In the early 1900s, the nation of Aetheri came out of its long interdimensional isolation and revealed to the humans of the Symphony Archipelago that they were not alone in the multiverse. Things swiftly got ugly after that.
In the early 1990s, Aetheri's leadership changed, and in the Archipelago, a tiny broken family of half-siblings banded together in the face of the bile and hate that was boiling up between the humans and the non-humans.
In the early 2000s, that family was split apart. Hawk Press and his sister Liya Kiski both begin a long and exhaustive journey towards understanding the difference between friend and enemy--and between the family you're given, and the family you make.
The elevator doors let them out into a simply massive room that seemed to take up whole city blocks, and that had to be too big for the actual structure of the building; along the walls and in the center, stories and stories and stories of bookshelves rose to the ceiling, which was painted with blurry, distant figures that swam round an enormous round glass skylight, somehow unbroken by supports or struts, now invisible in the evening. The bookshelves were marked every so many feet up by spindly bridges and walkways, and arched doors that blazed light and clearly went inside the bookshelves themselves. The scale of it had Liya craning her neck to see.
"The first floor is for studying," Yoshi said, sounding even a little proud of the place, or at least of the expression on Liya's face, "This is the reference section."
"Whoa," Liya mumured, nonplussed.
Someone bumped into Yoshi at that moment as they tried to dart past him; he jumped.
"Turri--" said a voice, and then the figure stopped. "Oh, Yoshi! How are you, sweetie?"
The figure was a somewhat plump, short, androgynous person with an armful of books and boxes and stacks of paper. The face that peered at them over the pile of books was pleasant and bespectacled; they wore their grey hair short but with the fringe pinned back by bobby pins, and in a blue-grey sweater and navy skirt would have seemed bookish if not for the blue plugs in each earlobe and the smaller piercings in the cartilage of each ear. Yoshi immediately flushed deeply.
"Hello, Vlad!" he said, returning the smile Vlad was giving him awkwardly, "I'm well, how are--"
"Oh, good!" Vlad enthused, and had to hike the pile of books up in their arms a bit to keep from dropping them. "Wow, your hair's getting long, huh? Who's your friend?"
"She's--" Yoshi began.
"Actually, hold that thought," Vlad suggested. "Be right back."
Yoshi and Liya watched Vlad make for the elevator and kick the call button with one heeled boot.
"Do you...need any help?" Yoshi called after, but Vlad had already slipped into the elevator and gone. There was a pause before Yoshi asked rather distantly, "Is my hair too long?"
Liya blinked and shot him a look. "Too long for what?"