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jarelav
Placeholder for JD Barnes' latest IC project. This was originally posted 11/25/07 on the DRC forum:

QUOTE
Shorah b'shemtee,

I've come to request the assistance of my fellow explorers on a project. Let me describe it for you.

Recently, I was approached by a young explorer who claimed to have come to the restoration due to a trunk he'd found among the effects belong to an ancestor of his. This trunk contained numerous documents of a possibly D'ni origin.

According to notes in the trunk, both in English and in Spanish, they belonged to one Domasio Lara, a prospector from Mexico who got lost in a network of caverns in northern New Mexico, south of the San Luis valley. There, he discovered a devastated 'Caverna del Oro', which he assumed was the mythic El Dorado. He gathered up papers, maps and such as proof and returned to the surface. However, he was not believed and passed on his findings to his descendants.

And now I've managed to obtain the documents in question. While I see no obvious indicators in the documents of forgery, I cannot rule that out. I intend to determine whether these documents are authentic, or a well-done hoax.

This is where I need the help of my fellows. There are more documents than I can restore and examine alone in any reasonable amount of time. So I am asking for your help to restore these documents. This is a restoration project much like the DRC's stained-glass project, or those sponsored by the good folks at Subterranean Restorations.

There is quite a diversity of materials. There are illustations, maps, descriptions of Ages, documents that may be stories or historical accounts and more. There are even trivial documents, such as personal correspondence and recipes.

So I am asking that explorers restore some of these documents and submit those restorations to me, so I can collect them and use them in analysis. If you have any questions, or would like a suggestion of what sort of restoration you can help with, please let me know by sending me a private message on this forum. Feel free to ask questions on this thread as well.

Once I have catalogued the entirety of the collection, I will then look towards chemical analysis of the materials themselves to see if they can shed some light on their origin.

I will be conducting a Town Hall to discuss this project in person next week, arranged by Eleri of the D'ni Network. Also, check the Guild of Messengers site for information and updates. I hope to release completed restorations on roughly a weekly basis, possibly through the Guild of Messengers as well.

Thank you for your time,
J.D. Barnes


source
jarelav
This is the first letter issued today, catalogued as Lara 001.001, translated by Tobyas, accompanied with explanatory footnotes:
QUOTE

My long time friend,

I pray that the Guild of Maintainers is treating you well. I have enjoyed my first few hahrtee with the Guild of Surveyors. I trust that you have learned much about your trade from your instructors, as have I. (*1)

However, I feel that there is something that I am not being told, things that seem almost deliberately ignored or, worse, hidden. When I attempt to inquire about such things I am met with blank stares at best and lengthy, angry lectures at worst. In younger times, you were always good at seeing through cover ups. I am hoping that you could help me.

One of the most useful tools that we have in the Guild of Surveyors is the “fah-lahn Triangle.” The use of the “fah-lahn Triangle” is simple. You simply need to draw squares on each side of a triangle and then measure the area of the squares. It works that simply so long as one angle has measure 15,625 (*2) torans. What you find is that the sum of the areas of the two smaller squares is equal to the area of the larger square. (*3)

This technique is useful mostly for determining the distance between two landmarks when there is some other object, like a large boulder, in the way. My problem, however, arises rather quickly. Surely it is not difficult to realize that it is possible to draw a line accurately measuring 1 span. It is equally easy to draw a second line, also of measure 1 span, 15,625 torans away from it. Finally, using a straight piece of metal, I can connect the ends of those two lines. The problem arises when I ask the length of the third line.

Using the “fah-lahn Triangle” I created, we can see that the two smaller squares have measure of 1 square-span and so the larger square has measure of 2 square-spantee. This means that the side of the larger square is some number that when times itself becomes 2. I won’t bore you with the details, but it I can show that this number does not actually exist, yet the line obviously measures it. When we encounter this while working, we approximate by picking two numbers and saying it is a certain number of parts of a whole. For the number that multiples by itself to 2, we usually say that it is 1 whole and 6,469 parts of 15,625. We can measure to more parts if we are doing higher precession work, but the truth remains that the actual calculated length of the line cannot be said as parts of a whole even though it is obvious that everything is either a whole or a part of a whole.

All the members of the Guild of Surveyors I have discussed this with have simply shrugged it off saying that I simply have not been accurate enough in either my measurement or my expression of the parts. I now come to you, my trusted friend. Surely the Guild of Maintainers also makes use of calculation in the course of their activities. Have you encountered such similar problems as this?

Truthfully, I hope that I am wrong. If we are finding lengths of paths that shouldn’t exist, what does this mean of the Age we live in? I know that contradictions make an age unstable and thus unsuitable for life. Does a contradiction like this mean that D’ni is unstable?

Fondly,
Cahy’leh

Footnotes
*1 - This comment indicates that the author is young. However, his command of language indicates he's quite a bit older than the age of admittence at the time of the Fall, which was four hahrtee old. The age of which one began in a Guild must have been different at that time. - J.D.
*2 - In this translation, decimal numbers have been used instead of D'ni base-25 numbers, for ease of reading. -J.D.
*3 - After careful consideration I have determined that this is the D’ni equivalent of the Pythagorean Theorem. At first the number 15,625 seems a bizarre choice, even if it does become 1,000 in the D’ni number system. However, we can see that 15,625 is exactly one quarter of 62,500 which corresponds to 4,000 in the D’ni number system. So one quarter of 62,500 torans is equivalent to one quarter of 360 degrees. Since it is obvious that the author is talking about a right triangle because of the use of the right angle, we can see that the technique described here is fairly similar to one of the many proofs that we have for the Pythagorean Theorem. - tobyas.

JD's comments and discussion questions:
QUOTE (JD Barnes)
For commentary, I will use the assumption that the document is authentic.

