2001-03-18: Forgotten Tomes Resurface In Controversy
"Prospero Faenis was a humble man who cared deeply for his brethren," stated Brother Brislow of the Empath Abbey. "I have seen some of his poetry and a few of his chronicles of life at the monastery, but I can’t say that I am an expert on the subject."
It seems that no one knows much about the prolific monk who lived ages ago and left behind a number of works which have been dispersed to collections unknown in the past centuries since his death.
Interest in the writings of the monastic author has escalated recently with the arrival of Lady Lilibet. Reports state that in her search for the works of Prospero, she has laid siege to both Yew and Jhelom, and smaller towns including Phoenix Rising, The UnRuled Hamlet, and Krista’s Ranger Station. While she has declined to explain what her interest is in the books, it is rumored that she is recruiting volunteers to help her rescue her sister from what she describes as "the pits".
When a courier arrived in Britain last night to deliver books by Prospero to the Britain Public Library, a woman meeting Lilibet’s description (skin devoid of pigment, red hair, and wearing an unusual red bracelet) posed as a member of the library staff and signed for the books. Witnesses claim that once the books were turned over to her, the woman threw off her dress and hat, revealing red plate and sandals, as Lilibet has been reported to wear. Sometime later, she appeared to members of the RKB, tossing the books at Boromir and telling him that they were not the ones she sought.
India West, caretaker of the new Magincia Library and Museum, obtained copies of these books and provided them for reproduction here.
by Prospero Faenis
-+* One * +-
I lie awake and listen to the sounds of the monastery. The quiet used to calm me. I found solace in the sounds of the settling stones and the breezes moving through the rafters. It is a bit unsettling to me now. I hear those breezes and envision dark swirls coming down the hallways, creeping under the doors and enfolding my brothers.
I cannot say when the trouble began. A nearby farmer had given me a poetry book he uncovered in his field. The harrow had dredged up a small metal chest and the book was inside. It is damaged by the elements, but in fair condition despite that. The works were beautiful and I spent every moment I could translating them. My nose was buried in that book, too much I fear, and I was neglecting some of my spiritual duties to the younger ones.
The first sign of trouble I noticed occurred during dinner. Remar, at the far end of the table, rose abruptly from his seat, over turning the chair, and stormed away. Palillo, ever gentle, righted the chair and quietly returned to his own place, keeping his head bowed over his bowl. Timlyn ran from the room, calling for Remar. I turned to Moncrief, my eyes questioning, and he shrugged. Living in these close quarters, one could not expect everyone to live harmoniously all the time. These small incidents would arise from time to time, but they soon blew over.
The next night, as I made my rounds to turn down the lanterns before bed, I heard whispering around the corner. I turned to find Timlyn lying on the floor, his face pressed to Remar's door. When he heard me, he jumped to his feet.
"What is the trouble, young brother?" I asked Tim. "Are you and Remar having some sort of disagreement? Shall I arbitrate for you?"
Timlyn's fair cheeks flushed pink. "No. Nothing to trouble you with, Brother Prospero. I have no quarrel with Remar."
"Then is your quarrel with Remar's door?" I queried. Something was obviously amiss here.
The color of his cheeks deepened. "No, brother. I have no quarrel with anyone."
I put a hand on his shoulder. Timlyn had not been with us long. The desire in him to please everyone was apparent in all he did and the bonds of unconditional love and friendship were tender enough that he did not trust them fully yet. "If you have need of me, I am here for you. I hope you understand this."
He nodded, eyes avoiding mine. "Verily, verily," he ensured. "I will come to you if I have need, Prospero."
I sent him on to his room and tapped softly on Remar's door. "Brother Remar?" I tried the latch and found it was bolted from the other side. This was unusual. I had never known any of my brothers to lock their doors. There was no need. "Brother, are you well?" I asked.
"I am getting into my night clothes," Remar replied, his voice muffled. I could hear movement in the room, the sound of scraping over the floor. The bolt slid and the door opened. He stood pressed against the jam, giving me only a glimpse past him into his quarters. "You have need of me?" he asked, wiping away droplets of sweat from his upper lip.
"I thought you might have need of me," I responded. "You have not seemed yourself of late. I feared you may be coming down with a fever."
He shook his head, turning his eyes from me. "No, I am well enough. I thank you for your show of concern."
He moved back to close the door. I put my palm against the door to stop him. "You will come to me if I may comfort or counsel?"
"Of course. Good night."
The door shut quickly and, again, I heard the bolt slide into place. The scraping sound followed. I raised my hand to tap the door again, but stopped. Whatever the trouble was, it could wait until morning, after we'd all had our rest and the day was new.
I studied Timlyn and Remar during breakfast, stealing glances at them and observing their behavior toward one another. Young men forget that old men were once young, too. They were not the first to share a secret and try to hide it behind coy shrugs and quick gestures. I believed I would have more success in gaining their trust if I did not demand information. Instead, I joined their game, feigning indifference, but watching carefully and making myself available. I had hoped one of them would open up to me of his own volition.
As darkness fell again, I made my rounds. I turned the corner toward Remar's room in time to see a flash of a tan robe slip out of view. Timlyn. I paused beside Remar's door. My ancient ears were no longer able to hear through the thick doors of this place. As my knees creaked and complained, I lowered myself to the floor, peeping under the door as I had seen Timlyn do. My vantage point was less than optimum. I could see that he had moved his bed to the opposite side of the room and that he was perched on a wobbly stool at his desk. What did he study there that required such secrecy? Why was the bed moved? My curiosity was superceding my decorum.
