The Will of an Eccentric is a peddler of curses. A broken, lost soul who gave up their name, their history, and their mortifying burden of being known in trade for seeing the way things truly are. A curse is a truth as the world sees it. You can be cursed with sight, or with blindness. Cursed with life or with death. Will is one of few Peddlers capable of seeing these truths, little red strings wound up in a person that they are able to pluck out and rewind and tuck away into their pocket. It has to be an even trade, though. You can't just give your soul away for free, it's bad business.
Will travels through worlds and realms in their shapeshifting wagon, pulled along by nothing and as forgettable as they, themselves, are. Meeting Will is a gamble on whether or not you'll remember the encounter, as they act as a hole in the world that things simply fall into. They are severely malnourished and don't consider themself enough of a person, or even a body, to need taking care of. They would love to do business with you, provided you don't remember the deal.
A long time ago, they were eaten by a god whale, a creature that swallows up fate and spits out its antithesis. Whoever Will was before, they had decided to walk into the sea, and met this whale. Inside it, they made a bargain, and sold away their fate, their name, and their memory. Since then, Will has embraced their nothingness, upending the fates of others by rewriting their curses, leaving behind their patrons with a hole in their memories. They cherish the fact they are free from being known, a comfort they hold dearly, and still thank the god whale that bestowed them this gift.
Will is a lanky, skinny thing, standing at 6'4" and weighing barely more than a wet paper bag. They hide their malnourished frame under flowing dresses and skirts, sometimes donning heels and other accessories you'd think they'd care too little to wear. Pants are a sometimes thing, but always with a very high waist. They usually wear a wide-brimmed hat, a choker, and their dark, oily hair tied up. Their eyes are perpetually sleepy. Underneath their clothes, spreading across their torso and right arm, are ribbons of muscle and veins that perpetually bleed. They cover this with ever-changing bandages and a thick gardener's glove.
• finding beauty in the cursed and unlovable
• seeing the world for its truths and themself for their lies
• learning what it means to be alive after they've already died
• selling away the things that make them human
• chronic pain
• a collection of things thrown away or hated
• multiverse traveler
• being free from the mortal ordeal of being known
Only the ship is made of books, thousands of overlapping pages
and the endless, unmoving sea it floats upon is pitch black ink.
Librarian of Dust
(Art by Isthill)
“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
~ Erin Morgenstern
Across the worlds they're known as The Librarian of Dust, or just The Librarian. Friends call them Dust.
They travel the worlds by foot, carrying nothing with them but an enormous, 6'6 ft tall scroll that serves as an entrance to their library.
Dust doesn't know why or how, but as long as they can remember they had the ability to indulge in a book or story so much it becomes a pocket dimension that can be entered through the book, scroll, whatever it is written on. A general rule of thumb that has shown to apply is that, the dustier a book is, the longer someone can stay in the story, as the dust of the worlds they travel carries tiny bits of their magic.
They travel the worlds offering their books and stories as a temporary escape from reality, for basic goods and money, and, in some cases, will even write a specific story for their customers to enter.
Dust always seems to be a little 'not really there', as the connections between them and their books and stories are quite distracting, but usually is a ray of light wherever they go, just trying to enjoy their life the best they possibly can while making the lives of others a little brighter, too.
Name - Asra Stendarr Alias - The Librarian of Dust Nicknames - Dust Gender - neutral Age - unknown DoB - unknown Sexuality - demipansexual
Dust could best be described as petite. 5'6 ft tall and rather lithe, they are neither physically strong, nor imposing. However, they are often described as outstandingly beautiful, with their long and very fluffy, snow white hair and golden skin. Their gentle, black eyes have a constant sparkle to them, reminiscent of the depths of space and it's millions of stars, and their near constant smile makes them seem like they're at peace with just about everything.
Usually draped in layers of colorful, heavily patterned clothes, they stand out almost everywhere.
A wagon rolls down a dirt path, somehow aimless despite its direct way forward. It's pulled by nothing more than a Will to move forward, the front of it dragging through the dirt. Massive redwood trees extend far into the sky, light filtering down onto the path and the road opting to swerve between trunks rather than split through them, the wagon more than capable of following the tight curves despite having seemingly nothing to lead it.
To any observers who didn't know better, the wagon would be nothing more than the tracks it left behind, the structure itself as forgettable as its owner. It moves between spaces, filling a gap left behind by other travelers, rather than carving its own way into the world. The lantern hanging from the front is lit, swaying ever so slightly in the forest's winds, indicating someone is home. And sure enough, someone indeed exits the interior of the two-story wagon, out onto the awning above the road. The awning host to growths of green and batches of flowers, a potted garden tended carefully for no reason at all but the sake of it.
