This story is the 1st installment in my Hyraaq Tobit saga. To fully understand this story and the characters in it, I suggest you start with The Demon Tobit of Delphia and For Love and Hot Chocolate, as this is a direct sequel.
Clair Nobles dedicated her life to the history of the world. She was a World History major with a Master's Degree from Dartmouth College. She so loved history that she went on to get her PhD in the same subject. In matters of world history, she was considered to be at the very top of her field. She was an accomplished professor, but teaching was second chair to her. Learning, even at her level of education, was always her first and only real goal in life.
For this passion she did pay. At 34 years of age, she had never been married and had no children. While she did hope to one day settle down and attain a family, to create her own branch of history, she was still far from being ready to consider such pedestrian pursuits. There was still so much world left to uncover.
Around her 30th birthday, she shifted gears quite suddenly. She was starting to find that the majority of her work was nothing more than creating extensions of other people's accomplishments. She was learning and reciting facts and articles that others before her had already unearthed.
Clair wanted more.
She spent much of her early 30s exploring concepts like Atlantis, or the Fountain of Youth, or other such historical oddities that found their way into history but were always ruled out as simple myths. Clair didn't buy into that. To her, all history was rooted in some form of fact. She had presented journals on topics ranging from vampires and werewolves, to witches and devil worshiping cults. Many of her peers laughed this off. They told her that she was young and that she was focused on fantasy. They scoffed at her facts, even when they were well crafted and rooted in solid historical evidence.
Dr. Redbay, a man she had admired for a long time, insisted that she move away from such concepts. He called them tabloid historicals, and insisted that they had no place in any respectable text book. To be told this, by a man that she had once valued so deeply as a mentor, almost derailed her from her mission.
However, Clair Nobles was not to be derailed. Her father could have told anyone to not waste their time trying to change her course. She would take a week, maybe two, and focus on teaching and lectures, but like clockwork, she would always find herself back chasing the next big discovery.
Her big discovery came in December of 2014. A journal had been discovered during an archaeological dig deep in Eastern Europe. Carbon dating on this journal placed it around the Triassic Age, which of course seemed absurd. The world's finest scholars dove into this discovery. Its age alone was staggering. This was from a time before dinosaurs walked. A time when the entire earth was one core landmass. All science demanded, screamed even, that no humans were walking the earth at that time. No life that could have created a journal and written in such a book.
For the next year this journal was all over the news worldwide. The best and brightest minds pondered and pored over this item. The age alone was still debated constantly. Carbon dating was performed by various government and private groups, and everyone came up with the same numbers. According to all modern dating techniques, this item predated the dinosaurs.
The bible thumpers came out in force on this one as well. Debates raged among clergy that this was a sign of the end times. Others demanded and debated that this was the one true bible that would unite all religions and bring about world peace.
Conspiracy theorists had their day in front of the world too of course. Aliens were largely accredited to this journal. Others believed it was written by humans who simply left earth to go on to other worlds. Mole people, reptile men, super advanced animals, extinct species... Everyone and everything came out of their respective dark corners to discuss the origins of this tome.
Clair Nobles would have none of it.
"It is clearly designed by humans. Look at the structuring of the book, the writing style- it's academic. This was written by early man." Clair was making this case to a board at Dartmouth.
Dartmouth College had finally agreed to join forces with other Ivy League colleges like Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Oxford and form what they hoped would be the perfect think tank. Dartmouth was the last to sign on, as they were hoping that they alone could figure it out. It had become something of a friendly rivalry among the top minds. However, after a year of intensive study with no progress, it was determined to form a committee. Each college would send a member to join the think tank.
Clair Nobles meant to be that one person.
"How can you be so certain of that?" a professor who once made a drunken pass at Clair asked from the back of the group.
"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, would you call it a duck or would you run out and get on CNN and say that aliens dropped it off?"
Clair's response caused a small chorus of subdued chuckles. The professor who asked the question blushed a bit and dropped his gaze to his notes.
"Dr. Nobles, you'll understand if we are a bit hesitant to elect you the spokeswoman for Dartmouth. You have spent the last three years attempting to find Atlantis, followed by an in depth review of possible locations for the Fountain of Youth. And do forgive me for asking, but didn't you request university funds for an extensive review of vampire lore in Mesopotamian history?"
This question came from none other than Dr. Redbay, Clair's former mentor. She knew that he only had the university's best interest in mind, but it still stung her deeply that he would hurl such a damaging question.
"Dr. Redbay, would you have been so smug towards Christopher Columbus? How about Magellan? Was Isaac Newton a fool? How about Einstein? All of those men challenged the norm, all of them dared to look deeper into science, into the world itself, into nature... into their own minds. Should they have stayed at home and just agreed with everyone else?"
"Send her!" he announced.
Clair was taken back for a moment. She expected him to be angered at her outburst, but it would seem that her old mentor still had her best interests in mind.
