While the originals are being left up for reference, this story is in the process of being edited/rewritten. The updated version begins here. O0O Waking up is rarely pleasant in my experience, but that first day in this mess certainly stands out as one of the worst. The first thing I noticed was the bed, or rather the lack of one. I wouldn't generally praise the mattress I had back before, but it was certainly better than trying to sleep on solid stone. The thick layer of dust didn't help either, and in less than a minute I could feel my sinuses close down and mucus start to pour down my face. It took a bit to move beyond that, especially with swelling eyelids, and so it was perhaps ten minutes after I awoke before I took notice of the remainder of the room. I had never seen it before. The floor was stone, as was the high peaked ceiling. The walls were stone as well, though I could see the decaying remains of tapestries or embroideries or something like scattered around where the walls weren't carved into recessed shelving filled with oddly intact books and cylinders that might contain scrolls. There was one doorway, though it was filled with what appeared to be narrow stone blocks fitted together in odd patterns. The light was dim and had a faint red tinge, and trickled almost like fluid from a series of cup like sconces set high on the walls. It cast the intricate carvings that covered everything in strange shadows, making every surface seem possessed of impossible depth. In the center of the room was a short pedestal, an unadorned block in the same reddish stone as the rest of the room. On the pedestal was a book. At about the same time I noticed the book, I noticed that I wasn't wearing the clothes I'd gone to sleep in. I had nothing but a set of thin, loose trousers secured by a drawstring. Standing up brought another sensation, and I felt something cold and angular bob against my chest. It was heavy in my hands when I lifted it to see, a central gem of deep red surrounded by six narrow wedges of rune carved metal that looked like copper. The gem seemed to burn with light, though it shed none. There was something familiar about it, about all of this, but I was still muzzy from sleep and could not bring the thought forward. I dropped the amulet and focused on the book. It was central, the focal point of all the room's lines. My steps raised clouds of dust as I shuffled forward to lean heavily on the pedestal and examine the thing more closely. It was bound in red leather, the spine worn from use, the embossed black lines that covered it faded in places. The markings on the front were gibberish to me, though as I looked they seemed to waver and twist, and I felt I could almost make some sense of them. The feeling passed and I opened the book. It was thick, the pages worn and ragged. I flicked randomly through, finding a half a dozen sections, each in a different hand, on different materials. The first and last sections seemed the least worn, the writing was inhumanly regular, typed most likely, on straight cut pieces of some stiff material I was unfamiliar with. Other sections varied, from a thin, pinched looking hand on the same material to tall, angular glyphs on something that felt delicate as tissue, to one section written on crude parchment of some sort, barely scraped and still with bits of mummified flesh along the edges. I could not read a single one of them, though all of the various writing forms seemed maddeningly familiar. Annoyed, I stopped paging, looking at a section in the early part of the text. It was the most delicate section, the tall, thin glyphs. Two sections of text were offset from the rest and I focused on the latter one. I could feel my head pounding as I looked at it. It was so familiar, I was certain I knew what it said if I could only think. It was like an obsession rolled through me, a mad, absolute focus on the pounding in my head that drowned out the ache of joints and the misery of allergies. I felt a rushing sensation with every breath, as if I stood inside the chest of some great animal, every breath sending air rushing through lungs and blood surging through a thumping heart. The amulet around my neck pulsed in time with my heart and my breath and my head. My vision blurred, and suddenly there was a wrenching sensation in my mind, as if a switch had been flicked, and I saw. Suddenly, the glyphs did make sense. I could understand every character, every diacritical mark, even idiom and tricks of writing were open to me. I could understand the writing as if it was my own, as if I'd been born to it. I looked at the offset section again, and this time I understood. As I read, my lips moved along, the words of a language I had never spoken pouring from my mouth as easily as my native tongue ever had. The harsh, rhythmic sounds echoed around the room, and as every word burned through the air the lamps seemed to pulse and flare, the dim light growing. The roaring feel of a giant's breath and hammering heart soared alongside them until everything seemed to thrum with power. The text read thus: Nwûl tash. Dzwol shâsotkun. Shâsotjontû châtsatul nu tyûk. Tyûkjontû châtsatul nu midwan. Midwanjontû châtsatul nu asha. Ashajontû kotswinot itsu nuyak. Wonoksh Qyâsik nun. I felt my legs waver, then crash out from under me, leaving me sitting at the foot of the pillar like a limp child. A pillar that was suddenly shifting, sections of smooth stone sliding apart and down into the floor, leaving only corner posts to support the surface upon which the book rested. I felt raw with shock...and fear. As I saw what had lain within the pillar, a small four sided pyramid of metal, copper and silver and brass or things which looked like them. The sides were covered in red lit traceries, runes and strange, angular pictographs. The whole capped by a pulsing red gem at the crown. “Oh...” I heard my own voice as if from far away, quavering and faint against the roar of power that filled the room and the spikes of pain that still drove through my head, “oh....shit.” O0O This isn't (strictly speaking) an SI, since that story would end fairly quickly in a Tu'kata's belly. Or some other painful and ignoble way to die in horrible agony. Thus, while the narrative is first person, the character is not 'me' as such. Index is here. Or here. Props to Kclcmdr. Please note that the 'redacted' links are to the current version. The others link to the previous version. As always, criticism/comment/critique is appreciated.