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scribe [2011/08/08 19:01]
doan
scribe [2012/06/20 14:05] (current)
doan
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“Are you a Celestial Bureaucrat?” guessed Scribe. “Are you a Celestial Bureaucrat?” guessed Scribe.
-He nodded, “I am Shu-Mei Za, Prototype Minister. Welcome to Broken City.” +He nodded, “I am Lord Broken, Prototype Minister. Welcome to Broken City.”
He gestured with a grand sweep of his long-sleeved hands. Scribe looked where he was pointing and gasped. Below them was a city. It was exactly the same size and shape as Brokenshire. If you were looking at Brokenshire from the mountain peak, this would be exactly what it would look like. However, this city was built around a giant clockwork mechanism, like the one in the old religious tract. Wherever there wasn't a moving part, there was a building sheltered under the machine. It was too far up to tell but he thought he saw people living there, bustling around, going about their everyday lives. Above them, the machines connected to more machines, stretching high up into the sky in one colossal contraption of unimaginable proportions. He gestured with a grand sweep of his long-sleeved hands. Scribe looked where he was pointing and gasped. Below them was a city. It was exactly the same size and shape as Brokenshire. If you were looking at Brokenshire from the mountain peak, this would be exactly what it would look like. However, this city was built around a giant clockwork mechanism, like the one in the old religious tract. Wherever there wasn't a moving part, there was a building sheltered under the machine. It was too far up to tell but he thought he saw people living there, bustling around, going about their everyday lives. Above them, the machines connected to more machines, stretching high up into the sky in one colossal contraption of unimaginable proportions.
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“Is that the machine that holds the world together?” “Is that the machine that holds the world together?”
-“Part of it, yes. It’s as big as the world itself.” said Mr. Shu-Mei Za.+“Part of it, yes. It’s as big as the world itself.” said Lord Broken.
“Is that the part that's got a piece missing?” he asked, “Because if it is, I think I've found it.” “Is that the part that's got a piece missing?” he asked, “Because if it is, I think I've found it.”
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“I'm just glad that the world won't fall apart.” “I'm just glad that the world won't fall apart.”
-A grin spread across his fine-boned, angular face and he let out a sound of dry mirth. He stood up and gestured for Scribe to follow him. Another path wound down the opposite face of the same hill, leading to the City, the same way that the mountain path to Brokenshire did, except that, instead of being surrounded by moors and farmland, this path seemed to hang suspended from nothing in a grey void filled with slowly turning wheels. After a short time, Scribe noticed that Mr. Shu-Mei Za's feet didn't quite touch the ground either.+A grin spread across his fine-boned, angular face and he let out a sound of dry mirth. He stood up and gestured for Scribe to follow him. Another path wound down the opposite face of the same hill, leading to the City, the same way that the mountain path to Brokenshire did, except that, instead of being surrounded by moors and farmland, this path seemed to hang suspended from nothing in a grey void filled with slowly turning wheels. After a short time, Scribe noticed that Lord Broken's feet didn't quite touch the ground either.
“This place looks a lot like Brokenshire.” he commented. “This place looks a lot like Brokenshire.” he commented.
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“What if I want to make a complaint?” “What if I want to make a complaint?”
-Mr. Shu-Mei Za stopped and turned to look at him. After an indecipherable pause, he said “Do you seriously want to make a complaint?”+Lord Broken stopped and turned to look at him. After an indecipherable pause, he said “Do you seriously want to make a complaint?”
“I might do.” “I might do.”
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-They reached the gates of Broken City, which were actually two large wheels that had to be pulled back with a winch to allow them to enter. This was the first time Scribe saw the strange inhabitants of the City. They looked like the mannequins in the tailor's shop, except that they were made of metal and moved using clockwork. Scribe could see the cogs inside them because each one was broken in some way. They all still ran, moving in jerky motions, all of them performing some kind of task. They worked silently – they didn't even have mouths or other facial features. They were identically dressed in green versions of Mr. Shu-Mei Za's robes.+They reached the gates of Broken City, which were actually two large wheels that had to be pulled back with a winch to allow them to enter. This was the first time Scribe saw the strange inhabitants of the City. They looked like the mannequins in the tailor's shop, except that they were made of metal and moved using clockwork. Scribe could see the cogs inside them because each one was broken in some way. They all still ran, moving in jerky motions, all of them performing some kind of task. They worked silently – they didn't even have mouths or other facial features. They were identically dressed in green versions of Lord Broken's robes.
“They're my under-officials.” he explained, “They're the native inhabitants of this city. They keep this place going and they in turn are repaired.” “They're my under-officials.” he explained, “They're the native inhabitants of this city. They keep this place going and they in turn are repaired.”
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“If this is your first time dealing with the Celestial Bureau, you won't know the answers to some of the questions. Just ask me if you get stuck. Do you need a pen?” “If this is your first time dealing with the Celestial Bureau, you won't know the answers to some of the questions. Just ask me if you get stuck. Do you need a pen?”
-“No thank you.” Scribe took his Great Grandfather's pen from his pocket. Mr. Shu-Mei Za raised an eyebrow, “Is that a Garuda feather? You don't see those on Earth any more.”+“No thank you.” Scribe took his Great Grandfather's pen from his pocket. Lord Broken raised an eyebrow, “Is that a Garuda feather? You don't see those on Earth any more.”