A week passed and there was a lot more discussion and debate about sending Clair Nobles. She was young, she had wild ideas and she bucked the system. Many of the older, stuffier heads insisted that she was a bad choice. However, Dr. Redbay had a lot of sway with a lot of people, and many of those older, stuffier heads knew that going against him was almost always a losing battle.
The decision came down that Clair Nobles would be sent to represent the think tank.
"Dr. Redbay... Brent, thank you." Clair was slightly teary as she accepted her assignment. She was normally a very composed woman, and even Redbay was moved at her reaction.
"Don't thank me, Clair, thank yourself. You are the best suited for the duty. You are young and brilliant. You will do the university proud," Redbay responded, still the mentor she remembered.
"I want to crack this book. Whatever secrets it holds, this could change the world as we know it."
"Indeed, Clair. Just watch yourself in the think tank. You are very likely to be the youngest there, and quite possibly the only woman. They will test you, they will ignore your words, especially with your reputation for chasing the, well, esoteric. However, remain strong, remain you! Bust their balls and show no remorse. It's the only way that dusty old bastards with far too many degrees on their walls can be made to listen. I should know, I am the dustiest bastard of them all."
Clair blushed and teared a bit more at this. Redbay was famous for being stern and apathetic; this was indeed a new side of him. Almost fatherly.
The Think Tank
A week later and Clair was settled into her temporary apartment in New York. She would be in Manhattan for the duration of the study. The think tank had been set up in a rented office space. All necessary research material and other useful tools had been delivered, and the think tank was given an entire floor to use at their disposal. The book, which had been labeled The Triassic Journal, had been very carefully transported across the ocean from the UK. A team of specialists was in and out of the think tank daily to perform upkeep on the book.
The think tank was much like Redbay described it. Harvard sent a man named Christopher Allens, a PhD with white hair and an arrogant streak wide enough to land a plane on. He actually thought Clair was a secretary when she walked in. He told her he took his coffee black. Clair cringed for a moment, and then remembered Redbay's advice.
"Well, I take mine with three sugars, so when you go and get yours, remember to sweeten mine up."
Her response caused Allens to fluster, but he didn't mistake her for the secretary a second time.
Oxford sent a historian named Walter Hart. He was a nice enough man, but he seemed as though his better years were about 40 years behind him.
Cornell was a bit more progressive, as they actually sent a woman. She was middle aged though and sneered at everyone. Her name was Janice Batiste. She was originally from Alabama, and still spoke with a heavy southern drawl.
This was the think tank. This was the best and brightest of the participating Ivy League schools. Clair felt a bit deflated.
Thinking to herself, "Okay, we've got a sexist, a man with one foot in the grave and a woman who probably still thinks that Delta Burke is the height of Hollywood stardom."
Days turned to weeks. Clair's life became almost robotic. She would wake up at 6 AM, jog, stop for coffee, return to her tiny apartment, shower and come to work. The think tank was making very slow progress, and almost all of their gatherings consisted of heated debates and sometimes flat-out name calling.
Allens was almost a collegiate archetype. Arrogant and aggressive. He was certain that the carbon dating was incorrect, that it was off by thousands of years. He refused to even open his mind partially to the idea that the book's origins could rest in a non-traditional direction.
Hart wasn't much better. He was kindly though, and Clair had developed a sort of grandfather bond with him. Unlike Allens, he at least would listen to other ideas. However, he too was unwilling to believe that the book's origins could be anything other than traditional. He admitted that it was a very old book indeed, but would never even breathe at the idea that it existed from the Triassic Age.
Batiste though, was the worst. She was a fundamental Christian, and although she swore that she was a scientist first, her beliefs continued to slip into the conversation.
Clair was hard pressed to slam Batiste's notions though. After all, she was the one known for conducting long research into Atlantis and other such ideas. Because of this, she continued to hold back. Her previous studies into the paranormal haunted her and caused her regret. Even though she had been selected to represent Dartmouth here, she hated herself for being so public with her earlier research. She kept picturing herself as a guppy in an ocean full of sharks. Even Janice Batiste, with her angel theories, had more credibility than she did. All because of her earlier studies into what the rest of the scientific community considered mythology.
The book itself was proving to be a mystery. Even though no one seemed willing to agree, or believe, that it was as old as carbon dating suggested, they did all agree that the book was remarkably well preserved.
It had been dug up about 250 feet underground. It wasn't stored in any sort of protective casing. No golden ark or jeweled tabernacle. It was simply found while a team of scientists was digging. The original purpose of the dig was all but forgotten, as the book had stolen the spotlight of the entire scientific community, as soon as its age was determined.
However, it seemed to be almost brand new. The leather bound casing was still sturdy; the pages, which should have rotted away to dust eons ago, were still stiff. This did nothing to help support the alleged Triassic age of the book, as it simply seemed so illogical that it should still be in one piece, let alone in mint condition.