As tobyas has pointed out, Cahy'leh is discussing the D'ni equivilent of the Pythagoren theorem. He seems to have discovered the natural consequence of a right isosceles triangle - irrational numbers. Specifically, the square root of two. His reaction is interesting. It mirrors the problems that Pythagoras himself had with irrational numbers. Pythagoras felt that numbers were perfect reality. The existance of numbers which could not be reduced to a ratio of integers (especially from so simple a figure as a right triangle with a side length of one) violated that concept of perfection and was a major issue for Pythagorean theology.

Our D'ni mathematician has similar concerns - that this number from such a simple figure is 'unreal'. In Pythagorean theology, irrational numbers called into question the nature of reality. But for Cahy'leh, it was more specific - it called into question the stability of this reality.

From this letter we can draw the conclusion that Cahy'leh is both very talented and inexperienced. Realizing the nature of irrational numbers from a right triangle is no mean feat for a young Surveyor. This would indicate that he is particularly gifted in respect to mathematics.

On the other hand, he seems astonished by the revelation of a concept that must have been well-known to the Ronay and the D'ni, as it is a basic consequence of fundamental geometry. This would lead me to believe that he has yet to have much exposure to higher mathematics. Add onto this the fact that after being unable to gain satisfactory explanation from his fellows and instructors, he assumes the worst about the Age of D'ni and contacts another friend in an almost conspiratorial manner. I can't help imagining a bright and well-meaning, yet excitable, youth who thinks he's stumbled onto a secret of epic proportions while those older than he are unaware and unwilling to listen.

I also find the manner that he explains the 'fah-lahn' triangle interesting. He seems to be describing it as if he expects the recipient of the letter would be completely unfamiliar with the mathematics. That might be a reflection on his stage of learning and understanding of mathematics. Or it could be indicative of what he thinks of his friend or Maintainers in general.

Now, that begs the question - why would a letter of young man to his friend be preserved and re-printed? Given Cahy'leh's obvious gift with geometry, I don't think it's a stretch to posit that he went on to become a mathematician of some note. My conjecture is this letter has been saved as an insight into the life of an important D'ni thinker by showing him as a precocious child. Possibly further letters will illuminate more of his personality.

Now, for discussion. Let me seed the discussion with the following questions:

Do you think this letter is authentic? Please explain.
If authentic, what do you think this says about D'ni mathematics (if anything)?
What do you think this letter says about the author, Cahy'leh?
Why do you think such a letter might be reprinted for later generations of D'ni?

source
jarelav
This is the second set issued on 1/7/08, catalogued as Lara 002.001 - 002.004, provided by Whilyam:

002.001
QUOTE
A young D’ni man was walking through a park in J’taeri when he spotted an old man painting. The old man sat facing a wall which encircled the park. The young man shrugged at the strange old painter and went about his job. He returned later to find the painter still there. Again he shrugged and left. The next day, the young man did not have to work and so went to the park. There he found the old man still painting.
“What do you paint, diligent one?” He asked as he approached the old man from behind.
The old man turned to face the young and smiled. As he moved, the young man glimpsed the painting. It was a beautiful portrait of the King. Like a viewer(*1) of the living man and the young man was shocked.
“Your clothes show you are of the lower classes. You have never seen the king as I have. From who did you steal that painting?”
The old man continued smiling. “I paint what inspires me. It moves me. It gives me purpose. God(*2) shows me the King so I may glory them both.”
And so it continued until the old man died and the paintings went to the Guild and eventually to the King when he saw them. And the young man continued until he died and neither God nor the King knew of him.

QUOTE
Footnotes:
*1 - Literally it is the abstract noun-forming suffix -tahv attached to the verb "to view" not "to see" but view so it literally is the noun that views. It seemed, in the context, that it was like the painter had a portal or a viewer to look at the King the detail was so fine but no it didn't specify an imaging device. - Whilyam
*2 - The works all said "Yahvo". However as Yahvo is the D'ni's god, it seemed like the translation would be incomplete if it were left. - Whilyam

002.002
QUOTE
One day an adventurous D’ni man went to the king(*3) and declared he wanted to go on a grand voyage on the sea of a dangerous age to prove his love and faith in his king, his wife, and God. The king was hesitant and told the man of his foolishness.
“Go away. You will die on that journey and would serve me, your wife, and God better by living and helping D’ni to prosper.”
The adventurer frowned. “That may be true, my king, but were I to go, that I braved these dangers for my wife, king and God, regardless of the end, would that not be a testament to my faith?”
The king frowned now as well. “You have a twisted view of faith. You may not go.”
And so the man left. However, by the night, God visited the king and told him to allow the voyage. And so it was. And the adventurer’s crew saw with him many wondrous things and learned much. And on the last day a storm too the adventurer and the crew returned minus only him. And though all of D’ni was sad, it was the strong opinion of all that no one had greater faith.(*4)

QUOTE
Footnotes:
*3 - The king in this piece seems to be Shomat. Though it's unclear. It could also be Aylesh or Ja'kreen. - Whilyam
*4- When it reads "it was the strong opinion of all that no one had greater faith." "strong" would be directly translated as "hard" or "hardest" in terms of density. I felt strong would be the more accurate translation. - Whilyam

002.003
QUOTE
A D’ni man was travelling through another Age. He was a famous explorer and had enjoyed visiting other Ages. This Age had many offworlders who lived on a flood plain. One day, the man was exploring with his offworlders when the Age began to flood. It flooded so quickly that he could not get out and he did not have a Book so he was trapped. The waters continued to rise and soon the man would be washed away. The offworlders cowered and did nothing so the man prayed and God appeared before him.
“Please, my lord, save me from these waters.” He said
“Did you not bring a Book?”
“I did not, my lord. I forgot.”
“I gave to you the Gift(*6) to protect you, to assist you, to make you wealthy and powerful, masters of all.”
“I know, my lord. I forgot. I am sorry. I was traveling with many other people and believed I was safe with them.”
“You are safe with me, they will not save you. Learn from this that you cannot trust offworlders.”
“I will, my lord.” Said the man.
And God moved the currents and the offworlders cried out as they felt they would be carried away, but the D’ni man felt the currents move around him and he stayed still in the water. And so God moved the currents more and the offworlders were swept away and died and then God let the waters recede. And so the man was saved and he returned to the off-worlder village and he told them of what had happened and the off-worlders found God and learned of his patience and wrath.

