Character Name: Beatrice Quill
Journal Of A Young Scribe
Day 1 of the harvest festival, 18th year of the Mongbat
I started this day helping Mrs Rawstone with the arrangements for the festival, painting banners, laying dyed cloth about, and preparing the stands for this afternoon. All was peaceful and normal, but 'twas not to last.
Little did I suspect as I placed the mock cows made of hay, that my life was about to change forever.
Alas! A runner then came from Blind Otto's, with news that froze my blood!
My brother, Lee, was attacked and slain by a giant scorpion yesterday.
The healers could do nothing for him, and his spirit has departed this plain!
My poor, invalid mother will never survive without the money he sends every month! What shall I do, what shall I do?
There is little work in our village, and all the good jobs are already filled.
That leaves Miss Hattie's 'establishment' on the edge of town, and I am not yet so desperate, and hope that I never will be!
My world feels empty and grey - aye, we argued often, as brother and sister do, but he is gone, and I feel so alone. Why? What an unkind world to take him from us! He was so young! Curse those healers! Fools that they are, they could not help one poor scorpion victim? What do they teach healers these days, anyway? I hate them all!
Mother has hardly spoken since the news came, and it is all I can do to get her to eat. Otto has sent word that Lee's body will be returned to us, and has given the offer of the finest funeral arrangements. He is most kind - no wonder Lee always spoke so highly of him. The funeral will be held this weekend, but what I am going to do with mother, I do not know. I grieve, but it is as if the spirit has left her body along with Lee's.
Oh, Lee, why can this not be a cruel dream from which I will soon awake?
Mother tried to harm herself this morning. 'tis most fortunate that our neighbour, Kurdo, was here to stop her.
I fear for her mind - she is not herself since Lee passed on. I have no time to mourn - mother takes all my time and attention now. I have no good word to say for any healer, but, in spite of that, I have sent word to the monks at the town abbey. Perhaps they can do some good here, where their fellows failed my brother. Scum.
Mother, what am I to do with thee?
The healers came, and I now wish they had not. If I had requested a festival dance, I would not have been so upset, but I did not. They danced around her bed like the sand vortexes of the desert, making strange sounds, and throwing various plants and dust everywhere. It will take me all week to clean mother's bedroom after that! If anything, she seems worse for their visit. After two hours of enduring their strange dance, I had to resort to the use of the broom to chase them from the house I beleive that two of them were quite drunk. Scum. The village shall hear of this
The funeral was today. If not for the sadness of watching my brother's casket pass into the earth, I would have said it was a beautiful occasion. Otto came and said many kind things about Lee, and the arrangements he had made were exquisitely done. I did not know that a blind man could have such taste. The flower arrangements seemed natural, as if the ground itself was mourning, and the whole service gave Lee a fitting farewell. Oh, how I miss him! Mother sat and stared, saying nothing, but swaying back and forth in her chair. I fear that her mind is leaving us. Sadly, so is our money. We shall not last the month, and if we are homeless, mother will not live long.
A well dressed man came to the door this morning, and said that he was from the Gravewater home for the elderly and ill of spirit. Apparently, Otto sent him to see if there was anything that their advanced lore could do for my mother, that the whirling healers of mead-land could not. Our talks went well, and I was most impressed with his understanding of mother's situation. They shall send a cart for her on the morn. What am I to do, though. I have a home, but no income. There is little in our home that I can sell, and I have little skills of my own. I know a small amount of tailoring, enough to mend my own clothes, but not enough to make anything that anyone would pay for. Beyond that, all I have is my journal, and a small knowledge of ale gained while serving at the Stag's Head before it burned down last year. What am I to do?
Oh, the humiliation!!!
Miss Hattie came to my door this morning, to offer me 'work'. I can see that she meant well, and saw my plight, but... NO! I will not fall so low! I care not if it is the world's oldest profession - all that means is that there has been plenty of time to find better ones! I gave her my thanks, but sent her on her way with no doubt as to my answer! I only hope I will not come to regret that, for I see no way out of my plight.