The language was another mystery. Clair's think tank could do nothing to identify it, and apparently the world's best scholars on ancient languages were coming up equally baffled.
"Well, Dr. Nobles, perhaps it was written by the Atlantis fish people? How do you translate glub, glub, glub?" This particular comment came from none other than Dr. Allens, as their fourth week of study began.
"I'm not sure, Dr. Allen, why don't you stick your head underwater and find out?" Clair responded.
These types of exchanges were becoming more common between the tank members, as they had racked their brains for almost a month at this point and come up with nothing.
Finally though, on day 25 of the study, the break they had been waiting for finally arrived.
The Trisetta Stone
Teams of specialists had been tearing apart the area around the dig site where the book was found for months now. Governments from all over Eastern Europe partnered with the UK and the United States to try and find more evidence. While the rest of the world watched their sports, ate their fast food and went to movies, this book was the complete focus of the scientific world. It was like finding the Holy Grail, and no one wanted to sleep until the mystery was solved.
The break came when a team in England of all places dug up a set of texts. Had the Triassic Journal never been discovered, these texts would have probably found themselves tucked away as a minor piece of world history in a museum somewhere.
However, by now every PhD worth their salt had pictures of the Triassic Journal, with special focus on the lettering and text. Anything that could serve as a Rosetta stone of sorts was being sought after. As it turned out, these texts seemed to perhaps be just that.
They presented even greater mystery, as their age didn't require any carbon dating to estimate. They were dated, and written in 19th century English. They were dated 1829, no specific month or day given. They were found buried near Whitehall Place in England, during a simple repair job on a street that had been deemed historically protected. In order to work on the street, special precautions and standards had to be maintained. It just so happened that a member of the London Historical Society was in the area, and had taken an interest in the street repairs. He, like everyone else, was following the Triassic Journal story with great concentration. So when the texts were found and observed, he knew right away what he was looking at.
The world had found their Rosetta stone.
Six months passed, as every page of the Triassic Journal was combed through, word by word. The text, which had become known as the Trisetta stone, was studied alongside the journal. Its origins were as big a mystery as the journal, regardless of the fact that it was written in English and clearly not an ancient book. It appeared to be a personal diary of sorts, as it had no publisher stamp.
That night, Clair received a strange phone call at her apartment.
“Is this Dr. Nobles?”
The voice on the other side of the phone call was male. He spoke in muted tones.
“Yes it is,” she answered.
“You are on the cusp of a discovery. Turn back now, for what lies beyond is far out of your scope. To know these secrets is to open yourself up to great powers and ancient knowledge. You are not ready.”
“Who is this?” she asked.
“I am not important. What is important here is that you stop now. Go home. You have been warned.”
“Now you listen, whoever this is. Do not call me here and try and scare me away and then not even have the manhood to introduce yourself!” Clair replied with agitation in her voice.
“You have been warned,” the voice repeated, and the phone call ended.
Clair speculated for a while that night as to who may have been responsible for such an unnerving, menacing little chat. However, with the discovery of the Trisetta Stone and the excitement ahead, she soon forgot all about it.
With the Trisetta Stone, the think tank was making real progress. And with that real progress came a new mood within the group. They were happy, excited and focused. Dr. Allens became a different man altogether. He was warmer, and much more eager to assist.
“Your coffee, three sugars,” Allens announced to Clair one morning. He had remembered his earlier rudeness and resolved the situation with an uncharacteristic dose of levity.
Walter Hart, the senior of the group, had also taken on a much more joyous nature. He acted more like a grandfather than a scientist. He would come in smiling, even pulled a coin out from behind Clair’s ear one day, a trick that most grandfathers are famous for pulling on their grandkids. One night, when the think tank enjoyed a rare meal together off the clock, he even brought his accordion, and played a soft, Sicilian tune which ended with the entire restaurant cheering for him.
Janice Batiste had backed off of her subtle religious undertones and had resumed her position as a powerful thinker.
The entire group was running on high gear. Page after page was translated, until finally, they looked up and realized they were done.
“There is still so much more to study, like who wrote the Trisetta Stone, and how they were able to translate this language that predates all known history,” Dr. Allens stated as they filed their notes and prepared to close out the day.
“Indeed, Allens,” replied Hart. “However, that is a job for another day. We have cracked the Triassic Journal. The world is ready to know what we’ve found here.”
“But… What exactly did we find?” asked Batiste.
Clair stood. “I believe this is a story, or a recounting of sorts, told by a man who wanted this information to survive the test of time. It is, strange, that is true. It could all be a folk story from his… Well, tribe. It could be an early religious book, or even an attempt at a work of fiction. Either way, it is time to tell the world what we found. Whoever wrote this, they went to incredible lengths to preserve this journal. The very fact that it survived in the ground for so long… It’s a testament to this information. This story must be told.”