QUOTE
Footnotes:
*5 - It's difficult to pin down the time when this document was made. There are credible reasons (ink type, paper type, writing style) this could come from the times of a variety of kings. The three times I was able to narrow it down to was the reign of Yablehshan, that of Asemlef, or some point just before the Pento War. I'm leaning towards it being written and published during the time of Asemlef, though, as a paper published during the time when outside groups were perceived to have been killing D'ni would have perhaps replicated that situation more (as in, the outsiders here harming the explorer instead of merely being of "no assistance". The weak and cowardly outsider/servant model seems to match more with Asemlef's reign. - Whilyam
*6 - The use here of refering to the Art as 'the Gift' is significant here, as it underlines the idea that the author felt that the Art was a blessing from Yahvo. - J.D.

002.004
QUOTE
A D’ni man was depressed. He took solace in drinks and sin and did nothing in his sadness. For many years he was like this and then God appeared before him.
“Why do you sit, child?” God asked him.
“I can do nothing, my master.” The man replied.
“You have done nothing, child. But why do you sit?”
“You know, my master. My business has failed, my home is no longer mine, my wife has left me and will not return. I cannot continue as I am, my master.”
“No, you cannot. But why sit?”
“Have I not said so?”
“You have said what has happened in the past, but not what has forced you to do nothing to change your future.”
“I can do nothing.”
“That is an excuse.”
“That is what is real.” The man protested. “All I try to improve fails.”
“For you attempt believing you will not succeed.”
“I believe I will succeed. I want to succeed! Do you believe I enjoy being so low?”
“You want to succeed, but you do not believe you will.”
“Would anyone not understand if they heard what has occurred?”
“That is an excuse. Do not craft them before me. Put your energy into glorifying me and your fortunes will change.”
And so the man did with the belief that God was before him, the lighter for him. And so he rose in his power and wealth and his wife returned for she had left him for his sin. And even though he was a low one(*8), he went to be influential and active and all looked up to him.

QUOTE
Footnotes:
* 7 - From what I can find, this story was published with the first two I restored. They seem to be written either when the D'ni first arrived as a form of motivation to build more and glorify Yahvo (which doesn't match up with the mention of the J'taeri district in the piece about the D'ni painter, though it could have had a more modern re-writing) or it could have been created during the reign of Kedri. The paper and ink styles from Ri'neref's period seem to have had a revival during that period (the paper is more rough, as is the ink, made relatively crudely and with basic materials). - Whilyam
* 8 - It is unclear whether 'low one' here means low of class, or refers to the lowness of depression and immorality the man had sunk to. - J.D.

JD's comments and discussion (questions in bold):
QUOTE
Commentary:
While Whilyam has worked diligently to narrow down which kings may be referred to in each peice, I think that it is also possible that the kings referred to here may be generic, used more as storytelling devices rather than references to specific Kings.

These parables seem to focus on the relationship between a D'ni and Yahvo, particularly on the focus of faith. These interpretations of faith mirror the interpretations of taygahn (i.e. love of Yahvo) as put forth by King Ahlsendar and the prophet Tevahr. This is in contrast to the legalistic interpretations of faith espoused by Gish and later King Kerath.

This may point to these being older stories, as Gish's interpretation became more prevalient in the late and post King era.

The fact that Yahvo speaks directly to the characters in the story is interesting since that sort of direct revelation was uncommon in D'ni theology (as well in most cases considered to be the purview of women, who were felt to be better prophets than men). However, this may simply be a rhetorical device. Or it may serve to put focus on the personal relationship of taygahn between Yahvo and the devout D'ni.

An interesting thing to note is that the third story attempts to re-enforce the D'ni zenophobia by pointing out that D'ni should trust Yahvo, and in during so, learn not to trust bookworlders.

So, what is your commentary on these stories? What is your guess on their authenticity? If they are authentic, what would they tell us about the D'ni?

source
jarelav
This is the third set issued on 1/11/08, catalogued as Lara 003.001, provided by belford:

JD's intro:
QUOTE
This restoration is a bit unusual for this collection, provided by belford. This is not a D'ni text, or even notes from Mr. Lara. Rather, this seems to be a later addition to the collection from some third source. This is a memoir-style story written about someone who met Mr. Lara. Still, I have designated it Lara 003.001

Here are some comments from the restorer:
(The provenance of this document is even murkier than that of the rest of the Lara collection. It is in English, and clearly refers to Lara in the third person; but it appears contemporaneous. The most likely explanation is that the unnamed narrator wrote this text after meeting Lara, and later -- perhaps years later -- passed the document to Lara, or to his descendant, for safe-keeping.)

I have put the story behind a spoiler tag, as it is quite long for a forum post. I hope to have this up on a website soon for easier reading. Give the length of the story, I will post my commentary in a separate reply.

003.001
QUOTE
________________________________________

I walked into the Chinaman's Eye, and I saw an old man in an old army uniform. He sat at the smallest darkest table in the saloon. In front of him were a glass, a little black book, and a bottle of mezcal. The book was closed and the bottle was open.

I navigate by stories; I sit and drink with the most interesting one I can see. The closed book and the open bottle were the best story in the saloon, so I sat down and asked the man which one was better.

Well, he said, the bottle isn't good. It's the cheapest mezcal but that's what I like to drink. It's harsh and strong and it stings. If I drank brandy I would remember what's sweet in life, and if I drank whiskey I'd remember what's rich in life, but I don't drink to remember my life so mezcal is good enough for me.

And the book? I asked.

I haven't read it. So I guess the bottle is better after all, for a closed book and a closed bottle are neither any good to anyone. Have some mezcal, Father.

