Friday, July 29, 2011

6.8a: Second Draft

Decided to try to clean up / add to the first part of what I did yesterday. May actually end up trying to use this.

Levi spent the rest of the afternoon in the joyous seclusion of his work, the only sound to measure the passing of time being the refilling of his pen every few lines. If only all of life were so simple, he thought. The heat of noon gradually gave way to an early grey that was lost on the young scribe, immersed in the meticulous work of copying the manuscripts.

This was his joy, though few could understand it outside of the confines of the Abby. Indeed, if it were not for the intentional work of giving alms in neighboring city he wondered what the working citizens of the realm would think of the Scribes. Although the importance of the ritual chants was common knowledge among laypeople, it was often easier to simply attribute it to ‘magic’, the generic label humanity places on that which they cannot or choose to not understand.

He knew. He had been there.

And at times he wished that blessed ignorance would return. No one tells you at university of the unbreakable link between knowledge and responsibility. Only after departure does the graduate feel the weight of truth.

This thought distracted him just for a moment in frustration, the tell-tale crunch of the feather tip breaking from the intensified pressure. Frustrated, he set the pen down, leaned back into the wooden arm chair, and checked his work.

His current work was nothing out of the ordinary. Rites of Initiation of Secondary Apprentices to the Order of Lazeara – Ingredients of Incense. Who comes up with the names of these things, he thought. Switching gears, he quickly counted the characters both across and down the page on the original and copy, ensuring the match. Each manuscript, by law, was required to have exactly 30 characters running across the page and 30 lines. This assisted the scribes in their ability to accurately and efficiently asses the document being copied. Headings were to take the space of two lines. It was exact, but none were willing to chance an error in their manuscript. Levi knew better than most the consequence of a scribe’s careless mistake.

Gathering his manuscripts together, Levi reflected on the work of the day as he carefully rolled up the scrolls. He carefully labeled each pile with a distinct seals. Each received a drop of golden wax that carried with it the authority of his office, then impressed two items: first his signet ring, in effect binding them as his to ensure their authenticity, and second with the appropriate seal of their destination. After muttering a brief chant over the seals the process was complete. Each scroll was secure until opened either by himself or one holding the seal of its destination. The second stack of scrolls he labeled as herja, to be taken later that evening and returned to the Vault by a 3rd year student. The first pile he carefully set on a wooden tray that would be taken down to the second floor for the priests to send to the designated monasteries.

It had been a long day. The demand for the manuscripts had picked up since the beginning of the war. For the 49th time that day he wondered at the correlation. Why would the enemy waste the energy on the destruction of the scrolls? The most recent reports stated that the culprits were often well-respected, long time priests, monks, and diakonos. Levi suspected the office of Seekers were truly pressed, researching backgrounds to uncover how deeply the conspiracy had spread throughout the Clergy.

He sighed as he tightened his sandals. The rain outside had provided a gentle chorus throughout the day. The sweet rhythm of the rain had flushed away the unbearable humidity that reigned the region recently. It was, like so many things, a blessing and a curse. Despite his prayers, and working hours longer in hope of a break in the clouds, it appeared as though his night would be spent washing mud from the road off his single set of robes.

It is ordained, Levi thought smiling, though sometimes I wish I would have a larger input.

Rising from his small desk he felt the complaint from his limbs. He blew out the sad remnants of a single candle that had provided light when the sun had hid from the world. He made his descent through the tower, largely silent given the lateness of the day. Most scribes began at the break of day and worked until the heat of day. This schedule allowed the afternoon to work the kitchens throughout the city. Since the Felling poverty had spread, an infection whose cure remained a mystery. The stairs wound haphazardly throughout the tower, designed intentionally to encourage the clergy to meet with each other in passing, forcing the introverted culture to interact with each other. In spite of such intentional architecture, Levi met no one.

And then he heard the chanting.

At first he thought nothing of it. Priests chanted regularly. Healing, bonding, and imprinting, all often called for chants of various kinds. This, however, was something else entirely.

It was not the earthy hum he was so accustomed to, nor was it the soft pitch of the diakoness’ harmony. This was a rasp, primal and unrefined. Its distinct grating noise instantly struck fear in his soul. He had heard this sound before.

Possible explanations leaped to his mind. Was there an attack? Impossible. Was it a foolish prank from of the students? None would be so foolish. Taking up the enemies chant was tantamount to treachery, punishable only by excommunication.

Levi realized he had stopped breathing.

The sound of the single, rasping voice, the unmistakable power of the enemy continued.

Falling to a crouch, Levi slipped his cloak off his back, loosened his sandals, and crept barefoot towards the door. His senses heightened as his feet felt the cool moisture of the stone floor. Ever so slowly he made his way forward, searching for the source.

And chanted, so softly that the breath barely slipped from his lips. In stark contrast to the rapid harshness that continued to grow in volume, he continued from memory. Fear raged, adrenaline filled his limbs. This was what he dreamed of. This was his nightmare and hope, melded in a single dreadful experience.

He felt the familiar fire kindle in his stomach. The familiar words continued to flow, as he began to replace to words of truth with those of passion and judgment.

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