Evening, Day 7
I have found father's old sword, while searching the house for things to sell. It is old and rusty, but perhaps I can learn to defend myself with it. If I get good enough, perhaps there are those who would hire me as a guard?
Oh, who am I fooling? I am small, slight of build, and I can hardly hold this sword aloft for more than three minutes! Who would hire me to guard them? A mouse, perhaps?
Mr Frokeson has offered to buy my house, and has set down a fair price. I should take it - I can always lodge in the inn - but what when that money is gone? Oh, Lee, why did you die? Did father never teach thee to stay away from the wild beasts? Curse those healers! Still, a messenger came today - mother is settling in well, and has taken her first real meal all week. It is so good of Otto to pay her bills. He said he felt beholden to Lee, even though it was no fault of his that he died. Perhaps I shall ask him if he has any work for me to do. I can sweep, at least, and it is better than 'serving' at Miss Hattie's. I shall accept Mr Frokeson's offer in the morning.
It is almost impossible to write in this cart, for all the bouncing. I do have several good drawings of giant spiders for the attempt, however. I shall resume my entries when I arrive at Otto's home.
Well, this is a surprise! Lee had simply said that Otto had a house at the edge of the desert I expected a small shack, much like our wooden house, yet in worse shape. After all, who expects a miner to live well?
I did not expect a gleaming white marble villa, with growing flowers and polished lanterns! I wondered what a blind man wanted with lanterns, but then remembered that Lee had worked there, and there was obviously place for entertaining visitors outside
I knocked on the door with trembling hand, and introduced myself to Otto. He recognised my voice from the funeral, and welcomed me inside. I offered to sweep and clean for him - oh, he was so offended! What have I done? This is no way to make an impression - no way at all. He has let me sleep in Lee's room for the night, but I fear that I shall perish in this desert in the near future. He is sure to throw me out in the morning. What a fool I am!
I woke to the smell of cooking. Clean clothes had been laid out for me, and a bowl of water stood on a wash stand nearby. This was not what I had expected. I washed and dressed, and made my way downstairs.
Two tables stood there. At one, Otto was placing breakfast for two. On the other, lay a large pile of books, scrolls, and quill pens, with other tools of the scribe. Ah, he is giving me Lee's things to take with me when I go, I thought. So, there is no place for me here. Fool that I am!!!
Otto heard my footsteps, and bade me join him. I apologized profoundly for offending him so, and burst into tears - something I had promised myself I would not do! Otto was most surprised.
'Nay, child, nay.' He said. 'Thou has the wrong idea. I am not offended with thee. Instead, I was furious with myself for failing to notice that thy brother's death had left thee unable to fend for thyself!'
I was not quite sure about how valid that was, but then I thought of Miss Hattie, and held my tongue.
'I may be blind, but I have spent most of my life as a miner, and a smith. I have had enough money to be comfortable, but not to enjoy the riches that thou dost see here. I am not so used to all this that I am about to take on servants to sweep and dust for me, especially the sister of a loyal employee! I hired Lee because I needed a scribe. I correspond with many others, and most of them can not read the writing of the blind.'
He paused to eat a while.
'Lee spoke of thee often. What he said, above all else, was that thou had great potential, but nary a clue as to what thou would do in life. To let that potential fall to merely sweep floors would be to spit on thy brother's grave. I have seen to his farewell, and given comfort to his mother. How can I do less for thee? Cast they eyes on the table yonder.' He waved his fork in the direction of the books.
'Lee said that thou couldst read and write well. Here are books which will teach thee the art of inscription, as well as some advanced techniques. If thou will take thy brother's place as my scribe, I will pay thee a salary equal to his, and, when thou art well enough versed in inscription, I shall make arrangements to sell some of thy wares, so that thou can fully support thyself. If it dost not hold too many bad feelings for thee, make thyself at home in thy brother's room. However, as soon as thou art able, I would encourage thee to seek dwellings elsewhere - thou knowest how the townsfolk's tongues to grow to wagging, what with an old man and a young girl under the same roof!'
