Marcius Cognomen was a blessed man. He knew this because he had been told this. He had been told that he was blessed because he had been granted a bed upon which to sleep, because he supped twice daily upon meals which were rarely not provided, and mostly because he did the Holy Work.
He was a Scribe, and his official designation was Canticles MMMCXIX: Book of Saint Marcius Vladistus Insert-Cognomen-Here. That was his Holy Work, and he did it as his masters expected: flawlessly. Each day, he took his quill-stylus, dipped it, and began his work. He did not need to blot, as to make an error was a concept beyond his understanding.
He was not exceptional in his work. He simply obeyed his Masters, as did all of his fellows, all of his fellow members of the Holy Work. He was familiar with many faces amongst the Canticle Wing, but not names. His masters frowned upon fraternization, as it distracted and imbalanced the mind.
Faint whimpers came from the desk behind him, again. He ignored them. Ignoring what he wasn't supposed to hear or see was very easy.
Marcius continued his work without having stopped, or even wavered. Eventually, after an indistinct amount of time, he came to the end of the volume, all four thousand, eight hundred and thirty-two Canticles of Marcius. He let the last ink dry, closed the volume, and set it gently beside him in the Basket of Retrieval. Eventually, it would be collected. Meanwhile, he opened the next volume and began fill out the foreword and the table of contents.
In doing this work, his soul was fed. He wasn't sure of many things, but he was sure of that. Deacon Celestius told them that every morning after they came in and sat down. Celestius droned his sermon in that selfsame monotone every day, then stood, silent, at his pulpit until closing. Then his pallid flesh jerked into motion once again, and the prerecorded message came blaring from his necrotic lips, always the exact same words. Deacon Celestius was a comfort to his flock, even now, long after he had been servitorized.
Feet marched along the aisle way beside him. Heavy, booted feet—not the slippered shuffle of the Retrievers. It was the Enforcers, then, the Brown-Coats. Those were the only two types of Servants allowed in the room, apart from the Deacon and the Scribes, obviously.
Muffled thuds behind him. He finished the dedication, penned in perfect calligraphy. Cloth tore, and there was a gasping sob. Another Brown-Coat strode past Marcius to the desk behind him. Satisfied that the ink was dry, he gently turned the page and wrote the opening title and heading.
The two Brown-Coats walked past Marcius again, carrying a struggling figure. He set his quill down for until they had passed and capped his inkwell—it would not do to be jostled and to spill.
They carried Domopho Kilourne, the woman who sat behind him: Canticles MMMCXX: Book of Father Domopho Regenine Kilourne. Or rather, had used to. Her first Disturbance had resulted in the loss of her tongue; this being her second, she would return. She would be replaced, now, by another Domopho Kilourne.
Her shirt was torn open, revealing the flesh beneath, and her nose was crushed and gouting blood. It turned out to have been prudent of Marcius to have closed his inkwell. As Domopho was carried past, her arm reached out and snared the leg of his wooden desk, jolting its balance precariously. He gazed impassionately at her.
Help me, she mouthed desperately, voicelessly. Help me help me help me don't let them take me away. I need your help.
He gazed at her without moving. A dribblet of blood splattered noiselessly from her crushed nostril to the desktop, but, blessedly, didn't hit any parchment. One breast flopped against the wood.
The Brown-Coats pried her fingers loose with muffled curses and carried her away. Marcius looked down and carefully laid a page of blotting paper over the fallen drops of blood.
The image of the breast lingered in his mind for several moments more. Mammary gland, he thought. Storage for infant sustenance, and related to a major portion of maternal-filial bonding: wet-feeding. His early teachings in the Schola Infantus, before the Masters had chosen his vocation, had taught him that much.
He did not remember his own mother. He had taken away as soon as he had been weaned, “to prevent unnecessary partnerships from forming, and tempting the darkness,” the Masters said. Their methods were without error.
He opened his inkwell again, dipped his quill, and began writing the First Canticle of Marcius. This time, he murmured the first lines, as they seemed especially fitting for the moment.
Praise to Saint Alicia Dominica,
For she is all-nurturing, all-caring;
Let her shelter us in times of need,
Let her raise us with the fervor of His Word,
Let her never be forgotten from our minds, or replaced,
For she is our Divine Mother,
And in Her sheltering arms we need no other.”
His faint whisper died, and around him, as far as the darkness extended in all directions, the Holy Work continued. The scratching of quills continued in their tiny, desperate worlds, never to rest. Next to his right hand, the red stain that had appeared through the blotting paper began to spread.
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Last edited by Mossy Toes; 03-27-11 at 03:52 AM.