This was met with light clapping from the other three tank members. Not sarcastic though, but real appreciation for her thoughts.
“You should be the one to present the findings at the conference then,” Hart announced.
Allens and Batiste both agreed.
“Me? Well, I am flattered, are you sure?” Clair was blushing again, and was afraid that she was showing her youth.
“Yes, you,” answered Allens. “You think people want to hear two old men babble on?”
“Thank you, thank you all. It will be my honor.”
The conference was scheduled to happen in three days. Major news outlets were covering the think tank’s announcement of what the Triassic Journal contained. The scientific community was sitting on pins and needles.
Clair never did tell her colleagues about the strange phone call. Things were simply too exciting to worry over such small and childish notions. The night before the conference though, strange events took place.
Clair was awoken in the dead of night when she felt a weight on the end of her bed. A light sleeper already, it took very little to wake her up. She opened her eyes and could see almost nothing. The light from the streets glowed in her windows, but the blinds were closed, so beyond that it was still dark. She reached over to turn on her lamp, but the switch only clicked as she rolled it in her fingers. There was no light.
She reached over for her cell phone, hoping to use it as a light source, but when she pushed the small button on the side of the phone, nothing happened. Had she let the battery die? Not likely, as she always pluged it in before bed.
Getting nervous now, she slowly stood and reached for the light switch on the wall. There was a click as she flicked the switch, but no light came on.
“Great… Power’s out,” she grumbled to herself.
Then she saw her electric clock on the night stand. It was glowing, announcing that it was well after midnight and time for all good historians to be asleep.
Then she heard the breathing. Someone was in the small bedroom with her, hiding in the shadows. They had been in here all this time, watching as she tried different ways to turn on the lights. She was gripped in terror.
Swinging her head towards the source of the breathing, she saw a black outline standing near the glow of the window. It was tall, broad shouldered. The outline of the body was clearly masculine, but from the neck up, the terror unfolded.
The head… She swore it had horns. The profile of the face, in the darkness, seemed to have a muzzle. A mask, had to be. Clair prepared to scream, hoping her neighbors would hear through the paper thin walls.
The intruder brought a finger up to its lips, or at least where its lips should be, and made a mock shushing gesture. Clair was frozen in fear.
“Who… Who are you, what do you want!” Her question came out as more of a whimper.
It tilted its head to the side, mockingly though. Then it began to advance towards her. Clair backed up and was met by her bedroom door, which was closed. The damn door opened in. Clair found herself barricading her only means of escape.
The intruder was upon her. This close, she could make out its features. It was a man, but the head was a goat. It had to be a mask, but it didn’t appear to be a simple rubber Halloween mask. It looked like someone had taken a real goat’s head and stuffed it on their shoulders.
Clair inhaled and prepared to scream. The man placed his hand firmly over Clair’s mouth and pushed into her, pinning her to the door.
“Hail Tobit… Hail Delphia,” it whispered, moving closer still, pushing the muzzle of the goat head into the side of her face.
For a moment that seemed like an eternity, Clair’s mind was flooded with images. She saw children eating each other alive. She saw corpses twitching. She heard horrible music, organ music, but played at higher notes at a fast tempo. She saw a city in a frozen tundra.
Clair collapsed. She squeezed her eyes shut as hard as she could, hoping that whatever this man, this creature, wanted, it would be over quickly.
After what felt like an eternity, she slowly opened her eyes. The man was no longer standing in front of her. She scrambled to her feet and took quick, terrified glances around the dark room. No sign of him.
She fled the apartment.
The police came back with her several hours later. A complete search of the apartment was conducted. The mystery of the blackout was solved. It seemed that whoever entered her home had taken the time to unscrew all of the lightbulbs, and had also taken the battery out of her phone. Clair cringed at the idea that while she slept peacefully, this ghoulish man was going about her home removing bulbs and such. A police report was taken down, and Clair asked the officers to remain in her home while she packed a small bag. She would spend the rest of the night at the office where the think tank worked. Security officers were on duty there around the clock to protect the artifacts.
Clair decided to tell the rest of the think tank about her encounter.
“There are people that are against the information being released,” Allens told her. “It could be any number of parties involved. There is a lot of money that is going to be produced from this; it is only natural that there are those that would wish to manipulate the process for their own gain.”
“But what about the images? When that… man put his face to me, I saw terrible things, cannibalism, dead bodies… It was awful,” Clair replied.
“You said that he mentioned Tobit and Delphia… Right?” asked Hart.
“There is a Book of Tobit in the Bible, perhaps a reference to that?” Batiste chimed in.
“I don’t know. But what I do know is that I will not let this scare me away from the project. We have come this far, and I will not stop now. We have worked for too long on this for me to be scared away by some freak in a mask,” Clair added.
