Ojhi and the land of Orthothans

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The Orthothan Artefacts Reclamation Mission, Ladhak Chapter

The following are two scrolls found inside a library in the ruins of Orjahan, the former capital of the Earthen Orthothan Kingdom [situated 19 km from Kargil, Ladhak, India] on February 13, 1954, during the 9th archaeological mission.

The following scroll describes events that seemingly are not part of the canonical orthothan texts.

Scroll 1

Hundreds of millions of solar lifetimes ago, there was a race of god-like beings called the Nouktan. Majestic creatures were rivalled by none. They were the masters of this part of the hytoth and were all across the universe. Until five hundred thousand years ago, however, they faced extinction, and only a very small number were left. They broke away, either finding solace in solitude or forming cults. Soon after, these cults spread throughout the universe, with some hunting down civilizations, destroying their works, and torturing inferior people for sadistic pleasure, while others changed the creatures because they were gods. Some allowed their automata to go berserk, terraforming planets against the will of their natives or making new artificial intelligences, like one who hunted for sport.

But their trespassing was not tolerated for too long. The Koru Teusa and the army of Orthothans defeated the Nouktan, but many of them and their vicious automata left their part of the cosmos. Many settled in other parts of the universe and continued their work. One of the cults even gathered various races and stitched them together into a single sentient moon that sings praises for them in the agonising voices of trillions of damned souls. Others created temporal pockets, hellish in nature, as they pushed the natives of a galaxy into them, to be burned for eternity.

The Orthothans tried to intervene, but they tore open a hole in the universe, allowing the Voru to pour in. While the Orthothans were busy driving the voru away, the Nouktans carried on their evil deeds. Even now, they are roaming around the universe, and their automata are serving their masters.

The second scroll, and unlike the first one, is written in a non-critical tone. The scroll has been subjected to censorship by words being painted over, using black ink, which is quite uncommon for the Earthen Orthothan Kingdom, where censorship was seen as a taboo.

Scroll 2

This is the record of the Nouktan group, "The Hand of Progress." The group was founded by the Nouktan, who dwelled in the galaxy of Morar, in the cove of death. Morar was a dead galaxy back then, with life absent from every planet except one. The Hand found the planet's dominant species were ape-like creatures, full of fur, and the ones that dwell in the night. The species, however, disappointed the Hand. They were sinners, and thus the hand wiped them out. Then they chose another race, a perfect one. The Hand named them [censored] and spread them across the dead galaxy.

The [Censored] dwelled on a million planets, evolving into different cultures. The Hand wanted them to evolve naturally. They built sentinels to protect the galaxy from the invaders and the automata of their estranged brothers. But some weren't happy. They wanted [Censored] to prosper, and they would only prosper if they had the same technology the Nouktans had.

And thus, the small group of people who named themselves "The Hand of Prosperity" gave the knowledge to our ancestors, the people of [censored] on the continent of [censored] in the original homeworld of [censored]. The rest of the hands, however, were not pleased. They feared that we would develop pride and enslave our brethren, as our gods did. However, our leader, [censored], convinced them that we wished no harm to others, and thus they allowed us to keep our knowledge. They gave Morar to us to protect it against any threats. For everyone’s well-being, we hid our continent on our true homeworld and made a facade of a giant ocean.

The Hand eventually left Morar, spreading our brothers throughout the cove and assisting the Nouktan in their war against the [demons?]. Ever since then, we have been like this.

It was like any other day of my work, finding artefacts and cataloguing them for posterity. I was inside my tent, reading about whatever we had found out till now and what more we were expected to find soon.

"Mr. Rudolf, check this out," Lee entered the tent, his excitement dispersing a positive aura into the environment and holding two scrolls inside platinum tubes. He is one of the most excited people on this earth. No matter how mundane things are, he will be damn excited. He stood before my desk and opened the scrolls, "See this. What do you think? " He gave the paper to me, "the original ones were too frail, but I rewrote them here."

"Interesting, Lee," I said, "let me look at them more closely."

"Of course, Mr. Rudolf." The man said this with politeness before he left. I too decided to take a small walk for some fresh air and left the tent with the paper.

The entire ruins were covered in trees and moss. The last testament to Earth’s first civilization, even if it was a result of alien intervention, was found. I took the scrolls and began walking towards the structure C-3. That is the place where a person would read, a library. The building no longer had that roof, the tables and chairs already rotted away millennials ago, and she was not here anymore. I sat on the broken floor. The mountain mist was chilling my spine, albeit not for the first time in my life of around fifteen thousand years.

I began to read again. I mostly looked at the redactions. Ikar was right, the orthothans really got pissed off looking at this. Fortunately, or maybe not, the current ones know next to nothing about the true nature of the galaxy, considering that the Earth is at the edge of the unknown part of the galaxy, and for now, messengers are coming directly from outside the galaxy.

