When they were done, Grog held a large stack of books. The two men sat at a table and began to scan the books, Chris running his finger along the words and Grog the pictures. Chris left the large man looking and went to see if Ben had found the paper. Chris found Naomi at the desk.
"Is he still here?" she said.
"Yeah. I got him looking at books. You know, I'm not sure he can read," Chris said.
"What are you going to do?"
"He hasn't done anything wrong."
Naomi put her hands on her hips. "At least take the sword."
"Yeah, well, the shirt you gave him matches it nicely," Chris said.
"You should call Andy."
From the back of the library came a shout, a booming whoop like that of a bear with a salmon in its mouth that did not wish to die that day. Naomi and Chris set off running.
They found Grog pointing at a map in a book entitled "My Journey into the Bad Bad Lands." The map showed a desert world of Y'eabud. Grog had a thick finger on a symbol, over which read the word "Arathorn."
"I have found the witch's symbol. The Thorn. She raised it at the gates of Arathron after her soldiers took the city. This book of maps should tell me how to return," Grog said.
Chris picked up the book. He'd grabbed it on a whim, a donated tome from a long ago board member. He opened to the title page to see the book plate: "A pack of lies hiding a great truth. - Prim Roswell, 1954."
"Grog, I'm not sure this book is totally accurate," Chris said. An old hand held his wrist.
Old Ben said, "Why don't you folks go do your library stuff, like finding today's paper. I can help our friend Grog here with this old book of stories. I knew Prim back in the day. Can tell him all about it."
"If you're sure," Chris said. Naomi shrugged.
"I can tell him all about it. Plus I can talk lower than you librarians. That'll keep Blind Dave from complaining so much," Old Ben said with a yellow smile.
"Okay," Chris said.
"Finding the paper," Old Ben said.
Chris and Naomi walked away, each casting glances back. Old Ben waved them on. The men stood together, the old and the powerful.
"Ben a while, Groggy," Old Ben said.
Grog turned slow to the man. He saw the old man then, small, stooped , lines that were not there the last time he saw the face. Blue eyes, though, gone to gray but still dancing.
"Lecher?" Grog said.
"Been a hell of a while," Lecher said.
Stay tuned on Fridays for the continuing adventures of Grog the Destroyer and how he became the Banned Library's children's librarian.
Or you could wait until we collect them all and buy them from the bookstore.