This is the journal I created while playing The Sealed Library, a solo roleplaying game. The game uses a deck of cards, a tumbling block tower, a six-sided die, and a notebook. You can read my review for it here, or you can purchase the game for yourself here.
The journal starts in the same place the game starts. Invaders are pillaging and destroying the ancient land on which the writer lives. The last librarian of the greatest library, in this case Jewel, is tasked with saving important texts before the last barricade keeping the invaders out crumbles. It’s a tall ask, as food stores are low and security is nonexistent.
This is not a tightly edited work. I’ve mainly tried to clean it of typos. What you see here is exactly what I wrote during the 2 hours I played the game.
About Jewel: Jewel is the character created by the player, Cassi Mothwin. Jewel uses she/her pronouns, is age 26, and has lived most of her life within the walls of the library. She knows of magic, but has never mastered its use.
Content warnings: This is an upsetting read. It deals with isolation, disease, violence, and starvation.
SPOILERS FOR THE SEALED LIBRARY BELOW.
Day 1 – After the Barricade
The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
The doors and windows remain secure though the ceaseless banging and distant screams still fill me with dread. I tell myself some of the others left outside might have survived.
Today, I must begin choosing and moving the most important works, or what remains of them, down to the catacombs. I hope my food and water will last until my task is complete.
Day 2 – The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I have learned several rituals during my time here, including protective spells, language magic, traveling magic, and the ability to walk on water. The traveling magic won’t get me far, and I am missing key ingredients like holy water, horse hair, and sand from a special kind of green glass.
The library has many medical texts, but I can only save so many. I think my best course of action is to save the imminently practical works. I am torn up about leaving the history of this important and vital subject behind, but perhaps we can glean what we need from what is useful right now. I don’t think medical professionals of the historical works will fault me.
The barricade held well today. The Invaders were unable to make any progress. I’m unsure how long it will hold them off, but I remain hopeful.
Day 3 – The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I found heavy stone tablets today. They told the story of a king who gave his life for his country. The king was Denethor the Mighty—a ruthless ruler who surprised his subjects by offering himself to the Sungod in exchange for a peaceful end to an ages long war. I wonder how long the peace lasted.
While I moved the tablets, I heard screaming from the cellar. I remember hearing stories as a child about a caretaker transformed by corrupted magic. The caretaker lost his soul, but grew seven extra appendages that allowed it to hungrily crawl along any surface. Some stories suggested it lived between the walls. I never believed them…
Until today. I followed the screaming and found some utterly destroyed Invaders. I almost lost the small contents of my stomach, but I steadied my breathing before going back upstairs and barring the door to the cellar. I don’t know which frightens me more, the potential monster or the fact that the Invaders found a way in.
The Invaders were proud of this intrusion and let me know it. I could feel and hear them stomping and banging their shields outside. A song without joy filled the air:
dies inside her sin.
I found the keys to the forbidden magic section as well today. I could tell there were rituals performed inside recently, but it’s tough for me to understand which ones. I suspect they might have been protective spells, or perhaps they unleashed whatever lurks in the cellar. It must have been my master, right? Unless it was another junior librarian. I can only guess that Recks would have the means or illusions about trying to though. And he was forbidden from entering the area, like me.
I have uncovered twelve original manuscripts! With notes! I’ve moved them to the catacombs for safekeeping. What Built the Mountains started by Sir Tornith and finished by his son Clerark tells the story of a city built from nothing. While it is a work of fiction, the pages contain philosophy and instructions for governing, travel, record-keeping, and even recipes. Plus, these manuscripts have margin notes from father to son and from son to father which show how to hope and how to grieve. These are important lessons for the time to come.
Day 4 – The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I lost a lot of time today. Someone left a trap in the religious section. I pulled a text, thinking it might be good to have a range of arguments saved, but the ink drugged me. It had some kind of hallucinogenic properties. I collapsed and shook wildly, and I had visions. Visions of the Invaders marching upon me, burning the books, building stables out of bookshelves, bringing in “lesser” beings to serve as slaves. The Invaders do not deserve this building.
I came back to myself beyond upset and went through Recks’ belongings. As much as I dislike the man, I miss having someone to annoy me. I am through having people scare me.
I’m not sure where Recks found it, but he had smoked bacon on one of his shelves. As I ate in his bed, I thought about the time I left cold noodles under his pillow.
Recks was not ready to die. When he shoved me back into the library and barred the doors, I was sure he would follow. But his room remains empty aside from me.
Day 5 – The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I am unwell.
Another Invader found his way in. He was well armored and his sword sharpened. I tried to run from him after we noticed each other. He was close on my heels, and in an act of desperation, I ventured into the cellar. He followed without so much as pausing to wonder why I had the door barred. But I was quick and outsmarted him. As he came down the stairs, I leapt from the shadows and frightened him. He tumbled backwards, but he managed to grab me, and pulled us both into the looming darkness. His sword found purchase in my thigh as we fell.
I think he hit his head because he was no longer breathing when we finally landed at the bottom of the long and twisted stairs. Probably a mercy for him. I wandered for a few minutes in the cellar quite dazed from the fall and the bloodloss. The blood must have attracted a swarm of starved rats. I could barely see them in the dark, but I could feel so many punctures along my flesh through my robes, the pain bringing me to my knees briefly.
