Sitting at the lone desk in this librarian's abyss, I stared down at the tome - dust billowing from the text as it thudded against the mahogany. As I stared down at the volume, its leather worn by age and its pages brittle to the touch, I opened it - and as I did, the letters danced from the tome's pages like pixies, pinpricks of light shifting amid the darkness of the library. Sitting there, the letters frolicked through the air as they gathered, coalescing as they had before to provide insights into another world.
The Tome of a Universe: Pelth (Vol. 341).
Fog emanated from the surface of the tome, caressing my sinuses, and I could smell that strange scent once more - of camphor and knowledge. The temptation of understanding was suspended in front of my face, tantalisingly shifting, as it drifted with the passing motions of the musty air. I stared into the cloud, speaking my questions aloud.
"Give me a brief overview of Pelth," I began. "Tell me what it's like in this world."
The smoky cloud shifted, as letters altered and twisted, taking the form of a passage of text drifting listlessly upon the air. I read through it, as it weaved the narrative of a universe.
...Pelth is an arcane world, where various empires coexist, resolving their differences with diplomacy. After the end of the thousand-year-war (947-1968), many were frustrated with the state of the world and the deaths of their loved ones in an endless conflict. With the world changing, the end of the conflict meant a lot of things - including the post-war formation of the Union of Countries, serving as the beginning of a new era of armistice. Many countries have abandoned their original feudal systems, now governed over by a newly formed Arcanocracy, made up of wizards and scholars in the arts of magic. The world is at peace for now - though as the Arcanocracy develops, it is beginning to show faults of its own. Only time will tell, however, whether these faults are the price of freedom, or a catalyst for rebellion...
Great, I sighed to myself. That'll be fun...
I guess I hadn't ruled out political instability in the initial lookup, but no world's perfect, I suppose. It was good enough. Pelth was a world at relative peace, and without technology, I could at least assume that Derrick might end up leading a good life out there without having to succumb to the misery of being trapped in an office all day.
"Tell me about courier owls," I said. "I hear this world still uses them, is that correct?"
As the words reformed once again, the incandescent glow of the letters responded to her question.
...Courier Owls are a staple of communication for those who wish to remain impervious to scrying in Pelth, and so they are often used for diplomatic and government correspondences. Though they've fallen out of common usage as arcane knowledge has advanced, many private citizens still own and utilise owls to make essential deliveries of both written messages and parcels, making them one of the most versatile means of communication. Though most people have taken to Arcane Thought Transference (ATT) spells to communicate with those across long distances, Courier Owls are far more secure, and so they still see widespread use in both domestic and government environments...
Reading through the passage, the words dissipated as I finished the sentence, letters drifting once again as they faded back into the sagacious vapour. As the dull light of the letters faded back into the mist, I stared down at the tome for a moment. The letters flitted through the mist as I thought about my next question.
"Are the owls commonly caged?" I asked.
The mist shifted once more.
...Commonly, many domestic owls are either caged or cooped. However, many of the better-trained owls are taught to utilise perches, meaning that owls from higher calibre trainers tend to use cages less...
"So, if I reincarnate my client into an owl from a high-rank trainer, they're incredibly unlikely to be caged up," I said. "Is that correct?"
Reading that single word reply, the letters rearranged themselves once more, as they jumbled in the mist. Language shifted through the miasma like a firefly through the night sky. Staring out at the cloud before me, I leaned in, breathing in the pungent scent of camphor once more, uttering into the cloud that hung over the mahogany desk - the light from the desk-lamp seeming dull against the luminescence of the lettering.
"Tell me, where could I find the best owler in this world?" I asked.
As the letters drifted once more, they formed a new observation, this time text contorting with the motions of the drifting cloud as the observations came to the forefront. Melding into a sentence, the jumble seemed confused for a moment, rearranging itself a few times before locking on and sitting in place. Letters flitted about uncertainly, some trying to shift from their place to form a new sentence. Not even reality could agree with itself sometimes.
...The highest-rank owler, at present, is Aubigace Walton - an owler who has the renown and respect of many in the community. A strong, domineering figure, Aubigace's owls are obedient and well-trained. They never miss a message, enduring the impossible to deliver every communication which they are provided with - flying with a type of desperation that is, in his words, part of the Aubigace brand...
That didn't sound pleasant. I knew now why the letters had been debating with themselves. Hell, I certainly wouldn't be dropping Derrick into that guy's lap: I could feel the horrid nature of Aubigace wafting across the very air as the tome told his story.
"I didn't ask for the highest rank owler," I told the cloud. "I asked for the best. Keep it humane while we're at it."
The text dispersed, now its motions more certain as the letters drifted to correct themselves. There was no hesitation in their words now. The passage reformed itself before my eyes, letters shifting and bending as they wrote their answer on the air.
...There is an apprentice owler, known for his work, by the name of Remmie Derringer. A talented owler and inheritor of the Derringer Owlery, Remmie advocates for a different breed of owling - one built on compassion. His small owlery isn't as well recognised, but his talent in creating a bond with other animals stands well beyond many in his day and age - and the owls he breeds will often create far closer bonds with their owners, with relationships built upon care and trust rather than commands and tyranny...
Reading through that passage, the text disappeared once more. I was left staring into the smoke. As the letters abated, they returned to the drifting smoke, patiently awaiting my next question. I smiled, as the name Remmie faded into the cloud.
It sounded like a good life.