81st Turn Seventh Year Sixteenth Cycle Skalday
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From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim

With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library

Skalday, Sixteenth Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn

Twenty-Third Day in the Trees

The rain continued today, so we decided to stay in this cave for a little longer. I have time, if nothing else, and Torne says that he has no destination waiting.

Having nothing else to do, and wanting some peace from Torne's chatter, I decided to explore the cave. We had only checked to make sure it wasn't occupied last night, and not gone too far in.

I found paintings along the back wall. I have heard of such. Our people used to paint on the ancient stones in the eastern desert, before we learned of writing. I once went there as a child, and learned the old histories. But these were different. Where our ancestors drew pictures in lines, to tell a story, these pictures were all around the wall, with no order, no sense to them.

The central image showed a figure walking. It appeared to be like a fox or a jackal, but stood on two legs. It carried something, though whether it was a spear, a walking stick, or something else, I could not tell. It was walking towards a large circle, which was decorated with intricate designs.

There were other pictures, with figures like the first. Some walked, some ran, some stood still. There were other objects in the pictures. Mountains, trees, and rivers. Some appeared to be pictures of made-things, like houses and wheeled boxes that I suspect were carts. There was a picture that showed a strange structure, made of ever-smaller rectangles piled on one another. There were very small figures drawn on it, so I knew it was depicting something very large.

In a dusty corner, I saw a picture that was different from the rest. For one thing, it was a picture of clockwork, hundreds of interlocking gears and springs. For another, where the other pictures were very stylized, almost crude, this was so detailed that I had to touch it to confirm that it was painted on, and not actual clockwork set into the walls. Admittedly, I can see no purpose to having clockwork in a cave wall, but nor can I see any purpose to painting the image of clockwork. I suspect that this picture was left by a different artist than the rest. For one thing, it seems much less worn. I wonder what the artist left it for?

Soon, I had enough of looking at the pictures. I told Torne they were there, and so had a few more minutes of quiet while he looked for himself. Then he returned, and we spoke of what they might be. Torne is of the opinion that the pictures of the figures told a story, though he could not make out what it was either. He is certain that there must be a pattern to it that we are both missing. "The pictures are a story, and who knows what they tell? A tale of long-lost glory, or of falling into hell?" Perhaps, but we are unlikely to find the key by staring at them.

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