I managed to fight off the creatures with a bout of adrenaline by leading them to the Invader’s corpse. The cellar texts may wish to draw me back, but I do not wish to go. I am covered in blood and pus. The rat bites smell terrible and I cannot eat. A fever has taken hold, and I slept for a bit halfway to Reck’s bedroom on the chilled marble floor. I made no progress today.
The Invaders are like rats.
Day 6 – The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I have finally figured out how to lock the Vault. Who is the dense one now, Recks? I have a lot of work ahead of me. I don’t know if I will get everything in time. The Invaders were quiet today. They are planning something big. I am sure of it.
Day 7- The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I woke to snakes and scorpions scurrying between the shelves. They were coming from under the front doors. The Invaders must have done it… Which means everyone outside…
I can’t think about it.
I took clothing from the Master’s room and plugged up the gaps between the door and the floor. Still, I am unwell.
I read some poetry about love and decided to save it. Supposedly these original works are from the greatest poets ever known. Yet I feel empty holding them. It’s hard to say if it’s the wounds or something more that offers up the sensations of numbness. But the works are saved, nonetheless.
The last of Recks’ bacon that I had been saving for him has rotted. Feeling weak and hopeless, I ate it anyway, pairing it with a bottle of fine Scotch I found hidden away inside a book I found in Sister Pine’s desk. She always liked me, so I don’t think she’ll mind that I took it.
I don’t know if it was the meat or my wounds, but I remain feverish and sick. My days—or more likely hours—are limited. I have little hope remaining.
Day 8- The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
The remnants of scorpions and snakes litter the halls, but otherwise today was quiet. I found some strange items like a wand and a rat tail used for magic, and I made my way to the map room. I have had a few bad days so I dragged 3-days worth of food and ate it without care over wonderfully colored maps. I imagine myself in the great canyons of Talid Falls and hiking the peaks of the Dragonspine Mountains.
I will probably regret this.
Day 9- The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
Mice have eaten so much of the bread! I am upset, but I put that work into unlocking two of the library’s vaults. I have eight to go! My wounds are still festering.
Day 10- The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I found a magic circle I believe transmutates the creator to a safe pocket dimension. I wanted to celebrate after I took a cohesive sketch with cheese and apples, but both are unappetizing. I think I may be wasting away. I dream of baked cheese on toast or even another bite of smoked bacon.
I am out of blank paper so I suppose this copy of The Earth We Tilled will have to hold my diary. I do not give a damn about soil.
I wonder if the Invaders have given up.
Day 11- The Diary of Junior Librarian Jewel
I just finished playing chess with myself. I used to be good at this, but I am not anymore. The puzzles are too cumbersome in my current state of suffering.
I tried to read a book on flowers, but I became lost in the art, seeing some strange vine beast made of roses. It seems alive and real. I feel it lurk just out of the corner of my vision.
I was running from it earlier when I fled into the bookbinding room for safety. In my haste for a feeling of security, I knocked over a rack of inks and destroyed several volumes about child rearing that needed to be repaired.
I am eating moldy bread as I try to sleep. The Invaders launched stones today. I happened to be walking under “The Great Divide” stained glass piece that showed off the outer edge of the galaxy when it shattered around me. I am too tired to mourn.
I could not sleep, and so I walked the halls with Recks’ blanket on my shoulders. I visited the North Wing since I’ve not made my way there in some time.
That’s when I found him.
Recks’ corpse along with one of the Invaders. It looks like they both came through one of the upper open windows. They might have been fighting atop the roof or perhaps, Reck’s tried to stop him from sneaking in. The Invader looks to have died of several broken bones and a cracked skull. While Recks’ body was also quite mangled, his chest was cleaved completely through with a puncture wound on both sides. I found a sword quite far away from both of them covered in blood.
Perhaps Recks used the last of his energy to push this Invader and himself down into these halls? I covered Recks with his blanket and left the Invader to the rats. I’m sure they’ll find both.
Day 12- The Diary of the Last Junior Librarian Jewel
Tonight, I am sleeping in the basement. I do not hear the endless parade from the Invaders down here, and the musty air is calming. I boarded up some windows, but I had to sacrifice the neuropsychology section to get wood. While I was moving the books, I found a stash of food and drink, but I thought it was fake. By the time I talked myself into eating it, I lost track of the stash. Maybe I will find it again tomorrow.
I feel so gross and unkempt, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. The lice in my hair are good company, and I don’t even smell my clothes anymore. Or my wounds for that matter. I don’t really smell anything. My wounds still pus and ooze, but come to think of it, I don’t really feel them either.
I honestly feel pretty at peace. I’m even coughing up blood, but it doesn’t rattle me.
Recks has stopped by. He says I impressed him, but that I should stay out of his room. We talked a bit and I invited him to play chess with me.
I think he let me win.
I am heading to sleep as I can’t keep my eyes open, but Recks says my work is finished, so maybe tomorrow will be a better day after all.
Thank you for reading.