|In the lost ages before history began, knowledge was rarer than rubies,
more precious than pearls, fought for by fierce fighters armed with arrows
of alliteration. The one who held the key to knowledge held great power.
For centuries, this key had been guarded by the priestesses of the Temple
of Knowledge. Anyone in need of information could come to the Temple and
(for a small offering, for there was in that time no LSCA) have their question
answered. But there always have been those who would use knowledge to evil
ends--the most evil end of all being monopolizing it to themselves.
And so it was that on a misty morning in the early Spring, the call
of the owl, servant of the High Priestess, summoned to the Temple of Knowledge
the greatest of the Reference Warriors, Conan the Librarian.
He arrived to find the Temple strangely quiet. A line of patrons had
formed before the Alter of Reference. Above it was a sign he had never
seen before: Back in a Minute. Novices spoke in nervous whispers in groups
of two or three as he walked by.
He could hear anxious voices through the heavy oak door as he reached
the inner sanctum of the High Priestess. The owl on its perch rolled it
head around and opened its great eyes.
"It is I, Conan the Librarian."
The great door swung open with a moan of its iron hinges. Conan entered
and knelt before the High Priestess.
"Rise Conan." The High Priestess looked older and more care worn than
he had ever seen her. Beside her stood a Priestess Conan did not know,
though by her insignia, he recognized her as an adept of the Technical
Arts. The High Priestess took a long breath, seemingly to draw upon an
inner power, then she spoke again.
"Conan, you have shown the greatest skills in the Public Arts. Your
quest to the Great Oracle for the secrets of greenmail and poison pills
for Dean James the First earned the Temple a large Endowment. Now your
sword and your wits must be their sharpest for a great crisis has come
upon us. A calamity that could spell the destruction of the Temple itself."
Conan felt as if a cold hand had clutched his heart. He glanced at the
Priestess of Technical Services, but she gave him a dark look and glanced
away. The High Priestess continued.
"Our most sacred relic has been stolen. The holy book upon which our
system of knowledge is based, the source of all true cataloging, without
which all knowledge in the Temple would degenerate to mere information.
The holiest of holies entrusted to the Priestesses of the Temple by the
gods themselves at the beginning of Time. The book whose very title is
in the unpronounceable language of the gods."
Conan gasped. "Not the...the..."
"Yes," the High Priestess nodded, "the AACR2."
© 1992, by Hadley V. Baxendale