I can hardly believe it! I had never given much though to writing to earn my keep, but I have always enjoyed it, and here is a chance to continue my brother's legacy, such as it was. I have lodgings, The town of Iantown is a short walk from here, and there is a most pleasant lake here as well. I shall go and visit mother this afternoon, and give her the good news. I only hope she is of sound enough mind to understand me. All this, in less than a fortnight! Oh, Lee, how I miss thee, but it is as if thy spirit is here, guiding me. I still wonder what caused that book to fall on my foot this evening, as I reached for the tome of 'advanced mystic inscription'. 'Ink for the novice', indeed...
Mother seemed well, although she is not the woman she once was. She spends long spells simply gazing into space, and swaying back and forth. At any mention of Lee, she collapses, sobbing. I must visit her regularly. They care for her well, and it is not far from Otto's home.
I penned my first letter for Otto today, which he had a friend of his look over for accuracy They were both well pleased, although I find the paladin Val rather intimidating to speak to. I am not used to women in armour - in my village, most women kept the home, and the worst weapon any carried was a carving knife - most unlike her gleaming blade. I spoke to her of this, and she chided me, and told me I was backward, and giving too much credence to men. Apparently I have much to un-learn about the role of a woman in this world! She has taken it upon herself to teach me - I am not certain I like the sound of that! 'Tis but three months since I celebrated my fifteenth birthday, indeed.
Oh no. No, no, no, no. I am not, I will not be, I never will be a warrior. No. Enough, I say!
I hurt from head to toe - even an hour in the warmth of the desert lake has not helped my aching limbs after Val's 'training session'. I must ask Otto to tell her I am out running errands the next time she comes by. All that pounding and swinging and hitting... I can take no more! She says that my strength will have increased as a result. How then, is it that my limbs feel like those of a newborn child?? This is cruel and unusual punishment - I hope she does not visit too often!
Otto has offered to put up a training dummy for me to practice on - he says it will be kinder to me than Val's techniques!
True, a girl must know how to defend herself, but I should like to keep my good looks, and not appear black and blue from every vantage point!
That woman is insane.
Otto has said that he feels I should affiliate myself with something called 'NEW'. I asked what that was, and am now confronted with a rather hefty tome entitled 'a guide to guilds', which he said I should read. I had hoped to look around Iantown this eve - I still do not know where the good shops are. Still, I am here to work, and work I shall. I hope that there are not more like Val in this NEW guild. One of her is all I can hope to survive! I could hardly walk this morning, much to Otto's amusement. Thankfully Val will not be about for a while. I hope he has no more friends like her! Still, he seems to share my views as to the foolishness of her running about in armour. Lee never mentioned her - I wonder if she treated him the same way?
I spent the entire day copying scrolls for Otto. I wondered what he needed so many 'create food' scrolls for, until I made the mistake of speaking the words I inscribed out loud while scribing. When I finally looked up, there was a small mountain of apples, grapes, and other food rolling out of the pack I had placed by my side!
Oh woe - I hope Otto is not too upset! I shall take these to the pantry, and hope they do not spoil before we can eat them all! I must learn to keep my mouth shut while I read and write! Still, it is good that I did not do it while scribing the magic arrow scrolls - who knows what a magic arrow does? This fine home might not be standing!
Lee always did say I lacked attention to detail - I wager his spirit is laughing at me somewhere, right now!
Otto is well pleased with my work so far, despite the food incident, and has given me four days off work.
He said I needed time to grieve, and to get to know my new surroundings. Personally, I think he needs the time to re-arrange the pantry. He has given me a map and directions to the guild house NEW, so I shall seek them out, and see what they offer.
