Nihilian Effect Lore series. A historian discovers a truth that could shake the world.
| “This just does not make sense,” she said to herself. Looking back and forth between the old scrolls that littered her desk, she underlined a portion of text. A blotch of ink and then a stripe that wavered marked a note for later. She could never draw straight. As much as she liked the look and feel of quills, she disliked using them. She wished she had one of those new pens with the inset ink tubes. They seldom bled.
Not for the first time, she pulled her finger from her lips, where she had a habit of touching when she was deep in thought. Her hands were a rainbow of black, blue, and red ink, and she figured her mouth must be covered in prints. She also guessed that she had marked her face more than once, for certain when replacing loose strands of her golden-brown curls over her ears.
She looked up, noticing the daylight for the first time since she sat down. When had the sun come up? She vaguely remembered standing a large book on end to block the sunlight that reflected off the blue seaweed sewn into her Meraian rug. Her stomach grumbled, and it felt like hours had passed since she last took a break. She had spent all night pouring over scrolls, but she was on the verge of something—a conflict, a lie, possibly a truth hidden in history—and could not stop now.
She decided that she needed to pause and confirm what she was finding before going further. When she stood to get a scroll from her shelves, she almost trampled her study clerk.
"Lu'vina! My goodness! I'm so sorry, I did not hear you come in," she said as they steadied one another.
"It is quite alright, Miss Ou'bosa," her clerk said.
“Please, as always, call me Claradina.”
With golden wisps rising from gleaming tan skin like faint tongues of fire, Claradina's personal study clerk held an air of prestige. Maidservant or not, Lu'vina was a su'nora. She was short for her kind, and often stood straight, craning her neck, as if to appear taller—she loomed over Claradina, who was short in general. Like all su'nora, Lu'vina was hairless, but it did not detract from her beauty in the slightest.
Lu'vina straightened her pale-yellow dress and looked at Claradina with deep, black eyes that contained a thousand tiny stars. “And as always, first name affiliation would be improper,” she said, then paused when she saw Claradina's dress. “You have been touching your clothes again.”
Claradina looked down at the simple, blue material and saw that she had dotted it with red, black and blue ink. She had chosen the dress for this very reason, and it was the style of clothing she preferred: fine, yet not too fancy, and comfortable. She was lightly plump and required a looser fit than some. Simple style also meant easy to clean. She waved Lu'vina off. “When haven't I?”
“The washing maidservants will not be pleased.”
“I didn't get any on my feathers, did I?” Claradina strained to see her wings, which lay folded on her back. She wished they were darker, like the wings other liange she knew; white was such a boring color.
“Not that I can see,” Lu'vina said. She picked up a glass from the tray and turned to one of the large stacks of unorganized books that filled several corners of the room. Two of the tall bronze candle stands had melted candles from burning through the night, and some of the fallen wax had formed miniature stalagmites on the surrounding floor and books. Lu'vina sighed at the sight of it. She selected a book, brushed it clean, and sat at the small, round marble table near the lone window across the room. "I have supplied you with your midday nourishment."
Claradina had not noticed the tray sitting on the corner of her desk until it was mentioned. Steaming potatoes and a slab of meat divided a ceramic plate. It smelled delicious. "Oh, why, thank you. You're not eating?"
"I consumed earlier." Lu'vina stated, not looking up from her book. By the way her wisps lazily curled around it like ribbons of smoke, Claradina was always amazed that it did not burst into flames, or at the very least, singe the pages.
Claradina took a few bites of the potatoes and a sip of the drink before continuing to get a scroll from her shelves as she had first intended. She rounded the large desk and walked over to the tall shelves that lined one of the smooth stone walls. Books in a multitude of colors and sizes filled half of the shelves. Evenly spaced and organized scrolls occupied the other half. Finger to lips in thought, she scanned the scrolls before choosing one with a simple red ribbon and brass ends. She had to be very careful as she removed the scroll from the shelf; some of them were new, but some were so old they looked ready to fall apart at the touch. After placing the scroll on the desk, she took a moment to study one of the large framed maps that hung on the wall opposite the shelves. The frames themselves held miniature wood or metal plaques with descriptions or paper notes pinned to them in study. She ripped a note off the map and returned to her chair.
