Research Journal – Emory Dryden – Knight of the Scroll
The City of Corinth. Gilead. 9th of Arrowspan, 1165 VA
I find a growing sense of unease as I work with this strange recording. The elaborate sequence of investigation, research, espionage and skulduggery required to obtain it lend themselves to a certain expectation of menace and import. I should be above such ‘dramatization’ of the facts at my advanced age, but I must admit — this case has all the trappings of boiler-plate pulp. Two of my best agents perished while retrieving the object, and the third suffers from a wasting disease – sallow of skin, and characterized by an almost constant discharge of dark purple mucus. He was delirious when we recovered him, and was unable to give any coherent report of his activities investigating that abandoned manor.
Clutched in his hands, however, was a stone box. Small, not much larger than a travel valise — it was immediately obvious that is was of Arkanic fabrication. The Precursor civilization had some ability to create objects of passing durability and strength with the consistency of stone, but the the weight of birch. And inside the case, a marvel. The marvel that has consumed my studies for the past several days.
I recognized it immediately. A multi-faceted green gem, enclosed in a half-moon of white stone. An Arkanic recording crystal! My excitement blazed, and my hands shook as I took it out of the case. The written language of the Precursors is incredibly difficult to decipher, months can be required for scholars to translate even a small passage – but a recording of their spoken language can be made plain with a simple enchantment. These ‘sound crystals’ are incredibly rare, finding one justified the loss of my agents.
I set to work immediately. The enchantment worked as expected, and I soon found myself listening to the words of a Precursor, dead for thousands of years. I copied the words onto parchment, my hand flying to catch every word. I paid little attention to the narrative, simply copying each word as quickly and carefully as I could to ensure accuracy. A scholar must exercise restraint in all of his processes. I listened to the recording five times, checking that every word was correct. The recording is sadly brief, but it did allow me to be absolutely certain that I had completed the task correctly. Only then did I allow myself to read the words.
Teon? Teon the First-Singer? The Lightkeeper? Did I dare believe it? That these words were spoken by the leader of the entire Precursor civilization; it beggared credibility. I spent the next three days
performing every test I could devise to determine the authenticity of the case and its contents. In every examination there is a potential for error, but I do not believe I made any. The sound crystal was legitimate.
Which brings me to the present moment. And my unease.
The dying words of Teon. They tell us so much, so many small glimpses into the world of long ago — and final confirmation of the Arkanic society’s origin! But that is not what concerns me, it is when he speaks of the death of his people, the end of the Precursors.
And what is his fixation on his left hand? I can only assume that Teon was delirious, or had some sort of psychological malady.
It is dusk. I am due to turn in my report on this matter to Legion Command tomorrow, they will not be put off any longer. I have kept them at bay with my reputation, keeping all knowledge of this recording to myself. But tomorrow I must share my findings — and the feeling of dismay creeps up ever stronger in my soul.
What have I found here? Why do the words fill me with such dread? When I sleep they hang in the air around me, like a cage of ink.
Begin again, Scholar Dryden. Piece by piece. Assume nothing.
I will use this journal to codify my hypotheses, and sort through my ruminations. Calm and plain, for my eyes only — then at dawn I will take my conclusions, and present them in my report.
Impressions of the Speaker: The Arkanic language is a strange…..
[To be continued.]