Rain poured as it had for the last three days, thick droplets flung through sporadic winds. Each drop pelted the cabin of Lycious. No walls were exposed in his cabin; all were covered by bookshelves. Lycious owned many untranslatable historical texts, as the languages had been forgotten. Each foreign copy pressed against a translated copy that Lycious himself had translated.
Lycious emerged from his bedroom and dazedly made his way to the living room. A writing easel sat in the corner, whereas the opposite corner held a large metallic box. Next to that box was a shelf and dresser, which in turn were next to a sink. In the middle of the room was a square table. Yet, none of these are yet visible, as the dark day outside blocked the sun. Lycious reached for the bookshelf to his left, then felt along the edge until he arrived at the metal box. A gear protruded from the box which Lycious griped and struggled to turn toward him. A giant bulb encased in glass hung from the ceiling; it slowly illuminated. By the time it finished charging to its highest luminosity, Lycious was halfway finished with his breakfast; a bowl of oatmeal.
Lycious studied his window as the rain smacked and dripped. He then got up, grabbed a wooden shaker, and sprinkled cinnamon over the oatmeal.
I can’t take this anymore. How do you know everything I do?
Do you think I could have told you about Sye and Sara’s troubles without being able to look into your own?
It’s just, disturbing. Are you always watching me?
Lycious, please. Allow me to finish.
Lycious finished his oatmeal without any interruptions, but as he rose from the table a hand tapped upon his door. Lycious had not received visitors for years. He still held the spoon when he quickly arose, but before he could answer the door, it swung open on its own. Yet, Lycious remembered having locked it last night. Before him stood a man wearing a grey cloak, who removed his hood.
“Lycious, I need you.”
Lycious’ eyes fixated on the stranger as he strutted across the room. The man left no puddles on the floor.
“A scribe, Lyscious, are you not a scribe, a translator of texts?”
“Everyone knows I’m famous around here.”
The man turned and stared into Lycious eyes.
“I need you to write. I will need you for a year.”
“What would I be translating for you?”
“Oh no,” said the man, inspecting Lyscious’ easel, “You will not be translating, but writing down everything I have to say.”
“Your life history, I assume?”
The man bent over the easel and smiled.
“A much more important history, I assure you. And you will be paid any sum you wish.”
The man stared out the window as the rain beat down. Each drop could be heard on the roof as Lycious stood with his mouth half open. The cloaked man turned to Lycious as he adjusted himself.
“Have you ever heard of the major historical texts? The ones that read more like a story than a history book.”
Lycious laughed. He found it hard to stop, but spoke anyway.
“Those fake histories? Someone just wanted history to be more exciting so they applied some storytelling.”
The cloaked man sighed, folding his eyebrows. “Did they?” He then opened the door as the wind blew water onto the carpet floor.
“I need you orphan.”
Lycious bent the top of the spoon with his thumb.
“How do you?”
The man walked into the rain and called back.
“In one week I will return. I expect you to have an empty book waiting for me.”
The man walked further into the plains until he vanished into the forest.
The next day the rain stopped. Lycious walked along the dirt road into town. A horse was tied to the fence at the entrance. Down the street a woman left her house and poured out a bucket of water. Children kicked rubber balls back and forth at each other, while another younger child ran into mud puddles. As Lycious walked closer to the center of town, he passed small wooden cabins and the occasional brick house. The paint on all the homes had faded, and had not been repainted. Their town, Levit, was on the edge of the occupied territories upon which Tauras was slowly laying claim. Levit didn’t have an army, so it was a subject no one talked about, but was visible in their inaction.
Lycious saw the owner of the horse in the center gathering area. Three rows of wooden benches were arranged in a half hexagon shape. All of the benches were full. Kids sat up front on the lawn while a wall of people stood in the back behind the benches. Some people carried on conversations while the man on stage placed his straw hat on the chair next to him. The wooden floorboards on which he stood were worn from the rain. No one had replaced the planks in over a decade. Many homes had windows missing, doorknobs gone, unclean floors, rank smells; the general apathy towards the approaching army left the city in a continual state of deterioration.
The man’s outfit gave him away. A dark red robe with a purple hem covered him. His purple belt had the Historian Seal on his buckle. The buckles image showcased a man holding a book in his left hand toward the sky with light shooting upward. The figure’s right hand held the letter O. Below the figure heads gathered. The clouds left a space in which sunlight shown directly on the figure. Behind the figure open plains and mountains were in the background. The symbol of the historian had been used for over 300 years.
This particular historian told the story of Tauras’ formation 150 years ago. Lycious stood and listened much longer than he expected.
“It was then the Monarch’s second hand man, Jaquel, found a book. Within the book, he found words which could help him claim the crown.”
A man from the audience yelled.
“Why don’t you tell everyone about the evil this book really is? They need to know.”
Some of the children stood up and focused on the voice.
