The Library Tree is difficult to describe to non-Xanaduvians, for it really does contain the secrets of the universe--and even secrets of other universes. Without seeing it first-hand, one would never believe that so many books could fit inside a tree, albeit it a very large one. There were some furnishings upon the ground Caesar Emeritus and I stood upon, but none above. The countless book shelves that seemed to ascend unto forever were carved directly into the inner wood of the Library Tree; and not a single shelf was empty. The reader might now understand and imagine why the Library Tree was always tended to by forest fairies--Talulha being chief among them. I realized just that moment that we would need to construct ladders for the Library Tree, if Caesar Emeritus were ever to reach most of the books--since he didn't have wings as did the fairies. A task for Cousin Eddie the Raven, no doubt, assuming he has enough beer cans left to construct them!
When I was satisfied that Caesar had absorbed enough of the Library Tree to realize it was really real, I walked over to him, placed my hand upon his shoulder, and placed the Library Tree key in his tender paw. I wasn't sure he completely understood what that gesture meant, but he smiled a knowing smile nevertheless, and placed his paw upon my shoulder, and took the key, still gazing in wonder. He was happy--that much I could feel. I finally explained, "You, my new friend, dear Caesar Emeritus, are now officially the librarian of the Library Tree, the heart of the Xanadu Forest. This is your home--now, and forevermore. Here you will live among the wisdom of the universes, as recorded by the Xanaduvian scribes--and others.
Very matter-of-factly, Ceasar Emeritus asked, "Others?"
Indeed he had caught me off-guard. I stammered a bit, "Well, yes...others. There are other books we enjoy here too. They aren't all Xanaduvian in origin. For instance, when Talulha was the librarian here, she knew, of course, that I adored the writings of Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and countless classics. She made sure that we had those books here at my disposal, and many I can't name. Cervantes--oh how I so adore Don Quixote!"
I would have gone on much longer, but Caesar Emeritus interrupted me gently, "Where is Talulha now?"
I began a long explanation as to how I had been away from the Xanadu Forest until only recently, and that I was still learning where all the residents had gone off to. Dear Caesar seemed disinterested as I rambled on, and pulled a book from one of the shelves. He sat down upon a chair and began thumbing through pages, though I imagined he was still listening to me. I continued, "And so then that's why we had to stop by the county clerk's office and see Madeleine. And I had a feeling she had--"
Caesar Emeritus interrupted me gently again, and pointed to a page, "These are Xanaduvian writings?"
I came closer to him to look at the page and said, "Yes, that is the ancient Xanaduvian language. I'm not very good at translating it, I'm afraid. I had been studying and learning the language before I left the Xanadu Forest, but I've forgotten much of what I had learned. The language is only complex it its simplicity, and it's generally--"
"You are Xanaduvian, no?" interjected Caesar (yes, gently, always gently), and continued thumbing through pages as if to examine them. Then he flipped back to a previous page he had been examining, then back again to a few pages later.
I replied, "Well, by nature, no. I'm Xanaduvian by adoption, I think you would say. I'm a human--from Earth originally. It's a long story."
Caesar Emeritus gestured for me to come closer, and pointed his claw at a certain paragraph that seemed to intrigue him. "Are you able to see what this paragraph is describing?" he asked.
I took the book from his paws and set it down on the desk so I could look at it closer. "Much of it, no--there are words here I'm unfamiliar with," I answered, and went on while examining the page further, "It seems to be discussing the antediluvian Xanaduvians...something about making rocks...maybe. Not sure. I DO recognize that phrase there as referring to the Dead Tree Scrolls."
That caught dear Caesar's attention, and his lovely Baloo eyes asked, "Dead Tree Scrolls?"
I handed the book back to Caesar Emeritus and felt happy to be able to actually explain something I was sort of familiar with. I told him, "Yes, Dead Tree Scrolls. I have seen them. There is a valley on the far edges of Lemmington, near the Passage of Time, where fallen trees rest in and around the river, recording much of Interterristria's ancient history."
It seemed pointless for Caesar Emeritus to interrupt me only to say, "Go on, please," but perhaps he had his reasons.
I went on, "The writings are not carved, mind you. They are words spoken to the trees by Xanaduvian sages of old--while the trees were still alive, of course. Some of the words were prayers, some were wisdom, poetry, legends--some were lineages, and some were songs of hope that were sung to the trees before they fell." I paused there in case Caesar Emeritus might want to interrupt again. He didn't. So I added, "Those spoken words became markings embedded on the trees beneath their bark--markings which eventually became the written Xanaduvian language. I would imagine much of what's in that book you're holding was taken directly from the Dead Tree Scrolls."