And the tending must be done--every morning that The Will of an Eccentric remembers to, at least. Dress fluttering in mimic of the light hanging from their home, they reach for the watering can left exposed for rainwater to collect. They could always pull back the tarp over the balcony and let the rain fall, but that would defeat the purpose of tending to something living. If it lives just fine on its own, they would have just left it all in the ground. They move up and down rows of plants, watering pot after pot, all while the wagon shambles forward unassisted.
And then, the wagon rolls to a stop, a destination found. It takes moments for Will to notice, and even when they do, they do not stop their methodical gardening.
It was a mild night, the way only the very few days between the end of spring and the beginning of summer were, in a city, rather a metropolis, really. At a marketplace with a fountain, water whispering in the dead of night, or at least it sounded like it to the traveler, sat a lonely silhouette.
The legs of their dark brown harem pants were rolled up to just below their knees to prevent them from getting wet as the traveler set their feet into the cool water. Sitting like this, the edge of their coat was dragging in the dirt, but they didn't mind. It was just a coat, after all.
"Hey, are you okay?"
The traveler looked up from the rippling water as a guard approached.
Was he worried about them or worried about what they might be up to? Not that they had anything illegal planned, mind you.
"Oh, very much so", Dust replied, lips curving into a soft smile. With their white hair and exotic choice of clothing they looked like they didn't belong here, at all, like someone had picked them right out of a story book of faraway lands and dropped them in this medieval tale.
"Are you, sir?"
The guard looked entirely perplexed by either the out-of-place air this stranger was spreading or the unexpected question they had asked.
"Uh. I-I... think so?"
The traveler cocked their head, a questioning expression settling on their face as their dark eyes bored into the guard's hazel ones inquiringly.
It didn't take more to make the man talk. "Do you believe in karma?"
Dust took a full minute to ponder on this question and what they should answer. "I do believe that the universe strives for balance. Do you want to tell me why you're asking me this?"
Only three full hours of talking later did Dust leave the city to head into the nearby forest.
Heartfelt sympathy etched a small frown between their brows as they pulled the giant scroll from the leather fixture on their back and unrolled it.
The rustling parchment revealed a tall entrance gate, entirely made of words, sentences, most detailed descriptions of the world beyond.
And like it was a real entrance, Dust stepped into the blackness of the ink at its center---
--- and re-emerged someplace else.
Dark blue walls were sparkling like the night sky in the light of torches and fireflies, indicating that, although the room almost seemed endless in its expanse, there was a corridor leading to the left, into a small private study with an adjacent bedroom. The rest of the library consisted of countless several stories high shelves, packed with books and scrolls, that extended further than the Eye could see. Colorful fabrics were draped across the ceiling and myriads of candles lit the edges of the corridors between the shelves.
Dust, however, headed straight to the left, into said private study, where they had left a new book they had acquired a week or so ago. Ever since, they had been reading about this peddler, Will, who seemed so lost... It reminded them of how lost they had been at one point in their life. Today, though, they would try to change it and offer this lonely soul some company.
After picking up another scroll for their library (as they needed it to return to it later), they pressed their hand to the pages, and soon, it pressed through them, until a light emerged from the book and swallowed them whole.
Seconds later they found themselves in front of a two-story wagon, where a skinny silhouette wearing a flowing dress, was watering the plants.
Dust remained silent, just watching for now with their hands clasped neatly in front of them, as they didn't want to interrupt what seemed to be a somewhat meditative activity for Will.
Will either did not notice Dust or did not care. They finished watering the plants and set the watering can back down in its spot. Dust could hear a door open and close, the peddler character apparently done with their task. The wagon remained motionless, however. An extended wait for the librarian as Will finished getting ready for their day. Their bandages soaked red, their gown not quite right for the environment. Will tied their hair up and unraveled the bloody bandages they kept on through the night, cleaning out any remaining scabs or clots that formed on the surface of their ever-bleeding river of scars. Blotting them dry with a rag, they then wrapped the wound back up with tight pulls of cotton strips. They don their next gown, something warmer, and place their sunhat carefully on their head. Boots by the door.
Finally, they emerge from the wagon, stepping down the side stairs. They do not acknowledge the librarian yet, instead opting to take in the scenery. Their eyes glazed over as they read the curses of the massive forest for its trees. Strands of red weave into the bark and roots, interconnecting to the air, the bush, the sky, the sun. It's a beautiful sight only they are privilege to, yet they don't even manage a reaction, eyes half-lidded and dazed. After a thorough scan of their surroundings, they finally turn to their destination: The Librarian of Dust.
Not familiar to Will personally, they at least know rather immediately that they have found a kindred soul. A fellow wanderer, weighed down by time and simultaneously free from it. Yet still, their expression doesn't shift from apathy. Will has had many of these meetings with many of these types. Would this one be something new?