Scribe told him the story of his Great Grandfather and asked him if he knew him or at least could tell the boy whether he was really a Celestial Bureaucrat. Scribe told him the story of his Great Grandfather and asked him if he knew him or at least could tell the boy whether he was really a Celestial Bureaucrat.
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“Just put zero.” “Just put zero.”
-Scribe sat in silence and filled in the form, taking advice from Mr. Shu-Mei Za when he found a particularly bizarre question. The bureaucrat seemed content to bustle around his office, putting things in order, poring over the contents of his 'In' box. Suddenly, he stopped and sniffed the air. Scribe could smell it as well – something burning in the distance.+Scribe sat in silence and filled in the form, taking advice from Lord Broken when he found a particularly bizarre question. The bureaucrat seemed content to bustle around his office, putting things in order, poring over the contents of his 'In' box. Suddenly, he stopped and sniffed the air. Scribe could smell it as well – something burning in the distance.
“We've got company.” he said, “Stay there. Don't move. I'll sort it out.” “We've got company.” he said, “Stay there. Don't move. I'll sort it out.”
-Scribe finished filling in everything he could on the form before the man returned, so he peered out of the porthole-like window of the wall that had been made out of a cog. Mr. Shu-Mei Za was a faint figure in the distance. The dolls had abandoned their work and were slowly walking towards him. He could see other figures standing next to the man but couldn't tell if they were dolls or other bureaucrats. Even from here, he could hear the heated argument. They were waving their arms around and practically screaming at the tops of their voices. Some of the hand gestures being used looked decidedly uncivil. The grassy clearing was filling up with the dolls. +Scribe finished filling in everything he could on the form before the man returned, so he peered out of the porthole-like window of the wall that had been made out of a cog. Lord Broken was a faint figure in the distance. The dolls had abandoned their work and were slowly walking towards him. He could see other figures standing next to the man but couldn't tell if they were dolls or other bureaucrats. Even from here, he could hear the heated argument. They were waving their arms around and practically screaming at the tops of their voices. Some of the hand gestures being used looked decidedly uncivil. The grassy clearing was filling up with the dolls.
-After a short while, Mr. Shu-Mei Za returned, surrounded by a small army of dolls.+After a short while, Lord Broken returned, surrounded by a small army of dolls.
“Sorry about that. Infernals. You can't do anything to please them. If you don't check up on what they're doing at all times, they set something on fire. Then they complain at you because you keep preserving things that they want to set on fire just because they're not perfect.” “Sorry about that. Infernals. You can't do anything to please them. If you don't check up on what they're doing at all times, they set something on fire. Then they complain at you because you keep preserving things that they want to set on fire just because they're not perfect.”
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“We have our... disagreements... about how the world should be held together, exactly. You really don't want to get involved. Just fill in your forms so I can go and replace the missing part.” “We have our... disagreements... about how the world should be held together, exactly. You really don't want to get involved. Just fill in your forms so I can go and replace the missing part.”
-Scribe did as he was told. He couldn't tell how much time was passing. In direct contrast to Brokenshire, the clock on top of Broken City's tower had only one hand, which was bent and seemed to go backwards and forwards randomly as if it couldn't decide what time it was at all. He found himself worrying about his real body, back in a Temple where he shouldn't really be, guarded by a half-mad trainee priestess of a Defeat Goddess. It felt like a dream, being away from his body, free of pain or exhaustion, except that he wasn't sure how to wake up. He hoped Mr. Shu-Mei Za would know. Maybe you had to fill in a Waking Up Form. The man had wandered off to supervise a team of dolls who were polishing and filing down the sides of the cog that Scribe had found. The boy watched them out of the window. After a short while, the man suddenly ordered them all to stop. He took hold of the head of one of the dolls who had a crack in their face plate, then peered inside. Then he came running back into the office.+Scribe did as he was told. He couldn't tell how much time was passing. In direct contrast to Brokenshire, the clock on top of Broken City's tower had only one hand, which was bent and seemed to go backwards and forwards randomly as if it couldn't decide what time it was at all. He found himself worrying about his real body, back in a Temple where he shouldn't really be, guarded by a half-mad trainee priestess of a Defeat Goddess. It felt like a dream, being away from his body, free of pain or exhaustion, except that he wasn't sure how to wake up. He hoped Lord Broken would know. Maybe you had to fill in a Waking Up Form. The man had wandered off to supervise a team of dolls who were polishing and filing down the sides of the cog that Scribe had found. The boy watched them out of the window. After a short while, the man suddenly ordered them all to stop. He took hold of the head of one of the dolls who had a crack in their face plate, then peered inside. Then he came running back into the office.
“We have to leave.” “We have to leave.”
