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Also known as the Halosian Rider, the formidable Tortoise Hermit, or just Grandpa.

In the year 758 after the fall of the Seleucarian Empire, the Mistral did slay his mount, the tortoise Kurmarana.

Artisanal Recognitions

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Bardic Recognitions

Runner Up March 31, 2016

[Excerpt from an intercepted private note intended for staff of the Targossian Library. The veracity of its claims is unverified]

Sir Archivist,

Greetings to you. I hope the morn finds you well. Everyday is a blessed one so long as the Bloodsworn preside in the riverlands.

Well. Mostly. And here we come to the purpose of my hastily written missive.

I do not wish to alarm you. Regrettably, I must write to draw attention to a most disconcerting trend which I have found threatening the sanctity of our new library and which I urge you to address as soon as you can.


[The word is punctuated with a forceful splatter of dry ink]

Yes. You read correctly. Snake titles.

You know the type. The kinds of book titles which snake forth like unending, over-fed serpents, slithering hither and thither innocuously until they dominate the view of every publication in sight. Their excessively elegant coils of script loop languidly along pristine bookshelves before rolling to the floor to trip up hapless library patrons. Do not chuckle, Archivist, snake-titles are no laughing matter!

Why, have you never heard of the legendary Marcella Library? It is a cautionary tale passed down by the Scribner's Club of Delos. One of the greatest libraries of the ancient world, the pride of Seleucar, playing host to generations of diligent students and enlightened scholars. This was before anyone had ever heard of the dangers of snake-titles, back when the archivists and librarians of the Marcella Library had prestigious tomes with titles which were sometimes greater than twenty characters long. Occasionally an overachieving young scholar from the nearby Selicande Lycaeum would publish his thesis with a stupendously long title in order to grab the attention of the local professors. Sometimes the graduate students even turned the creation of snake-titles into sport, which eventually came back to bite them later. I will tell you how.

The annals of history whisper darkly of a mythical tome sporting a title of elephantine proportions. I refer of course to the beautifully tragic, thirty-page piece called "The Persecution and Assassination of Prince Theramenes deSangre as Performed by Children of the Sixteenth Junior Class of the Lesser Shrine of Vastar.' Yes! How wonderfully descriptive, right? Oh, the tragedy. It was the final match in the powder, so to speak. One fine morning the doughty archivists of the Marcella Library returned after a particularly long night of drunken liscentiousness on Red Stag Street only to discover a shocking surprise.

The bookshelves had splintered and collapsed.

Yes, it is true! From 'A Booke of Hystorickal Seraphs, Or Angeles of Olde by Arisa Raviede' to 'Courting Thrones Or How I Learned to Play the Brazen Zither With Confidence by Zingaros of Therophane', each book had been torn down by the malevolent snake-titles. Every single one of the hundred oaken bookshelves fell to damneable ruin like miniature towers of Babel in one night, the pages of their precious tomes scattered like so many dying leaves. And that was the disastrous end of the Marcella Library, I'm m afraid. The venerable Severian Marcella was probably rolling in his grave by that time. The Empire itself met calamity and collapsed in on itself not long after but that is a (probably) unrelated story for another time.

The real victim of snake-titles is practicality. For instance, is it absolutely necessary that patrons are informed--within a casual glance at the shelves--that the Principles of Order and Laws of Chaos are not only presented as defined by Agatheis, the Elemental Lord AND presented by His Order (obviously) but ALSO appallingly plagiarised by one illustrious Madelyne Fol'ia, who was apparently an Elemental Grand Master and perhaps referred to humorously at one point in her long, unnotable life as a "Splatterpainted Stage Director"? Who in all the green worlds cares what Miss Fol'ia is called behind her back at the slattern-draped tables of the Dancing Boar? Moreover, must this book truly gush this useless information so freely to the detriment of the more modestly titled 'Principal Works of the Order of Justice' or demurely named 'Tome of the Anointed'? I think my case has been adequately presented.

So, you see, Archivist, I implore you to please take care when stocking our brand new shelves with those precious books. Be a good gardener and please PRUNE those overreaching titles. Eviscerate the personal titles of authors. Strike down author names altogether on certain ones if necessary! Put those snake-titles in their places! For the sake of the books, for the sake of academia, for the sake of the all-seeing Light, please have them trimmed back before they consume us all. Thank you.

Your trustworthy, if somewhat concerned, colleague,

Caliphan Scribe Master of the Great Library of Ram [The signature ends with an agitated flourish, the parchment noticeably creased by the quill's passage]