I do wish I could walk without pain, though. If I never see that Val again, 'twill be too soon! Lunatic! 'Oh, don't fuss so, 'tis merely another ten circuits of the lake' Ha! Perhaps I shall be lucky and a troll will eat her. She seems the sort to seek out trolls, and such like. I don't see that as very heroic - more as foolishness Leave the trolls to the guards and watchmen! I think that white book she reads so frequently has addled her mind. I must try to read it sometime. I took a cart to the nearby city of Umbra - (I do not like that place!) - and from there went through what is called a 'moongate' to the fabled city of Britain! I had never expected to find myself here! It is SO large, and there is so much to see! A friendly guard told me to call him or his cohorts if I found myself in any trouble, so that is good. I found the inn, and made myself comfortable for the night.
After much reading at the library of Britain, I have decided which skills I shall focus on
Naturally, inscription, for that earns my pay! I wish to become well known as a scribe, that my name may become legend - and with it, that of my poor, departed brother.
Meditation seems essential - whenever I spend long hours scribing, especially some of the spell scrolls that Otto wished me to copy, I feel the need to purge my mind in meditation afterwards. I am becoming quite good at it!
Val is teaching me to focus, but I wish she would not. Still, it does appear to help with the speed of my inscription, so maybe there is a benefit after all. I can not lift her sword, but she has taught me some wrestling, for defending myself. Oh, how I ache!
I would like to understand some of these scrolls, so perhaps learning a small amount of magery would be good. I can not see myself running around in a silly robe with a pointy hat, somehow. Those who do always struck me as dirty old men, and who knows what is going on beneath those robes? I shall learn magery, but not become a mage. Or if I do, I shall be a fashionable one. Aye.
Lastly, I seem to becoming adept at hiding, probably due to all these snakes in the desert It is a good skill to have, and I can see uses for it beyond merely dodging snakes, so I shall practice it regularly. Who knows when I shall find some young man wishing to court me, and need to rapidly disappear?
Ah, courting Lee always said he would beat any man who went near me senseless. Lee, who will look out for me now? I miss thee.
I saw a healer wandering the streets of Britain, and kicked him in the shins, crying 'that was for my brother, you foul deceiver of the sick!'. A large guard appeared, as if from nowhere, and placed a hand firmly on my shoulder. 'One more blow, young lady, and I shall be forced to deal with thee most harshly.' he said. I tried to explain about Lee, and the dancing healers, but he would have none of it. Fortunately, the healer slipped away while I was arguing with the guard. Fortunate for him, and for me, in hindsight. I must learn to accept that Lee is gone - attacking every healer in the land will only serve to quicken my end, or at least provide me with an existence behind bars. I still hate them, though.
I spent much of the day looking around Britain. Just when I thought I had seen it all, I discovered a bridge which lead to another portion of the great city, with more to see! It is good that I left most of the money from the sale of our house in the bank, or the temptation to spend would have been too great!
I finished the day by looking around the great castles of the city. I would have spent more time at Lord British's castle, but I found the crowd gathered near the entrance to be most intimidating, and left. I did not like the looks of the great, swirling gate that hovered there, either, and heard one of the bystanders comment that a land of serpents was beyond it. Not the sort of place I would like to visit, although it would probably suit Val down to the ground! I found a large building, full of equipment for combat training. I think I like this training dummy far better than the flat of Val's sword. If this is what Otto has in mind, I would take this rather than Val's multiple circuits of the lake at any moment!
I saw a healer with purple hair today. Most strange, but if that is their sense of fashion, it explains much about their healing skills, and my brother's death. They probably tried to improve his looks, instead of his health. Scum!
I spent the morning looking around some more, and found a hall dedicated to the virtues. A most impressive sight, indeed. Still, from all I have read of the virtues, I still feel that my understanding of them differs greatly from Val's. I see nothing here that would make me take up arms and chase monsters about the land!
I shall spend my lunch time at a tavern which I have found. I hope the waiter at this one does not feel me too young to enter, as the one across town did this morning. That was most humiliating. Still, it gave me more time to witness some of the city's festivals I do not think I like the banks of Britain, though. They seem to draw a strange collection of people. Perhaps it is merely that I am not used to life in the city yet, but they seemed most unrefined. I am sure one of them was not a man at all - his teeth were far too long, and his eyes glowed when he looked at me. I can still feel them - he looked at me as if I was to be his next meal! Most unsettling, indeed!
