Chapter 1: How the Pen is Mightier
Prompt 79 - Paperverse Item
Word Count: 800
Rogtuk handed the quill over to the man, passing it with a grip only where he knew it was sturdiest. It was longer than his forearm, able to have the glittering wing touch the palm of his hand while the split barb rested in his elbow. It was one of the most elegant forms of craftsmanship that the orc had seen in his life, so delicate in design that he felt like simply handling it would break- but it had proved far sturdier than expected.
“This is a Dragonfly Quill,” the human said after a quick pass over. He continued to look it over as he spoke. “We’re not sure where the wings come from, but they’re not particularly rare. Although finding one in such pristine condition is uncommon.”
The man lifted the quill to the sky. The colors in the wing became more vibrant as light passed through it. It looked very similar to the colors that would smear the sky as the veil became thin on cold nights as spirits would run on wild pathways.
“What’s it used for?” Rogtuk asked. Beautiful in both appearance and skill of craftsmanship, it had to serve a purpose. Things that are pretty for the sake of being pretty simply didn’t exist.
“Writing.” The answer was blunt and somewhat unhelpful but didn’t necessarily carry the weight of scorn. Writing was something that was common here, but wasn’t expected of everyone to know coming into this strange and oftentimes overwhelming network of ‘places’.
“And what’s writing for?”
“It’s to help you record and keep information. To help remind you of things. Or even to tell other people stories.”
Rogtuk followed, but he still felt a furrow on his brow. “We told each other stories by telling. What’s the point of writing it?”
“Stories change over time. Sometimes you want a record of the originals. You can keep track of how they change.”
Rogtuk shook his head. “Stories don’t change. We can have new stories, but we can’t change what happened.”
Rogtuk saw something click in the eyes of the human he was talking to. “Aaah you’re from one of those cultures. Yeah, I can respect that. But let me tell you a story-”
Rogtuk quirked a brow. He nodded for the human to continue.
“I know of another culture of people like yourselves. They passed down their traditions orally. And they had a whole system to make sure that those stories didn’t change. As a result, if you could talk to one of those members, they could give you a firsthand record of events of their ancestors." The human told him things he already knew, but Rogtuk listened anyway. He hadn’t mentioned the use of writing yet. “But then invaders came. They had… ideas that weren’t the same as the storytelling people’s. And they were to spread their own ideology onto them.”
Rogtuk felt a grimace on his face. Ideas, traditions, and religions were passed on between clans. But the human spoke of this as if what was coming next was a bad thing.
“They weren’t making a lot of headway. These people were content with their Gods and their ideals. They didn’t want to adapt these newcomer’s ideas. So then the newcomer’s killed their storytellers.”
Rogtuk couldn’t hold back his gasp. He believed the human. Why would he come up with a concept so heinous? The orc felt his heart tighten in anger and mourning, but felt himself thankful such a thing hasn’t happened to his clan- yet.
“They lost their religion and the invaders completely overtook the culture. You want to know what’s worse about it?”
“The invaders taught the people to read and write before it went down. But because they didn’t have a record of their religion before they came, the invaders just doctored their texts. Put themselves into even their ancient beliefs.”
The human gave Rogtuk a moment to mull over what he had been taught, passing him back the Dragonfly Quill. Rogtuk rubbed his fingers gently over the metal, feeling the different subtle engravings in it. He thought of people coming to his clan, pretending to be friendly- all the while they worked in deceptive ways to destroy his culture from the inside out. Losing everything in the process- their connection to Wolf, their spiritual ancestors, the knowledge of why the sky has rivers of color during certain times of the year.
“Can I be taught? Can I learn and not have my culture taken from me?” Rogtuk asked. If he could teach his people to record first, he could prevent this.
The human reached out, grabbing Rogtuk's hand. He smiled, and squeezed his fingers gently together. “Writing wasn’t the enemy. It was how the enemy used it. I’ll be happy to find you a tutor.”