Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Word Watchers

“We knew Gutenberg had resolved so many problems about printing books. We were waiting, waiting for this one, the big one. A group us gathered together on upper floor of a friend’s house—Rottlerin was his name—waiting for the big news. We had the buyers in place. All of them dedicated to our cause. All of them knowing that this moment would change everything.”

“What moment,” Sophy had to interrupt. “Change everything how?”

“Until then, until that Bible, no one had books to read, unless they could afford hand-made manuscripts carefully copied out by tired monks working under candlelight. Beautiful, beautiful books, but like all great art not something that the masses could access.”

“And that kept the masses illiterate,” Ari continued for her. “Imagine if reading material cost more than your house or more than a grownup earns in one year. No one would read. No one would be able to afford to read.”

“We gathered together there in Rottlerin’s sky parlor—that’s just what we called that old musty attic—not wanting anyone but us to know,” Glaydis picked up the thread. “Many people didn’t want the masses to read, to have knowledge, to have a life of the mind.”

“This book, this printing, especially with the paper, suddenly made books something that more average people could afford,” she continued. “Not the poorest folk, certainly, but more people than before. Minds opened as people opened the books, words flooded out, ideas, information.” She paused again and reached out to pat Sophy’s knee. “My dear, this event, this mere printing of a book brought about the European Renaissance.”

Sophy knew what the Renaissance was, how people began to emerge from the “dark ages” to find ideas and a life of the mind that had evaded so many for so long.

“But we knew there was more to it than just bringing people to knowledge. This wasn’t just words on paper. There was something else. We knew that this book, this Bible, was the first in the Collection. That we, come together for the first time as the Word Watchers, had to take on the task of ensuring that from that moment, the light would never go out again.”

Ari struggled up onto his ancient bony elbows. “To do that,” he said, “we had to put our minds to where They would have hidden the magic.”

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