Janice Batiste invited Clair to move into her apartment for the remainder of their time in New York. Claire accepted. She hated to be a burden on someone, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to feel safe in that apartment again.
The conference was scheduled for the next day. As everyone was preparing the finishing touches and on their presentation, Walter Hart pulled Clair to the side.
“I saw it too,” he stated firmly.
“You mean… The man in the mask…” Clair replied.
“Yes, but I saw it in my dreams. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the others. Knowing Allens he would say that I have the onset of dementia, and Batiste would probably start thinking this was a sign from God. But you don’t make it to my age by ignoring the obvious. Had you been the only one to have this vision, I would have likely brushed it off as your nerves being bad, or just a vivid nightmare. But I too dreamed of the goat-man, as I call him. He mentioned Tobit and Delphia. I saw a city, a frozen place. I saw a church, with a sign reading Bannister out front. If I am correct, that is Antarctica.”
“How do you know this?” Clair inquired.
“A simple database search was all it took really. The church is there, about three kilometers from one of the Dakota science stations. I have contacted an old colleague of mine who has connections in those circles. I want to know if they have ever heard of this Delphia, or Tobit for that matter. Since we shared this nightmare, I will let you know if I hear anything back.”
“Thank you, Walter, thank you for believing me, and sharing your encounter. If this is connected, do you really think it could be a conspiracy, like Allens suggested?”
“My dear, what I believe, is that we have a monumental announcement to make tomorrow, and that any further focus on this matter will only muck up our abilities to give the scientific community what they have paid us so generously to construct. Should I hear back any news from Dakota, I promise you will be the first to know,” Hart said with a smile.
The conference was attended by hundreds of scientists and historians. Major news networks were present and on site. Clair, along with Hart, Allens and Batiste, were treated like celebrities. Clair stood and approached the podium, amazed at the hush that fell over the crowd. She looked down at her notes and felt her hands begin to sweat. Public speaking was never her favorite activity. Looking out into the crowd, she spotted Dr. Redbay along with some of her closest friends from Dartmouth. She looked down at the young man who would be changing slides on the presentation, and gave him a brief nod. He began the slides.
“Ladies and gentlemen, prestigious members of the scientific and historical community, and of course our honored members of the press. I am Dr. Clair Nobles of Dartmouth College. I, along with Dr. Walter Hart from Oxford, Dr. Christopher Allens from Harvard and Dr. Janice Batiste of Cornell University, have spent these last months working around the clock to crack the mystery that is the Triassic Journal. Many members of our community find it impossible to believe that any manmade object could be so old. We have tested and retested with every form of carbon dating at our disposal, and I am here to assure you that, as far as modern testing methods go, this item does indeed predate the dinosaur.”
The man clicked the next slide, which featured a large photograph of the Triassic Journal.
“However, this is old news, as I am sure you have heard countless times. What we are here to announce to you today, is that we have completed translations, and today, I will reveal to you all the contents. While what I have to tell you today is not going to prove aliens existed, or that there is life on the moon, it does tell a very interesting story, one that I think will shed much light on early human existence.”
The next slide clicked.
“Please follow along with me, either on your personal copy, or with the slide, as I tell you the story contained within the oldest work of literature ever uncovered.”
Clair took a deep breath, adjusted her notes one last time, and began.
Epor and the Primes
The Journal of Epor
Day of Sau 1
Entry of Epor
I am Epor, 2nd researcher to Master Tornod. I have been asked to maintain this journal to keep account of the study into what has been called, “The Bleeding Sky.” This event occurred on the date of Mins 43. What appeared to be a falling star.
We observed the falling star and made appropriate record, as it could be an indicator of weather change. The Master Harvester made a request to Tornod to monitor any changes, as it could affect his crop yield. Unique factors of this event were the audible descent of the star itself. A high whistling, described by some as akin to a scream, was reported by those who were outside during the event.
More interesting, though, is that the star left a red streak which has yet to vanish from the sky since Mins 43. The streak measures the complete visible range from above, and dissipates above the mountains. Thus, it has been called “The Bleeding Sky” as it appears as a blood streak across the very heavens above us.
Tornod wishes to observe it closer. However, based on the trajectory of the streak, it would appear that whatever may have fallen has landed in the area inhabited by those of us who are still primal, the cave dwellers if you will. Our people call them “primes” as they have yet to evolve into speaking or using complex tools. Some of our people fear them, for they are prone to savage tendencies. However, Tornod is confident that the peaceful accord that we have shared with them will hold up.
Day of Sau 3
The streak in the sky is still present, and is beginning to cause unease within our communities. The people are asking Tornod to investigate. The Master Legilat has granted us a defensive party to accompany us to try and speak with the primes. We cannot simply lead a group into their land without fear of reprisal. We shall go, bear them a gift of meat and fruit, and hope that their elders will grant us passage to study the streak.