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-Scribe ran after him. Fear was a very different thing when you could only experience it in your mind. It was less like a feeling of nausea and vertigo, more like an urgent warning sign in the corner of all his thoughts. Mr. Shu-Mei Za ordered some of the dolls to protect the city, some to carry on with their work and a small team to follow them in a guard formation. Under cover of darkness, they left the city. There were no stars but the gears that hung in the sky glowed faintly. Whether this was to illuminate them so the workers could see them at night or because of a higher magical process, Scribe didn't know and didn't want to break the silence to ask.+Scribe ran after him. Fear was a very different thing when you could only experience it in your mind. It was less like a feeling of nausea and vertigo, more like an urgent warning sign in the corner of all his thoughts. Lord Broken ordered some of the dolls to protect the city, some to carry on with their work and a small team to follow them in a guard formation. Under cover of darkness, they left the city. There were no stars but the gears that hung in the sky glowed faintly. Whether this was to illuminate them so the workers could see them at night or because of a higher magical process, Scribe didn't know and didn't want to break the silence to ask.
-They walked for a long time across a wide meadow, Mr. Shu-Mei Za looking around and directing the dolls to scout for intruders. There were no signs of life at all until they reached a vast stone bridge that crossed over oblivion, with a well fortified waygate in the middle of it. The bureaucrat stopped and reached into his robes, explaining that he would need his identity pass and some temporary Entry Visa forms for Scribe. Then he stopped, put a finger to his lips and pointed to the sky. The night was speckled with blue shapes that winked in and out of view as the glow from the machinery waxed and waned, changing gradually from deep blue to dark purple. It didn't take them long to move in close enough that Scribe could see what they were.+They walked for a long time across a wide meadow, Lord Broken looking around and directing the dolls to scout for intruders. There were no signs of life at all until they reached a vast stone bridge that crossed over oblivion, with a well fortified waygate in the middle of it. The bureaucrat stopped and reached into his robes, explaining that he would need his identity pass and some temporary Entry Visa forms for Scribe. Then he stopped, put a finger to his lips and pointed to the sky. The night was speckled with blue shapes that winked in and out of view as the glow from the machinery waxed and waned, changing gradually from deep blue to dark purple. It didn't take them long to move in close enough that Scribe could see what they were.
Dragons. An entire flight of blue dragons. Dragons. An entire flight of blue dragons.
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-Scribe happened to know that dragons only met in such numbers in some kind of national emergency, usually a mass migration or a war. Normally they were as solitary as cats and they especially disliked being around humans in large numbers because they felt claustrophobic enough in tiny human settlements already. From their formation, they looked like they were getting ready for battle. The dolls formed a wall around Mr. Shu-Mei Za, pulling out jagged blades that looked like cutting tools and parts snapped off larger machines. He reached into his own robes and pulled out a fan, which he snapped open and extended in his outstretched arm, loudly proclaiming something in the language of the Celestials. A jade-green light flared up around the fan and then shaped itself into the form of a bird, which soared through the sky when he waved his arm. More birds joined the first and they headed out to apprehend the dragons.+Scribe happened to know that dragons only met in such numbers in some kind of national emergency, usually a mass migration or a war. Normally they were as solitary as cats and they especially disliked being around humans in large numbers because they felt claustrophobic enough in tiny human settlements already. From their formation, they looked like they were getting ready for battle. The dolls formed a wall around Lord Broken, pulling out jagged blades that looked like cutting tools and parts snapped off larger machines. He reached into his own robes and pulled out a fan, which he snapped open and extended in his outstretched arm, loudly proclaiming something in the language of the Celestials. A jade-green light flared up around the fan and then shaped itself into the form of a bird, which soared through the sky when he waved his arm. More birds joined the first and they headed out to apprehend the dragons.
“Is that Celestial Magic?” asked Scribe. “Is that Celestial Magic?” asked Scribe.
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Before the man could answer, there was a high-pitched metallic screech and a flash of green light. The birds had intercepted one of the dragons, surrounding it and repeatedly dive-bombing it until it was consumed by jade fire. Around half of the dragons turned to meet the new threat, blasts of cold and ice streaming from their breath, freezing the light-birds solid. Too heavy to fly, they dropped out of the sky, their light refracting from the ice crystals, or were shattered by scaly wings. Before the man could answer, there was a high-pitched metallic screech and a flash of green light. The birds had intercepted one of the dragons, surrounding it and repeatedly dive-bombing it until it was consumed by jade fire. Around half of the dragons turned to meet the new threat, blasts of cold and ice streaming from their breath, freezing the light-birds solid. Too heavy to fly, they dropped out of the sky, their light refracting from the ice crystals, or were shattered by scaly wings.
-“Did the Infernals send the dragons?” asked Scribe. Mr. Shu-Mei Za shook his head.+“Did the Infernals send the dragons?” asked Scribe. Lord Broken shook his head.
“They hate Infernals even more than I do. They're angry at me because their realm is in danger and they think it’s my fault.” he explained, “That's where the missing part is; in the middle of their territory. It must be messing things up for them. The Infernals have probably been stirring things up over there as well, and making it look like it’s my fault. It’s even worse than it looks.” “They hate Infernals even more than I do. They're angry at me because their realm is in danger and they think it’s my fault.” he explained, “That's where the missing part is; in the middle of their territory. It must be messing things up for them. The Infernals have probably been stirring things up over there as well, and making it look like it’s my fault. It’s even worse than it looks.”
