By Mary Potts <QueenoftheCapes@gmail.com>
Submitted July 2009
Summary: In the search for ancient artifacts, one researchers finds things unexpected.
Story Size: 1,190 words (6Kb as text)
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My partner and I have arrived in one of the principle territories of those strange beings known as FoLCs. We seek one thing and one thing only: A scroll, said to have the power to inflict both euphoria and crushing agony on any hapless soul who reads it. It has long since been lost to the raging annals of time; its existence now said to be mere legend. My partner and I are certain that it does exist, and are hopeful that we can find it.
We found the sacred burial ground where the FoLCs keep their scrolls — it is a twisting maze, with passages marked by strange symbols. Names of the great heroes and gods of myth are inscribed on some of the walls, and others are marked by points in FoLC history. It is too complex for us to decipher; we will need a guide.
My partner and I have established ourselves in one of the main FoLC settlements and are attempting to acquire a native guide. The FoLCs are a curious, hospitable people, and my partner speaks some of their strange tongue. Some of their elders claim to know of the scroll we seek, but cannot identify its whereabouts.
We note whatever information they can give us — some of it conflicting — and make camp for the night.
My partner awakens me early. We have a guide! A native claims to have seen the scroll once during her initiation rituals, and knows some of its markings. Her name in the local tongue is BreeGirl; I will call her Bob.
Bob leads us to the sacred burial grounds and guides us through the mazes. We back-track occasionally, plunging forward again at breakneck speed. Bob knows the land well. When we get to the main chamber, however, she stops. After looking about in dismay, Bob communicates to my partner that the scroll we seek is not here.
We are disheartened, but have not lost all hope. The scroll must exist! We head back to camp for the night, releasing Bob back to her village.
My partner and I have spent the morning discussing yesterday’s failure. Was Bob not as sure of the area as she led us to believe? Was our information wrong? Did the scroll not exist? I refused to believe this last one, but my partner wasn’t so sure.
By noon, however, we had new hope: Bob had told the other natives of our plight, and now some of their women gathered to tell us about another burial ground. Another burial ground! This was indeed a break-through.
The FoLCs told us of a lesser-known area near the village itself. It is less hallowed than the main burial ground, and many scrolls are damaged or incomplete. Some scrolls kept there never make it to the burial grounds at all, much to the sorrow of their chief.
Filled with new hope, my partner and I summoned Bob and set off for this other location.
The grounds behind the village are a dark and depressing place, filled with scrolls that have been divided into fragments. Many of them are incomplete, never to see the light of day. I shuddered at the sight of dangling half-parchments whose original scribes had vanished, either dead or seized by madness and gone from the village. Truly, the creation of these scrolls is a difficult and dangerous enterprise.
Alas, the scroll we seek is not here either. We emerge from the grounds in defeat and pay Bob in those shiny “screencaps” her people hold so dear. My partner consoles me as we head back to camp.
The scroll, I fear, may be a legend after all — or else destroyed. Either way, I have begun to lose hope in ever finding it. I’ve considered packing the equipment and going home, but my partner wishes to stay a little longer for anthropological research.
We shall explore the village burial grounds again and see what can be learned about the FoLCs and their mysterious ways.
A critical discovery!
My partner and I have deduced that among the scrolls in the village grounds are records of observations made by their devotees. Among the strange gestures and chantings of the pious, we have found a cryptic comment. It seems to allude to the scroll which we seek, and to a temple which we have not yet learned about. We resolve to ask the natives about this in the morning.
The natives are wary when we ask them about the temple. Bob tells us that the temple is a sacred place which even many FoLCs may not enter. Entry into this temple requires certain rituals to be performed over which the chief must preside. Further more, entry by strangers is forbidden!
I consult with my partner and come to a conclusion. Searching for this scroll has consumed too much of my life for me to turn back now. I must have it! Therefore, my next actions are clear: I must join the FoLCs.
My partner translates for me as the chief performs the ceremony. My name and the stellar alignments of my birth are inscribed upon a tablet. The chief asks me a number of questions, and soon, I am given a new FoLC name.
I am one of them.
The FoLCs welcome me into their society, but I am anxious to enter the temple. I am told that my partner cannot go with me. He goes back to the camp while I start off for the temple alone.
The temple is dark and mysterious, even more so than the cave behind the village or the vast, sprawling labyrinth of the burial grounds. I fear it will take me days, months, or even years to find the scroll.
As I wander, though, I find a hidden recess in the wall. I press it, and am led into a maze of passages similar to the one behind the village. Bob has taught us how to read the symbols, and I begin a slow, methodical search of the area, using the etchings on the walls as a guide.
I…I have found it! It has taken thirteen days of searching, but the scroll is now in my possession. It’s beautiful! It’s…it’s everything the legends have said and more!
My first thought was to bring it back to the academy for study, or to put it on exhibit, but this will be impossible. The scrolls cannot leave the sacred temple. I am saddened at the academic loss, but in the end, it does not matter.
I have found the scroll.
If I never see civilization again, I’m content.
This journal I shall give to my partner. While the world may not have the scroll, it shall nevertheless have the tales of our search, and of these strange people called the FoLCs.