Day of Sau 7
We were unsuccessful in peaceful accords. Upon arrival to their mountain crossing, we were met by a group of primes carrying crude weapons. They stomped the ground and grunted their aggression towards us. We attempted to hand over the meat and fruit tribute, but they ignored it. This was very strange, as they are a simple folk that have never been known to turn away food.
Another strange observation about the primes. They had drawn an image on their chests. It all seemed to match. We have never seen them use any form of identification that way. Even their elders wear no identifying badges or jewelry. Communicating with them is impossible, so we found it best to simply leave before they became further agitated.
Tornod fears that the Legilat will be very displeased.
Day of Sau 10
The streak remains. Our people are becoming more afraid. There have been strange occurrences over the last two nights as well. Odd noises come from outside of the city walls. Guttural, angry sounds. Followed by screams of pain. The Legilat has commissioned a defensive party to patrol around the city at night.
Speaking of the Legilat, he was indeed displeased by Tornod’s failure to gain entry into the prime’s land to study the streak. He intends to send one of his defense advisors, 1st Militant Hess, along with a defensive party to try and speak with the primes. Tornod has requested that I join this group and take note of the encounter.
I am becoming scared too.
Day of Nin 2
I was afraid that I would not live to make this entry. Hess’s group arrived at the mountain crossing and was met with much more opposition than before. The primes… they have become much more violent. Two of Hess’s men were killed. The primes, they set a trap, as though they knew we were coming. They were using much more refined tools. One appeared to be a sharpened piece of metal. I have never seen anything like this before. Hess discharged his lightning orb into the ground, and the primes barely reacted. They were not afraid of us, or our tools, as they have displayed in the past.
Hess ordered a retreat. The primes were still painting imagery on their bodies. I took a greater study of the image. It appeared to be a man’s body with the head of some animal. We have never seen this animal before. Is this a new species? So many questions.
Day of Nin 4
We convened with the Master Legilat today. Hess’s report has caused much of a stir. The noises outside of the city walls continue. The Legilat is considering sending a large force to simply attack the primes. Hess has requested that we conduct a scouting mission first, before marching men blindly into the prime’s territory. The Legilat has agreed, and called upon Master Surveyor Plac to lead the men. Plac knows the countryside better than anyone else, and assures us that he can lead a small force into the prime’s canyon and observe them.
Once again, I have been asked to go and record. Tornod has elevated me to 1st Researcher in lieu of this duty. It is a necessary step in progression if I ever wish to replace Tornod when he retires. I am scared, but I shall do my duty.
Day of Nin 9
Horror. The primes have changed. We spent several days in the mountains observing them. Plac was able to move us into their territory with no problems. What we saw, though, will haunt me for the rest of my life.
The primes have, they have evolved. They are still primal, of course. But they appear organized. They were gathered around a statue of sorts, and appeared to be worshipping it. We have never seen the primes practice any sort of superstition.
We also believe that we found the point of impact for the falling star. As it seems, it landed within the territory of the primes. There was a large crater, and based on trajectory, it matches to the streak in the sky. The star fall coincides to the change in the prime’s behavior. We would be fools to ignore that. Why or how it changed them though is still a mystery.
We watched them go about their day, and the changes are dramatic. Almost all of them are armed with those sharpened metal weapons. They are all painting that image on their chests as well, men, women and children alike. Several times a day they all stop their activities and gather around the statue. The statue matches the image on their chest, a man with some sort of animal head. They organize themselves in rows, ten by ten. They did this, and would chant, some sort of refrain over and over again. It almost sounded as though they were attempting to sing.
On the last day, we called a full retreat, as their ritual took on a new component. They gathered as normal, but this time, one of their elders took a position in front of their formation. I could have sworn he was speaking words, or at least, what passes for words in the language of primes. We were speculating that perhaps they elected their first priest figure.
Then things changed. The “priest” gestured his hand over a select portion of the assembly. He grunted some more, and then gave, well, gave what I can only assume was a word of command. The entire congregation of primes descended upon this one select group. The group did not fight back. They simply stood still, as they were eaten alive.
The sounds were terrible. Their guttural screams, the ripping of flesh, breaking of bones. We could hear the very chewing of human organs. Plac held brave though, until the “priest” stopped, and turned his head directly towards our group.
We had to be at least two pitches away from them, safely hidden in the brush. But he saw us. He stared directly at us for several moments, before screaming to his crowd. They stopped and fell silent, allowing the corpses of their meal to drop into the dirt.
The priest uttered more words, and suddenly the eyes of every prime were upon our group. They began to… chant. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was an almost… melodic sound, rising not out of their mouths, but seeming to come deep within their throats. They simply stood there, releasing this unnerving sound towards us.
Plac ordered the retreat at this point. The scouting party backed out slowly, until we were out of sight from the primes. Then we ran.
