Vocational Education   2038.09.06*  
Written By: Chris T.
(Trolls Story) A moment from Thumbprint’s apprenticeship.
Posted: 09/10/13      [7 Comments]

(For other "Stories about Trolls", see the listing, or use the drop-down menu.)

Thumbprint looked up from the desk and rubbed her exhausted eyes. "If I keep on at this rate, I'll be in glasses by the time my term of service is done."

Apprenticing as a librarian under the illustrious Pigment was an honor and a privilege. Academically. In reality, it was long hours, a demanding schedule, regular memory drills, and strict adherence to the rules of penmanship. The fact that the learner was the master's future daughter-in-law only raised his very high expectations. It didn’t even grant the student her own workspace. Her workstation was located in a partition of Pigment's own office, which was positioned a story up from the main floor of the Library. At least she got her own lantern to read and write by.

The young troll shook her head free of nerve-wracking clutter and got back to work. Popular volumes wore out sooner than most, and Pigment had given her the responsibility of replacing one of them. Carefully she dipped her quill for another sip of ink, ever aware that a single smudge, fingerprint, or overly generous blot of ink at the end of the parchment she was to be writing upon would result in her instructor rejecting it all and ordering her to start the whole page over. And the pages she was crafting were important ones indeed, truly worthy of the care she’d been taking. She'd been put to work transcribing a new copy of Catalyst's Commentaries on the Tome of the Ancestors. This next page detailed one of the most famous aphorisms of the Tome, which she filled the header with in florid calligraphy...

"Beware the words of the Changing Ones, for they speak with many tongues."

... Followed by several paragraphs of historical context and literary interpretation. The general impression to be taken by the reader being that the whims of the Changing Ones (referred to as Palace Keepers in later texts) were known by the honored forebearers of Underhaven to be as transitory as their bodily forms. A pledge made one day would be recalled as a jest the next and forgotten entirely on the third. More sinister were the statements meant from the start to be twisted into something else. Such as the assurances made to those who took refuge in the Palace at the fall of the Ancestral World, declarations which fell to ash as the Age of Bondage began.

Stroke upon stroke, the words became manifest. Words became lines, lines became paragraphs. As Thumbprint brought the duplicate into being she absorbed — as would those who would read it from then on — the lesson held within. Thumbprint performed her own spot inspection, aided by a jeweler’s loupe, its broadening eye bringing details to her attention that her master would note from an arm's length away. Slowly, meticulously, she satisfied herself that it would pass her teacher’s muster. Only then did she set it aside on the shelf above her desk to dry, after which it would be added to the weighted frame that held its fellows. In the end, a group of pages would be stitched together in lots, the lots then tied into the complete volume, and bound into a thick leather book jacket. Every step of the process, save the fabrication of the parchment and the leather, to be carried out by Thumbprint's own hands.

A chime sounded from the stairway to her left. It was a call for aid; a visitor to the Library was in need of some book, scroll, or scrap of data which the novice stationed at the help desk could not uncover on his own. Thumbprint quickly tidied up her workspace — Pigment tolerated no clutter! — then slapped some life back into her cheeks, and headed down to greet this new querent.

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