So I drank with the man who had been a soldier, and the husband of a visionary, and the friend of a Mexican prospector, and was now the owner of a book and a saloon in San Francisco called the Chinaman's Eye.
________________________________________

The soldier asked, Father, what do you imagine Heaven is like?

I had returned to the saloon, which I'd found out belonged to the soldier. He sat in it each day, starting in the afternoon, with the closed book and the open bottle in front of him. He drank his mezcal slowly as night fell, and now I drank mezcal with him and considered his question.

You'd think my job would be to know that, I replied, but of course I don't. We speak of a great and golden City, full of saints and angels, free of suffering. We imagine living there just as we live here, but with no disease or age, and bathed in the presence of God. It's not much of a story, bland and simple I'll admit, but what other kind can sinners tell?

Why, any story at all, the soldier said as I sipped my drink. Any story is a thought in the mind of a man, which means it must be a thought in the mind of God, and surely all of God's thoughts are manifest in Heaven.

That's true, it must be as you say. And didn't Dante write of the spheres of Heaven, the Moon and Sun, Mars and Venus and so on, each with its inhabitants and its nature?

Dante?

A poet of Italy.

Well I'm no poet, only an old soldier, but I've heard stories far beyond the Moon and the Sun. A story of a tree that rises to pierce the sky; a story of twelve golden islands in a warm silver sea. A story of a jungle full of singing serpents, of a desert of cracked ice that breathes its vapors up to stars no man has ever known.

Surely those are stories of wonders, and I would love to hear them too. Who spoke of such things to you?
That was my wife, and she only spoke of what she saw. All the years I knew her, she was blessed with visions of Heaven.
________________________________________

I sat down, and the soldier looked across the table at the bottle and the book that separated us. I reached for the bottle and left the book alone.

Sir, you spoke last night of your wife. But you never told me her name.

Why, she was Mary, a fitting name for a blessed woman I always thought. So many women bear that name, but then so many women are blessed, so many women and men that it's a wonder we are not all Josephs and Marys. Well, like the blessed Mary-- The soldier laughed then. --Your pardon, Father, I think of her often and speak of her rarely, here in this saloon which we once owned together. You were asking about my wife.

She had visions.

That's so. Not fits, you understand, not great babbling ecstasies such as you hear about.

Such as visit the Shakers or the Gift Adventists?

Do they, Father? I have not seen such things. Mary held only a great light, half-remembered and half-seen, that lived in her dreams and the edges of her sight. She was shy about it sometimes, but I loved hearing her visions, and so she brought them forth for me as words, simple bright words that a soldier could understand. And so I loved her.
Of course you did, what else could you do? But tell me her words. What was her Heaven?

Oh, everything, as I told you yesterday, or perhaps it was the night before? Crystal bridges threading gulfs of sparkling twilight. Fern trees like sequoias sheltering grazing iguanas the size of elephants. Waves of curling violet cloud breaking on shores of splintered glass.
But chiefly the city, the Kingdom of Heaven, golden and pure, surrounded by seas of light.

Just as the Bible says after all, I laughed.

Surely, Father, and why not? It was the word of God that Mary spoke.

And the book? I asked very gently, touching the black leather that lay between us, the volume that the soldier had never touched or opened or spoken of.

The word of God as well, Father. Nothing else but that.
________________________________________

The next time I walked into the Chinaman's Eye, I bought a second bottle of mezcal. Two drinking from one bottle finish too soon, and I wanted to hear more of the soldier's life.

This book, I asked him. That was Mary's Bible?

Oh no, Father. That is, yes, hers; but the Mexican's before her.

The Mexican you say.

Just so, the Mexican, a prospector and wanderer, a dusty leather man. He walked out of the desert and into our saloon.

He must have liked your sign as much as I did.

Certainly he did, as you did, that's an old story and I'm glad you know it. The half-lidded eye: it says, I see some things but then others I don't. Appropriate for a place where men sit and drink mezcal, which is what the Mexican drank, harsh and strong and stinging.
But he had found no gold? Only Bibles, I suppose. A prospector who strikes Gospel is a rare miracle indeed.

Now you're jesting, Father, but strangely enough you're right. He had found no gold in the desert, nor silver either. Men with gold and silver do not drink cheap mezcal. But the Mexican had found a cavern -- had become lost in a cavern, to tell truth. He had wandered many days underground, or perhaps it was even weeks. And then he returned to the open skies with drawings, with memoirs, with maps and charts and sketches. Things he had seen, and then others he had not seen but merely discovered written down, in ancient tattered books and parchments.

But what had he seen?

Why, what else but a golden city? A lost and empty city buried in stone. A city in ruin, surrounded by a dying golden light. The fabled city that Pizarro and de Leon had sought; found by a Mexican prospector who knew he beheld El Dorado.
________________________________________

You need not pay for your mezcal here, Father, not in my saloon, not now that you know my wife's name. It is cheap drink besides.

Thank you. But I must ask --

Calmly, Father, it is all in the past and there is nothing but the story to be told. You are curious about the city of course, the golden city so like and so unlike Mary's vision.

Yes, curious, exactly so. We say much of Heaven, but never that it is a deserted city, fading away to ruin. It would be theologically unsound at best.

And in a cavern, to boot. Underground.

Insupportable! I laughed. I shall telegraph the Episcopal bishops at once. But truly, it was the city Mary had always seen?
It truly was and she was as wonder-struck as you. She had often described to me the colonnades and plazas, the arches and flying balconies, until I could see them as clearly as this glass before me. And there they were in charcoal and chalk, the papers lying on this very table.
The Mexican had a fine hand.

I wonder if Heaven has shadows in this mortal world. Cast like Plato's shades by the light of our Lord. El Dorado, Atlantis, Shambhala.... Or perhaps the original Shadow, Hell itself? The City of Dis found eternally empty, a place of punishment turned into the best joke ever played by His witty and infinite mercy.... But wait, what of your wife's other visions? The strange trees and stranger beasts, the castles of wire and glass, the unknown skies?