I was reading and looking around the ruins. For some unknown reason, I could not help but try to remember what this place once was. The memories flowed in.

It was 13002 BC, I was a fresh graduate in History when I got recruited by the Hand of Security, the organisation meant to protect humans in the galaxy, though its operations have eventually deflated to around the sol by now. I was chosen to accompany the high councillor, Merer Ura, to Ladron, the first human civilization for a diplomatic mission.

In the morning, I had my breakfast and got ready for the trip. I went to Scholar Ikar to collect the Scroll of Warxin, one of the most important Orthothan scrolls in literature. It was meant to be gifted to the Orthothans.

"Here," he gave me another scroll while he was trying to keep his amusement down, "I wrote this one. Orthothans may like this." He gave a mischievous smile. Ikar was that person who tried to be funny, only to end up becoming a complete moron. I took it anyway, just as I realised that I was late. I began to run, hugging the scrolls. After all, being late on the first day when you are on a mission with a high councillor would have a great impression on the rest of my career.

I finally reached and was panting as the councillor looked at me with a stern look.

"I am sorry, sir!" I bowed down, begging the person to not send me back. I felt a pat on my back.

"You have arrived. That is everything. Let's not make those Orthothans wait," Merer said as he began to walk as I tried to follow him, but I was so tired. He noticed it. "Are you coming with me, or do you have other plans?"

"Y-yes, pants, sir." I looked at his stern face. I knew what was coming next.

"You are 25 years old. You youngsters are becoming lazier and lazier," I silently looked at him, "Who am I blaming? Your so-called old people are youngsters. You all live a life of luxury. Automata are there to serve your needs. When I was of your age, I would herd cattle. Do you know how difficult that is? I still remember that as if it was yesterday. " I, and others, sometimes feel amused whenever the members of the high council ranted about how the current generation is worse than the previous one. The fact that all members of the high council are at least two or three hundred thousand years old, dating back to when Morar still had a Nouktan presence, when there was a fatherly figure for humanity. The oldest man, apart from the counsellors, is only 9000 years old, with many opting for death by the 300th year of their life. Still, old men love to rant about younger men, and high counsellors must have also faced the same thing.

Well, we walked for another 10 minutes till we finally reached our destination. In front of us was a rust bucket, or in an elegant way, an aircraft from the antediluvian days (figure of speech, the ship is even older than that).

"Will we go into that?" I asked Merer, but I knew the answer even though I wished for the opposite to happen.

"Yes." And my fear was confirmed. We sat inside. For a rust bucket, it was well maintained. It was outdated, though, and needed to be manually controlled. The ship lifted off and we began to fly towards the sky. I looked through the back camera, the land was visible till at a point it vanished. Only a huge ocean was visible by now. The aircraft was flying on its way, I took a deep sigh of relief. Merer tossed an audio player at me. "Play something nice," he ordered, as I did. The aircraft was filled with music as I looked out at the sky.

We landed on the balcony of a temple, and people immediately surrounded us. Many of them were simply there to see outsiders, considering that on Earth, they were the only places with some civilization. Other places were unchanging savage lands at that time.

We stepped down as people tried to rush to us, to touch us, to see if we really were the outsiders they were told about. The first civilization on the Earth was before me. There has been a lot of debate in the galaxy about humanity’s origin, with most believing that humans are seemingly omnipresent while a few rightfully believe that humans have a true birthplace. Earth is a mysterious planet filled with gods and pure human civilizations, waiting for it's brothers to find them. Several people throughout history have bravely ventured into uncharted space or even to the galactic core in search of this homeworld, and entire religions have been built on this half-myth, as have several novels, dramas, and films.

The fact that its first civilization was in fact built by an alien, and that too late, would be considered a disgrace to humanity as a whole.

Some guards escorted Merer away while I was taken to the library to deliever the scroll. The library was huge: it was the largest building in the whole city, second only to the Royal Palace. The library was filled with scholars reading from the books. It was not different from Oleum, except the entire thing is virtual, with people clicking on the link to get a virtual book. A young man was sitting at the reception as I went there. He was lost in his thoughts as I tapped on the table.

"Huh?" He looked at me and said, "What can I help you with?" He asked while sitting, before he awkwardly stood up. "Sorry."

"Well," I spoke as the translator attached to my throat translated my words, "I am an emissary from the Oleum. I am here to," I took the scrolls out, "give them back." He gently took it and slid it onto a rack beneath the table.

"Yami!" He called someone as I looked in the direction. Seconds later, I was in awe. A beautiful woman, maybe 25 years old, came out, wearing a simple light blue dress. For some reason, she looked like the receptionist, "This is the outsider, you remember."