The entire way back, we could hear that awful noise. Buzzing, like that of an insect. They didn’t appear to be pursuing us though. We all made it back to the city alive.
Day of Birr 1
The Legilat’s defensive patrol was found slaughtered outside of the city. A council was held. The Masters from each service faction have gathered. It was decided promptly that the primes must be dealt with in force. A brigade of defenders will march into their canyon on Birr 3 and eliminate the primes.
Let it be known that I oppose this idea. Whatever has happened to them, they are now a threat. They outnumber us, and we have nowhere to retreat. To the south is the frozen tundra, a place where no life can exist. Water borders us to the east and west, and the north, that is the territory we move to invade, the primes.
Should this operation fail, so too fails our city.
Day of Birr 3
The brigade marched today. Armed with their orbs of power, they are confident that even with the simple sharpened metallic weapons that the primes have designed, that our sheer might and intellect will win us the day.
Day of Birr 5
The brigade has yet to return. People are growing terrified. Plac has proposed another scouting party.
Day of Birr 7
Dead. The entire brigade. Plac took his own group out and situated in the mountains. All of our men, all of the defenders that we sent, all dead. According to Plac, they appeared to have been eaten. The primes though, there was no sign of them; their canyon was empty. Their statue though, it was gone.
Day of Birr 11
I fear I may be the last survivor of my people. The city was attacked. The primes raided with a fierce energy I never dreamed possible. We heard them coming. They were making that, that noise with their throats. We had no defenses. The militants that remained were few, nothing more than a skeleton crew, as almost all of our fighting men were sent out in the previous campaign.
I hid. I know that I am a coward. I heard women and children screaming, men begging for mercy. The primes demonstrated no mercy. To my knowledge, no one from the city escaped. Our walls became our own prison. The primes attacked from all sides, in constant waves. There was nothing that I could do.
As they were attacking, they began to chant what could almost be a word. They would scream something that sounded like “high rock two bit” over and over again. The attack lasted for over a day. When it was over, they lit fire to the city. I had to escape at that point, even though I was terrified of being seen.
I ran about a pitch from the city, going south towards the frozen tundra. I found shelter there and completed this journal entry. I am infusing this journal with an orb of sustainment, in hopes that others may one day find this, so that my civilization will not be forgotten.
Day of ???
The streak in the sky is gone. Not that it matters now. There are no people left to fear it or study it. The city burned to ashes. The flames, they were unnatural. I have no idea what the primes used to set them, but they burned a new color, a horrible color that I have never seen before. It took half a day, and our entire city was reduced to a scorch on the ground.
I saw the primes, all of them. They were marching south. At first I almost thought they were all coming for me, all of them. They continued walking though, about half a pitch from where I was hiding. I saw their statue, being held on some sort of platform. They were marching into the frozen tundra. They really are insane. Nothing can live down there, it’s a frozen wasteland.
I remained hidden until they were well past me. I have nowhere to go though. There is nothing left of our civilization. It has been erased. I will bury this journal, and hope that the sustainment treatment remains.
I miss Master Tornod, I miss my friends. Some of our older citizens used to tell legends that there is a mystical place that humans go to live after they pass away. Just a silly fairytale really, but where else do I have to go, what else do I have to lose.
Clair gestured for the lights to be turned back on.
“Thank you all for attending. There will be group discussions as well as questions and answers at 3 PM.”
There was clapping from most of those in attendance. Others simply stared, as though they had just wasted a day.
“They think we’re crazy,” Clair groaned after the Q&A session concluded. “Can you believe the nerve of that one woman, demanding that we refund the Universities for wasting so much time and money?”
“I can, and I do,” added Allens. “I have been a scientist and researcher for over three decades now. People are afraid of what this discovery may mean. That life, human life, existed before dinosaurs ever walked the earth.”
“If you believe the story in that journal, life existed and was then wiped out by some sort of cult. I would say that this is nonsense, that the carbon dating is just wrong, but, so many studies. Even if the carbon dating was off by thousands of years, which it likely could be, that would still make it far older than even the earliest evidence of humans, hell, primates in general,” Walter Hart stated. “This is turning the entire scientific community on their heads right now. Even if the story of Epor in that journal is just that, some sort of story, that would mean that intelligent life forms were creating works of fiction in a time when the earth was supposed to be in its most primal state.”
Janice Batiste entered with champagne and glasses. “Doctors, what this means is that our job is over. We can all go home now. The world has their answers about that book. Let someone else figure out how old it really is, or how true the stories contained within it are. We are done. Let’s celebrate tonight, and get the hell back to our families tomorrow!”
They all enjoyed a few toasts, spent a while rehashing the good times of the think tank. A few days passed, the artifacts were collected and sent off to some other corner of the world to be studied further. There was no doubt that new think tanks would be formed, and more eggheads with degrees would sit around in similar rented offices and debate and discuss the mystery of the Triassic artifacts, both the journal and the translation text.