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-Several things happened at once. There was a deafening roaring, crashing sound. Chunks of stone began to fly up, several almost hitting him. The dolls ran to the edge of the bridge, blades whirring, a slightly faulty killing machine. Scribe turned to see what was going on, then Mr. Shu-Mei Za grabbed him, pulled him to the rail and jumped off the bridge, dragging the boy with him, just as the entire stretch of bridge collapsed under the pressure of half a flight of dragons repeatedly ramming into it. After a few seconds of being utterly terrified by this, Scribe became aware that he was falling into the void. If he wasn't swallowed up by nothingness or fed into a machine, the shock of the fall would soon kill him. The bureaucrat was chanting again, even louder and more insistent, his tone suggesting that if something didn't happen right now to save them from doom there would be Hell to pay, possibly literally, and he wasn't going to be the one filling in the forms!+Several things happened at once. There was a deafening roaring, crashing sound. Chunks of stone began to fly up, several almost hitting him. The dolls ran to the edge of the bridge, blades whirring, a slightly faulty killing machine. Scribe turned to see what was going on, then Lord Broken grabbed him, pulled him to the rail and jumped off the bridge, dragging the boy with him, just as the entire stretch of bridge collapsed under the pressure of half a flight of dragons repeatedly ramming into it. After a few seconds of being utterly terrified by this, Scribe became aware that he was falling into the void. If he wasn't swallowed up by nothingness or fed into a machine, the shock of the fall would soon kill him. The bureaucrat was chanting again, even louder and more insistent, his tone suggesting that if something didn't happen right now to save them from doom there would be Hell to pay, possibly literally, and he wasn't going to be the one filling in the forms!
-Just as Scribe thought he was going to black out from the pressure, another darkness enveloped him, an inky blackness that smelled of rust. Mr. Shu-Mei Za was chanting the same word over and over, his voice animated by eerie exhilaration, like Thracia when she was being directly possessed that one time.  He was beginning to see the word as a sigil, a single rune of power painted against the sky, inscribed into his own skin, into his soul. +Just as Scribe thought he was going to black out from the pressure, another darkness enveloped him, an inky blackness that smelled of rust. Lord Broken was chanting the same word over and over, his voice animated by eerie exhilaration, like Thracia when she was being directly possessed that one time.  He was beginning to see the word as a sigil, a single rune of power painted against the sky, inscribed into his own skin, into his soul.
BANISH BANISH BANISH BANISH BANISH... BANISH BANISH BANISH BANISH BANISH...
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-He landed head-first in a snowdrift. Cold and wet but alive, he sat up sharply, spluttering. Mr Shu-Mei Za offered him a hand.+He landed head-first in a snowdrift. Cold and wet but alive, he sat up sharply, spluttering. Lord Broken offered him a hand.
“I'm in so much trouble.” he told Scribe, “I'm really not supposed to do that without permission.” “I'm in so much trouble.” he told Scribe, “I'm really not supposed to do that without permission.”
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“Yes, this is the Altequonos Peninsula, Realm of the Blue Dragons. We might make it on time.” he said. Scribe had trouble keeping up with his brisk pace. He felt cold. He didn't understand how he could be feeling anything with no body. Was he just imagining how cold it must be, to live in a world of snow-capped mountains such as this, or was it some kind of chill of the soul? “Yes, this is the Altequonos Peninsula, Realm of the Blue Dragons. We might make it on time.” he said. Scribe had trouble keeping up with his brisk pace. He felt cold. He didn't understand how he could be feeling anything with no body. Was he just imagining how cold it must be, to live in a world of snow-capped mountains such as this, or was it some kind of chill of the soul?
-“Now, what do you know of the Mandates?” The apprentice told Mr. Shu-Mei Za what he knew and the man nodded, “Yes, that's quite right, the words themselves have power. To learn a word, you have to gain access to it first. It isn't enough to just know the actual word, any idiot can say 'Banish'. You have to be able to say it in the right way that it becomes an active word. That means you need to understand the process that the word controls.”+“Now, what do you know of the Mandates?” The apprentice told Lord Broken what he knew and the man nodded, “Yes, that's quite right, the words themselves have power. To learn a word, you have to gain access to it first. It isn't enough to just know the actual word, any idiot can say 'Banish'. You have to be able to say it in the right way that it becomes an active word. That means you need to understand the process that the word controls.”
“Of course you need to understand a spell before you cast it!” “Of course you need to understand a spell before you cast it!”
-“Ah yes, but with terrestrial magic its less important than channelling enough power to cast the spell. Mandates don't require much power to cast but the concepts are more... dangerous to come into contact with. A Fire spell is just lots of fire,” said Mr. Shu-Mei Za, making Scribe wonder what kind of world he came from where ‘lots of fire’ wasn’t dangerous, “When I cast Banish, I can see the entire immigration network of the world, its history and everyone's position in it, the borders between everywhere, including life and death, sanity and madness... everything, all at once. And I only have access to the minor Mandate, so there are lots of things hidden to me. You should see the things I know about repairing broken parts of the world.”+“Ah yes, but with terrestrial magic its less important than channelling enough power to cast the spell. Mandates don't require much power to cast but the concepts are more... dangerous to come into contact with. A Fire spell is just lots of fire,” said Lord Broken, making Scribe wonder what kind of world he came from where ‘lots of fire’ wasn’t dangerous, “When I cast Banish, I can see the entire immigration network of the world, its history and everyone's position in it, the borders between everywhere, including life and death, sanity and madness... everything, all at once. And I only have access to the minor Mandate, so there are lots of things hidden to me. You should see the things I know about repairing broken parts of the world.”