The scroll she had chosen pertained to the War of Absolution, as most of the old scrolls did. The war had lasted decades and encompassed a good portion of the planet. Accuracies, as all the scholars called the scroll, was used to place other scrolls along a time-line in accordance with the war. She took a few more gulps before unrolling the scroll above the one she had been studying, covering other scrolls she had been using earlier.
After a few minutes, Lu'vina glanced at Claradina out of the corner of her eye. "What is it you are studying so diligently this time, if I may ask?"
"An old document. Occurrences during the War of Absolution. Discovered last week in an old buried cellar in Navor," Claradina said. So many documents had been lost between then and now, many of which had conflicting timestamps.
Lu'vina raised one of her hairless brows causing creases to form on her forehead, a fair sign of surprise coming from a su'nora. "And just how did you attain it so soon?" she asked. Gaining access to newly-discovered documents often took weeks, if not months. They had to be cleaned, checked, and cataloged before the scholars were allowed to study them.
"I pulled a few strings with the Headmaster of Documents," Claradina said and gave her sly smile. The clerk sighed and turned back to her book. "What is it?"
"Nothing, my lady. But one of these days your bending of the rules will land you in a state of strong discomfort," Lu'vina stated matter-of-factly. She turned a page and her wisps swirled. A moment later, she looked back at Claradina and smirked. That was near to a laugh coming from her. Claradina chuckled outright while the su'nora set her book down and crossed the room.
"Since you have the thing, you might as well tell me what had your attention so fixated," said Lu'vina. She was more than Claradina's servant, she was a friend. Since everyone in the complex was a scholar of sorts, she was also a confidant. She would discuss the scrolls and histories with Claradina when she required it.
Claradina stopped laughing, but she still felt a smile on her face as she pointed to a few places on the scroll nearest to her. "Well, the scroll is thought to be accurate, but I grabbed the Accuracies just now because, in a few places here, key points do not make sense. They seem to contradict what we know." Then she pointed to the scroll she had placed above it. "Although, all of the major events line up. If this is true, it changes everything."
Lu'vina examined Claradina's findings for a moment, then raised her hand and slowly moved it over the scroll in question, her wisps fanning out along the material. Satisfied, she stood upright and placed her hands on her hips. A slight frown formed on her face.
"Well?" Claradina asked, staring into Lu'vina's eyes.
Lu'vina stared back at her, then turned toward the window before answering. "As far as I can tell, the age of the thing feels right." Most su'nora could sense the age of an object, the time span of its existence, some down to the month of its formation. Claradina found it to be quite a useful tool at times like this. "What do you intend to do?" Lu'vina queried, turning back to examine the scroll again. "It is quite possible we may have missed a few documents during the Purge."
The Purge of Lies, a period of time a century ago in which many new documents were found. Each contained contradicting facts about the followers of the light, painting the dark races as righteous and their acts in history as justified. But the documents were falsified by the Mind—a council of scholars that made major decisions for the religions views and histories—and this led to nationwide burning of any document said to have even the slightest mention of the dark portrayed in a lighter fashion.
But Claradina's findings were too accurate. "I do not believe so," she said, her finger to her lips in thought as she stared at the scroll. "I feel I need to put in a petition to the Mind."
Lu'vina was quiet. When Claradina looked up, she realize her clerk was not being thoughtful, she was stunned.
"M-my lady, are you sure this is a wise decision?" Lu'vina stuttered a moment later. "If the Mind views this wrongly, you could be tried and killed as a traitor! I suggest we examine it further before coming to any rash conclusions." She sounded close to terrified.
Claradina rounded the desk and placed her hands on Lu'vina's shoulders, the su'nora woman's deep black eyes large and fixated on her own. "I can understand how you would be frightened by this. Truly, I do. I am not sure what to make of it all yet, but I believe that if we stick together on this and carefully prepare our results, they will see the light of the matter." She held up a hand before Lu'vina could make another protest. "You go put in our petition. I will write letters to the Brother and Sister scholars I am acquainted with to set up meetings and see if we cannot rally some allies on the matter. Go, now."
After Claradina managed to coax her clerk out the door, she sat down to write the formal invitations. Each scholar had to be approached in a different manner and with care if she was going to get them to listen to her. Not unlike herself, they each had their own way of handling matters, and could deny her for any reason they deemed worthy.
End of preview.
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