User:ChippyYYZ

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A lone figure surveys a silent landscape, his bags stocked with supplies and firewood. Dust coats the ground, no grass to hold the soil in place. A city once stood here. A traveler passing by might look and say "But still it stands, does it not?" The buildings stand, yes, but the city is not in them. Libraries full of unread books. Greenhouses full of withered plants. Houses never inhabited. Hidden passages never opened. Skyscrapers with only a few floors. Monuments with no inscriptions. The fossil of a proud civilization.

As the sun approaches the horizon, the lone figure walks down a dusty street. When he first walked down this street seven years ago, it was alive with traffic. Now, the dust betrays no footprints but his own, and those of another who has been this way not long ago. There are still travelers here sometimes, those who remember. He ascends the steps to the city hall. On the outside, it appears abandoned, but inside... inside is civilization. A small fire burns in the middle of the grand hall. It casts flickering light on a multitude of bookshelves, at least sixty. Each holds a hundred books, the accounts and ideas of those who came before. Some are revered, their tales retold and passed down. Others are regarded as the ill-conceived scribblings of vagrants ignorant of the history of this place.

He has read every book on these shelves. Some more books are piled up around an weathered old writing desk. They will take their rightful place in the archive when a new shelf can scavenged or put together. He investigates the pile. He recognizes most of the books at a glance; they are new enough as to be fresh in his memory. A few he does not recognize, and he smiles. "What new adventures will I have tonight?" he wonders. He throws some wood on the fire, that it may burn a little longer. Night falls as he reads, but here within these walls, by this fire, from these pages, civilization wakes from its sleep.

As he closes the cover of the last new book, he is reminded of another. He browses the shelves, reliving the tales of old as he reads each book's cover, though he can't seem to remember which shelf holds the one he's looking for. He pauses as he comes across an old book he never liked. It lacked cohesion, needed editing, and was rather juvenile in content. A haughtier scholar would have thrown it into the fire, that by its light may be read greater books by greater people, but this is no lofty academy. This is an archive. No story, no record, no page, no letter could be allowed to perish. He places the book back in its place on the shelf, its true place. It may not be a good book, but it Is. It Is, and that makes it important. It Is, and so long as a soul remains to read it, it shall Be. This is an archive of memories, tended that there may be remembrance. The fire does not burn brightly, but it persists by the efforts of those who keep returning to bring it wood. The city is uninhabited, save for one visitor, but it persists by the efforts of those who keep returning to add their experiences to it. The memories are dusty, but they persist by the efforts of those who keep returning because they will not forget.

He remembers the day he first arrived in this city. He remembers the first book he picked up when he was welcomed into the city hall, a whimsical tale of a beetle and a beaver. It seemed peculiar to him, and he eventually learned it was little more than a pointless inside joke among the writers of the day. Browsing through the eighteenth shelf, which had not even been built at the time, he find its, and he reads it once more. As he puts it back on the shelf, other books catch his eye. Journals of good men, manuals for constructing effective barricades, accounts of the inescapable wrath of a god, encouraging messages from those who overcame great hardships. All of it too valuable to be forgotten. The fire must burn, and the memories must endure. One nagging question lurks in his mind, though. "How long?" Is it possible to remember these things forever? Will the ones who have kept returning ever depart for other places, leaving the fire to die? Even if he is faithful to the end of his life, to whom will the legacy pass?
"If we are the ones who remember, then who will remember us?"

He sits down at the writing desk, the same one at which was written the first book on the first shelf. The pen on the desk carries the weight of ages, but, drawing on the strength of all the authors who have come before him, he is able to wield it. He writes for the same audience as ever he has written for, his fellow now-lost citizens. He writes of an ancient kingdom, of which nothing remains but a name and a few pieces of rock. He writes of a future nation, which suffers the same fate as a new civilization overwrites it. Then he writes of his city.

Ever has the fire burned, and we have not allowed our city to be forgotten. Yet it is not for the sake of our memories that we hold the darkness at bay--so ephemeral a foundation as this would inevitably collapse--but for remembrance's sake. One day, you and I will finish remembering, and our beautiful city, though it may stand forever, will fade into non-being. I tell you, do not be disheartened; for though our fire may be certain to end in darkness, darkness is not the end. Even now, there are new fires being lit in other lands, new books being written faster than we could read all of them. A light is temporary, but Light shall never perish. Memories may die, but remembrance is eternal. We will remember until we do not, and new memories will be born and be remembered until they are not, that by the light of some fire, there may always be a new book to read.
And forever there will be remembrance. -.-- -.-- --..