“Sounds like it would make your head spin.” “Sounds like it would make your head spin.”
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-Narrow and treacherous, the mountain path proved a nightmare to climb. Scribe no longer thought about the immanent battle, he concentrated on not slipping on the ice and falling off the side of the path and straight over the cliff edge to his death. Near the end of the path, it suddenly became warmer. The ice was beginning to melt. Rivulets of water trickled down the cliff face. Scribe had never heard of a mountain being warmer at the peak. He commented on this and Mr. Shu-Mei Za explained that the broken part of the machine was something to do with temperature control. That was why there had also been a sudden lightning storm in Brokenshire, and why the blue dragons were so angry. They couldn't stand warm climates. Several of them had been forced out of their homes by the sudden climate change. Now that he knew that it was an aberration of nature, the warmth was no comfort to Scribe. +Narrow and treacherous, the mountain path proved a nightmare to climb. Scribe no longer thought about the immanent battle, he concentrated on not slipping on the ice and falling off the side of the path and straight over the cliff edge to his death. Near the end of the path, it suddenly became warmer. The ice was beginning to melt. Rivulets of water trickled down the cliff face. Scribe had never heard of a mountain being warmer at the peak. He commented on this and Lord Broken explained that the broken part of the machine was something to do with temperature control. That was why there had also been a sudden lightning storm in Brokenshire, and why the blue dragons were so angry. They couldn't stand warm climates. Several of them had been forced out of their homes by the sudden climate change. Now that he knew that it was an aberration of nature, the warmth was no comfort to Scribe.
-He could see a few dragons circling overhead. They ducked down, hoping they wouldn't be noticed. There were other figures as well, shadowy and purposeful, milling around on the peak, underneath the gap where the missing piece should be, just at the point where the mountain met the sky so that the machines were almost touching the tip. Scribe recognised them as the Infernals who had been arguing with Mr. Shu-Mei Za earlier on. The man signalled for him to be quiet but to hurry.  +He could see a few dragons circling overhead. They ducked down, hoping they wouldn't be noticed. There were other figures as well, shadowy and purposeful, milling around on the peak, underneath the gap where the missing piece should be, just at the point where the mountain met the sky so that the machines were almost touching the tip. Scribe recognised them as the Infernals who had been arguing with Lord Broken earlier on. The man signalled for him to be quiet but to hurry. 
-As they reached the very peak and were about to pull themselves up to the same height as the gap in the machine, the Infernals noticed them, turning around as one, their gazes snapping onto Scribe and Mr. Shu-Mei Za like vultures. It was the first time Scribe had seen them up close. Taller than any human he had ever seen, they had bright red skin, manes of black hair and furious eyes. One of them who appeared to be acting as the leader, his hair neater and tied back into a long braid, directed four of them to stand and guard the gap in the machine while the others followed him. He advanced towards Mr. Shu-Mei Za. +As they reached the very peak and were about to pull themselves up to the same height as the gap in the machine, the Infernals noticed them, turning around as one, their gazes snapping onto Scribe and Lord Broken like vultures. It was the first time Scribe had seen them up close. Taller than any human he had ever seen, they had bright red skin, manes of black hair and furious eyes. One of them who appeared to be acting as the leader, his hair neater and tied back into a long braid, directed four of them to stand and guard the gap in the machine while the others followed him. He advanced towards Lord Broken.
“What's this? A mortal?” asked the Infernal leader. “What's this? A mortal?” asked the Infernal leader.
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“That's quite a grievous allegation to be throwing around with no evidence, Yama.” “That's quite a grievous allegation to be throwing around with no evidence, Yama.”
-“Mr. Shu-Mei, when was the last time anything you fixed actually stayed fixed?” asked Yama.+“Lord Broken, when was the last time anything you fixed actually stayed fixed?” asked Yama.
“You know as well as I do that the faults aren't completely repairable!” “You know as well as I do that the faults aren't completely repairable!”
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“The overall system wouldn't be able to take the introduction of working parts?” said Yama, “Are you seriously telling me that the fundamental layout of the world is faulty?” “The overall system wouldn't be able to take the introduction of working parts?” said Yama, “Are you seriously telling me that the fundamental layout of the world is faulty?”
-“Not just faulty... dependent on being faulty! It has had a fundamental design flaw since the earliest stages! If you try and make it run smoothly, it'll be destroyed!” insisted Mr. Shu-Mei, “Look at any Department in the Celestial or Infernal Bureaucracy! It’s everywhere!”+“Not just faulty... dependent on being faulty! It has had a fundamental design flaw since the earliest stages! If you try and make it run smoothly, it'll be destroyed!” insisted Lord Broken, “Look at any Department in the Celestial or Infernal Bureaucracy! It’s everywhere!”
