They bought the old paperbacks by the bag, from the landfill-miners. Hauled them all the way back to the forge. The covers would be stripped off, and the glue scraped off, the dusty, crumbling pages tied tight in blocks with twine. There was a screw-press there that took both of them to operate, and when they pushed and pulled they could squeeze six hundred pages down until it was a centimeter thick. Six of those together made a block, and the block went in the barrel - slowly, carefully, heat and pressure would turn the block into coal. The coal they would take to the smith, and the ash they would spread in the garden. Sometimes the spade would turn up a blackened leaf, with the shadow of a letter glittering on it, but not often. They had learned their craft well.
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