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From the journal of Matio Fodregas:

V 922 Col. 9

Wondrous and frustrating news today! Early in the morning, after a short trek from the Grequin village into the depths of the Coria Forest, the expedition arrived at the ruin.   The building was a large stone beehive-shape, with several low concentric walls and a line of what I assumed were stone archways. The ages had not been kind to the building: most of the stone walls were fallen, and vines and trees grew from the side of the structure. The locals believed it to be some kind of temple, but we quickly assuaged them of that idea. The ancient Grequins did not build temples, as theirs were the paltry gods of the nomad.   Our guides from the village helped us set up camp just outside, and the pair of adventurers attached to our group went in to scout immediately thereafter. I laid out my books, containing all the accumulated knowledge of the Grequin language. Regionalisms, dialects, and irregular grammars were detailed on every page; I wasn't sure what I would find inside. If this was indeed a Grequin temple, I argued, then I would be able to read the writing on the walls with ease.   After a few moments, the pair of adventurers returned from inside the caves and went straight towards me. Veraslkar took no time describing to me what was inside: several layered carvings on the walls around the main central staircase, completely illegible. Barsklai wondered aloud if the ancient Grequins wanted to keep us out or invite us in. Incredulous, I promised I would find out.   So they brought me inside the chamber, where they had lit torches to fill all the sconces on the walls. It bathed the entire room in a bright orange light. It was a round stone chamber with only two exits; the stairway above and the open archway we had entered from. A thick layer of dust covered every surface, and cobwebs in the corners made me worry about the presence of giant spiders. Small holes in the shoddy construction of the walls allowed a little additional light to come in from outside.   It didn't take me long to see what Veraslkar and Barsklai had described on the temple walls: completely indecipherable script. Small chiseled divots in the stone bricks of the wall were painted with dark grey-green paint, forming symbols. It reminded me vaguely of the script of my native Grequin tongue, but many letters were missing and others nearly unrecognizable. I copied down the symbols I saw into my journal here so I could work on it later:  
  The elves' comments about the ancient Grequins seemed to have some merit. I will spend the next few days comparing it to my texts. If this is indeed an older version of Grequin, this would be a remarkable discovery; it is widely believed that the ancient Grequins wrote nothing down. Or built temples, for that matter. This might revolutionize the way we talk about the past of our country.   If only I could read it! Alas, we did not expect to find any written records at all, and none of our expedition even know the rudimentary spells of translation. That means the only way we will be able to read this text in a timely manner would be through my attentive study.   I write this now after having spent the entire day trying to find any similarities between it and modern Grequin. While some of the letters are the same or only modified slightly, the cracked nature of the temple wall marrs some of the text. I have even moved my camp towards the temple walls, against the recommendation of the elves, so that I could have easy access to the script if I required it.   May the Powers watch over us. We will need their aid to solve this conundrum.  

V 922 Col. 11

Still no luck in deciphering the text. This seems to be a much more elaborate and complex version of the modern Grequin language. The temple is old enough to date from the ancient Grequins, so the text is likely what I have called "Old Grequin", the language that the Grequins spoke once they woke from the Great Sleep and began to walk Renath.   The most annoying part of the text: the vowels seem to have upped and left the text, leaving no traces behind. Since they will likely be incredibly essential to understanding the text, much like my own grandchild-tongue, I am at a loss. While some basic words like "we" and "you" are easy to identify, many of them are less clear.   Perhaps they did not write their vowels at all! Then all would be lost! What a travesty it would be if their instructions could not be heeded because of a lack of communication...  

V 922 Col. 12

I was a fool. A complete and utter fool. How could I have not seen it until now?   I decided to search the main chamber of the temple again for any kind of clue to the text. I thought of it as a foolish errand, but maybe I could find some solace in wandering a different place while cracking this code.   I was brushing my hand against the wall when I felt something near the top of the letters. The thick dust that was on everything here gave way, clearing a small indent in the stone. I glanced at it and saw a glimpse of dark green paint. That's when I took a small dry ink brush from my bag and began to brush away the dust.   I revealed a small symbol, much smaller than the rest of the carving below it. It reminded me of the symbol for óni. Within moments, I was frantically brushing at the tops of the symbols, gradually revealing a much more complete set of consonants and vowels:  
  This is the discovery of the century! I have spent much of the day trying to decipher the text, as many of the vowels have shifted in the ages since and many are completely unknown to me. Much is guesswork, but I have many simple words like "star" translated. It appears to be a prayer of some kind; I will finish the work tomorrow to be certain.  

V 922 Col. 13

I have finally translated the text, which follows:  
  O stars above, hear us. To walk in this world is to walk with one's head turned to the stars. We crave your everlasting light to guide our steps. Our world is full of beauty illuminated by you. Nothing we could say would be sufficient for the eternity and the infinity of you. So take our prayers, and shine forevermore.   I cannot fully articulate the beauty of this. I expected warnings, omens, some kind of primal anger that we have always attached to our ancestors. The elven texts always talked of the old Grequins as barbarians, endlessly wandering the plains in search of settlements to raid or trees to chop down. Perhaps I expected it to be similar.   They knew beauty through the heavens! They had written language, not too far diverged from our own! And they knew that they were not alone in the universe, that the stars placed by the Powers were a sign that they were protected! And by every last star above, they were kind!   I have spent all day distributing the translation to the other members of our expedition who could read, and my tear-soaked face was not the only one. I could have sworn I heard the stoic Veraslkar sniffle, although he denied it heavily.   O my ancestors, your words were not forgotten, and your prayers are heard now, ages later...  

V 922 Col. 13

Such a discovery! I am writing this the following morning, for I needed to check with the elves to see if they, too, witnessed the strange events of last night.   I was woken in the night by a strange grinding sound. I startled out of my slumber and got to my feet. I saw something shifting in the light of the moon, then realized it was the ground. A great trench was developing in the ground, as if some invisible blade were slicing it in two.   The moon lined up with the trench, causing it to fill with bright light as the moonlight reflected off of the white stones on the trench's sides. However, my tent and books were located by the side of it, and it was widening dangerously close to me. I instantly grabbed this journal, what few writing supplies I could snatch, and leapt to safety as the trench reached the entrance to the temple.   I dusted myself off, and carefully laid all of my writing utensils and books to the side. Perhaps against the better judgement of many an adventurer, I approached the entrance to the temple.   Looking inside, there was a variety of small lights shining in from infinitesimally small holes in the temple walls. It caused the stairs and cobblestone floor to light up, lighting up small stones. The trench of moonlight turned into a small beam that lit the way directly to the staircase. There was now a small trapdoor, impossible to see otherwise, that had been lit up by the beam.   There weren't wrongly placed stones or shoddy construction here; it was all planned! The ancient Grequins knew the phases of the moon and the stars, and they created this small secret using the light of the moon and stars! I could imagine a group of young Grequins, dressed in traditional garb singing in the moonlight. À mïthasas bïthomë...   Cleverer than we ever gave them credit for! I'm unfortunately sure that nothing of this pure magnificence will ever be seen again...

Matio Fodregas went on to publish some of his journals from this expedition and wrote a book on the subject of the Old Grequin language.   While no gold or jewels were found in the temple's depths, the expedition carried with them the lessons of the Temple:   To walk in this world is to walk with one's head turned to the stars.


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Jan 23, 2020 06:26

I really like the handwritten portions. They give your story a nice flair. Also love the style and voice. Your protagonist feels very real.