Stars Arising: Archivist Tale chapter 1

My name is Johannes Sinclair. My title is the Archivist. I have been appointed by the World Council to record as much information as the Eldest People will tell us. There is some hope the information will help us in the War. I guess the place to start this tale is how I got brought into it, a short biography.

I was born to German refugee parents in the American state of Michigan. My parents had fled the horror of the Caliphate invasion of Europe during the Third World War. My upbringing was typical for the time which means hectic as the world was turned upside down by the discovery of the Eldest People and and the Old Ones.

From a young age, I was fascinated by the Eldest. They had forgotten more information about the Universe than Humanity had ever known. They were also the first true civilization on the planet. In many ways they were humanity’s older siblings. The Eldest People had been going to the stars when there were still oceans on Mars and life on earth had just started colonizing the land.

All my youth I aspired to one day work with the Eldest. My training in classical music was conditioning to understand the fluting tones of their language. A study of mathematics to understand their symbol and logic derived written language. Throughout it all I studied every scrap of knowledge and lore to learn the Eldest history and culture.

Throughout my youth and education years, the Shoggoth War raged, and the Eldest reclaimed the ancient homelands in Antarctica. I remember reading about their rediscover of the few surviving populations and the grand reestablishment of their surface cities. The southern continent was still cold but a century of global warming had risen sea levels but exposed the ruins of some of their original land cities.

It was a rough time for humanity. We almost destroyed ourselves during the third world war, just to find out we were not alone on the planet. We even found out we were not the only planet. So much of our science is having to be reworked and our entire system of economics and governance have been upended. National secrets have also become embarrassing issues. The knowledge that the British and Americans had been helping the Eldest in an under sea war against the Deep One Fishmen  for two centuries was bad enough, but to find out the Chinese were in contact with ancient beings who had inspired chinese myths was even more awkward for the world to accept. The decades after WW# was a time of adjustment and growth for the human race.

After I was appointed to my task I traveled to Antarctica aboard one of the first Russian cargo airships designed and built using the new technologies learned from the eldest. The new city was on the Antarctic Peninsula, and was a blending of the Eldest building methods and the humans. Argentina had started a city on the site before WW3 and the public disclosure of the Eldest. The place became a vast collaboration now.

I remember the airship docking at the high steel sky tower on the Torre Ceilo in the local Spanish. The tower was over a thousand feet tall, but it did not dominate the skyline. That honor went to the vast star shaped stone towers built by the Eldest. Few of the granite towers were taller than the Torre Ceilo, but their girth was easily ten times the human structure. The massive size of the stone towers dominated all the eye could behold. As I stood on the observation deck of the Torre Ceilo, two stories down from the ship’s mooring deck. I counted ten of the massive granite edifices looming over the city below. Two of those towers forced me to look up to see their pinnacle. I spent hours looking over that cityscape. The snow still blew through the city, but it was still possible to make out the nonhuman buildings from the human ones. The Eldest built in stone blocks and sheets, while the humans built in metal and ceramics.

I would have still been standing there in fascination come sundown if my self induced trance of fascination had not been interrupted by a musical fluting tone sequence from behind me. Turning to find an Eldest standing there. I was overwhelmed and missed the fact it was talking to me. By the third time the Eldest repeated its greeting, you could tell it was annoyed. The fluting had become louder and flat in tone.

I pulled out the translator flute from the satchel which hung at my left side. Raising the flute to my lips, I played out a greeting in the musical language of the Eldest, adding an apologetic trill to the end of the musical phrase. The Eldest played out a phrase meaning a dismissive tone. I listened carefully. If the follow on measures was a sharp it would mean a harsh rebuke, but if it was running in tone, then it would mean an acceptance of my apology. Instead the Eldest changed the topic. I blinked and struggled to follow the change of focus. Then I was running to catch up physically as well.

The Eldest had moved off toward the interior of the tower. My mind raced as I tried to look at the complex mosaics which lined the walls, and still mentally translated the fluting phrases. The phrase was one part greeting and one part order. He might have said something different the first two times he whistled it at me, but that third time, which I finally paid attention to, was merely a simple: #I am Dawn Reader, you are the servant human, follow me now!#

My instructors had informed me that the Eldest tend to be very condescending toward younger species such as ours. It was merely one more aspect of my new vocation, just like living in Antarctica for the next few years. 

As I followed the Eldest, I was amazed by how fast their form of locomotion could propel it forward. Eldest had five large lower tentacles or boneless legs. At the end of each tentacle were five branching fingers, each having five small tentacles along each finger. It was a complex looking arrangement but the Eldest Peoples could move quite rapidly over the roughest terrain. 

Their leg movement had two legs reaching out to each side, and the fifth leg out behind like a stabilizing rudder. Through my studies I also knew that sometimes the fifth leg was out in front pulling the Eldest individual over rough terrain. All of this just reminded any human observer that here was a being that did not have a front and back as any bisemetrical animal has, instead a pentasymmetrical creature truly was alien in how humans saw the world. The Eldest radial symmetry gave it five eyes looking in all directions on stalks, five upper boneless arms, five wings, and five lower boneless legs for locomotion. 

I suddenly noticed that while I had been studying it, the Eldest had two eyestalks watching me as I followed it. I was being observed as well. Both of us proceeded down the long stone hall in silence. From the periphery of my vision I could see that the long hall was made up of segmented stone blocks, and all the surfaces were covered in ornate and detailed carvings, even the ceiling had been elaborately worked. 

All the reports and lessons about the Eldest People had mentioned this unique art form of decoration, but to see it for the first time was overwhelming. It would take a human observer hours just to study each wall panel for any detail. There were murals, written text blocks, painted pictures, inset carvings, and even mosaics made of smaller stones embedded into the walls. I didn’t stop to try and take in the details. I would be here for years, and I felt there would be plenty of time to sightsee. Besides part of my mission was to read as much as I could of the Eldest history, records, and knowledge. One of their unique social traits was that their most enduring and important knowledge was put right out in plain sight as ornate decorations. 

Soon we had proceeded down that hall from the landing platform, through several junctions with other halls, until we moved out into a vast chamber. The circular room was the size of an auditorium, with over a hundred Eldest moving about on various tasks, standing around conversing in their musical language, or some obviously sleeping. Those sleeping were resting in a bowl shaped piece of furniture that curved up to partially support their body upright. It seemed to serve both as a bed and a chair of sorts. 

Those sleeping had all of their arms and legs inside the bowl chair, while their five eyestalks drooped with closed eyes. Even the 5 membraned wings, which usually remained tightly coiled up and close to the Eldest body when not in use, were uncoiled and drooping down to lay upon the rim of the bowl chair. Despite all the activity elsewhere in the room, the sleeping Eldests seem to have no trouble slumbering.

Dawn Reader had moved well into the room, leading me passed several clusters of conversing Eldest. Each individual we passed spared one eyestalk to watch us pass, but never slowed their fluting dialogue. The exchange was so fast and so complex, I could barely make out any intelligent language. 

My guide stopped in one section of the room. There were half a dozen various bowl chair, and two human shaped beds. The beds stood out as a surreal feature in this alien chamber, with all its Eldest individuals and their living arrangements.  Dawn Reader pointed an arm at one of the two beds and whistled, #That is your dwelling place#

I took out my translator flute and played a response in a complex set of chords. #Thank you. How may I serve first?#

Only one of Dawn Reader’s eyestalks looked at me as it began to move off from the cluster of furniture. It fluted out to me in a commanding tone. #Settle. Rest. Converse later# 

That was as close to a polite dismissal as I could expect. Now to attempt to settle into my home for the next three years.