So the tank went their separate ways. Clair returned to Dartmouth to the cheers and adoration of her colleagues, staff and students. Life was almost returning to normal, and that is when the dreams began.
Clair dreamt of the frozen tundra. In the dreams she was always being chased, by a man with a goat head. She would run, tripping and trudging through the thick snow, until a group of savages would appear before her. The primes. They would run her down, drag her into a city. She knew it was Delphia, and there, she would meet Tobit.
She would awaken in a cold sweat, sometimes screaming into the darkness. The nightmares became more frequent. She was considering seeing a psychiatrist. Just as how life has always behaved though, the worst was yet to come.
She received a call one morning from Dr. Allens. She was honestly surprised to hear from him. The news turned out to be very bad. Walter Hart had died of a heart attack.
Clair attended the funeral along with the other members of the think tank. They didn’t speak about the journal though, or really about research at all. They spoke a bit about their time working together. Clair gave a lovely speech about how close she became to Hart, how he was like a kindly grandfather to her.
Other people made little speeches, and at the end, Hart was placed into the earth. Once again preparing to say goodbyes to Allens and Batiste, Clair was approached by one of Hart’s executors.
“Are you Clair Nobles?” asked a man in a suit.
“Yes, are you a family member of Walter?”
“No, ma’am, I am simply trying to sort out his many belongings. This was found in his study; it appears to be addressed to you. It seems that he meant to mail this to you and never got around to it. Either way, it’s yours now.”
Clair thanked the man and moved to sit down. She was joined by Allens and Batiste.
“You don’t mind if we nose into your business now, do you?” asked Batiste.
“No, it’s fine. I honestly can’t imagine what Hart would have sent me anyway,” Clair answered.
What she removed were a few sheets of paper. One of them appeared to be a personal letter written by Hart; the other was more official looking. The letterhead was marked "Dakota Science Station, Antarctica".
She read it out loud.
Dr. Walter Hart,
It is a pleasure to hear from a friend of our own Dr. Fisher. It is also quite refreshing to have a researcher of your status reach out to such an isolated little outpost such as ours. Dr. Fisher mentioned to me that you were curious about our section of Antarctica, Bannister Church in particular.
Well, I can assure you that there is indeed a Bannister Church. It was constructed by earlier explorers and left here as a landmark. I also understand that you were curious about a city called Delphia, and an individual known as Tobit.
It is very strange that you ask this. Normally I would tell you that there are no cities in Antarctica, because, well, there aren’t. However, this place, Delphia, has come up before. Sometime ago we rescued an American here. Somehow his yacht had become moored on our shores, and he was found wandering near the coast, calling for help on a radio.
When he woke up, he was carrying on something fierce about a city that he called Delphia. He swore that it was located just beyond Bannister Church. We kept him here for a week or two until he was healthy enough to travel. During his time here, he spoke with our resident psychiatrist. He told a story about wandering into the city of Delphia, and mentioned a cannibalistic ritual carried out there in the name of Tobit. He called this cult entity “Hirock” (sp) Tobit.
We did investigate, more out of curiosity than concern. I can promise you that there is nothing beyond Bannister Church but snow and ice.
Dr. Adrian Unus
The letter from Hart was far more disturbing. Clair read this one out loud as well.
I spoke with Dr. Fisher, who reached out to his friends in Antarctica. Seems there was a boy they found wandering the coastline there. Almost died from exposure. He saw Delphia, just like I have in my dreams. Just as I suspect you do as well, because my nightmares haven’t ceased since we concluded the study. In fact, they have accelerated. I fear for us both.
It took some digging, but I was able to find out the boy’s identity that was rescued at the Dakota.
Derrick Reynolds. He gave his home or record as being New Orleans, LA. Clair, if your nightmares continue, you may wish to reach out to him. We are not alone in this.
“So, it wasn’t just me,” Batiste spoke.
“No, I saw that place too, I just, I just couldn’t admit it out loud,” Allens added.
“My God… you mean, both of you were experiencing the nightmares as well?” asked Clair.
“Not just a nightmare, I think I’ve seen that goat-headed man,” Allens spoke. “Weird places, I’ll just be driving along, or stuck in traffic, and I’ll look to my right or left, and sometimes see him. Always staring at me. He may be on the side of the road, or he may even be in the backseat of a nearby passing car. He looks at me, with those dead eyes, and I feel like I am going mad.”
“I have found snow in my home. Sometimes in my sink, sometimes in my bed. The moment I see it, I know where it came from. That city,” Batiste spoke, almost breaking into tears.
“I am going to try and reach out to this Derrick Reynolds,” Clair said. “If he knows something that can help with this in any way, we have to know.”
Allens and Batiste both nodded, and the think tank once again set out to solve a mystery.
Written by K. Banning Kellum
Published February 3rd, 2015