The Mexican spoke of those as well, but he had not stood among them. They were woven in tapestries in the city's halls, displayed in great windows of colored glass, illuminated in manuscripts. He had brought a few pages back, and Father you should have seen Mary's eyes shine to behold them. The conch-huts of the vine jungle! she cried, as if she had played beneath their spiral eaves. And behind them, where you cannot see, the waterfall!

And so the prospector sat here, where I sit, and told his stories.

He did, and Mary told hers. They poured out each other's obsessions, while I poured the mezcal and wondered that God's creation could contain so many things.
________________________________________

I apologized for my few days' absence. I have been seeing San Francisco, I told the soldier, and learning about California and the Territories.

Following our wanderer's footsteps?

Indeed but the trail is cold. You said he found his Caverna del Oro in New Mexico.

Yes, and is it not curious?

So many things are, but tell me, sir.

Why, curious that a Mexican would wander into New Mexico Territory, and fifty years after the war.

Wars fade into memory. And of course the Union has fought a greater war since.

Certainly, in the East, but here in the West an old soldier remembers. Mexico claimed this land, Alta California and Nuevo Mexico, the brilliant deserts.

And then Texas leaped into the Union's arms.

Just so. Mexico claimed the Nueces, we the Rio Grande, but was that the whole of the tussle? North and west ran the disputed land, into the high dry places... Caves have been found there before, Father, and since. I spoke last month to a young cowboy...

Sir?

Pardon an old man who wanders. The war, you see. We fought for land, through gunsmoke and fever, down past the Rio Grande to Ciudad de Mexico. And now I wonder if a voice whispered in the President's ear that treasure lay in the Nuevo Mexico wastes. If Santa Anna defended and lost a golden city, dearer than any painted desert.

It could be so but soldiers died just the same.

So we did, Father, as soldiers always die. Would an empty city have stirred our blood? In the end it was the gold of California, not the riches of El Dorado or of Heaven, that we won for the Union.

And you came here?

I had dodged bullets in Mexico but not the yellowjack fever. Army life held no more appeal. When I mustered out, San Francisco was already booming; I thought to build a saloon. To sell mezcal to prospectors with fire in their blood, to drink a little myself -- mezcal purifies a man's blood, there's nothing better for fever.

It has sustained you, certainly.

It did and it does. But mezcal is harsh and strong and stinging, it keeps you alive but it does not fill your life. I came to San Francisco for work. I found Mary and a vision of Heaven.
________________________________________

Now you must tell me the end of the story, my son.

The story of a soldier and his wife, of a Mexican and his book? But I don't know the ending. How many of us fit our lives so neatly?

Not one man in a thousand I suppose. And even he likely wondered on his last day what ever happened to his socks.

The soldier laughed. So and just so. Well, Mary was fascinated by the Mexican, his tales and his papers. They talked late into the morning, comparing stories and writing notes, long after an old man had fallen asleep. Then Mary began to speak of leaving San Francisco, of journeying to the desert and searching for Heaven.

Forgive me for asking, sir, but were they intimate?

You mean, did she share his bed? I suppose she did but what does it matter? From the first I loved the light of Heaven in Mary's eyes. Now she pursued that with all the force of her soul, and I loved her the more for it. Besides (the soldier laughed again) I am an old man, and since Mexico my health has never been good.

Despite the mezcal.

Oh, indeed -- please attend to my glass, Father, it is empty. But Mary was... well she was not a young woman, but still, ten years younger than myself? Fifteen perhaps? And her years did not weigh heavily, you would not have thought her an old soldier's wife. No, I do not grudge
Mary a moment of joy. Joy that perhaps she thought lost in the life of a saloon-keeper and her old husband.

But in the end she left?

In the end... she did not run off with the Mexican, that is what you are imagining but it wasn't that way at all. He had given her this book, or perhaps she had taken it from his room; they shared many such artifacts in their investigation. One morning I came downstairs; the Mexican was asleep at this table and Mary was gone.

Merely gone.

Gone, left the Mexican and the book behind. He knew no more than I. He said she had been studying the book and then he dozed off. We agreed that she must have gone to the desert, but alone in the night? Without money or wagon?

Unaccountable but the heart moves in its own way.

Surely it does. Mary loved me, and this place, and I'm sure she loved the Mexican in her way, but the golden city was in her heart before any of us.
________________________________________

I am surprised, a bit more surprised every evening, to find you sitting here with the book unopened before you.

Oh, well you are a man of letters, Father. A book falls open in your hand, that should surprise no one. I am only a soldier.

But it is all you have left.

Perhaps it is rather all that remains, and I wish it to remain so.

And you say that you are no poet, I smiled. But I take it the prospector moved on?

Ah, the Mexican, just so he did. A few days after Mary left us. He said he was going to the universities of the East, to see if learning might make clear what vision had not.

He did not go after Mary?

I do not think so. I gather he was married, I am not sure but I think it was so, and a moment of joy in the wild lands is not a life. But then perhaps he will turn his face to the desert, if not today then when he is old.

Silence passed a few moments, and I refilled our glasses.

You asked me, that first night, what the Bible said of Heaven.

So I did and you cut to the heart, Father. My thoughts turn to this book, I confess it after all.

You called it the word of God, even though you have never opened it.

It came from the city, did it not? And this is the path I tread, night after night... my Mary saw Heaven, not just as a golden city, but a silver temple and an mahogany village and a brassy market and an onyx ruin, all at once. Meadows and canyons and ancient forests, spires and seas and abysses, on without end.

Realm after realm, world upon world, a house of doors opening to every wonder imaginable by God.
You understand it. But what then is contained in God's Bible, in the book stolen from the altars of Heaven? Not just our little stories, a garden and a flood and a resurrection. Surely not.

Go on, I think I see but I cannot grasp it.

No one could grasp it, do you understand? Such a book would contain every story, every wonder, every thought in God's mind, which includes all thoughts.