With that, Caesar Emeritus stood and returned the book to its proper shelf, and asked me, "So you can speak some Xanaduvian?"
"Only a little, I replied. I know how to say 'I love you'...that's 'Gratotsik e voum.'"
Ceasar stood tall and stretched, from his neck all the way down to his massive paws, and seemed to be looking for a good place to lie down. I introduced dear Caesar to the "Love Seat" in the center of the Library Tree floor, and he seemed very pleased with it. The Love Seat, for the sake of the reader, is basically a very large bean bag chair in the shape of a heart--reddish pink in color.
Ceasar Emeritus lie down upon the Love Seat, and I believe he was smiling. He gestured with his massive paw to come join him and lie down next to him. "If you don't mind," he was careful to add.
I lie down next to dear Caesar and started on, "Not at all. In fact, with all that I've been going through for so long, it will actually be very nice to--"
Ceasar Emeritus interrupted me just the one last time that night, and said, "If you will, please tell me the story of how you came to be adopted as a Xanaduvian. And please forgive me if I drift off in the middle of the story, but I am very tired as you might expect."
His body was so warm and comforting next to mine, and I shut my eyes and smiled, and told my story uninterrupted:
"My family were farmers from the planet Earth. Many years ago, when I was just a child, my father sent me away, telling me that it was time for me to journey the Earth in search of the meaning of life. Not knowing exactly what he meant, and not knowing where to go at all, I decided it was best just to follow alongside the river. And so I did so--for many days, and perhaps weeks. To be honest, I lost all reasonable perception of time and distance.
I remember the moment I discovered a wonderful gift--that I could speak to animals. Not only that, but they could speak to me, and we could understand each other. It was a lovely wolf that opened my mind and heart to this gift. I stared into his golden eyes, and I felt him ask me why I had wandered so far from my home. I spoke out loud to him that I was sent away from my home in search of the meaning of life. I felt the wolf respond that the meaning of life was the pack, the brotherhood, and a good hunt.
Another day I stumbled onto a great brown bear, and I asked him what the meaning of life would be. The great brown bear told me that the river's cool waters, and the finest seeds of the finest berries were the meaning of life.
It was around this time I became aware that a raven had been soaring above me, following subtly at a good distance. I considered the raven could well have been following me since I began my journey, but I had no way to know for sure at that time. I would learn much later, of course.
And I came upon a snake once--not a particularly large one--who told me that there actually was no meaning to life--that one simply wanders, eats, sleeps--and eventually no longer wakes from sleep.
Then there was that night--that night where I fell asleep upon a nice, large, flat rock next to the river, and woke with a lovely raven upon my chest. She spoke to me kindly and warned me that I should sleep here no longer, for the snake I had spoken to before had told the other snakes about me, and they would soon surround and destroy me. I stood and thanked her, and she rested upon my shoulder much of the time from there on out during my journey. I of course had asked her several times what the meaning of life was, but never did she answer. She would only ever tell me lovely stories about the universe and its beautiful mysteries. She did tell me that she felt I would find an answer to my question when the time was just right.
The lovely raven was not wrong, since one shining day, I knelt to take a drink from the river, and--just inches from my youthful face--I met a bee. A very special bee, it turned out to be. It glowed and hovered above me as I stood and wiped the water from my chin. Before I could ask the bee what the meaning of life was, He told me to look at the twin trees, just a few feet behind me. One tree was on the eastern bank of the river, and the other was directly across from it, upon the western bank. The two trees, He explained, were identical in every perceivable way--down to the numbers of the fruit upon the branches. The bee went on to tell me that the only difference between the two trees lie within the fruit-- that to eat of one fruit would poison and kill me, while to eat of the other fruit would grant me eternal life.
And that's how I first met Edwin the Bee. And He adopted me, and the sacred garden in this very Xanadu Forest became my home."
Since I believed Caesar Emeritus had long since drifted off to sleep, I was quite surprised when he looked at me gently asked me, "So how did you know which fruit to eat?"
I looked into dear Caesar's eyes, and said softly, "I didn't. I asked Edwin, of course, how I could know which fruit to eat of, but He wouldn't answer. He only said 'Love.' And then I knew I had my answer to the meaning of life. I chose the right fruit. And then Edwin stung me!"
Caesar Emeritus laughed a warm and hearty laugh, and so did I. "I'm going to enjoy spending eternity here with you, my new friend," he said.
I gave him a heartfelt smile, and a nice belly rub.
And we both drifted off into the sweetest of slumbers.
Thank you all lovely of lovelies. Always and forever.
I love you.