Time passes with surprising speed as Arvid sits at the great stone table, Avdyra at his side. In fact, she is so close that they often touch accidentally. She is no Linda, that's just a fact, but still he is sometimes distracted. Luckily her father is himself studying some elder scrolls, deep in thought. The staff, as well as the brightly shining Lightstone, seem to be on autopilot. If they can keep working magically, why turn them off at all? Still, that's what they did after the party. But now, Avdyra nudges him back to the strange letters.
"This letter is called Al. As you can see, it has its base in common with El, Il, Ul, Ol and Owl..." "Owl?" "Let me see ... there. There is an Owl." "It does not look like an owl to me." "What do you mean, an owl? I never said it looked like an owl." "You did call it owl." "That cannot be! It is an Owl." "I have a feeling that this translation magic does not work completely with my language." "Be that as it may, it is an Owl."
There is actually a method to the madness. As Stone Girl so generously points out, some letters are obviously related. On the other hand, there isn't really one letter for each sound. Rather there seems to be one letter for each syllable. So the letter Al really means "al", not "a" or "l". It's also rather obvious that "lo" is just a mirror of "ol". So the basic unit is not each letter, but the parts of the letters. Once he gets them all, he should be able to combine them. But it is a huge job. Genius or no genius, he cannot learn a whole new way of writing in one night. Especially when the sounds mean nothing to him.
"I can see that this word is an-ar-em, but I have no idea what reflection is. Hey, what in the spruce forest?" "I do not follow, Genius." "And I do not lead. Did you notice? I said the word out loud and I actually understood it!" "That is as it should be. It would be sad indeed if you could not understand the words that you yourself speak." "But I can't understand them when I see them! Even when I recognize the letters and so know how the word is pronounced, it still makes no sense until I actually read it aloud."
Avdyra looks at him with a total lack of comprehension written across her face. Well, she never claimed that she was a genius, only that he was.
Luckily, the Gwalan language is far more sonorous than his mother tongue. There is rarely a syllable with more than one consonant. In fact, when there is, they do not even recognize it. The letter Gwa is supposed to be just another letter in the Gw family, which is a separate family with no particular similarity to G or W families. His attempt to describe his own system of writing is met with that blank stare again, and a gentle hint that he needs must learn their writing if he is to study the Lore.
And so he does. Tracing the designs with his fingers, looking at the texts, reading out loud one word or another. He feels like a total idiot, reading out each syllable. Well, actually he feels like a first grader. Except of course he could read well before that. Thanks to Susanne, always the patient type. He is not. It grows harder and harder to focus on the squiggly marks on the parchment, or whatever it is. Seems more like some kind of vaxed textile, truth to tell. Eventually there is an opportunity to ask.
"It is some manner of plant. Better ask my father. Father? Marisfar?" "Umm? Yes?" "The Genius must know whereof these scrolls are made." "That would be reading linen." "Which means?" "There is a particular sort of plant that has been grown for this purpose since the dawn of time, or at least certainly since before the Falling of the Sky. Some of the oldest Commentaries are almost that old - though of course we do not have any of those here. These are all fairly recent copies, the oldest is said to be a gift for the marriage of Eroen Stonewarden, which was nigh on fifteen hundred years ago."
"Fifteen hundred years is fairly recent?" "The Falling of the Sky took place some nineteen thousand years ago. There is not a kingdom left of those founded by the first Sons of Man who survived the Falling." "Oh." "This is why the language in many of the commentaries is so strange. It is hard to read, for often there are more letters than we would use to say a word, or some of the letters are different. This is because even language changes over time. The Tongue of the Ancients is not comprehensible at all, the one in which our very spells and songs are written. There are even those who say that there is not one, but three Tongues of the Ancient. But certainly there is but one Ancient Script."
"We have not yet looked at the Ancient Script, father." "Oh well. It is a strange writing indeed. But they say that the True Script is even stranger, which the First Parents used. It is said that whatever was written in the True Script, came to be, exactly as it was written. It is hard to believe that anyone but the First Parents can have wielded such power, though. Some people try to write in the Ancient Script that way, but needless to tell they fail miserably."
"There is yet another alphabet??" "And another language, too, which none of our magic can translate." "Great, just great." "But you need not learn the Tongue of the Ancients. It is enough that you can pronounce it. In fact, it is customary that the commentaries render the text into a semblance of our own tongue, as well as providing a translation where such is possible, before the actual commentaries." "That's nice to hear. I'm already so tired from this studying that I could sleep right here on the table." "That would not behoove you, Arovid. I shall take you to bed."
Arvid wisely tries not to read too much into that expression, as Avdyra walks ahead of him through the curtain and along a narrow corridor. There is no light source here, and it is now dark outside too. The windows are dark patches that soon fade as the whole corridor is cast in the darkness of night. The gliding shape in front of him fades too, and he steps quicker to not lose her in the dark. And bumps right into her, as she has suddenly stopped. For a moment they cling to each other to not fall to the floor, and even so it is only by an impressive act of balancing on her part that they remain standing. She laughs softly, and he thinks there is a note of embarassment in it. "I forgot how this place must be unfamiliar to you." Her hand finds his arm and takes hold of it. "Through this door. There will be light." He sees no door, but lets her guide him.
"Ainu, kea leni da,
eini, kea leni ta.
Ainu, kali mena da,
eini, kali mena ta.
Enur, kea leni mo,
eri, kea leni no."
With the first two lines, a glow lights up to his left, and he turns to watch it. Then it glows brighter, and he can see that it is a Lightstone, shining. Then brighter again, and the room is lit up. It is a small room, and a large bed is taking up at least half of it. He tries to memorize each of the words. This could come in handy. Ainu, like in the name of that old Japanese people. Kea sounds Hawaiian, like something from those vulcans there. Leni reminds him of Lene, the girl with the wild red hair ...
"I shall leave you presently, but we shall meet again in the morrow. Rest well this night." "You too, Goldilocks." She laughs softly. "The name is Golok. But I shall, for your sake. Your coming is a boon to us all." She leaves quickly, while he stands confused. The name is Golok? Which name is Golok? Well, whatever. He definitely needs some sleep. The bed is nothing but a frame filled with pillows, but they are deliciously soft and he soon finds a comfortable position, and falls asleep at once, in his clothes and all.
Soon after, or so it feels, he wakes by the sun on his face. Opening his eyes, he finds himself in his familiar bed in the boy room. He has slept way into the Saturday.
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