This is a story that so far is all my own work, starting with this entry on ficlets.com. It's my own first attempt at writing something in the clockpunk genre. I hope you like it!
Anso hunched over the machina, furiously trying to finish the assignment given him by the Abbot. The sound of the keys clattering echoed from across the deserted scriptorium. At this rate he was going to be late to the audience with the Cardinal. But this work could not wait.
Anso had based his design for the machina on a pipe organ, with a keydesk for entering numbers and letters and foot pedals for punctuation symbols. He was able to copy manuscripts much faster this way than by quill and ink. Already he was a third of the way through Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and the finished manuscript would take up a small fraction of the space that the codex did, encoded as it would be in small holes punched into sheets of vellum.
Marsilius Cardinal had inspected the machina very carefully and shown a great deal of interest in its workings during his last visit to the monestery. Anso would soon have a complete manuscript to show to His Eminence, and then perhaps he could tell of his more ambitious plan.
The young monk finished his work for the night and gathered together the encoded manuscript. The perforated vellum was not to be the complete presentation, but only a piece of the whole system that Anso envisioned.
The darkened corridors echoed with his softened footsteps as he made his way to the chambers of the Holy Office. Anso’s breath came quickly tonight, for his excitement was great at the potential this meeting had to bring greatness to the Order of St Augustine and to the Mother Church as a whole.
The system that brother Anso had created would enable the scattered dwellings of the Order to communicate almost instantaneously, as well as allowing them to store the sacred texts more efficiently, taking up less than a quarter of the space that was now being utilized in the libraries and storage houses. And the profane texts, those would be encoded so as to not tempt the weak of heart and faith.
Anso opened the door to the princely quarters of the Cardinal. Abbot Innocento had already arrived.
The Abbot was a wizened, prune of a man. He hunched over a simple cane, carved from the trunk of an Ash tree, and gestured for Anso to come in.
“Thank you for coming, Brother. You have met Marsilius Cardinalus; also with him from the Vatican are Brothers Salonius, Calpurnius and Axius of the Holy Office.”
“Thank you, Father Abbot.” Anso beamed with excitement as he kissed the hand of the Cardinal and set about unloading his satchel onto a low stone table.
The older men shuffled about uncertainly, Brother Calpurnius’ wiry black and white beard hid the expression of confusion. “You do know why we are here, do you not young Anso?”
The younger Monk’s attentions were elsewhere as he set about arranging sheafs of punched vellum. He unlocked the case that held the heavy bulk of the machina and arranged it to be operated.
“We are not here as your Advocate.” This time it was Axius who spoke. The old goats all looked the same to Anso.
“We are here to determine whether your machina merits a charge of heresy.”