-“Mr. Shu-Mei, we know everything. We know that you have been purposefully holding back the Broken City at the prototype stage for the past five hundred years...”+“Lord Broken, we know everything. We know that you have been purposefully holding back the Broken City at the prototype stage for the past five hundred years...”
“It’s still under construction!” he protested. “It’s still under construction!” he protested.
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“In order for creativity to exist! I'm talking about tiny faults, enough for there to exist possible outcomes other than one perfect outcome – nothing that would cause a security threat! And do you seriously think the Creators are flawless if their work is so full of flaws?” “In order for creativity to exist! I'm talking about tiny faults, enough for there to exist possible outcomes other than one perfect outcome – nothing that would cause a security threat! And do you seriously think the Creators are flawless if their work is so full of flaws?”
-“If your little theory is correct, Mr. Shu-Mei Za, then maybe it is best to start from scratch,” said Yama, “Believe me, there are many days when I would relish the task. However, I believe none of your excuses. I'm holding you in custody until the date of your formal disciplinary hearing and I'm going to have all the parts installed by you removed and replaced until further notice.”+“If your little theory is correct, Lord Broken, then maybe it is best to start from scratch,” said Yama, “Believe me, there are many days when I would relish the task. However, I believe none of your excuses. I'm holding you in custody until the date of your formal disciplinary hearing and I'm going to have all the parts installed by you removed and replaced until further notice.”
-“YAMA, DON'T...” yelled Mr. Shu-Mei. The Infernal raised his hand and dark energy began playing down his fingers. With lightning reactions, Mr. Shu-Mei's fan was unfurled and extended in his own outstretched hand. The energy Yama was conjuring flickered and began waning. He yelled something in Infernal and it flared up again, snaking out towards his enemy. The Celestial waved his hand and the energy slammed against an invisible shield. Scribe had seen duellists fight with magic before. Whenever it wasn't finished cleanly within the first five seconds, it usually ended up with either low-level spells being flung back and forth until enough  of them hit to injure someone, or a massive build-up of energy until somebody's concentration fell and they were hit with the full force of the now uncontrollable blast. The latter was frowned upon as it tended to destroy entire buildings. This was different again. Neither of them had actually cast one spell. It was like watching cats posturing. They were looking for a weakness in the other's conviction or a loophole in the tangled web of authorisation codes. It was a massive argument, entirely in the language of Words of Power.+“YAMA, DON'T...” yelled Lord Broken. The Infernal raised his hand and dark energy began playing down his fingers. With lightning reactions, Lord Broken's fan was unfurled and extended in his own outstretched hand. The energy Yama was conjuring flickered and began waning. He yelled something in Infernal and it flared up again, snaking out towards his enemy. The Celestial waved his hand and the energy slammed against an invisible shield. Scribe had seen duellists fight with magic before. Whenever it wasn't finished cleanly within the first five seconds, it usually ended up with either low-level spells being flung back and forth until enough  of them hit to injure someone, or a massive build-up of energy until somebody's concentration fell and they were hit with the full force of the now uncontrollable blast. The latter was frowned upon as it tended to destroy entire buildings. This was different again. Neither of them had actually cast one spell. It was like watching cats posturing. They were looking for a weakness in the other's conviction or a loophole in the tangled web of authorisation codes. It was a massive argument, entirely in the language of Words of Power.
-Then, just as he was mid-way through what Scribe had worked out was a counter-counter-counter-counter-Banish, Mr. Shu-Mei Za jumped down to face the boy. He was confused. He thought he'd found a good hiding place inside the alcove, well out of range of any inadvertently misfired Mandates or any of the other nine Infernals, if they decided to try and do something to him while their leader was occupied. He didn't particularly want to be found by Mr. Shu-Mei either. His arguments sounded slightly more convincing than Yama's in that he hadn’t yet overtly threatened to destroy the world. However, some of what he was saying, if it was true, terrified Scribe to think about. The man was definitely deceiving him and interfering in some way with his home town and the entire world to suit his own purposes. He had said that the whole world was faulty, had always been faulty, that even Fate and the Deities were faulty. No wonder he was upsetting people...+Then, just as he was mid-way through what Scribe had worked out was a counter-counter-counter-counter-Banish, Lord Broken jumped down to face the boy. He was confused. He thought he'd found a good hiding place inside the alcove, well out of range of any inadvertently misfired Mandates or any of the other nine Infernals, if they decided to try and do something to him while their leader was occupied. He didn't particularly want to be found by Lord Broken either. His arguments sounded slightly more convincing than Yama's in that he hadn’t yet overtly threatened to destroy the world. However, some of what he was saying, if it was true, terrified Scribe to think about. The man was definitely deceiving him and interfering in some way with his home town and the entire world to suit his own purposes. He had said that the whole world was faulty, had always been faulty, that even Fate and the Deities were faulty. No wonder he was upsetting people...
-Shadow engulfed him as Mr. Shu-Mei walked towards him. He shrank away from it, trying to wedge himself further into the alcove.+Shadow engulfed him as Lord Broken walked towards him. He shrank away from it, trying to wedge himself further into the alcove.