“My son isn’t going to hear how good that stuff is, you hear me?”
Another voice echoed through the crowd.
“It nearly killed us, why mention it?”
The historian stomped his foot. The damaged floorboard almost gave way.
“Now listen here. This is what happened, so that is how I tell it. Would you rather I lie?” His face was angrier now. Everyone knew the fate of a historian who attempted to change history to their liking; death. How you interpret it is your choice,” he pointed his hand toward the back row, “you listen.”
The man who interrupted the tale lowered his head. In the last fifty years, Historians still held their authority and were greatly respected. They were the only people allowed to cross continental borders (providing they had the credentials). The learning of history was both a required education as well as a form of entertainment.
Lycious walked past the stage to the book store, a small, one-room building. Inside, books crammed in just enough places to provide a snug walking space. Gusto ran over to Lycious and almost tripped over a stack of books on the floor. He squished Lycious in his gigantic arms, almost breaking Lycious’ shoulder. Gusto was much larger than most people, and perhaps the strongest in the village.
“Lycious, I have a copy of some texts from the Augasias Era. The dictator of Barda sent copies everywhere, and is even offering land in his home country as a prize.”
Lycious looked up with a smile. This is what he enjoyed, translating ancient texts which no one could decipher. He didn’t need to know the language beforehand. He only had to read and study the unknown language for a few days before he produced an alphabet.
It is odd. Though, perhaps I am just smarter than everyone else.
Didn’t I tell you no interruptions yet?
I’ve never met or heard of anyone else who can decipher texts like I do. It’s why I’ve made so much money.
Yet you live in a shack and never use your wealth.
I made this ‘shack’ with my own hands. It’s my home.
Listen, Lycious, I need to get to a certain point before I’ll allow you to ask questions.
I’ll wait, for now. I do have a whole year.
Lycious’ voice lowered along with his head.
“Anyday I’d love to, but right now I need a blank book.”
Gusto lifted books from a corner and handed him a blue animal-skinned cover.
“Actually, I was looking for something more, elaborate, big, expensive.”
Gusto stood on the counter and searched through a shelf behind him.
“Writing something important? Your diary perhaps?”
“You always try to convince me to do that.”
Gusto lifted one section of books off the shelf to reach the layer behind them.
“But have you considered it? You know, a few historians are starting to mention you.” Gusto lifted his hand into the air and spoke deeper. “‘As translated by Lycious Holman.’”
Gusto moved the second layer of books to reveal a third tucked behind.
“Aha. Here they are. I have leather and other various animal skins such as lion and bear, metal, even gold.”
“Let me see the metal one.”
Gusto handed down to Lycious a book with a metal binding and cover. The design on the sides of the cover were three lines, which lopped in each corner, while the center pattern crossed itself and gave the impression of an eye.
“I’ll take this one.”
“You sure you don’t want one made from human skin?”
Lycious’ eyebrow raised.
“I’m not even going to ask.”
Gusto leapt down behind the counter and pulled out a wooden box. Inside were many silver coins of varies sizes, and a few gold pieces with faces on them.
“Lets see, that one is very expense. Say, 1,000 logs.”
“I only have about six hundred on me.”
“Don’t worry, pay half, and the rest later. You’re my best customer, I can give certain liberties.”
Lycious dropped five round gold pieces into Gusto’s hands. As Lycious left, he heard Gusto yell, “And I want first reading of your diary,” of which Lycious could only roll his eyes.
Exactly one week later, it rained again, and a familiar knock resonated within Lycious’ cabin. He had returned. He looked at the metal book on the table.
“I see you are ready.”
The cloaked man placed his hand on the book and studied the pattern. Lycious closed the door so the man would hear the slam.
“I think its time you gave me some answers. I’ve been waiting a week.”
“Just a week?” the man smiled. “Patience.”
“Patience? You tell me things you shouldn’t know about me then walk off. Forgive me if I’m a little pissed off you aren’t telling me why.”
The man exhaled deeply.
“Very well.” He walked around the entirety of the room before continuing. “Lycious, I can see. Not just what’s in front of my eyes, but events happening elsewhere in the world. Events which I see for a reason.”
“And you want me to record your ‘visions?’”
The man tilted his head.
“You’re lucky you didn’t say this to anyone in town.”
“Because you witnessed last week the prejudice people still hold against magic.”
“How do you know this?”
“Sit down, Lycious, and write everything that we say.”
And that’s where I started.
You needn’t make such a blatant statement. You are amusing, Lycious, and your comments might prove insightful, if not entertaining for future readers. I’m not allowed to have my judgment interfere, but you are under no such oath.
You say you witness events. My life can hardly be regarded as such.
You are again, correct.
Then what do I write? Mr…?
Do you belong to some secret society or something?
Why come to that conclusion?
I give up. I only want to know what I’m writing about.
Very well. You are recording the end, Lycious, the end of your world.