Nautica: The Fifth Level
The ladder seemed endless, and then ladders beyond that ladder seemed to go beyond the endless. But Ishmael did finally make it to the level of the Great Library that felt to be the place where he ought to be, the shelves that seemed to be alive with words just written. This was the Fifth Level, the level where only youthful adventurers and aging mystics dared to explore.
His hand sought the comfort of his old friend, the old wood friend carved many years ago by another old man, his grandfather. While Ishmael was now the keeper of the chronicles of things that are about to be, his grandfather had been the teller of stories, stories that some believed to be the remnants of lost history, and some believed to be figments of mere myth, but either way, Ishmael believed them to be true. The old friend, his cane, Ishmael had given the name, Old Jordan. They needed each other now, the old man and his old cane,
The air he breathed here in this lofty place seemed light and clear, the dust of all the thoughts that had lingered too long upon the shelves was down below, in those lower realms reached by the lower ladders. Here there was freshness. Here there was newness. Here there was the sense of yet-to-be-born possibilities waiting to be brought to life.
"Ishmael." The first of the whispers came to the old scribe.
"Ishmael." The second of the whispers tugged upon his soul.
"Ishmael." This third whisper caused him to first believe that this voice he had heard before.
"Who are you? Who calls to me?"
There was no one for Ishmael to see, but he was drawn to one particular shelf in one particular row that held one particular book. And as he reached for it, the whisper called once more, "Ishmael."