They lift a gloved finger up to tip the front of their hat, offering a slight nod. "Hello, traveler."
There was a look of undeniable curiosity in the librarian's dark eyes as they stood motionlessly, watching the peddler, save for their hair and robes moving in the soft breeze ever so lightly. They weren't used to people usually ignoring them like Will was doing right now, normally they came with requests, questions, or just sorrows they needed to let go of. Occasionally they even asked them to read their future in the cards. This person however rather seemed like they'd very much prefer to stay alone. Either that, or Will believed to know what was usually true... except in Dust's case. While normally, people would forget them, because of their curse, the librarian wouldn't. They weren't from the same reality as them, after all, and so, many, if not most curses, wouldn't affect them.
Dust wouldn't forget.
What should I act like, in this story?, they wondered, as always feeling like everything was only half real. Reality, after all, was such a flimsy concept. Was there even a reality? Or several? Or, in the end, was nothing really real, and even Dust themselves was just a character in someone else's story?
The familiar headaches were starting to spread through their forehead, so the librarian suppressed their natural pondering disposition and instead focused on Will as they had seemingly finished their looking around.
Dust greeted them back by taking a small bow and granted themselves a moment to really take the person in front of them in. They looked tired, so endlessly drained of any and all emotions, something, the librarian could image, would happen to them, too, if they were to be so some for so long. Often enough they felt lonely, because nothing ever felt truly real, but they knew it was nothing compared to this person's curse.
Why would someone ask for this?
"The Will of an Eccentric", they spoke with a small, soft smile, and a hint of a mischievous sparkling in their eyes. This would surely be a surprise for Will, wouldn't it?
"I've been hoping to meet you for a while, hello."
Hadn't they been in the middle of a forest, they would've invited Will to have breakfast together. They certainly looked like they could need a healthy meal.
Of course they could take them to any other place in their books, but would that overwhelm them?
"Got anything planned for today?" Just approach carefully, they figured.
A surprise is putting it lightly. Will's eyes widen, their overbitten mouth stretching wide across their face. Body posture goes rigid, and they immediately look uncomfortable. This isn't something new, but it's certainly never welcomed.
Since they sold away their name in exchange for their curse, The Will of an Eccentric has found upmost solace in being unknown. So, a stranger knowing their name, and apparently them having a reputation that precedes is the worst case scenario for them. It's too much, too quickly, and the careful approach is already off to the wrong start. They pull their hat down to hide their eyes, looking at the ground and clutching the wide brim with both hands.
Oh, right. They are being spoken to. Their wide eyes, near bulging, peek out from the brim to look carefully at Dust. Not examining the librarian's curses quite yet, honestly being too overwhelmed to remember they can do such a thing. Their hands carefully let go of the hat, adjusting it back to its norm, the same for their dress and glove. Clearing their throat, "Ah-- Mm. Hh-- hello."
The expression of utter shock that was spreading across Will's face would've been almost comical, if it wasn't for the pang of pity Dust felt for them. They hadn't meant to make... their world fall apart, or something-! That would've been the last thing on their mind, after all they had made it their life task to bring people joy and happiness and make their lives a little brighter.
Maybe they had been a little too quick to judge, maybe Will truly enjoyed being alone, but the apathy in their gaze made it so hard to believe...
Dust really only had the best intentions, but right now they had to admit they were at a loss. What was the best way to act now? Leave them alone?
Try to show them that there was nothing to be scared of? What a complicated story fate has weaved for me here...
"A-ah, don't you worry", Dust finally decided to answer, feeling a little helpless but trying to sound friendly and calming. "As far as I can tell I am the only one your curse doesn't affect, as I'm, well-... I'm not from your reality. Like you, I travel, but I travel between realities. I don't even know if I'd be able to trade a curse with you, honestly."
Remembering that they hadn't even introduced themselves- how impolite- they placed their left hand on their chest, smiling apologetically.
"Oh I'm sorry, I- people call me Dust."
"Traveling between realities..." Will scratched their chin with a gloved hand. "As do I. You are a traveler, yet you have to have known me from somewhere..."
Will closed the distance between them, looking at Dust with an added scrutiny. They craned their neck to look the librarian over from every angle, on tippy toes, crouching, circling... Looking at every angle for an answer at to how their curse managed to fail, and coming up short.
"You do not have my scar. We have not met, yet you know my title and my profession..."
A scar--one of the ways Will can leave people with a memento of themselves. Flowing from the river of scars under their bandages, it is one of the few things the peddler with gift instead of barter. Every throb of pain it gives is a reminder of the one who put it there. A rare moment of trust for the traveler. And something they would be sure to remember doing so, but time is long and their being is fleeting.
They hummed with consideration, taking a step back. "I'm afraid I'm at a loss for how you could know me."