“Feel free to look around,” Hasani, the attendant, said. “King Hans will be with you shortly.”
Avi spun in place in the massive room. He had never seen so many books in his life. Shelves lined with bound volumes rose around him like the cliffs of a great mountain.
He scanned the spines for options with which he could spend some time. Working his way around the edge of the library, he found a wall of books that captured his interest. A bound set of matching volumes covered an entire section. Hundreds of volumes in the collection entitled The Chronicles Of the Judgement Seat.
He pulled the first volume from the shelf and began reading. The date of completion was over six hundred years earlier. He turned the page, hoping to discover quickly what the book contained. He knew that King Hans might arrive at any moment, which would pull him from one of his favorite pastimes, reading. He laid eyes on the first page and began gobbling up the text.
In the year 100 C.K.E., this illustrative set of volumes was completed and dedicated to the Emperor as a commemorative gift for his performing of the Judgment Seat Trials in year 0 C.K.E. In the volumes that accompany, Chroniclers have set out to document the results of every inquiry and account delivered before the King during the Judgement Seat Trials. What follows is a condensed account. Every word herein is given to elucidate the extraordinary wisdom, remarkable mercy, and incomparable grace expressed by the Emperor poured out upon all of those who stood before His Judgement Seat at the beginning of this Current Kingdom Era.
“It’s a complete set, you know,” Low King Hans said from the doorway. “All three hundred and thirty-four volumes.”
Avi spun around quickly, “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I didn’t want to disturb your reading,” he said as he reached for the book Avi was holding. Avi handed it over. “This is one of my favorite collections.” He ran his finger down the length of the spine and then opened it to the page Avi had been reading.
“Did they find Bhoora?” Avi asked. An image of his bear flashed across his mind, and it filled him with sharp anxiety for his companion.
“Bhoora is a delightful companion, isn’t he?” Low King Hans asked as he handed the book back to Avi.
“I’m sorry, they have not yet found Bhoora, but Sophia and her staff are very good at these things. I’m confident that your grizzly will turn up before long,” Hans said.
“Why are they your favorite?” Avi asked.
“Who, Sophia, and her staff?” Hans asked.
“No, I mean, why are these books your favorites?” Avi amended.
“I know. I was just kidding,” Hans said as he stepped toward the bookshelf and scanned the collection with his eyes. “They’re my favorite because they remind me of the start of all of this.”
“The start of what?” Avi asked.
“Everything we're experiencing now,” Hans said with the brandishing of his hand. “The kingdom, the King. Just all of it. I have to pinch myself on a regular basis.”
“You pinch yourself, Sir?” Avi said, perplexed. “I’m sure that’s something the Emperor could help you overcome.”
“Oh, no. It’s an expression from Old Earth,” Hans said.
“I know,” Avi replied. “I was joking.” At that, Hans let out a laugh of delight. Clearly, he was genuinely surprised.
“You see what I mean?” Hans said. “The Emperor, in his unmatched wisdom, invented a world filled with not only beauty and wonder but also humor. Isn't it marvelous?” Hans stepped away from the bookshelf and moved toward the middle of the room. He continued. “In all honesty, it might be my favorite set of volumes because my account at the judgment seat is recorded in these books.”
“Really?” Avi asked, surprised.
“Yes,” Hans said, turning toward the shelves that held the volumes. “In fact, the account of every shepherd you have ever encountered is recorded within them.”
Avi marveled at the idea. He pictured the shepherds he had met along his journey and imagined them all standing before the Emperor to give account. He watched as Hans placed the book back on the shelf. Avi wasn't quite ready to leave the topic behind.
“May I read your account?” Avi asked.
“Certainly,” Hans said with joy. “It’s in Volume one forty-three. On that shelf there.” Avi raised an eyebrow.
“I know it like my waistcoat pocket,” Hans said. Avi moved toward the shelf he had indicated. “I’m near the top of page three sixteen.”
“Ok,” Avi said as he pulled the thick book from the shelf. He loved the smell of the pages as he thumbed to the right location. It looked more like a ledger than a novel. Rows of similar text lined every page. He placed his finger on the page and ran downward until he found the name, Hans Jürgen Schneider. Avi read the few lines quickly. There was one line explaining that Hans had been appointed as the Low King of Tamesh, but it left Avi wanting more.
“The book doesn’t say much,” Avi explained as he closed it and put it back on the shelf.
“Yes, it’s hardly poetry. The Chroniclers are not so much concerned about telling a captivating story.”
Avi stepped closer to the Low King. Trying not to sound as if he were begging, he said, “I'd really like to hear about your experience at the Judgement seat.”
“I was pressing my thumbs,” Hans said. Avi skewed his face. “I was hoping you would ask,” Hans rephrased with a smile as he opened a wooden cabinet near one of the many reading desks in the library. He pulled from the compartment a bottle of wine and two glasses. He poured a healthy portion for them both as he led Avi to a stuffed seat. He handed him a glass.
“It’s made from Tordoline grapes.” Hans explained. Avi glanced at the glass with moderate interest.
“Oh,” Avi said but his vacuous look told Hans he did not understand.
“You will be amazed at how it enhances the story,” Hans said.
Avi took a mouthful and leaned back on a overstuffed cushion. It’s warm aromatic flavor gushed across his tongue and washed soothingly down his throat. Almost at once he felt the change. As Hans began to tell his tale, Avi, through the stange magic of the wine, saw scenery so real he could almost touch it. Avi was absolutely lost in the lilting accent of Hans’s story.