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After Beltran’s visit, some of my restrictions were lifted. I was not allowed to speak to Etude, and I had no idea where in the cavernous dungeons he was being held—the same dungeons where the Eye was discovered some seven centuries before. I was also kept from the high towers, where everything important seemed to happen, but there was a garden in a square left open to the sky, and I was allowed access to it and the library, my one luxury.

It was utterly, unspeakably magnificent and so large that one could easily get lost. I was never a scholar like Hank, but being raised in the centuries before television, books have remained my first love. I spent many, many hours between those stacks in the company of ghosts who would sometimes steal one of my treasures when my back was turned—at least, until I learned to be more cautious and to feign interest in books I had no intention of opening again. Their thefts were an attempt, I’m sure, to get me to go innocently searching, to explore the dark archways, caged nooks, and octagonal chambers that abounded at all levels of the library. It wasn’t explicitly a labyrinth, but it was certainly labyrinthine. I was sure that through at least one of those arches—which were especially numerous at the lower levels, full as they were of columns holding the whole of it aloft—I could fall into the shadow realm. The dead are often attracted to...



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Xana’s father would never let her wear makeup, especially when the boys were noticing her more. With her big, toothy smile and that wild, curly hair, lighter than her skin, she looked exotic in the dark-skinned country. The prohibition made the face paint seem so naughty, like a sin. Adorning herself with flowers and skulls, Xana felt pretty. It was one of the few times in her life she had felt beautiful, really beautiful inside and out. And she had forgotten about it completely.

Xana looked at the picture. Her buck-toothed smile stretched from ear to ear. She was skinny. Her skin was painted blue with roses for cheeks and skeleton lips. Her eyes were like a puppy’s. “I’m not this girl anymore.”

“Of course not! We are all of us different. But she’s still inside of you.” Rosa took the picture from Xana and smiled at it. “I think this is what God sees when he looks down at you.”

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This thinker observed that all the books, no matter how diverse they might be, are made up of the same elements. He also alleged a fact which travelers have confirmed: In the vast Library there are no two identical books. From these two premises he deduced...

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I cannot describe what followed since I was not conscious to witness it. For the longest time, two curses waged war within me: one granting me eternal life, the other eternal undeath. It seemed neither could get the better of the other. I was wracked with tremors and night sweats that emerged between long bouts of still coma, by which I mean years. Twenty-three, in total. I was kept in a sanitarium, expenses covered by The Masters, or rather by their proxies. This was not done out of charity or obligation but rather because mine was a unique case deemed worthy of study. It seems no one in the world knew what would happen—or what to do.

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His use of color tho…

I mean, seriously.

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