The Forbidden Library
And is it true that your world’s seas are melted ice?”
    “Just water.”
    “Amazing,” Narbenu said. “I can’t even begin to imagine such a thing.”
    Lu Bei popped out of the pack and fluttered ahead. While flying backward, he patted the sonoke on the nose. The beast grunted and Lu Bei landed on the back of its head. The sonoke didn’t mind. Animals always liked Lu Bei. The other warriors in the party stared at Lu Bei with wide eyes. They muttered and commented. Lu Bei waved at them. A few waved back. A few, including Kemsu, rode a little farther away.
    “Hello, fetch,” Narbenu said.
    “Hello, big furry man. Thought I’d stretch my wings.”
    “Do you want your hat and scarf?” Turesobei asked.
    Lu Bei tilted his head back. “I do not need them. Now, what’s this about a Boundary? If it looks like the world keeps going beyond it, how would you know that you’ve reached it?”
    “You wouldn’t necessarily,” Narbenu said. “You have to be careful. There are giant stone pillars in a lot of places to warn you you’re getting close. And some people who live near the Boundary have built walls in front of it. If you think you’re getting close, best to move away.”
    “How close are we to the Boundary?” Turesobei asked.
    “Sixty leagues to the south and nearly the same to the east. Three hundred fifty to the north and two hundred forty to the west.”
    “Where is the gate?” Lu Bei asked. “North and east of here?”
    “Indeed. The gate is only a few hundred paces from the Eastern Boundary. The Northern Boundary lies beyond the coast of what we call the Glass Sea. An expanse of smooth ice over water that extends over a hundred leagues beyond the land.”
    Lu Bei stroked his chin. “Master, this world sounds like it’s about the same size as —”
    “Indeed, and in our world the gate was on the Zangaiden side of the Orichomo Mountains. Plus the distance from the gate to the coast here sounds about the same. I wonder if, under all this ice, the rest of the geography would match as well.” 
    “Do you think this world is somehow an ice-covered copy of one of the nations in our world?”
    “Maybe.” Lu Bei scratched his head. “Although if it’s true, I don’t see how the knowledge does us any good.”
    Narbenu looked at them blankly. None of that would make any sense to him.
    Turesobei shrugged. “What about the yomon?”
    “The yomon live at the Fire Mountain due north of the Winter Gate. Sometimes the yomon indiscriminately raid other lands and people. We goronku have suffered them many times over the years. Thankfully the yomon mostly sleep, like the wraiths do. Don’t know why they aren’t content at the Fire Mountain, where they live in luxury. What could be so much better in your world that they’re that desperate to go there?”
    “Beyond the plentiful food and forests?” Turesobei said. “That’s simple. Revenge.”
    “We heard about the yomon moving nearer to the gate a few weeks ago. Figured they sensed something was going to happen. No offense to your world, but everyone here hoped they’d move on.”
    “I can understand why,” Turesobei said. “What’s in the middle of your land?”
    “The Barrens,” Narbenu said. “It is coldest there, very few hot springs, not much life, not many people. A few caravan routes cross that area, but that’s about it.”
    “No cities or towns?” Turesobei asked.
    “You mean big villages? There are a few big villages in the West. That’s rare. Mostly it’s like our region everywhere. Tiny villages based around hot springs. Bit different here in that the goronku villages are interspersed with reitsu villages that aren’t built at hot springs.”
    “No giant temples or anything like that?”
    Narbenu shook his head. “No temples. There is the Forbidden Library, though. It’s on an island that lies on the Glass Sea.”
    Lu Bei batted his wings, his eyes wide. “That sounds promising.”
    “If there was

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