Compendium I

There is a compendium of additional information in this imaginary world. Back story stuff, perhaps cross-reference-able someday. Where does the line get drawn between what’s in the story and what’s not? Everything is a part of many stories, when you look for examples in the real world. 

In beginning to write speculative fiction of my own, I’ve taken the tack of just writing what comes to mind, and worrying about precisely how it will fit in later. This has been enjoyable and will probably yield a lot of useful rough material over time, but it makes the question of how far I am from completing something worth publishing a bit mysterious.

I don’t mind mystery. About a year and a bit ago, I tried involving Patreon in this whole process, but I hadn’t quite decided what it was I was doing, or how frequently I’d be able to do it, or what sorts of perks I’d offer people who gave their support, so I took that page down and kept writing, bit by bit. I will give the crowdfunding thing a go again soon, I think, but I need to create something worth supporting first. This site is not yet designed / branded around my project, and my project is not yet well defined. I am learning. 

Here are some additional words…


On the True Length of Arms

The official Arm had remained the same actual length (as measured by the best techniques available at that time, in any case) from WiM 813 to WoM 211, and had belonged (in a manner) to Rhubent the Beige, identified during a Kingdom-wide contest to identify the most perfectly average physical specimen among properly licensed, practicing wizards.

Rhubent, a truly average specimen in so many respects, also provided the official calibration for the Knuckle, Nose and Whisker (the last one used primarily by alchemists and master stone-cutters). It was commonly known, though rarely discussed, that the contest had been a trick to get the kingdom’s magic-using caste to participate in the annual wizard census, as the Mountain’s official membership records had gone up in a flash fire in WiM 814.

In WoM 212, Sallus Crumpt (incidentally, the great, great, great, great, great grandson of Rhubent’s runner-up in that contest, Medgar the Grand Medium of Halfway) published a very convincing paper in his first tenured year, the data of which strongly suggested that average wizard sizes had been shrinking noticeably (and to some, alarmingly) in that thousand-year period, making the Rhubent Arm an increasingly meaningless unit of measurement.

Although many wizards came forth at once to hotly contest the insinuation they had become smaller than their predecessors of yore in any respect, the data did appear to be sound. Wizards for at least the past two generations had, in fact, been quietly discussing the anomaly that was the Arm; astute members from each successive generation would at some point note how much larger the Arm was than any of their own arms, and they would joke (at times uneasily, one can imagine), about how large a man Rhubent must have been.

Of course, all the measurements on record pertaining to the man were understandably expressed in his own units; his right Arm was, naturally, exactly 1 Rhubent Arm long, his left arm was .997 Rhubent Arms long, his nose measured 1 Nose in length, and so on. Somebody once constructed a correct-size Simulacrum of Rhubent, which stayed on display in a hallway for roughly a decade, until it got moved during a cleaning project and was never found again.

With each generation, more wizards became astute to this observation, but it wasn’t until Crumpt’s paper lit the match beneath the political firestorm that was the Elder Steering Committee for the Redefinition of the Arm – which met almost bi-weekly from WoM 213 to WoM 219 – that an attempt was made to officially retire the old Arm, and launch another contest in order to find a new one.

This new calibration arm was finally found in 222, attached to Bettanie Estherflutters, a Witch from Turnip Patch (when it was still called that). Estherflutters had officially registered as a Hedge Wizard in 212, and then spent the better part of the next decade magically transforming her own form to attain compellingly average measurements  (with stunning success, if such a thing can be said).

Interestingly, the Knuckle, Nose and Whisker had not changed much in that time, according to Crumpt’s calculations, so while the official Arm is now Bettanie’s (still alive as of this writing, and therefore permitted to keep her actual arm until that circumstance changes), the other measurements are still attributed to Rhubent.

Once the Arm became re-calibrated, one can imagine the legwork involved, given how many books, scrolls, tablets and glyphs bearing Arm-based measurements required updating. As the Estherflutter Arm was approximately 2/3rds the length of The Beige’s Arm, every written and spoken measurement suddenly felt larger, to those generations still accustomed to the old unit. Archways that used to be four Arms high were now, almost magically it could be said, six Arms high, even though they had not observably changed size.

This created at least two new fringe branches of Magical Philosophy, and made most of the Mountain’s inhabitants (except the Booknyrds) feel, subconsciously, as though the whole place had gotten roomier. Imagine the power of suggestion, multiplied by nearly four-hundred wizardly minds in the enormous echo chamber of a Mountain dedicated (the tunnels through it anyhow, as the Mountain’s own dedications and intentions are another matter entirely) to the pursuit of magical thinking. That is what was going on, and still is.

The re-scribing of texts to incorporate the new Estherflutter Arm was an unforeseen and temporary economic boon of a make-work project for the Mountain, unlocking long-forgotten elemental science grants from the distant and increasingly removed capital city of Owl. Trade colleges opened in Owl and also in Glassworks, licensed by the Mountain to teach proper re-scribing techniques.

This was mind-numbing work for the Rescribes, though it paid well enough. Having entered the trade believing they were being fast-tracked into the mystical arts at the legendary Mountain, they instead found themselves employed, on a rotating contract basis for the most part, at various Inns located on the periphery of the Everlund Wood – that grand and deadly-dense forest surrounding the Mountain for so many miles in all directions – re-scribing books and scrolls from lonely rental rooms, from first light to evening.

The Booknyrds had the much, much harder task of locating, cataloguing, repairing, un-shelving, shipping, receiving, and re-shelving each book as it was put through this process. The dust clouds produced by this mass-movement of material alone nearly killed one elder (not to be named) cursed with famously weak lungs, and required a three-fold cleaning staff increase for the better part of a year. Much of the unclaimed dust eventually collected somewhere below the eighth level (it is believed) where odd, downwardly flowing air currents would often claim scraps of discarded paper, airborne particles, and the occasional unwary insect, drawing them into whatever fate awaited them below.

The Great Rescribing of the Arm, as that massive project had come to be known, began in WoM 223, and lasted until WoM 228, when Owl’s patience with the progress of the grant-funded work finally and fully waned. This left, by some estimations, roughly half the Mountain’s knowledge converted to Estherflutter’s Arms, and the rest still in The Beige’s Arms. Roughly half of each of these materials were caught somewhere between un-shelving and re-shelving, and you can imagine what kind of a clutter that ended up being.

I will not at this time go into the whole business that was the Great Paraphrasing Movement among some of the most opinionated of the Rescribes, except to say that a number of works not only ended up with second editions containing updated measurements, but entirely new prefaces, editor’s notes, miscellaneous errata, and in some cases, significant structural rewrites.

This is about the time the first Booknyrd got the idea to go on strike, which is, of course, another subject entirely.

– B.N.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 thought on “Compendium I

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.