Well, class, I hope you're enjoying our little field trip. Sorry about the tight squeeze. At least the place is abandoned. If you all behave, maybe we can stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way back to Site-17. Everybody in? You in the back, can you hear me? Good. Welcome, Bookworms, Merliners, and random Foundation Researchers, to your local Library.
The local door to your local Library, anyway.
Well, probably one of many local doors to your local Library. This grubby little basement is, in fact, a Way.
You lot have much more self-control than most groups, you know. I barely saw you start forward. You were probably stopped by the next bit of my speech. So allow me to tell you what most of you apparently know already. To the likes of us, these marvelous interdimensional doors are closed and locked. Walk into that painting on the wall, and all you'll get is a bruise, no matter how much cinnamon you burn. I'll get to that in a second.
The reason we've brought you all to this abandoned back-alley hole in the wall is because a couple of you are going to be staying here for the next few weeks. Many of you will be having similar assignments. Watch the Ways, ladies, gentlemen, and other, because that's where we get most of our information about the Wanderers' Library.
Ah, yes, the Library. An endless maze of shelves living at the center of every universe. Travelogues on alien worlds. Stories written by gods. Books that will never be written, just lying on the shelves for anyone to borrow. It sounds fantastic, but some of us have seen it for ourselves. You see, back in the good old bad days, when we could put something in a box without having to worry about whether it was comfortable or not, we stumbled on a Way into the Library. It was beautiful, endless, populated with the scholars of a million different universes. The higher-ups of the time, being the hoarders that they were, decided that the best way to deal with this was to grab literally everything and take it back with them. This did not end well. My arm still aches when I open a rhyming dictionary and remember…
I'm rambling. Sorry. Long story short, if you're with the Foundation, you aren't getting in the Library. Anybody wants to quit, raise your hand. I'm kidding.
So, as new agents, your job will be to monitor the Ways we know about. Most of them are seldom used at this point, but the beauty of a billion worlds is, there's always someone who didn't get the memo that there are Jailors (such a hurtful name, I know) waiting on the other side. From there, you have a few options, depending on what comes out of there.
If they're human and from this universe, and remember, just because it looks like it's from Earth doesn't mean it's from this Earth, it's standard interrogation, amnestics and relocation. If they aren't quite human, well, you already know about the boxes.
If they aren't from this universe, respectfully ask them to get back to where they should be. If they refuse, ask again. Respectfulness will be optional at this point.
Don't be stupid about it, though. There are some pretty strange things out there, and some of them have claws. If something like that comes through, observe it from a distance and wait for backup.
If at all possible, try to get any books they have off of them, and copy them as quickly as you can. We've actually got quite a collection of extrauniversal literature going. Just remember to leave the original back at the Way's entrance. You won't like what happens if you hold onto it, but that's an entirely different seminar. For now, we'll just say that the Library doesn't bother with late fees.
So, that's about it for the Ways. There's plenty more to cover when it comes to the Library, but that was the only bit that required us to stand in a dank basement. Any questions before we go?
The Serpent's Hand? Well, to be honest, while they are one of the more troublesome parts of the Library, they're also one of the smallest. As far as we can tell, they really don't have any more control over the Library than anyone else. But that's all I'll say on the topic so close to a Way. You never know if a Hand member's passed through here, planting some kind of freaky surveillance magic. We can talk about them more back at the site. Anything else? No? Good. Grab your buddy and make your way back to the bus in single file. I need a coffee.