“Don't worry. This is a protective spell,” he said, “Well, actually it’s a restraining order but I placed it on myself. It won't be long before he works out what happens, so I'll need to make this quick. Sorry.” “Don't worry. This is a protective spell,” he said, “Well, actually it’s a restraining order but I placed it on myself. It won't be long before he works out what happens, so I'll need to make this quick. Sorry.”
-“Sorry for what?” Scribe held out his backpack to use as a shield and reached into his pocket for his pen, the only thing he could think of on his person that remotely approached a weapon. He supposed he could try and stab the man in the eye with it. Instead of trying to kill him, however, Mr. Shu-Mei took the machine part and pressed it into his arms. Scribe struggled to keep hold of it, not wanting to drop it now that he knew how important it was. It was then, when both his arms were full, that the man struck.+“Sorry for what?” Scribe held out his backpack to use as a shield and reached into his pocket for his pen, the only thing he could think of on his person that remotely approached a weapon. He supposed he could try and stab the man in the eye with it. Instead of trying to kill him, however, Lord Broken took the machine part and pressed it into his arms. Scribe struggled to keep hold of it, not wanting to drop it now that he knew how important it was. It was then, when both his arms were full, that the man struck.
Scribe didn't understand how he could move that fast. In the time it took him to blink, he had been disarmed and attacked with his own pen. Something was written on his right hand. He held his hand up so that he could read it, then he blacked out. Scribe didn't understand how he could move that fast. In the time it took him to blink, he had been disarmed and attacked with his own pen. Something was written on his right hand. He held his hand up so that he could read it, then he blacked out.
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When he opened his eyes again, he could see the path ahead of him and knew exactly what it was that he had to do. When he opened his eyes again, he could see the path ahead of him and knew exactly what it was that he had to do.
-He turned to look for Mr. Shu-Mei. The man was locked in battle with Yama again. They were barely visible inside the maelstrom of darkness that surrounded them now. He could hear them yelling frantically at each other, as if trying to drown each other out like the students back in the Library always seemed to end up doing, even though they claimed to be having a civilised debate. He couldn't tell what they were saying. Something told him he should probably be grateful for that. There were only the highest-level Words left.+He turned to look for Lord Broken. The man was locked in battle with Yama again. They were barely visible inside the maelstrom of darkness that surrounded them now. He could hear them yelling frantically at each other, as if trying to drown each other out like the students back in the Library always seemed to end up doing, even though they claimed to be having a civilised debate. He couldn't tell what they were saying. Something told him he should probably be grateful for that. There were only the highest-level Words left.
He looked up at the sky again. The path was slightly easier now that he could see the wire-frame mesh where the mountain should have been but wasn't. He could still stand on it if he was very careful and didn't stay still for too long. It was like balancing on the roof, that time he had tried to sneak into the Library through a top floor window one day so that his Master wouldn't notice he was late. He had fallen off and then been punished, so maybe it wasn't a good example. He looked up at the sky again. The path was slightly easier now that he could see the wire-frame mesh where the mountain should have been but wasn't. He could still stand on it if he was very careful and didn't stay still for too long. It was like balancing on the roof, that time he had tried to sneak into the Library through a top floor window one day so that his Master wouldn't notice he was late. He had fallen off and then been punished, so maybe it wasn't a good example.
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Yama swore at him. He felt the pressure on him disappear just for a moment. It was all he needed. He pushed on the cog with his remaining arm until he heard it click into place. There was a rumbling sound. Everything was moving again. The temperature was dropping. Yama swore at him. He felt the pressure on him disappear just for a moment. It was all he needed. He pushed on the cog with his remaining arm until he heard it click into place. There was a rumbling sound. Everything was moving again. The temperature was dropping.
-A hand pushed him forwards, straight into the machinery. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, scream Mr. Shu-Mei Za’s name, imitate the Words of Power he had heard spoken and pray that it worked. He couldn't remember any names or words any more. His mind was reeling with vertigo. He was too exhausted even to make a last ditch attempt to save himself. He hadn't realised how tired he had become. He shouldn't let himself become this tired, not while important things were still happening around him. Master Burgundy had said, write down everything you saw before it was lost forever. Lost...+A hand pushed him forwards, straight into the machinery. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, scream Lord Broken’s name, imitate the Words of Power he had heard spoken and pray that it worked. He couldn't remember any names or words any more. His mind was reeling with vertigo. He was too exhausted even to make a last ditch attempt to save himself. He hadn't realised how tired he had become. He shouldn't let himself become this tired, not while important things were still happening around him. Master Burgundy had said, write down everything you saw before it was lost forever. Lost...
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He blinked, then realised he really was outside in the snow. He could see everything, now. The frosty mountain peak outlined in the crisp, clear sky, a full silver moon casting pools of light on the snow. His broken pen lay in the snow beside him, leaking black ink, the two colours a stark contrast. He felt queasy, as though he was seeing one of his own limbs lying there.  He blinked, then realised he really was outside in the snow. He could see everything, now. The frosty mountain peak outlined in the crisp, clear sky, a full silver moon casting pools of light on the snow. His broken pen lay in the snow beside him, leaking black ink, the two colours a stark contrast. He felt queasy, as though he was seeing one of his own limbs lying there. 
