Whispers From The Past

January 17, 2014

Keton jumped over the low wall and sprinted quickly across the barren courtyard. Wreckage of the Old World littered the place – too dangerous yet, it seems, for any of the Folk to retake it. He could smell his charge inside though – ink and paper books, still at least partially intact, despite centuries of languish.

He skipped over a bench, almost rolled into a ball, with some kind of message woven into iron fibers that it had once been made from. Some message in Latin. It was hard to read, with only the “EST” still visible on the outside of the mass. Respecting the warning, he unbuckled the grip for his aether emitter, a glove-like device that was used not just to project certain tools useful for spelunking in the ruins of the Old World but also for defending himself against the many threats that live in the ruins and feed and unwary travelers.

A Librarian, however, was no unwary traveler.

Keton crept along the outside of a massive building he had followed the trail of books too. Both the smell of binding resin on the wind, faint but enough to track, and the subtle comfort of the books themselves. He could feel the resonant song of the knowledge contained within them, that special talent that selected the Librarians from all other Folk. Taking care to not get lost in the ecstatic song, he carefully pushed the doors open with his right hand, left hand slipping into the aether emitter and pressing the lock combination. The bonds quietly folded around his arm, locking into place like a gauntlet of brass and light. He quickly tapped in another code on the buttons, lighting up the nodes on the gauntlet like a torch. He raised his hand, fingers extended so the light filtered throughout the room. Illuminating rows and rows of rotten but only just books.

A treasure beyond imagining, a wealth of information of the Old World waiting to be reconstructed. Recorded. Preserved.

He sprung into action immediately, whipping a brown leather messenger’s bag to his feet and pulling out a contraption of arms and plates, filled with tiny intricate clockwork and a thrumming aether engine, whirring and spitting tiny jets of steam. He then pulled out a bottle from within the bag, a strange shaped bottle filled with the cleanest water, and poured it into the machine’s fuel port and stepped back, letting the strange machine unfold until it seemed like an open book, two big copper plates with a spine joining them, with several spider-like arms that ended with various aether tools specialized in the reconstruction and recording of the printed word.

He quickly set about carefully moving the less decayed works to the desk he had set the machine up on and stacked them near a large, padded claw on the back of the machine. It slowly grabbed on book at a time and the arms went into motion. They peeled away filth and brushed away dust. They spun with light and flashes of lightning, carefully restructuring the broken chemical bonds that were once pages and ink. Then a large lens would scan each page in less than a second while the other arms continued their work on the next page. Each book was placed back on the desk looking as it did when the library first received it, carefully recorded into the machine’s internal aether matrix.

Keton grew more and more excited the more books he saw placed down. All were medical texts, ancient troves of knowledge that the Clerics of Forest Paths would pay dearly for. That may save people and bring him both glory and recognition in the Order of the Sheltered Bower.

He dreamed of sheltered promenades, a house in the High Hills, his own private library. Perhaps even an apprentice, a Secretary. He might even be made a full brother of the Order. A true Librarian, not just a Master of Acquisition.

The machine worked faster and faster, hitting a certain stride as it adjusted to deal with the images filling each of the pages. The books were from a later period as well, printed on high-reflection glossy paper, filled with bright colors and vivid images. It seemed wasteful to Keton as he flipped through one of the finished tomes. They left wide, bright white margins and took up entire pages with unnecessary images of men and women at sport or at play.

Flipping through the books and daydreaming let Keton forget the first rule of being a Master of Acquisition, however – The Library is not the only place that hungers for knowledge and feeds upon books. Be ware, be warned, be alert.

Unfortunately for Keton, he never saw the bookworm until it was too late, his fingers frantically stammering on the keypad of his aether emitter for his blade before finally going still.

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