Not without some difficulty, I rose to my feet. Timlyn nearly toppled me over again as he sailed around the corner. By the look of shock he wore, I could see that he was as surprised to find me there as I was to see him.
"I want to know what is going on, Timlyn," I stated firmly. "Will you tell me or should I ask Remar directly?"
The struggle within him was apparent. Timlyn had been trusted with a secret. Divulging it would ruin the trust Remar had placed in him. Not telling it could incur the wrath of his superior. I waved my hand, dismissing him from the order and reached for the latch on Remar's door. Again, it was bolted from the inside. I knocked sharply three times.
"Remar, open the door," I charged. "Open the door this instant."
I could hear him scuttling about as he said, "Yes, Prospero. One moment."
"Not ‘one moment,'" I barked. "Now!"
The bolt slid back and he opened the door only enough to permit his slim frame to slide through into the hall, drawing the door closed behind him. He held the latch in his hand. "What is it?" His eyes went to Timlyn. I saw Timlyn shrug very slightly and roll his eyes.
Without warning, I pushed Remar aside and barged into his room. The bed, I could see now, had been moved so that he could climb upon it to open the only window in his room, a small round one in the upper left corner. The only stool in his room was rickety and would not support his weight. On the desk sat an inkwell. In the inkwell, a blue-black feather. This caught my eye immediately. All of our quills were white. Wolpur made them from chicken feathers. There were no papers on the desk, but there were ink smudges on Remar's fingers and a small one on his nose. I opened the small desk drawer and found a hastily rolled bundle of parchment. Some of the ink was smeared and looked fresh. I glanced over the symbols and words of a daemon language.
"Remar," I asked softly, "what is all this?"
-+* Two *+-
Remar rudely took the papers from my hand. "Those are mine. I will thank you for excusing yourself from my room and refraining from rummaging through my things."
Timlyn was in the doorway, watching with wide eyes. His lips parted as if he might speak, but he held his tongue.
I cast a stern gaze on Remar. "When you joined the brotherhood, was it not made abundantly clear to you that everything we have belongs to us all - be it material possessions or personal turmoils? We house no secrets here. I want to know what this is about, Remar."
Finding his voice, Timlyn said quietly, "You have to tell him, Remar. Perhaps he can help."
"Help?" I asked, my anger abating and giving way to concern. "Are you in some sort of trouble?"
Remar shook his head. "It is not me. It is Asep. He needs my help."
I was more confused now than ever. "Who is Asep?"
Remar motioned for me to be seated on the stool as he sat on the edge of his bed. "When I was a boy, my friend Asep and I found a cave. I dared him to enter a small opening. He took the dare and never returned. No trace of him was ever found. I have never stopped trying to discover what happened to him. In our library, I found a book on divination. As I was reading it, there was a tapping on the window. I moved the bed so that I could look outside and a raven flew in. The bird circled the room once and a feather landed on my desk, then the bird was gone. As I lifted the feather, my hand seemed to be moved by an unseen force. It dipped the quill into the ink and these words and pictures appeared. Each night, the raven comes and brings a feather. More words, more pictures. And look at this," he said, shuffling through the parchments and holding one out to me. "It says his name right here. ‘Help me, Remmie. Asep.' He is trying to help me find him."
I remembered no books on divination in our collection. I asked to see the book. Remar laid it before me and I gave it a cursory glance. This was something dark, something evil. We would never permit a book of that nature in our collection and I told him so. "Did it not seem odd to you that a book of this kind would be in our care? We destroy books like this. We don't collect them."
"I want to help Asep," Remar said flatly. "And I will."
The fluttering of wings above our heads made us all look up. A raven perched in the window. It turned its head this way and that, as if it were watching and listening to us with complete comprehension. A shiver traced its way up my spine.
"I cannot permit this," I told him, rising to my feet and mustering all the authority I could inflect. "We do not deal with evil things in this manner. It is against our beliefs. It is contrary to who we are." I made a quick wave with my hand, hoping to scare off the bird. Instead, it flew in, diving toward my eyes as it screeched. It seemed to be attempting to drive me from the room. I ducked down and Timlyn put an arm over me protectively. "That bird is a harbinger of doom!" I sputtered.
The raven lighted on Remar's shoulder, regarding me with its piercing eyes. A black feather fell into Remar's lap. He tried to hide it in his sleeve, but it was too late. I demanded he hand it to me. My hand touched it and I felt myself pulled to the desk, my fingers plunging into the inkwell. Ink splattered across the desk and wall. I watched in horror as words filled the page.
"It is too late. It is too late. It is too late. They come. They come for you. Selmatet will claim you all."
Remar and Timlyn rushed to my side to read the parchment as the bird flew up and out. I did not know if it was my imagination or if it were so, but I thought I heard it laughing.
Outside, the wind picked up and the trees began to wail. It whistled over the casement and into the room, swirling and chilling the three of us as it blew out the candles in Remar's room and scattered the parchments. I felt them press against me in the dark.
Something wicked was on its way. There was no mistaking it. For the first time in years, I tasted the bitter bile of fear rising in my throat.