Founded by an ancient tribe at the dawn of written language, the Midnight Library is the gathering place for all human knowledge. Every historical event, every spell and curse, every book, and all scientific fact is gathered here. If knowledge is power, then a person who comes across this library may well be considered to be all powerful. In ancient times, whenever a member of the tribe died, their spirits wrote down and hid all of the knowledge they had gained in their life. I have not been permitted to share its original location, but I may tell you that it originated in the vastest desert on earth yet remained hidden from the harsh sun. Even today, this spot is considered sacred. Only select living members of the tribe were ever permitted to know the location, let alone have direct access to this expansive collection.
For centuries, this civilization thrived until calamity struck. It is not known what brought about their doom, but it is known that there was only one survivor. This young boy wandered throughout his entire life, travelling as far as he possibly could. He learned from every tribe that he came across and wrote down all the knowledge shared with him. When his life ended, his spirit added all that he learned to the collection his tribe had started. Though he was dead, his work had to continue; there was so much yet to learn. So before he died, he took a young child under his wing, and this child would be tasked with continuing her mentor’s work. She too would travel the world and collect knowledge. The title they bore has no perfect translation into English, but I feel that the most accurate one is Librarian. For countless generations, a new Librarian would be chosen to travel the world and record all the knowledge they came across, before storing it at the Library.
For centuries, scholars would come to study at this library. Each one contributing, in some way, to the shared knowledge of humankind. You would have heard the names of many visitors that sought out this sacred place. Great sorcerers like Merlin and Morgan Le Fey learnt many of the spells the brought them fame at this Library. Great Kings like, Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, and King Arthur himself studied the art of conquest and ruling at this Library. Even masters of the arts like William Shakespeare, and Beethoven are reputed to have made use of the knowledge of the Library. Though soon enough, people came seeking this great knowledge for the sole purpose of destroying enemies and harming others. This led to a century long war between Britain and France. Fearing the further catastrophe that would come with this continued abuse of knowledge, the Librarian hid the library away. Now it lives in a land of perpetual night, existing between the realms of the living and the dead. This land has been called many things, Purgatory being the most popular. Though the more accurate translation is Land of Midnight. This why it has been dubbed the Midnight Library. Centuries passed and new Librarians were made, and the Library’s collection continued to grow.
I am the apprentice to most recent Librarian. My name is Claudius, and my master and I believe that all people deserve the chance to prove their worth and be granted access to the Midnight Library. I will explain to you the steps to safely enter the realm between life and death. Once there you will face trials to test your worthiness. My master has declined to share with me the precise nature of each trial, but with the information I have, I can at least gift you this knowledge.
I. Your first trial is the most simple in theory, but also the most difficult. To complete it, you will need one candle, something to light the candle with, and proof of your contribution to human knowledge. That can be something as complex as your PhD thesis, a song you’ve written, or even just a short fable. A physical copy will work best, but digital can work fine too. If you have no better option, you can do it orally, but I would not recommend it. After all, a slip of the tongue or emphasis on the wrong word and the entire meaning changes. Your best option is to bring something you worked on by yourself, just to prove your sheer dedication to knowledge and learning, but if you collaborated on something with a partner, make sure you make that clear. The offering can be in any language you want, just as long as it is one that someone actually speaks. I cannot guarantee the ritual will work if your offering is in a language like Klingon, Dothraki, or Elvish. There aren’t many rules you need to know for this or really any of the trials. Just don’t anger the Librarian and you’ll come out, mostly, unscathed. However, trying to cheat by attempting to pass off the works of others as your own is the most surefire way to make the Librarian incredibly angry. If you anger the Librarian, you will not like the result. Remember, the Librarian is the keeper of all human knowledge. They know billions of deadly curses. They have invented spells to keep you from ever dying, despite how desperately you may wish for death. Unless you view being an eyeless, earless, mouthless wraith, existing only as a shell of your former self as a positive thing, I wouldn’t test your luck by cheating.
This trial can be done at any time of day, but night tends to work best. Find someplace quiet where you are unlikely to be disturbed by anybody. Your home would obviously be ideal, but the precise location does not matter all that much. Once you’ve reached your chosen location at the time and are ready to begin, light your candle and offer proof of your knowledge. The best way to do that is via burning. That’s why I suggested having a physical copy. Otherwise, you can just delete a copy and with the intention of offering that copy to Midnight Library, but you need to wish for that outcome very strongly. If your will is insufficient, your trial will end, and you will need to begin again with a separate piece of knowledge. If you intend to do it orally, before you start your presentation, state your intention of offering it to the Midnight Library. Like with the digital copy, you must concentrate on your intent, but also on your words. It’s an easy process to mess up, keep that in mind before you decide to start.
II. After you’ve done all that, the Librarian will judge your offering and decide if you’re worth their time. When you fall asleep that night, you will either wake up as normal or standing just outside the Midnight Library. If you wake up in your bed, then the Librarian didn’t find you worthy. It could be for numerous reasons, so don’t take it personally. Feel free to try again some other time. However, if you do see the Midnight Library, then the real trials begin.
III. The Librarian will begin to ask you questions, very personal questions. You will need to answer them as honestly as you can. You can refuse to answer any, but you will be barred from the library and from ever completing the ritual again. The questions can range from things like: “What was your greatest accomplishment?” and “What do you fear the most?” to even harder ones like, “Who have you hurt the most?”. Your exact answers don’t matter as long as you answer each question truthfully, no harm will come to you, but if the Librarian detects any sort of deceit, they will be incredibly angry. I don’t need to reiterate why that’s a bad thing.
IV. If you manage to answer all the questions to the Librarians satisfaction, you will be given one last trial. I haven’t been told much about it, but what I know is, it will involve your offering. Perhaps you’ll be questioned about your discovery or maybe the moral or themes in your story? It could really be any number of things. Once the Librarian has been satisfied, you will be allowed access to the library. All of human knowledge will now be at your fingertips.
V. I just have one final word of warning. There is some knowledge you’re better off not knowing. Sometimes knowledge brings only pain. My lover, he found the answers to questions he’d been searching for his entire life. Soon after, he regretted ever seeking out this unfortunate truth. I saw the love of my life slowly waste away, and there was nothing myself or my master could do to help him. If you seek answers, you will find them at the library, but like my lover, the knowledge you gained could haunt you until your death. I beg you, think of your loved ones too. Be aware of what watching you waste away could do to them. With that said, I wish you good luck, seekers of knowledge.