"Yes Hala," she looked at me, "greetings, mister." She bowed, "Welcome to our library. My family for the last 2 centuries has maintained this place as its caretakers." I bowed back as the gesture of respect.

"My name is Ojhi, and I am here with one of the members of our high council, Merer Ura." I introduced myself as she smiled.

"My name is Yami, and he is my brother, Hala," she said before glaring at him and elbowing him.

"Oh yeah! Hala, my name is Hala," he gave a small bow, "there is some work left, pardon me," and he left as Yami looked at me.

"Well, we were told that someone important was coming. Would you like a tour of the city?" she asked me. I gave a nod since Merer would take aeons to interrogate the messenger about how he even managed to get past the sentinels.

The entire city was filled with life. Even now, when I look at these ruins, I imagine people walking down the streets, children buying snacks and playing around. Donkeys carry loads around. The city was made from stones and bricks, yet some alien technology and magic were present. Like piped water, steam-powered motors, and mills.

"My great-grandparents' tribe arrived here from the central plains," Yami said as my attention was diverted to her. "Our tribes were hunters, hunting wild animals. One day, a drought occurred, and we arrived here. My grandmother was 17 years old when she married the son of the chief librarian. Yeah, even after being part of the family of librarians, after my grandmother, we take pride in our hunting heritage. You should come and see how many beasts my father killed in the southern forests. What about your parents? "

"Well, t-they were nobody’s, you know, people who tend to just survive," I lied.

I was born in the year 13028 BC in Oleum, raised by automata till the beginning of my puberty, my all needs were met by them. I never had a family since the very concept of family was lost in the Oleum tens of millenia ago. People are highly individualistic, and relationships are only made with equals. The High Counsellors, being the "preserve the old age" men, made marriage a sacred duty, but when people ignored it, they then made it compulsory that each man and woman in the Oleum have to give birth to at least one child, lest the entire continent collapse due to under-population. People had children and adopted them out, then ended up in orphanages, since children were considered an obstacle to parents' ambitions. Things went on. Orphanages became collective houses where children spent their childhood. I am unsure of who my parents were until now. Merer did warn that this practise is treated like an abomination by almost every other human civilization. That’s why I lied. I was unsure how she would take this.

"Oh, well, it’s okay," she smiled again, "many people prefer an ordinary life."

"True. So Hala too hunt? " I asked, only to hear her giggle in return, "Pardon?"

"Hala can't even kill a fly, but my cousin, Tarun, is going to become one. He usually remains in the tribe with our uncle and once in a year come back here with great trophies. He is very skilled for a sixteen-year-old."

"Do you hunt?" I asked curiously as she gave a nod again.

"Yeah, I hunted a huge beast down. Well, it was a group hunt, but I gave the killing blow. It was a huge, furry one," she raised her hands to show the size, "maybe as large as this house." The house she pointed to was two-story tall and had "big tusks." Mammoths, that’s what they are called now.

We continued as we saw many trinkets being sold in the market. Among the most popular items are pottery, gemstones, and decorations made from animal skins and bones. The mountain kingdom did had a variety in its culture and skills. I saw idols of Koru Teusa being sold, with one of Yourn Leusan being the best-seller. Story-tellers were narrating the stories of Orthothans and their deeds in the town square. Eventually, we sat on a bench, drinking some salty milk and watching a puppet drama.

"So, Ojhi," she asked, "how is your homeland?"

"Well,” I rubbed the backside of my head, "Oleum is a great place; there is no hunger or death."

"No death?" She was shocked, "Death is inevitable."

"No, death is a commodity for us. People choose when they want to die. Why? Feeling jealous." I poked her shoulder, expecting her to make some excuse.

"No, I feel pity for you." Her answer confused me.


"The fact that you could die at any time adds to the intrigue of life. I believe that immortality is boring and should not be opted for. "

Anyone would say that, but she was correct. The reason people give up nearly every 300th year is that they feel tired, tired to the point that they opt for death. I too understand now. Living among others and seeing them die, only to be replaced by their successors, is painful. Someday Lee would die too, and I would continue. How do the high councillors feel? Their generation is long since a forgotten history, and yet they continue for the Nouktan. I don't know.

"Well, then I guess the meeting must be done by now, "she said as I looked at the sky. It was already past noon. We both got up and began to walk back to the temple. On our way, we stopped at a pottery shop. Yami took a toy elephant up and showed it to me. "How is this?"

"Nice," I answered. She then turned back to the shopkeeper and paid her some coins. "Here." She gave it to me.

"Thank you. It is beautiful." We walked on and eventually reached back, Merer was standing outside with a few guards. I approached him as Yami left after waving goodbye.

"Our work is done here," he gave a satisfied look, "the alien is harmless, so we have decided to let him continue his work."

"Well then, let's leave, sir. Shall we?" Merer remained silent for a few moments.