You mean, Hercules at his labors. Loki stealing the hammer of thunders. Sedna combing the sins of mankind from her hair. All in the same book with our Father, the prophets and the psalms?

All those and more. A girl fleeing a castle in slippers of fur or glass. A boy who draws a royal sword from a boulder. A hero searching the world for one honest man. A king who sees his father's ghost and runs mad. And then...

Then? More?

...We turn a page, and find the stories turned round and sideways. Our Bible, our little stories must be only a shadow cast by the word of God. Move the light and the shadows dance...

...Joseph and Mary flee Jerusalem on a flying carpet, guided by Ariel to an island where a sorceress turns men into pigs. Atlas draws Excalibur from the root of the World-Tree and strikes down the pretender, Zeus, who falls to Earth in a shower of gold that sets Atlantis alight. Goliath tears off Grendel's arm and nails it above the door of David's temple...

...Sheherazade tells lurid tales to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, as their parents battle frost giants. The Jade Emperor plays chess with Pharaoh for the fate of the condemned Jesus; but he has already escaped Rome and lives to a vast age in the desert, fathering innumerable smiling children whose only flaw is that they turn to stone in sunlight...

...Mohammed journeys to India, where he leads the Wild Hunt to slay the Bull of Heaven. He founds a great kingdom there; its people call him Prester John. The kingdom is later overthrown by an army of dwarfs, who march seven times around his walls chanting Dreamtime songs which grow a forest beneath the city overnight...

...Hanuman the Monkey King battles Esau the Wild Man of the Hills, shaking the land asunder. The Great Wyrm crawls up out of the cracks. King Solomon captures the Wyrm in a clay lamp, seals it with wax, and places it on top of a glass mountain surrounded by brambles, so that only the bravest prince may win through and have his wishes granted...

...and round again: Mohammed and Solomon whispering secret stories to Sheherazade, Ariel slaying Goliath with a sling stone plucked from the eye of Odysseus, Jesus leading his people from slavery in Babel as Pharaoh circles the walls where mermaids part the Red Sea for a lump of magic gold brought by three kings to Eve daughter of Mary who spins it into straw breaking the Phoenix's back upon which rests the world...

...on and on, parable upon folk tale upon fairy tale upon legend.

No one could read such a thing, I whispered. It would contradict every faith ever held. Every belief.

Not at all, it would confirm them. People imagine that you discover God's truth by paring away falsehood, discarding lies and mistakes. They cannot imagine that there are no lies. That to discover God's truth is to encompass, to accept, truth upon truth until truth passes understanding.

And you say all this is contained in the little black book between us.

I can imagine nothing else that it might be. And now you know, said the soldier, why I fear to open it.
________________________________________

I never saw the soldier again after that night. I was called away for a few days to attend a sick friend, and when I returned to the Chinaman's Eye, I was told that the proprietor had left town. No, the bartender said, he did not know why or when he would be back. No one had even seen the soldier leave. But he had left something behind, on the table where we had spent so many nights, and I was welcome to keep it if it struck my fancy.

It was seven years before I returned to San Francisco. By that time, the Great Fire had struck; no trace of the saloon remained, nor anyone who remembered it. I could find no word of the the soldier, his wife, or the dusty Mexican prospector who had walked out of the desert carrying stories.

I sat down in a different saloon, placed the unopened book before me, and drank a glass of the cheapest mezcal. It was harsh and strong and it stung -- like life, I might have said; but a soldier who was not a poet would have laughed at that.

JD's commentary:


Commentary:

This is an excellent story, and has some intriguing implications. belford pointed out to me that the story is similar in style and content to some writing of Edward Whittemore, though it predates him. Possibly Mr. Whittemore encountered the story.

The main character, the Father, is obvioulsy very well educated - he references all sorts of other religious traditions and literature.

The character of Mary is interesting as well. Visions and prophecy were considered very real by the D'ni, and generally the purview of women. This meshes nicely with Mary having visions.

As for the disappearances of Mary and the soldier, well, I think the implication there is clear.

I leave any speculation on the medicinal value of mezcal to the reader.

So, do we think this is authentic? If so, it implies that Mr. Lara brought out a linking book from D'ni, and that that book may still be in circulation somewhere.

Thoughts?

source
jarelav
This is the fourth set issued on 1/18/08, catalogued as Lara 004.001 - 004.006, provided by Whilyam. It is also known as the "Rehgahrovaht" or "The Great Five":

004.001

QUOTE
Preface:

When God first saw D’ni being formed, God talked to a low D’ni woman known as Hahno. God said to her that God would physically visit D’ni over the course of one hundred and twenty-five years to test the people’s faith and morality. Once as a poor man, once as a rich man, once as an envious man, once as a dishonest man, and once as a pure man. God told Hahno to record how God was treated and to spread the word afterwards of what she was taught. She agreed and her life was happy and prosperous for twenty-five years.

004.002
QUOTE
Hahno then was then filled with soft luck(*1). Her husband, Ainehm, left her and she had no money and moved to a poorer district. There she met a poor man living as a merchant of off-worlder goods. His name was Pahbto. The man befriended her and had the most handsome face which seemed to shine through the dirt which covered him. And he would take her with him when he asked the higher for money and she saw how they scorned him and hit him and rejected him, and she felt sorry for him. And while she suspected it, it was not until a man was immoral with her that she knew. With a single hand, Pahbto destroyed the man so wholly that no one remembered he existed. He then thanked Hahno and revealed he was God. God touched the ground and it turned into precious stones and God told her to take them as a thanks and then God left. And while the stones made her one of the wealthiest D’ni, she was sad, for while she was married, she had loved the poor man despite deception. And she returned to her husband, who had suffered as well, and while she did not tell him about God’s hand in their wealth, together they saved and prospered for twenty-five years.

