“Sit,” the man said, his voice deep and melodic, with a strange accent Brian couldn’t place.
“Where am I?” Brian asked as he complied.
The man continued to smile. Brian looked at him with slow, dawning recognition. He had seen this man before, once, though his memory from childhood had made of the stranger a veritable giant. He wore only a tunic of black fur. His horrific—to a child—countenance remained unchanged, his face bearing elaborate tattooing. The thing that Brian remembered as most curious, however, and that struck him moreso now that he saw the man again, was the shape of the big man’s head. Elongated, slender. Brian had seen pictures in National Geographic of some native tribes who strapped the heads of their infants to boards achieving a like effect. Somehow, though, the shape of this man’s head did not seem artificial. He looked somehow different.
“Where am I?” Brian repeated. “And who are you?”
“You have grown, little one.” The man smiled.
“So we have met before,” Brian said.
“Call me Bata,” the man said.
“What is this place?” Brian demanded.
“A repository,” Bata said. “A library. A place of collected knowledge.”
“Why did you lead me here?” Brian said.
“You have many questions,” Bata said.
“Damn right I do.” “You are here,” Bata said. “Because it is time for your questions to be answered.”