Cyprian’s pen stopped moving, its pointed head resting on the paper whilst he stared out the window, lost in thought. His desk was littered with stacks of books and scrolls in various stages of decay, and an empty decanter with melting ice in it stood on a small table nearby. Hundreds of books and dozens more scrolls lay on shelves about the messy room. The sunlight was spilling throug a windowin the corner of the room, its golden gleamed barely illuminating the tired face of the writer within.
The pen began moving once again. Black and brown, well worn, its visage was that off a weathered and beloved tool.
…the history of the nation of Kaveh is a long and convoluted one. One might almost think that they were being replaced by identical versions of themselves every few years. But underneath the grim, sand-begrimed faces of the people, is a rich and deep culture with a history as sad as it is violent.
Cyprian placed a period at the end of the sentence, and rose, stretching. He looked at the water clock.
”11 already…” he murmured to himself.
He began to clean the room, rearranging the scattered parchements, and seizing a broom, sweeping away a good deal of dust which had fallen from the ancient texts he had just been consulting. He picked up each volume with care, the pages crackling and crumbling at his touch, and replaced them in their wrappings, designed to prevent more erosion. Placing a pile of newer books upon a trolley, he wheeled it out of the room.
Cyprian was in one of the many rooms which made up the Great Library of Valkora. While the city had been destroyed, the Library had mercifully been untouched, and after the end of the Civil War, the Emperor had ordered the held therein to be copied, and a new library built elsewhere in a better place, less wracked by ruin.
And so 3 cohorts had moved back into the city, along with a legion of scribes and writers of all levels of skill, who sought to drink of this veritable fountain of knowledge. Life returned to the dead streets, as the soldiers cleaned up the Library and a few of the blocks around it, after which they departed, returning to their stations elsewhere in the Empire. The scholars remained, with their pens.
Cyprian moved out of the now habitable room, and into the central hub of the Library. It was quiet except for the soft shuffling of old and young feet, learned men walking about. Hundreds, if not thousands of books and scrolls were stacked upon the towering shelves, dust covering the higher up portions of the bookcases, but the lower regions were rapidly emptying, as the writers copied and transcribed the knowledge held on the books.
Passing through the wondrous sight, Cyprian dropped off his trolley at a area, where several younger legionaries were gently placing the books in trunks and boxes, to be shipped to the new Library, now under construction. Leaving the cart of new books with them, he returned to the Library-proper, and taking a few other books from a section titled: “THE NORTH” in fading letters, he returned to his little writing room.
After refilling the decanter of wine from some caskets elsewhere in the vast network of hallways and endless rooms, Cyprian settled down to write. Placing a very thin novel whose name had been so worn down to the point of it being illegible, on the little stand on his desk, he seized a fresh new book, with pages as of yet un-besmirched by words and sentences. Failing to decipher the name, he opened the novel, and began to read.
The lands of the north are cold, harsh, and cruel. Freezing winters, and humid summers wage an endless attempt to reject those beings who have dared to dwell therein. When those peoples who have been unfortunate in their planting of crops, or have been ravaged by some war, are greeted by the welcoming hands of the snowy winter, famine and disease take hold, laying the small and the great low without mercy. It is a rugged, unwelcoming place to dwell.
Beyond Maruba, only one nation is not continually scrabbling to wage war or to harvest enough wheat to survive. That nation is Kleriel, called the Imperium by the inhabitants, the Keelish. Why their word for their own nation is so similar to Latin I do not know, but these people are ancient in the extreme. Perhaps some ancestor of theirs met a Valkorian in ages past, and from him the word passed into their tongue. It matters not.
The Keelish are learned, wise, and devious in the extreme. They deal coldly with foreigners, treating them with the respect demanded by the occasion, but with a ruthlessness at first surprising when not prepared. Their businesses are uncompromisingly harsh, and a system of indentured labor functions as a form of slave labor.
The people resemble avian creatures, their facial and bodily appearance perhaps startling to the unprepared human. The addition of talons and a body evolved to move rapidly only adds to the bird-like comparison. Their lifespan is perhaps around one hundred years, but as all Keelish practice magic, which is unfamiliar to me, this would need to be learned from the people themselves.
Their soldiers fight with honor, adhering to strict codes and laws governing themselves with a discipline most admirable, unlike the other Northern kingdoms, who from what I can tell fight with varying levels of control. But I digress.
Their armies are bond by honor and loyalty, fighting with grim courage and steadfast skill. I have not seen them in full battle, but I have seen several small skirmishes, from which I can deduce that they are a formidable opponent, if a bit weak to underhanded tactics. I have not been in contact with the upper echelons of Keelish leadership however, the Emperor must discover their skills in strategy for himself.
Cyprian snapped himself up. He had been so absorbed in reading, that he had forgotten to copy the words! Grumbling under his breath, he reached for his pen and paper, and began to write. Nothing filled the room but the relaxing sounds of a light scritch-scratch on the paper, as the scribe fulfilled his duty. The ink fell on the parchment, solidifying and drying, leaving black-marks on the hitherto unblemished whiteness.
As he wrote, the waterclock continued dripping, marking the hours. Several passed, and he drew close to the end of the short book, and looked forward to finishing. His hand was tired, and it was with relief when he reached the final page. After copying it, he was in the act of closing the book when he noticed the Author’s Note, which he had somehow missed. It was on the front page.
I hope this book will give some insight into the Keelish and their kingdom, their ways and habits. Perhaps it may prevent conflict in the future. I hope so. I left someone behind when I returned home from the Imperium, and I miss them dearly. I pray we meet again.
Cyprian felt sad. The book had been somewhat melancholy to read, and he was glad it was over, but the brief note had ‘despair’ written all over it. He closed the novel with a snap, placed it in a small cover, and laid it in his desk for him to deduce the title later. He re-cleaned his desk, and went to bed.