For Glory, For Empire
Journal of Radiance
It was a rare event seeing New Salam’s “High Priest”, but really, one could always smell when he was approaching. For the village’s sake, take a BATH!
Plus whenever Bon, the “High Priest”, was back in the village, one could always hear his ever-chatty friend, Li. “So, how’d it go? Did you find them?”
“Then why are you back? Why are you going so fast?,” Li asked breathlessly. “Slow down.”
“Why? Is it important? Did you find something? Did the expedition members die? They’re all dead, aren’t they?”
“Nope.” And then the drape to Galen’s shack was moved to the side. “Sir?”
“Yes, Your Holiness,” said Galen in his humblest manner. “How may I be of help?”
“Found somewhat,” Bon said and he reached inside his pack and pulled out a smaller, package that looked to be wrapped in oiled leathers.
“Why, Learned One,” Galen addressed Mengzhi, “let’s take a moment to consider what the High Priest has given us in a more fair-smelling environment.” Mengzhi and Galen had grilled Bon for almost an hour on how he’d come across such an item. The Bea’txo scholar was lost in thought, perusing the now unwrapped, careful not to touch what seemed to be a folded, scrolled journal, bound in some strange type of leather.
“What do you make of it?” Galen asked after they’d left the confining space of the alchemist’s shack.
“Well, it’s extraordinary! An artifact of Bea’txo origin for sure. Very old. Invaluable!” exclaimed Mengzhi.
“Yes, all true, but what,” Galen asked patiently, “do you make of it?”
“It seems to be responding to the surroundings. The cover script keeps changing slightly through various dialects of random languages. All basically saying the same thing: The Journal of Na’Ta’abov the Radiant, or possibly ‘Luminescent’ or ‘Light-Filled’.”
“Well, whatever it is, it is definitely magical," said Galen, stating the obvious to Mengzhi.
“The power radiating from it is quite powerful and foreign to our way of thinking of magic. Completely uncorrelated to the Veskan Scale, and I’ve only experienced this once before. When I met Her Excellence, Yu-Chen.”
“I’ve got a potion that could help us analyze it further,” and Galen was off into the most stained corner of his shack. Mengzhi tried not to shudder in disgust, but failed.
Galen returned and handed Mengzhi a vial filled with a viscous amber liquid. And with that, the two imbibed the potion. The “High Priest” had slipped away, which was as hoped, but unfortunately his “presence” lingered.
“I don’t see any magical snares on the journal, but it looks like it needs to be unfolded and opened in just the right order. I think it’s safe to proceed unfolding and take a look within. However, let’s go over our precautions. If I should start to act funny, here’s a smoke pellet that will knock me out. Don’t hesitate. Over there’s a pail of sand for fire, if it should happen. Here’s a vial of powder in case of acid. And if we need air, here’s a potion to help with that.”
“How am I to know if you are ‘acting funny?’ I do not know you well enough to know your normal behavior. Perhaps we should have someone else in here to help with that?” Mengzhi asked.
It was much too late to consider that, because Galen downed the potion in one gulp. With the potion’s help, he saw the unfolding of the journal and the assembling of the frame from the scroll ends, and two more pieces Galen located within the leather case. Mengzhi drank in the power, as well.
The two scholars looked at each other, shrugged, and Mengzhi reached out and followed the steps of setting up the frame and unfolding the journal. Within the frame, around the ever-changing and scrolling journal, was something. Shedding a warm and calming radiance, an orb of light coalesced, then moved within the frame with a preternatural silence and otherworldly grace.
Radiating the speech of the Bea’txo, the journal communicated first to Mengzhi.
Many thanks, Young Scholar! It is liberating to not have to write everything down. Which of you two do I have to thank for rescuing me from that dreary shrine? Before I get going further, would it be possible for you to take me outside and set me in some sunlight? I’m starved.
The scholars exchanged a look. “Uh, how do we know that that’s a good idea?” Galen asked suspiciously.
Do I look like a threat?
“Well, you are communicating with me, so that’s more than we expected. How do we know we will not be releasing a monster from another realm into the middle of our village?”
Oh, well, you’re right. That would be a little disconcerting if I were in your place. Right you are to be suspicious. So, while you two are thinking, and I can tell you are smart ones, how many monsters from another realm do you know of that would like sunlight? Huh?
“The research on monsters from other realms is scarce, but due to the number of realms, i would say it is highly likely,” Mengzhi replied.
Point taken. I can see that you two are going to need to do this the safe way. Which is probably what I would do in your place. How about you take me across the river to the anchor stone? If, and it’s a huge if, by the way, if anything happens when I get my sunbath, I’ll be inside the third ring of protection laid down by Truong Mai-Linh and her Edict of Mu Lesh.
Surprised, Mengzhi pulled out a little notebook he had tucked into his pocket. “ Edict of Mu Lesh , that’s what was inscribed on the stela.”
Mengzhi looked at Galen impressed with the “journal’s” words. “This journal seems to be quite knowledgeable about the area. I’m inclined to give the thing it’s sunbath, if only to learn more about what it knows.”
Galen looked thoughtful, “I think it’s a good idea to use the stela, but I think some extra protections are in order. Journal, you’ll get your bath, but we’ll need some time to put things in order.”
Ah, well, something to look forward to then. I’m going to shut down to reserve power. It’s been nice visiting with you, Galen Tiegel Brewerhorn, Esquire of the Black Tower, and you, Mengzhi, Scholar of the Citadel.
“And I’m just being paranoid, obviously no threat at all,” Galen mumbled sarcastically after he had left the hut, and then looked over at Mengzhi to see if he’d noticed the journal’s breach of his privacy, but the scholar was lost in thought and scribbling notes into one of his little books.
“If it does anything I don’t like, I’m burning it,” the sorceress stated.
Zim appraised her again with a side-eyed glance. Yes, she was most likely responsible for the scorch marks beyond camp.
“It is possible that it will offer offense even to you, your excellence,” Galen said. “Do what you need to do, of course, especially if it looks as if us scholars need the protection. But there are enough layers of protection laid down, I’m pretty sure even Aitzurra himself couldn’t escape.”
Yu-Chen rolled her eyes and Mengzhi gasped at the blasphemy.
“Alright, here we go.” Galen unwrapped the “journal” and sunlight streamed down onto the frame and the paper within. Nothing outward happened, but there was a contented sigh that all four clearly heard.