by Ken Liu
Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers)
“Come, come!” the attendants at the gate of Tourmaline call to you. “Come and bathe your feet.”
The water is refreshing, ice cold, straight from the glaciers on top of the mountains far to the west. You wash away the dust of your long journey across the desert, and marvel at the streets lined with twenty-foot slate slabs, the centers slightly depressed from centuries of traffic. You squint at the bright blue murals depicting rearing elephants and leaping lions in smooth jade and lapis lazuli.
When you stand up, the attendants hand you a towel and point you to the center of the city.
“But I haven’t told you why I’ve come,” you protest.
“All visitors come here for the Tome,” they tell you.