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TitleThe Scribe's Wish
Post Date (Visible)April 2021

It was a sultry night in the peak of Dvarsh, and Adkir the scribe was up late working in the n'Lochli estate's private library transcribing volumes again. He sighed and put his quill aside, rubbing at his sore hand in frustration. The oppressively humid summer's night left him dripping with sweat, and even the pages of his book were sticking together in protest of the weather. 


He was behind on the work again. Of course he was, he reflected, he was always behind. Whenever he thought he was nearly caught up there was always one more acquired piece that they needed transcribed and the original returned posthaste.


He made the mistake once of asking Lord n'Lochli why they didn't use the printing press, an error he would never repeat again. The switch taught Adkir that lesson well, he never wondered what the answer might have been. Lord n'Lochli believed strongly in corporal punishment, he wasn't so religious as to be an adherent of Queen Nifilhema, he just thought pain was a valuable teacher.


The truth, which Adkir never had answered, was two-fold. These borrowed books that Lord n'Lochli was steadily acquiring were not the sort that he could take to the city's printing press where prying eyes would see. It would not do for word to get out that he was borrowing works from the likes of the n'Kylbar, d'Vanecu, or d'Lardick's private collections. The second reason was far more mundane, Lord n'Lochli simply did not trust the contraption. He was an old-fashioned man, he valued knowledge but he did not particularly trust some of the industrial innovations embraced by many Magnagorans.


Murmuring to himself in dismay, Adkir got up to stretch his legs, he walked over to the window that overlooked the harbor district and opened it, sighing in relief at the salty breeze borne of the ocean mingled with the smog of Industry and taint that permeates the city's air. Lord n'Lochli would have taken out the switch if he knew Adkir had opened the window again, he was very particular about not letting the city's smog damage the books in his library, he was very particular about a great many things.


For the moment, Adkir didn't care, he knew the Lord would be with his wife the Lady n'Lochli down at the theater district, pretending to enjoy themselves for the sake of maintaining appearances among the nobility. Adkir knew he wouldn't get in any trouble for this small dalliance, and so he took a moment to enjoy the breeze as he listened to the rustling of wings from some unseen creatures and the boisterous noise of dockworkers in the distance.


Adkir glanced back at his pile of work, Lord n'Lochli would flay him alive if he didn't finish tonight he thought. He sighed again, murmuring aloud, "I wish I had help to finish all this." Turning back towards the window he jumped back in shocked surprise as facing him sitting hunched upon the windowsill was an especially ugly gargoyle-like imp.


The imp held a squirming rat in one clawed hand and it bit the creature's head off with a gush of blood, sucking on the remains greedily before spitting out a disgusting mess onto the floor that very much reminded Adkir of an owl pellet. Patting its stomach in satisfaction the imp grinned widely, showing sharp, half-decayed teeth. It proclaimed, "Greeeetings, greetings. I enjoying snack. Then I hear you. I help you."


It took all Adkir's courage not to scream out in fright. He had seen imps and demons of course, but he was no Nihilist, just a scribe. He certainly had never been addressed by one, nor seen one that was not bound in service to a Nihilist. It unnerved him even though he knew that imps were the lowest of Nil's thralls.


Finally Adkir was able to stammer out for a response, "He-hello."


The imp cackled in a mocking response, "Yeeees, he-hello." Then it pointed a small clawed hand towards Adkir's desk as it continued, "I Malimp! I help! I grant wish if you ask me."


Adkir blinked, intrigued, and a little suspicious of the offer, "You will help me? How? Why? I did not even think imps could write."


Grinning proudly, the imp responded, "I am much, muuuuuch smarter than other imps." Then it repeated, "I Malimp! I grant wish if you ask me."


Adkir was dubious, but the thought of how much work lay nagged at his mind. Then he found himself mentally repeating the reminder that he would be flayed alive if he didn't finish. Against his better judgement he decided to test the imp.


Adkir beckoned the imp in and ushered it to the desk, which the imp immediately hopped up onto, leaving a trail of sooty footprints in its wake much to the scribe's horror. Still it couldn't be helped now, if it could help transcribe he could clean the footprints easily enough he thought.


"Show me you can write, transcribe this scroll for me." Adkir said, taking a scroll from his to-do stack and unfurling it on the desk before the imp along with a blank parchment. The imp grabbed a quill, nearly spilling over the ink pot before working with surprising speed and precision as it copied the scroll so perfectly that Adkir thought even the handwriting appeared to be the same.


The imp grinned even wider as Adkir examined its work, repeating a third time, "I Malimp! I grant wish if you ask me."


It did not take Adkir long to decide, the creature worked faster and more accurately than he could. He would let the imp help him, "Can you transcribe all these scrolls and books for me?"


The imp was grave as it responded, "I help. Say name. Say want wish. I help you."


Without thinking of the implication the scribe answered, "Malimp, I wish you to help me finish transcribing all these tonight."


The imp cackled with glee as it began working, finishing scrolls with demonic haste. Next it turned to the stacks of books, pushing Adkir out of the way as it transcribed the volumes perfectly.


It wasn't long before it became apparent, however that there wasn't enough parchment for all the work that lay ahead that night. Adkir's mind began racing over where he might find more at this hour when Malimp interrupted the thought by proclaiming, "No parchment? I make more!"


The words barely had time to register in his mind before the meaning sunk in with painful clarity, the imp pushed Adkir down to the floor and jumped atop him, claws ripping into flesh and peeling a strip off.


The imp ignored the poor scribe's screams of pain as it said, "You bleed on floor. No bleed on book. No ruin work." It hopped back up onto the table to continue scribing another page onto its newly made parchment. At the end of each page the imp jumped back and tore another strip of flesh off the screaming and crying man, continuing the process long after Adkir became still and silent.


The imp didn't leave until every volume was perfectly transcribed. There was no need for Lord n'Lochli to flay his scribe alive in the morning, while the open window, sooty footprints, and bloody mess on the floor might have given him cause to do so.


Not that there was much left to flay.