*1 - Seems like a D'ni phrase meaning something like bad luck, but it also seems to refer to actual imperfections in whatever would turn around that luck. Confusing. -Whilyam

004.003
QUOTE
Quickly Hahno rose to a position where she and Ainehm were among the richest in D’ni. Hahno and Ainehm were invited to a rich friend’s age for a celebration of the birth of a son(*2). And there she met a senior Guildsman in the Writers Guild named Osookehn. After the celebration, the two met often to discuss politics and visions and other issues. One day Osookehn took Hahno to one of his ages and showed her around the facilities he had constructed. Toward the end of his tour, he showed her a massive slave house. The slaves there brought them food and drink and performed immoral acts for them. At this, Hahno stood and told Osookehn she wished to leave for she was offended at the immorality.
“What is morality but the opinion of our prophets?” he asked.
“Morality is God’s command, not to be spoken of as such.”
“And what is God but the scare-creature of our minds?”
“You have no faith.”
“I have faith in what I see.”
And so Hahno left and denounced the man in public. But the man was friends with many and his actions were approved and Hahno was scorned for not remembering her place and even Ainehm was silent. However, they remained quiet and humble and lived peacefully for twenty-five years.

*2 - This being the friend's son, not Hahno's. -Whilyam

004.004
QUOTE
To have challenged a writer made Hahno a person who was interesting to other people(*3). Among them was a man named Ahnsehkh. He became quite close to her and they met often to debate playfully. Ainehm grew more distant and was sad. One day, upon her returning from Ahnsehkh’s house, Ainehm confronted her.
“Why do you shame yourself before God?” he demanded.
“I do not.”
“Why are you dishonest with me? Why neglect as you have? Why be unfaithful to the one who has supported you?”
And Ainehm grew violent and brought pain to Hahno.
“You bring no honor to God.” He said.
And though in pain, Hahno called out still. “I love(*4) and honor God as I love and honor you and hope you do of me.”
And at that, the pain was gone and Ainehm smiled and a person came out of him and it was God. And after they greeted God, Hahno asked what had happened.
“The one who hit you was I to test your faith that love of the mind is greater than hate of the heart or violence of the body. The one who envied the one who took your time was Ainehm who now sees how he was wrong.”
And so God left them and Ainehm first learned of God’s duty bestowed to Hahno and was happy for he knew that God would move them correctly and they were happy and loving for twenty-five years.

*3 - The word here is a personal noun meaning essentially "person of interest". -Whilyam
*4 - Love here being "taygahn" love of the mind. -Whilyam

004.005
QUOTE
After God left, Hahno and Ainehm were happy together and loved each other. It was in this time that they decided to become philanthropists(*5). A man came to them to offer them an age once owned by the Guild of Caterers. It was a massive food age and Hahno felt they could help feed poor D’ni with products from the age. And so they bought the age and the man and Hahno and Ainehm were friends. Ainehm began meeting with him more. Betting on races in Tahsheetahj(*6). Soon Ainehm lost almost all their wealth. One day he overheard the man talking with a rider he bet on, telling him to lose and Ainehm was sad. And so Ainehm told his wife of this and Hahno, knowing it was God, was calm. They would be humble once more as they had come to be. And they lived poorly and humbly for twenty-five years.

*5 - The word here is a personal noun for someone who charitable. -Whilyam
*6 - I've looked through the historical records I have, but I can't find a mention of this age. It either didn't exist or, more likely, was a gambling age running under the radar of the maintainers. -Whilyam

004.006
QUOTE
It had been twenty-five years since God left them as the dishonest man. Hahno was two hundred years old. Ainehm had died five years earlier of a sickness(*7) and Hahno was sick as well. Hahno was very tired and she lay, as she had years before, on the side of an alley in a poor district, when a small child walked up to her.
“Peace to you, God.” She said weakly.
“Have you learned from what you have seen?” God asked as the child.
“To love and glorify God. To be honest and kind and faithful to all who you see and who see you.”
And so God had Hahno print what she experienced and had her submit it to the King. And then God let her sleep.

*7 - No records of an epidemic of D'ni. Looks like it could have been a sickness in the lower districts from bacteria in either a fishing district or a sickness from an age in one of the industrial districts as the histories have numerous mentions of both. -Whilyam
Given that the plagues in D'ni history were considered significant events in D'ni history and that this story seems to refer to the sickness in an off-hand manner, I'd guess that this sickness is not one of those plagues. -J.D.

JD's Commentary
QUOTE
As with the other documents, the story's publication and creation is hard to pinpoint based on the styles of the materials. It has the same paper texture as examples from both Ri'neref's time and Kedri's. It's also possible this was simply a generic story, though it seems too specific (the characters are mostly named unlike the parables). -Whilyam

Commentary:
Once again, we see the common D'ni theme that Yahvo spoke directly to women rather than men. Hahno is, in many respects, a figure similar to the Biblical Job, as she suffers many things as a test of her piety.

I would agree with Whilyam that the story seems to specific to refer to a D'ni 'everyman' character. Rather Hahno was an actual person or established mythic figure.

The first story seems similar to the myths of Greek Gods passing themselves off as beggars to test the morality of mortals. This also has a moment that displays the wrath of Yahvo, which is so complete that he removes the offending man from the Tree of Possibility. While the passage says that 'that no one remembered he existed', I think it is safe to say that Yahvo let Hahno remember as part of his lesson to her.

The second story is an obvious barb at those who took the words of the prophets as interpretation of Yahvo's will. It's interesting that many of the most influential prophets in D'ni history were men, whom were considered not to have the ease in speaking with Yahvo directly that women have. Rather, their 'prophecy' was often considered enlightened interpretation (the Watcher being a notable exception). So this focus of this parable may be on Hahno's (and thus all D'ni women's) more immediate relationship with Yahvo. Possible this may be an inkling of a sort of D'ni feminist thought.

The third story takes some interesting turns. Here, Hahno is, in essence, tested by Yahvo through the medium of domestic abuse. This seems to be an endorsement of taygahn as right action in the eyes of Yahvo. Also interesting here is this describes and actual possession of Hahno's husband by Yahvo. I've not seen any mentions of this sort of religious experience elsewhere in D'ni writing.