-He was whole, though. The word that Mr. Shu-Mei Za had written on his hand was gone. He could no longer see the outline of everything as though it hadn't quite been coloured in correctly. There wasn't any strange knowledge feeding into his head. The sky was just an ordinary night sky, with no giant machines. The mountain was covered in snow, just as it always was in the Altequonous Plateau, whatever the time of year. He recognised it as the Altequonous Plateau from atlases he had read. There were no islands floating in gaps in the world with bridges impossibly constructed across them, just mountains and fields of snow.+He was whole, though. The word that Lord Broken had written on his hand was gone. He could no longer see the outline of everything as though it hadn't quite been coloured in correctly. There wasn't any strange knowledge feeding into his head. The sky was just an ordinary night sky, with no giant machines. The mountain was covered in snow, just as it always was in the Altequonous Plateau, whatever the time of year. He recognised it as the Altequonous Plateau from atlases he had read. There were no islands floating in gaps in the world with bridges impossibly constructed across them, just mountains and fields of snow.
“Don't go that way, stupid cat, you'll fall off a cliff.” he warned. Waterloo looked at him. She seemed to understand. “Don't go that way, stupid cat, you'll fall off a cliff.” he warned. Waterloo looked at him. She seemed to understand.
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“You’ve made some very powerful enemies. That Celestial fellow isn’t much help, either, he’s got himself into even more trouble than you, if that’s possible,” he shook his head. “You’ve made some very powerful enemies. That Celestial fellow isn’t much help, either, he’s got himself into even more trouble than you, if that’s possible,” he shook his head.
-“You have to help Mr. Shu-Mei Za! He’s struggling to keep the world going!”+“You have to help Lord Broken! He’s struggling to keep the world going!”
“So is the entire rest of the Celestial and Infernal Order. That’s no reason to go off disobeying orders and breaking rules!” he said firmly, “I haven’t had to talk to a Celestial Bureaucrat in fifty years, and now I have to defend my own apprentice in court against them! Hmph!” “So is the entire rest of the Celestial and Infernal Order. That’s no reason to go off disobeying orders and breaking rules!” he said firmly, “I haven’t had to talk to a Celestial Bureaucrat in fifty years, and now I have to defend my own apprentice in court against them! Hmph!”
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“You know, I’ve found out more about their procedure through listening to complaints about your escapades than I have in my entire life. You appear to have saved the world as well.” “You know, I’ve found out more about their procedure through listening to complaints about your escapades than I have in my entire life. You appear to have saved the world as well.”
- “For now,” he said, “But Mr. Shu-Mei Za said it breaks down all the time.”+ “For now,” he said, “But Lord Broken said it breaks down all the time.”
“Then we shall have to make sure that there are people knowledgeable about the subject on hand at all times,” he said, “Graduation Day is almost upon us again. I think that your services to the Library have more than proven your right to take your exam.” “Then we shall have to make sure that there are people knowledgeable about the subject on hand at all times,” he said, “Graduation Day is almost upon us again. I think that your services to the Library have more than proven your right to take your exam.”
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“You’re not, hm? Then how did you, and I quote, ‘change your absolute location by using an unauthorised, illegally self-targeting Word of Banishment’?” “You’re not, hm? Then how did you, and I quote, ‘change your absolute location by using an unauthorised, illegally self-targeting Word of Banishment’?”
-“Mr. Shu-Mei Za… he did something to me… he said it was only so I could put the piece back in place!” he said, before suddenly falling quiet. He wasn’t sure if he trusted anything that man told him any more.+“Lord Broken… he did something to me… he said it was only so I could put the piece back in place!” he said, before suddenly falling quiet. He wasn’t sure if he trusted anything that man told him any more.
“Scribe… I know its going to take you a long time to understand everything that’s happened to you. I don’t understand it all myself and I doubt I’ll live long enough to complete the task. You will always have all the resources of the Library at your disposal and all the time you need to come to terms with what’s happened. I know you’ve an interesting destiny ahead of you. I’m sure your soul won’t go to waste.” “Scribe… I know its going to take you a long time to understand everything that’s happened to you. I don’t understand it all myself and I doubt I’ll live long enough to complete the task. You will always have all the resources of the Library at your disposal and all the time you need to come to terms with what’s happened. I know you’ve an interesting destiny ahead of you. I’m sure your soul won’t go to waste.”
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Occasionally he had nightmares that left him wide awake in a cold sweat, often screaming. A face in the darkness, glowing red eyes, a clawed hand on his shoulder, dull voices chanting. The mark on his hand wouldn’t quite wash away. Sometimes he woke up to find that objects in the room weren’t in the same place as when he went to sleep, or that, in the few moments between sleeping and waking, he saw the world as its outline, as the cogs and wheels behind it, always ticking away but never quite perfectly in place. Occasionally he had nightmares that left him wide awake in a cold sweat, often screaming. A face in the darkness, glowing red eyes, a clawed hand on his shoulder, dull voices chanting. The mark on his hand wouldn’t quite wash away. Sometimes he woke up to find that objects in the room weren’t in the same place as when he went to sleep, or that, in the few moments between sleeping and waking, he saw the world as its outline, as the cogs and wheels behind it, always ticking away but never quite perfectly in place.
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scribe.txt · Last modified: 2012/06/20 14:05 by doan
 
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