Transcript – Inheritance
[The Pensive Tower theme plays]
Scroll & Dagger presents
The Pensive Tower
Episode One: Inheritance
[A click, and the strange whirring of the venoscribe begins]
Right, that seems to be working. Well, I suppose I should start at the beginning. My name is Paxton Ferox and, until recently, I worked as an Under-Librarian here at the Pensive Tower. The Tower was established around five hundred years ago to serve as a repository for the people of the Five Seas Federation, where they could donate the memories and experiences they felt needed to be remembered.
This was done with the goal of ensuring that the event remembered today only as The Great Collapse, which occurred nearly two thousand years ago, an event which led to the loss of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world, could not happen again.
I said until recently because the High Librarian, Adeptus Edubbarus, has promoted me to the newly created position of Inscriber and has transferred me, along with several others, to the new Mnimigraphy Department.
I have worked as an Under-Librarian for nearly a decade now, ever since my graduation, and have in that time worked in most sections of the Tower Library in one capacity or another. Most of what we receive is valuable to no one but the owner, treasured memories that they wish to preserve against age or infirmity, but sometimes we do get the odd recollection which is flagged as noteworthy and given special attention by the Librarians. Such memories are in the minority, but it is these entries that Master Edubbarus is particularly interested in transferring from the hard paper of the record books onto these new mnimigraphs.
I, for one, am not keen on the idea. The old record books serve just fine with a little tender attention and care. But the High Librarian insisted that those recollections deemed noteworthy will be inscribed onto these ridiculous spinning pyramids.
I would complain, but the High Librarian is drakarian and is, therefore, twice my size with the ability to quite literally breathe the flesh off my bones so we shall persevere.
Now, the Pensive Tower has been active for around five centuries, so even though there are comparatively few of these noteworthy cases, that still leaves thousands of memories spread across the entirety of the Library that will need to be inscribed. I suppose when the job is finished it will free up a lot of much needed space but it is going to be a massive undertaking.
Only today I have been brought several books, each containing hundreds of memories that span decades of history. Fortunately, it is a point of pride for the Librarians that we have kept the Tower well organised and the memories selected for inscribing have been highlighted so at least I won’t have to scour the Library myself. That being said, I understand the Librarians are sending books to our department as soon as they find the noteworthy memories, so there may be some irregularity in terms of the memory dates
I have, I’m glad to say, been given the help of an assistant. A diman girl by the name of Szelia. She’ll be helping me with the various day-to-day tasks that go with this project, though she seems more interested in keeping the office tidy than anything else.
The process for this inscribing will involve me reading the written memories aloud, along with any supplemental correspondences or follow up that might be attached to the memories, the Venoscribe device will then capture and inlay my words into the mnimigraph. These recordings may then be played back at will using the mnimiphone. This will apparently be a great help to those who visit the Tower to relive the memories they or their loved ones have donated.
Because the Chained Goddess forbid that they partake in the arduous task of reading.
[Paxton sighs, and speaks at a normal volume]
I am aware this has turned into a bit of a tirade. I should maybe discard this mnimigraph and start again but the damned things are so prized by everyone around here that doing so would get more than the High Librarian breathing down my neck. I probably still have space for one of the shorter ones. Let me see here.
[He rustles some paper]
Ah…yes, here we are. The memory of Felix Lochan. Human, aged twenty-four, identified as male. Memory regards a curious sighting while exploring an underground cave network in the Yossgi Wilds and was donated on the seventeenth of the month of Sunsheight, in the year 721. Inscribed by Paxton Ferox on the second of Thresherstine, 729.
I don’t know how to make you believe that I saw what I’m telling you I saw. It’s hard, I know. I wouldn’t believe me. But all I can say is that it’s true. I saw that thing down there and I need to tell someone.
I can’t tell it to my guild mates. They definitely wouldn’t believe it. But this is what you’re for, right? Folks can come in and tell their stories and you won’t judge them, you can just write it all down and… I don’t know, pass it along if you feel like it.
Maybe you’ll do nothing with this, maybe you’ll just think I’m mad. But at least I’ll have told someone, so now, if I am right, then it’ll be your fault for not telling anyone, not mine.
I should start from the beginning though, right?
I’m a sellsword with the Redsteel Mercenary Guild. We operate mostly in Elalton City and the surrounding country. It’s mainly muscle work, guarding caravans or rich folks, that sort of thing.
Because of that, it was hard for me to get approved for membership. Redsteel tends to prefer orklins or tauroxen, you know, the big tough folks. Humans don’t normally get more than a second glance but I was able to prove my worth and I got in.
They mostly kept me on the grunt work. Small stuff like collected money owed to the guild, bit of treasure hunting or clearing out wild animals. Not really the warrior life I’d hoped for but the money was decent so I didn’t complain much.
When this job came in, nobody thought much of it, just another rich brat who wanted a job doing that he didn’t feel like doing himself.
He said his name was Alexi duLane. Name meant nothing to me. He claimed he was descended from some guy called Duleono, an old war hero from back before Unification. I’d never heard of him but to hear the boy prattle on about him, you’d think he’d won the War of Seventy Years single handed or something.
It was Aurum Salitar, Redsteel’s leader, who actually took down the details. He handed them to me later when he gave me the job.
See, Alexi had been researching this Duleono, reading old history books and accounts written by people who knew him and one of these books said that he’d had this sword which had his family crest displayed on the hilt. And well, you guessed it; Alexi thought it would be the same as his family’s which would prove they were related. So, he wanted us to reclaim the sword.
I have no idea why anyone would care, but folks in that class play their own games, don’t they? Besides, for the money he was offering, I wasn’t about to argue.
