Damien focused. His posture, his breathing, his attention. His hand passed across the half blank page and the sound of the pen scratching out letters and images were the only subtle noise in the room. The large wooden table was flat, different from the ones the others used. There were a few blank pieces of parchment ready to be used next to him, and three completed sheets further away, having dried in the afternoon sunlight. His thoughts were on the flow of his hand copying the text. Its angle, its position on the paper relative to the original text beside him, how much he pressed the nib into the parchment.
In part the focus was to make the copy an exact match to the original. More importantly, it was to avoid accidentally invoking any incantations embedded in the text. It was rare to come across them in the advanced writings of the Archmages of the times before the War of Judgment. It was far more common to come across them in the texts of Demons and Fallen Angels. If one were to cast, it was usually destructive and deadly. Spells could summon dark creatures, or compel the reader to immolate themselves or murder others. But by focusing less on the meaning and more on the calligraphy of the text, even as hacked and crude as a Fallen’s Heresy, a transcriber could not form the incantation correctly in their mind. This disassociation was crucial. It was one of Damien’s strongest talents and it has kept him alive.
Damien found a beauty in all of the texts. As he mixed his inks for the Fallen’s journal, he thought about the passion embodied by the author. By picturing her emotional state, he could objectify it; try to understand how it affected their artistic style. It affected not just the penmanship, but the words they chose, their grammar; all helped to shape his understanding of their frame of reference and even their outlook on their existence. This ability to avoid contemplating the text itself had propelled him past most of the other Librarians and granted him the more difficult tasks. There were certainly others better at this than him, Mage Capric, Sensei Thendrick, Sensei Mourn; but he was the youngest and arguably the best illustrator among them. If the text had images, he could copy them. If the script was thin and flowing or thick and hacked, it would be difficult to see a difference with his copy. He could duplicate ink tones to match originals precisely, and knew how to make them last generations. He could even craft and cut the paper to either match the original or preserve the book many lifetimes. And he was quick, though that was usually only mentioned to annoy Capric.
He had worked the day through on the journal and the evening meal was almost done being served. He intentionally didn’t rush his work and decided to end. Typically he didn’t mind finishing in the middle of a sentence. Letters, symbols, they were all the same. But the author was recounting a complicated plot to avenge the seduction of her lover by a minor demon and he felt compelled to finish the paragraph. Unfortunately, it had been this way throughout the book. Arora, a Fallen of considerable magical power, had a way of expressing herself that drew him in. More than any other book, Damien found the story and the person fascinating. It was happening again, and he took a moment to run through a breathing exercise designed to center the mind.
He focused on the fact that the lines were thicker when the demon’s name was mentioned or the act of vengeance itself, implying that the pen was pressed harder. However; as she articulated the feelings of satisfaction, or the state he would leave the body, it was with pride – flourish and solid lines. His favorite passages came when she discussed her feelings for her lover. Originally, they were casual lines, simple and whimsical; she was enjoying her time with him and content. As the relationship progressed, the script was more deliberate and decisive; she became less enamored and more passionate. When she suspected the affair, the text was scratchy and frantic; she was more agitated and her thoughts scattered. Damien felt guilty for taking in so much of her and her story, and even that feeling served to distract him until the moment when he realized that he had triggered a summoning incantation. There was someone standing behind him.
“Tell me,” came the smooth, feminine voice a few yards behind him, “what is so intriguing about my journal that would make you want to copy my personal thoughts?”
Damien tried to process her words as quickly as possible. He had not heard the sharp, halting tones of Heresy in years, since training with Mage Capric. He stood slowly while he thought and set his pen on the desk. He tried to keep his heart and breath slow. He didn’t turn.
“Forgive my intrusion,” he started, “I have been given a task to copy the works of those that survived the years of War of Judgment. Yours was among them. I meant no disrespect.”
She paused and he could sense she was smiling incredulously. He hoped that the summoning had been noticed by the mages. The one outside the double doors warming at the brazier apparently did not.
“So, where is this?” she asked. Her voice carried as she scanned the room.
“You are in a private scriptorium in the Library of Glauhaven.”
“I see,” she said. Her voice trailed, indicating that she was glancing around. “It’s impressive.” She paused. “So tell me what you think about the text,” she continued. Damien could hear her sharp footfalls across the stone floor and onto the large woven rug in the middle of the room. He needed to stop her.