The Keeper of Records

What is a lady to do? Anata Tapstick has been married to Theophilus Tapstick for more years that she can remember, and in all candour, it is her husband’s fault. He is, or was (or perhaps will be) a mage, but also a savant and a philosopher. Personally I feel it is the philosopher who led the savant and mage astray.

With mages, yes life can be nasty, brutal, and come to a spectacularly unpleasant ending; but it takes philosophy to get you into really serious trouble. The issue with Theophilus is that he got interested in gods and suchlike. Not for him just dabbling in forbidden knowledge. Or having a household where sylphs and similar acted as servants, and dark powers were trapped by mighty incantations to provide lighting and hot water.
No, Theophilus was a nice chap, and by all accounts was a doting and loyal husband. Anata has been heard to comment she could wish for no better partner in life. So she is not an abandoned wife, it is merely that her husband is away on an extended business trip. It’s just much extended.

Theophilus, after many years research, came to the conclusion that he had discovered the basic essence of the gods. He had worked out what made them, and thus, had the potential ability to make another. Now when I say many years, I mean it. We have a somewhat eclectic, even outlandish, library at the Shrine of Aea in Her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm. Should anybody borrow one of our books, they have to sign for it in the great lending book. I have seen his signature. It dates from before I was born.

Much to my surprise, all the books he borrowed were returned, which is unusual with savants. I have known temple wardens slip embarrassing documents between the pages of a book they know a savant wishes to borrow, secure in the knowledge that the savant will quietly add the volume to their private library and we will never see the added document again. In compensation the savant goes on our ‘regular donor’ list and they end up paying generously. We tend to get the book back on their death when the savant’s daughter clears the house and goes through the library.

But Theophilus had a theory that he would put to the test. Secure in the knowledge that he knew how to create a god, he would create one. He decided to use himself as a test subject. Essentially his theory seems to have been that gods are created not by doing good deeds but by doing deeds which force people to redefine what a good deed actually is. Deeds so good they are beyond goodness and press through that barrier into some bright luminosity beyond.

But as Theophilus did his good deeds, some record heeded to be kept and this is where Anata came in. Even as he roamed through the various planes of existence, he would have his observations recorded in a volume safe in Anata’s keeping. Thus she would be able to track his progress and eventually when he succeeded, the document would be the workbook describing a successful experiment.

Now Anata had been a handsome woman when she met Theophilus. Not for her the problems of magically enhanced beauty. On the other hand, mages tend to tamper with the way they pass through time, remaining young for centuries, and this sleight Theophilus taught his wife and helpmate. Thus they grew old (or alternatively neglected to grow old) together in harmony. So when Theophilus set off on his quest, Anata didn’t fade or wither. She remained the woman she had been when he ventured forth.

At this point she was living in a rather nice villa just south of Port Naain, close enough to be convenient, but not so close that people noticed her determined defiance of the ravages of time. So whilst Theophilus was away, Anata followed his process though the writings in the book, and got on with her own projects.

But then Theophilus obviously ran into a problem. It seems that the gods dislike those who enquire in certain areas. A good atheist who loathes them is just another fanatic who is fixated with them and is almost as good as a worshipper. But somebody who believes in them and starts trying to tinker with the underlying mechanisms is a menace. So they stepped in and dealt with him. Nobody is entirely sure what exactly happened but one day the book stopped describing lofty and noble deeds and instead recorded the petty and vaguely disreputable.

Some bad deeds have a majesty about them, they set a high standard of execution and one struggles not to admire them. But the deeds in the book were just pathetic. They stirred nobody. Nobody admired them. So why was Theophilus recording them? Anata came to the conclusion that the gods had used this as a mechanism to trap her husband for ever. To her it was evidence that he was on the right track. Thus the gods had decided to stop him achieving his goal by forcing him to record deeds of evil so pitiable that it lacked even the promise of malice.

This, she felt, was perhaps her best route to getting her husband back. Fortunately the deeds recorded were all from Port Naain. So her plan was simple. She would note the various deeds would then write a brief note to the perpetrator, describing what they had done in detail. She would then comment that such things were unworthy of them. Her idea was that she would eventually raise the standards of the city to a level at which the recorded deeds were once more at a level which would help Theophilus get back on track and return to her.

So the usurer would get a note pointing out that extracting more from the collection plate than she put in was winning her no friends. The Sinecurist would get a slightly longer letter pointing out the inadvisability of selling the fresh-baked bread donated to them and buying stale so they could still be seen to feed the poor but could make a profit on the deal was pitiable.

She writes to all levels of society, I have been asked by a dunnykin diver to read his letter to him. Apparently he had make a habit of leaving the last three inches in the pit whilst pocketing coins and trinkets found.

Will her plan work? It might, but not in my lifetime. Can she shake a city out of its deep dyed hypocrisy? I suppose it’s possible. But then what other option has she got? 


Should you wish to learn more of Port Naain


As a reviewer commented, “Benor Dorfinngil is a busy man; everyone wants him to solve their problems, from finding a missing husband, securing tenants for a haunted rental property, to vetting potential suitors for vulnerable young ladies.
He has an eventful life in Port Naain with his friends and acquaintances who are interesting characters in their own right. Ulterior motives, double dealing, plots and counter plots abound in this novella. The pace really picks up in the final quarter, suspense and danger abounding. Thoroughly enjoyable.”

17 thoughts on “The Keeper of Records

    1. Port Naain has many marvels.
      Oh, what is it I have to click to get onto your site as when I click on https:/BOOKS.ESLARN-NET.DE I get a message saying it’s coming soon 😦
      Coming Soon


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