There is not much you can write that has not been written before. For thousands of years writers, the great and the not so great and the downright horrible, have been committing stories to paper, parchment, stone and any manner of things.
Shortly after the first thing — let’s call it a book — was written, another was written. And another. And soon there were dozens, if not hundreds, of books. People did not know what to do with them. Some of them could not read the books, but could have them read to them instead. Some could not keep them, for they had no house, no shelves, no place that could hold the thing.
Great tribes roamed the earth and magic held its power over the people. These books became a magic of their own — the greatest of them holding power and creating groups of followers.
Somewhere in this new world, a meeting was held. Elders from far and wide gathered under the cover of a shadowy tree.
What was to be done?
“Ban the books,” said one, his quivering chin speaking louder than his words. He was afraid of the things. Books can change the hearts and minds of his followers. They threatened his power, his very kingdom.
“Kill the writers,” said another. A strong brute of a man, with a wild, mangy tangle of hair. His armor pitted and scarred. Violence was his answer to everything. “Stop them writing,” he sneered. “No more writers, no more books,” he spat, hitting the ground.
The others nodded. Something had to be done. Murmurs of anger and fear wafted across the field from beneath the great tree.
All agreed. All but one.
Slowly the talking died out and the faces of these great and powerful men turned to the one. The host. His flowing white hair revealed his ages — for his eyes, though crinkled at the edges, sparkled with the joy of a child.
There was an expectant silence.
“And what do you think?” asked one of the men of the host.
The host smiled and relit the great pipe that dangled from his mouth. He drew deep long breaths and exhaled a plume of blue smoke.
“I think,” he started, “that you are missing the point.”
Another cloud of smoke erupted from his wrinkled mouth. His lips could barely be seen through the thick white beard.
The brute of a man could not wait any longer. “Just say what you have to say! I have no time to watch an old man smoke.”
The old man smiled. “And that is why you miss the point. You fail to appreciate” — he took another long draw on his pipe — “dramatics.”
The other men laughed for a moment until strong glances from the brute silenced them.
“What is your solution?” asked one of the others.
“A place must be created,” said the old man. “A place to keep these books, to store them, to let people see them, read them — if they can”.
The men didn’t like hearing this.
“What?” one said. “Let people continue to explore them?”
The old man nodded.
“Only fools fear knowledge. And what I have seen leads me to believe that these things, these books, help men realize their dreams. They show men a world bigger than themselves.”
He drew again on the pipe, this time not for dramatic effect.
“Who amongst us would not prefer to lead a group of intelligent men?”
And so arguments were made. Discussions raged long into the night. But they all knew the old man was right. But who would create such a place? And how? And when?
A pact was entered that night. The leaders of the tribes of the earth voted and elected their leader to the highest honor — the guardian of human knowledge.
And as each man rode off into the night — some to return to lands of peace, some to lands of war — none amongst them knew how long a journey the old man had ahead of him.
The old man stayed behind, basking in the moonlight under the great tree.
A servant approached with a bubbling cup of brew.
The old man smiled, thanked the servant, took the cup and looked at the sky again.
He drank greedily from the goblet, the steaming liquid passing his lips without burning. When he was done, he threw the cup into the dying fire before him and wiped his mouth.
“And so it begins,” he croaked.
Sometime later. Some years, decades, millennia later, to be truthful to the story, a small boy alighted from a train at a small broken down station in the south of England.