“I’ve been working for the Old Man for most of my life. It’s not so bad, he’s mostly fair and takes good care of us. I suppose I could figure up the exact time I’ve been here – keeping the records is my job, after all – but my story isn’t important. I just keep track of the stories sent to me.

“No one around here’s been in the valley longer than the Old Man. We don’t really know where he came from, and he’s not much for talking about it. He says that a man in his position can’t let his secrets out, or he’ll lose what he’s worked for. He will say that he found the beginnings of a town here, and that he worked to build it up to the settlement we see today. We don’t ask about who built the town before he arrived. He’s done a fairly good job in helping to get Sanctuary built up as it is, especially considering he’s had to hold his ground against the Families looking to edge in on his valley.

“Now, I don’t make it out of the compound much, on account of my legs. But this funny thing happened a couple of years ago. It was about the time that Billie started bringing in news that raiders were all trying to travel north – weird, but at least they were leaving us alone. Anyway, a couple of scavengers saw that Horde coming towards the valley and gave the heads up to clear town, like happens every year. We hole up here, lock down the doors, the townsfolk head to other parts for a while, and the zed shamble on by. The Old Man’s good at walking through them, so he can still check on things while the town’s gone. I usually use this time to arrange my notes and get my books in order, since people generally come back with loads of questions they want me to research for them. Mostly, they just have travelers’ tales that I just need to debunk, but each and everyone deserves my attention.

“But that year, the questions never came. The Old Man told us that the town had been abandoned. Why? I can’t say. Couple of the merchants came through, expecting a good haul from the people as they were rebuilding their homes, but only got a dinner and a warm bed in the compound. The Old Man had me start copying letters – no names, as he said it’d ‘hurt his sources,’ – but he sent word out that he had some land that needed people. First it was Father Michael, with his folk out by his cave, then one by one a few people started trickling in. A few cousins from the Families here, a couple of people looking to start a new life there.

“I haven’t had the chance to catalog their stories yet. Why don’t you go talk to them?”

 

Excerpt from an interview with Lillith Meyers, the Old Man's personal librarian