«Originally an immortal calligrapher for an emperor in a distant land and long ago, Glitter raised Paper to godling and helped her achieve even greater mastery over ink and paper. Paper has become well-beloved to makers of magical scrolls.»
When North Wind was merely ancient, he served an emperor as a general and lord of the barren wastes north of the great empire. The emperor was wise, just, and profound in all ways, and had grown his empire to heights undreamed of by his ancestors, but he was also deeply traditional, and did not value new things unless they had military applications.
One day, when the North Wind had completed a great task for the emperor, the emperor, now an old man with many grandchildren to bequeath his empire to, asked the dragon to attend him:
“Of all of my generals, you have always served best. Of all of my lands, yours has always been my most secure. And of all of the lives under my command, yours will last the longest into the future and ensure that memories of my empire do not die. When I do die, I expect that my children and their children will tear this empire apart, no matter how fairly I split this legacy among them. This does not bother me, for empires are living things and must eventually decay. But I would give you those lands to the north which you have always defended and cultivated for me. Would you accept this burden? My children may war with you if you do.”
The dragon, knowing the danger that mortals could present to even one such as he, nodded, but said, “I will accept this burden and defend that land for the remainder of my days, but I would ask a boon in return.”
“Anything,” replied the emperor, “I will die soon, and have nothing I wish to keep.”
“There is a scribe who serves in your court. A young woman when I last saw her, though she may be old now, with only one eye and a steady hand. She was once assigned to General Hoh-Weh, and would take dictation from him for his letters to me. If she is still alive, I would have her services.”
The emperor closed his eyes, “I know the scribe of whom you speak. Are you sure that is all you wish to ask? She is hasty and unwise, and lacking in manners or temperament. I assigned her to Hoh-Weh as punishment for him!”
“I am sure. I do not much notice the manners of mortals, and all mortals seem hasty to me! But her calligraphy is the most beautiful I have known.”
And so it was done, and an old woman with one eye and a steady hand traveled to the inhospitable northern wastes with a small guard and scrolls clutched tightly to her chest, to serve as scribe for a dragon.
Many years later, when she was near death (her hands still strong and sure upon the quill!), the ancient dragon approached her as he had once approached the emperor, with deference, and asked her to attend him.
“Of all my servants, you have always served me best. Of all my scribes, your hand has always been my most trusted. And of all the words I have spoken, I feel that those you have chosen and shaped with ink will last the longest into the future. The emperor rewarded my service to him by asking for an even greater service, and I would ask the same of you. I would grant you immortality, that your skill with ink and paper need not die. Would you accept this burden? I cannot promise to ever release you, save by my death, and those who would kill me may not be kind to you, either.”
The old woman merely smiled, and patted her hand upon his claw, “I have not yet mastered the quill. I worry that I may never do so! But if my feeble caricature of writing remains desirable to you, I shall endeavor to provide it so long as I am able. But,” and her one eye gleamed for a moment, “There is something I would want, and your request for such a mighty service has emboldened me to speak of it.”
Both laughed (she wheezed) then, for neither could think of a time when she had lacked boldness, and then she breathed and continued, “I have been thinking for some time that my quills always wear out before I do. I would like, very much, a quill that would not wear down, so that I need not look up from my work in the middle to replace it.”
And in that moment, the dragon’s heart was seized—for such was her devotion to her art!—and then and there he found the finest flight feather in his wings and plucked and sheared the tip, and set it before her. “This I will have my sorcerers enchant for further durability. This, I will make the finest quill the world has seen. And this, I will give to you, that your art will not suffer.”
And so came about the Rune Quill, chosen instrument of a scribe who would later become the goddess Lady Paper. It is said that even the simplest rune written with this quill becomes magical, and confers properties upon the object they are written on so long as the ink lasts.
Eíre Notes. Rune Quill is a two-foot-long pinion flight feather the color of hoarfrost, with a shaft stained black by millennia of ink use. A platinum band lays just behind the tip, with the words (translated) “The Eternal Script” pressed into it. The quill is essentially indestructible and very sharp, and can function as a dagger +1 in combat, although Lady Paper would be horrified.
When used with high-quality ink and great skill, the quill may confer some small benefit or effect upon an object written upon, in line with the intent of the skilled calligrapher who uses it. For example, if the word bear is written upon a suit of armor, it might grant a +1 to AC if the calligrapher was thinking of the bear’s tough hide, or +1 to Strength if the primary focus was ursine might. These effects are rarely very strong, and the duration ranges from an hour to a day, depending on skill.
Note that Lady Paper’s skill is such that the benefits are often in line with magic items, and the duration is typically a month … but most calligraphers are not deities with two thousand years of experience.
With the quill, a scroll can be created for one-tenth the cost and time investment, assuming skilled calligraphy; and with metallic inks, the material cost of magic items can be reduced by one-third by substituting written runes for components.
(In Lady Paper’s hands, every spell formula she writes on a surface becomes a scroll; and her speed and accuracy with the quill allow her to commit an entire spell formula at a rate of one spell level per minute.)