Comments? What does this say about D'ni religion? What part of D'ni religion do you think these stories align with the most?

Is there anything here that you think might lead us to considering this authentic?

source
jarelav
This is the fifth set issued on 1/19/08, catalogued as Lara 005.001 - 005.001, provided by JD Barnes:

JD's Introduction

QUOTE
I am proud to present my own restoration in this project. This series of restorations involve another collection. This time of a series of lectures from a notable D'ni thinker, circa 8450 DE, named Tr'releth. I have designated this collection Lara 005. I have two here, 005.001 and 005.002.

Tr'releth was a former Guildsman in the minor Guild of Burial Workers who developed a following as a philosopher. He was known for hosting impromptu discussions in various public places throughout D'ni. In some respects, he was considered a fringe personality, as the philosophy he espoused could be described as a form of humanism (for lack of a better term). That is, his philosophy focused on the importance and morality of the D'ni people of themselves, generally ignoring the more religious aspects of the topic. Despite that, he did have some popularity. He was also known for having a flair for a dramatic presentation.

The book I found was a collection of lectures. One day, Tr'releth stood on the top of the Great Stair and gave a lecture. The next day, he stood on the next step down and spoke on another topic. He continued until his last lecture was given on the next landing of the Stair. Some times he spoke at length. Other times, he was brief. And at least once, he spoke only a single sentence (restored below).

The book containing these lectures was significantly damaged and the binding destroyed by time, leaving the pages loose. The collection was missing several lectures and I have been unable to determine the order of the lectures. I also found fragments of a preface, from which I gathered the biographical information I discuss above.

First, I am listing the one sentence 'lecture', as it was easy to translate.

005.001
QUOTE
Stone is always heavier in your own hand

005.002
QUOTE
My father was was a fine Maintainer and a good D'ni. But he was not always a kind man. And he was even less kind when he saw what he thought was wrong. In my 15 hahrtee(*1), I had been very foolish and discontent child. I was shamed to be brought to my father by another Maintainer, as my friends and I had been found defacing statues in the Kali district. And, in my fear, I'd claimed that I'd done none of the actual destruction myself. Instead, I blamed one of my fellows.

My father, he saw through my deception. In silence he brought me home and stood me in front of one of his prize possessions. It was a figurine of a dancer, blown from Chahn glass(*2). He said it reminded him of my mother, who had been dead for 4 hahrtee. He stood me in front of the figurine and took my hand in his. And then he thrust my hand through the figuring, slicing my hand with its broken glass.

I screamed. I cried. And when I'd run out of breath, he said to me. "When you betray, you destroy something beautiful. All that is left is shards. And shards can only make you bleed." And he sent me to the Guild of Healers.

My father was not a kind man. My hand still carries the scars. But pain is the midwife(*3) of wisdom.

I have seen many wonders throughout the Ages. Sunsets that have taken my breath away in Darjehm. The glittering cliffs of Bahr'ahn, the stone infused with crystals. The serenity of the gardens. But my father's lesson taught me that these sights were nothing(*4).

True beauty was elsewhere. That beauty was not found in the structure of a crystal, but rather in the structure of people uniting together, and what they create. The husband and the wife that cares for a child. The brotherhood of Guildmen who share in a job well-done. The choir which weaves disparate notes into a song that would make Yahvo himself cry. Yes, D'ni has created many great things, many astounding Ages. But it is the results of people working as one that is the most noble(*5) of creations.

And thus it is the greatest of the sins of D'ni that we, repeatedly, set to the task of destroying our own beautiful efforts. We set upon ourselves like diseased animals. Over Ages, over bookworlders, over the words of a prophet. We thrust our hands into the delicate and noble lattice of our connections and shatter them. And as my father pointed out, shattering leads to shards. Not pieces. Not components that we can use to rebuild. But shards that are all edge and point, that slide into our fresh, and our hearts. And from those wounds, D'ni bleeds.

We tell ourselves that we are a noble people. We meet in our neighborhoods and tell one another that we are good people, that Yahvo would be proud of us. But we must fit into the robe of our supposed nobility. That means we must learn to build with more than stone and pen. We must build with our good words. We must build with our good actions. We must build by reaching out our hand and say, "My friend, let me help you."

There will be conflict. There always is. But even in our disagreement, we must build. Our disagreement must be the stone on which the tool of our character is sharpened. We cannot build with anger, or greed, or guile. Rather, we build with honest passion, with respect for both the positive and the negative(*6). We argue with the goal to build what is right, what is strong and what is honest. Even if that means we must concede, or even surrender.

And this was my father's lesson to me. That I had chosen the wrong path. I had bled for it, just as my friend might have bled for my choice if my father had believed my lie. That is the choice we each have, every moment. Where we go, we can leave beauty. Or we can leave shards, and blood.

I hope you choose well.

*1 This seems to be an idiom for describing the age between 15 and 20, similar to saying 'as a teenager'.
*2 Chahn was a desert age known for its sand, which had high-quality silica. Glass made from this sand was highly prized.
*3 Not an exact translation, but the term midwife most closely describes the role in the Guild of Healers that assisted in the process of normal birth.
*4 Literally "to the one".
*5 Literally "noble to the twenty-five".
*6 'the positive and the negative' here is an idiom that seems to refer to sides of an debate - the pro and con sides.

As this is my restoration, I open it up for commentary from my fellow explorers.

source
jarelav
Marcus Wheeler on 1/19/08 started to compile a list of players involved to date on this translation project:
QUOTE

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE LARA DOCUMENTS PROJECT

PROJECT COORDINATOR: J.D. Barnes
DOCUMENTS COMPLETED: 15

RESTORERS:
J.D. Barnes
Marcus Wheeler
Tobyas
Owehn
Gorobay
Erik
Whilyam
Belford
Dcos
Eleri
Blade
Moiety Jean
The stranger
Rils

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

source
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