Like a prisoner or a princess, the book was to return with an escort of sargents and bailiffs. The book had traveled widely, had spoken to many, and had vivified cities, landscapes, and indelible faces. There were reports of wars, famines, intrigues, and plagues. Nevertheless, the caretakers of the book had always been cautious, and their care had not been in vain. Following their carriages were carriages filled with coffers of coin. The roadway itself sparkled with the nostalgia and expectation of centuries. The librarians who waited were surprised by the arrival. The carriages stopped. The book was unfettered from its guards and dropped into the dirt from the carriage door. The door closed. One by one, the carriages rolled off into a new and dark distance. One of the librarians reached down to help the book up, and realized she was a well preserved corpse, bloodless and pale, eviscerated and covered in markings, brands and criminal tattoos. Weeping, the old librarian kissed her cheeks and lifted her up into his arms, walking into the morning. The wind played with her long tresses.
Once, a scholar received an inheritance of five keys and a codex of the highway to the abandoned city. The codex was an almanac and a map. Not long after he set out, the codex fell into a well and half of it was drowned and blurred. Some nights later, the wind was blowing, and sparks from the campfire landed on the remaining half of the codex, burning it. Nevertheless, the man resolved to be the codex and find his inheritance of which he vividly dreamed. When he arrived at the abandoned city, he wandered the streets, trying his keys in every lock of the gates to its houses and gardens. At long last, one key finally turned, and he entered into his estate, but there were ghosts there who asked him to leave. They had their own keys and deeds to the estate, and they had already summoned the oligarchs, knowing this day would come. The sergeants and men of law came to arrest him, but after hearing his tale, they allowed him to stay in the empty city, as long as he never entered a house or garden. And for this reason, the scholar became an arsonist, a veritable pyrrhomaniac, burning down the city one house each night, while hiding in the water of the wells by day. The abandoned city thus became a great and enduring smoke signal for wayfarers who might be walking the endless highways.