Afternoon, Day 20
After much hiding and dodging behind trees to escape the long toothed man who follwed me from the city, I have arrived outside the great guild hall of NEW. It is a large, imposing building, and I can sense the magical wards around it, to keep unwanted visitors out. The statue of a dragon on the doorstep is most lifelike, and the spell that made it roar at me would have had Lee holding his sides with mirth. Once I got down from the nearby tree again, I saw the funny side to it. I did not know I could climb trees that rapidly!
I shall practice my hiding skills here, until someone arrives to let me in, or one of those within notices the constant hammering on their front door.
I have a letter of welcome from Otto, but what good is that with no one to hand it to? Perhaps I should learn a little about camping - I do not know how long I shall be out here! It is nearly three weeks since my brother died, but to think that my life could change so much in three weeks - I would scarce have believed it if any had told me! So, after three weeks of mourning, onward - a NEW life awaits me!
After a long afternoon spent lurking in the bushes, I finally met the good lady Shalimar, guild mistress of NEW. She was most kind and helpful, and offered me many items and bits of advice to help me learn my crafts. She is a far kinder taskmaster than that lunatic I met at Otto's, and has been helpful in every way. The first day at the guild house flew by - 'twas eventide before I knew it. I made my way back to the town, towards the inn. On the way, I was accosted by a strange man, who leapt from behind a tree, brandishing a knife! 'Oh, good sir, do not harm me!' I cried, certain that this was the end. 'Oh, you're in NEW. Don't worry, I don't kill NEWs.' he said. 'Do you need anything?'. Hardly what I'd expected from an obvious highwayman. I did not know what to say! I gulped out that I was fine, and he smiled, and wandered away through the trees. This is a strange place, indeed!
I fear I have been neglecting my journals, for all the training I have been doing at the guild house has caused the days to fly by! Still, tomorrow, I shall make the trip back to the outskirts of Iantown, to tell Otto of my progress, and see if he has any more work for me to do. I also wish to try some of the new inscription techniques I learnt from the scribes in Britain on some real spells, not just the practice ones they gave me! I hope that all the food at Otto's has not gone bad, with just one man to eat it!
Day 26, evening
I do not approve of that cart. Oh, my poor bones - I feel as if I were an old woman of 95! Still, I have returned … I imagine 'home' is the correct word, at least for now. Otto was glad to hear that I had returned safely, and told me that his beetle had enjoyed the excess food immensely. I had not spent much time in the stables, and went to see what kind of insect could have eaten so much food. I found a huge blue beetle, bigger than I was, nestling comfortably in the straw of the stable at the back of his house! Never had I seen such a creature! Otto apparently uses him to help carry large amounts of ore, and other heavy goods, and he can make a fearsome defender, when necessary! I am not sure I like sleeping in a room with such a large insect nearby… and are there more, his size?
I have spent much of the day scribing scrolls and other works for Otto. He pays well, but my hands are almost lame from all the work! Enough of this journal for now, I must sleep!
My skill is fast improving, with all this work! Today, I managed to craft several gate travel scrolls! I though that I would never achieve it - the lettering is so fine, and there is so much of it! One mishap, and the table may grow legs, or a large fireball appear, as I have found the hard way! Otto has constructed a small room lined with metal for me to do my work in, for fear that a mishap may demolish all of Iantown! 'tis most embarrassing. Still, my skill grows, and one day, I shall make hardly any mistakes at all! I like this new life, and I like life in NEW! I only wish that it had not taken Lee's death to bring me to it. Farewell Lee I miss you, but my work will bring honour to your name!
Alas, I have nearly filled this journal! Hard to believe as it may be, a month has passed since I heard that sad, terrible news! Tomorrow, I shall start a fresh volume, if the rest of my work allows! What other wonders will the new day bring, in this strange and wonderful land?