Now, the reason he couldn’t get it himself was that it had been lost in the Yossgi Wilds. Apparently this Duleono and his companions had been exploring a network of caves and they had had a run in with a pack of khirrocs. Nasty way to go that. Only one of the companions got away alive. So Duleono died down there and, Alexi reckoned, his sword should still be there.
For my money, I reckon the khirrocs would have taken anything valuable with them when they left and that sword was probably long gone. But Salitar, he says “okay”, signs the contract, takes the boy’s gold and, obviously, I’m the one he picks to go with the little scrub out to this cave.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Yossgi Wilds. It’s not a bad part of the world, really. I’m sure if you’re into weird trees and every shade of flying pest in the country, you’d probably love it there. I’m in there at least once a month. Lot of stuff lurking in the Wilds. Stuff that some want found and stuff that merchants want protecting from if they have to take their caravans in that direction.
I loaded up on provisions, made sure my sword was sharp and that I had plenty of spare powder and shot for my pistols. I’ve not often had trouble in the Wilds but it’s generally better to over prepare than under.
Next morning we set off. It took us a couple of hours to reach the cave. And I swear to the Witness that every step of the way that boy complained. About the humidity, the swamps, the tree roots. He was tired, he was hungry. We were going the wrong way.
By the time we arrived at the cave, I was all too happy to be leaving that little runtling behind and going in alone.
I lit one of the torches I’d brought with me and began my search. I’ve already said I didn’t expect to find anything and nothing I’d heard since leaving Elalton had changed my mind. But I figured, since I was there anyway, I’d poke around, head as deep as I dared into the cave and head back when I inevitably found nothing.
The caves were long and wide and dark. I can’t imagine what brought that Duleono in there, what him and his mates might have been after, but there was nothing in there now. Or, so I thought.
I’d gone in a fair way. One of my torches had burned out and I had lit the second. My plan was to wait until it started to burn down then I’d turn around and head back. I’d been marking my path with chalk as I went so I wasn’t worried about finding my way out again.
I’d just crossed a junction and I was marking my path when the torch blew out. Just like that. It was as if a sudden gust of wind had blown up from the cave’s depths. I was plunged into blackness.
Naturally I started cursing a blue moon and began trying to find the third torch in my bag.
Then… I don’t know how to describe it. I was just suddenly aware I wasn’t alone anymore.
Hearing something behind me, I turned around, grabbing for my pistol. Then I saw it and I froze.
It was an eye. An enormous eye. It was bright yellow and it seemed to glow. The whole cave was illuminated by it like it was suddenly full of candlelight. It was so bright I couldn’t even see the head behind it, all I could see was the eye. It had a long, slit pupil, like a cat’s. It was close enough that I could see myself reflected in that pupil like it was a full length mirror so I knew it had seen me.
I saw this translucent eyelid slide across it and back, and I could only watch it. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. I mean, how can you with something like that right in front of you?
I don’t know how long I stood there. The… It didn’t move, just stared at me.
I don’t know how I broke free of the trance but eventually I did regain my senses and I did the only thing I could think of. I raised my pistol, fired and ran out of there like Lil’esh herself was behind me.
I didn’t expect to get far. Deep, you should know by now what I figured that thing was. I was expecting to get vaporised!
But nothing happened. Maybe it was too big to fit through the caverns after me or something, I have no idea, I wasn’t about to look back and check. I just kept running. All the way back through the tunnels. That was stupid, I know. I didn’t have a torch and it was nearly pitch dark. I don’t know how I didn’t end up falling and hurting myself or even just lost down there. Maybe I just remembered the way back better than I thought I did, but I didn’t stop running or look back once until I was back out in the open air.
Alexi was furious, of course, said I had cheated him and that he’d report me and Redsteel to the Guild Authority. I barely listened.
I’ve taken time off from work for a little while, just so I can my head on straight. I didn’t tell Salitar what happened but the boy paid in advance so I doubt he’d care anyway. That’s why I had to come here. I had to get this down, tell someone. I know you won’t believe me, I know how this all sounds. But I know what I saw.
It was a dragon. A real life dragon. And the Maelstrom take you if you dare call me a liar. There was a dragon in that cavern and we are all in danger!
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so worked up. I’ve not been sleeping much lately.
Final Notes. I assumed at first that this was a prank cooked up by the librarians. A nice little hazing for me in my new position. But, as it turned out, this was an actual donation that someone felt needed to be added to the collection. Dragons indeed. I don’t think I need to waste time here by explaining why there’s no corroborating evidence Mister Lochan’s claimed sighting.
Things started making a bit more sense when I began going through the supplementals. It seems that, before coming to us, Mr. Lochan approached the Geology Department of Elalton University about the Yossgi Caves. He left a copy of what they gave him. I think he was more interested in the mapped areas of the network because he must have missed the part where it says that the caves lie over the top of a dormant volcano. I wonder if, perhaps, lingering poisonous fumes might not have contributed to Mr. Lochan’s dragon sighting. A hallucination would certainly make a lot more sense.
Szelia was able to make contact with the duLane family. Feodor duLane, who heads the duLane textile company, was, according to her, “lovely to chat with,” but aside from confirming that his son Alexi did indeed hire a mercenary from the Redsteel Fighters Guild to assist in the recovery of a family heirloom, he could provide no additional information apart from that the family did not pursue legal action against Redsteel. Apparently, and I’m quoting here, “the boy needed to learn not to waste his money.” Alexi duLane was not available to comment.
There is only thing that really strikes me as strange. We reached out to Redsteel, just to see if we could follow up with Mr. Lochan. According to Lydia Sapran, the current Guildmaster, Mr. Lochan left the guild not long after coming to speak with us, claiming there was something else he had to do. “A purpose” was his exact wording. Mr. Lochan has not been seen or heard from since.
[The venoscribe clicks, and the whirring stops.]
[The end theme plays and the Announcer recites the credits.]