"That being said, we need someone here to continue reporting his activities, what if he has some ulterior motives? So," he rested his hand on my shoulder, "you will stay here and report anything of interest."

"As you order, Merer. But where will I live? I asked.

"I have told them that you will stay here as you have requested to learn more about them." He told me and then left without answering my question. I sighed. There was very little I could have done anyway.

I went back to the library, Hala was snoring on the reception table, like a lion, while Yami was arranging some books.

"Ojhi," she called my name and came to me, "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I guess Merer left me here," I chuckled nervously, "can you help me find a place to stay?"

"Well, I guess we need a helper here, so you can work here and we can give you a room for you." Later, she talked to her father, the chief librarian, and got me the job of janitor. I would arrange the books for the patrons to take them away. Sometimes, during my free time, I would read some of their books. It was mostly okay, books made from vellum on different stories and the Orthothan religion. Sometimes Yami would help me with the work or read me books.

Once a month, everyone in the city would gather at the main square as the religious leaders would give sermons and people would offer blood to the guardians, though the star-fallen messenger would never come out of the palace. Maybe the environment of the Earth was not suitable for him. Time went on, I would just make audio logs and send them to Oleum. I was sure no one was listening.

Things went on peacefully. Slowly, I and Yami began to grow closer and closer, though I sometimes doubted if we even had a future together. Then, on the day devoted to Rakmou Leusan, a festival was organised. At the marketplace, traders from other parts of the kingdom and tribes like the one of Yami belonged to, arrived, bringing their trophies for sale, tigerskins, elephant tusks, and exotic animals I had never seen before, all for sale. Yami and I were sitting in a silent corner of the marketplace, observing the glittering sky.

"Today the sky is more beautiful, right?" Yami asked as I gave a nod, "So, is it true that there are more people like us outside this planet?"

"Yes, there are, but none are coming here for the next thousands of years, so you are all safe here."

"Yeah." She looked down at the ground. I continued to graze at the night sky. “Hey, Ojhi, tell me something.”

“Yes,” I looked at her face, it was filled with uneasiness.

“How long are you here?”

“I don't know, maybe a few years.” She gave a slight nod.

“Well, do your people accept outsiders?”

“No.” Practically, there was no outside contact at that time and later, a strict policy of isolationism was taken to not let our technology get into other’s hands.

“Well then, I hope our companionship will last for long.” I smiled at her wish. We both continued to chatter on different topics till it was very late. We then went back. Time passed by as we grew closer to each other. We would joke and sometimes bully Hala. Yami’s family would ask dozens of questions about Oleum, and I would answer, though I would tell half-truths.

After five years, I was recalled as the council decided to leave the kingdom alone. That time, in the courtyard of the temple, I saw her for the last time. She was smiling, but she was in agony too, just like me as I boarded the ship. I had returned home after a five-year absence. I entered my room and sat.

Outside the window were the tall silver buildings, and at my table, a silver pen, a mug, and a tablet. I smiled and put the elephant Yami gave me in my room. I began to stare at it, smiling at the gift given to me by my beloved.

As time went by, small civilisations began to sprout across Asia and the Sinai as the Earthen Orthothan Kingdom saw a rise and decline. Borders shrunk and expanded and eventually they started to fracture. Soon enough, after a hundred years, the star-fallen messenger disappeared. I went back, disguised as a traveller. Not much changed as I went to the library. At reception was a young man. I talked to him and learnt that he was Yami’s great-grandson. She eventually married someone else and lived a good life. I was satisfied that she got the life she wanted.

As I continued returning to the city, the culture evolved, and new gods, along with Koru Teusa, were being worshipped. Then came that day.

Two thousand years after my first visit, the Sarnites, one of the founding tribes of Daevas, attacked the kingdom. I was there as their spirit beasts ransacked the capital, tore down the royal palace, and burned the royal library to the ground. People fled deeper into the mountains, and then the city never came back to life.

Years went by and became decades, decades became centuries, and centuries became millennia. The buildings crumbled under their own weight, and eventually, the world’s first civilisation was forgotten. Eventually, I became busy with other civilisations, the Mechanites and Daevites in particularly. There was so much to learn that I ended up extending my life to the point that now I am the oldest man in the Oleum apart from the High Councilors. I still wish I could come here more often.

Eventually, New Orthothans rose up and started looking for the famed Earthen Orthothan Kingdom. I joined them as a fellow Orthothan, and eventually, they found this place on their own.

"Rudolf sahib, Night is coming; we should leave now. " Tenzin, our native guide, said while standing on a ruined wall, "There are many beasts hunting at night."

"Yeah," I got up and rolled the paper up, then began walking to the bus that brought us here. I reached near the entrance, and my eyes caught something.

A headless statue was a few metres away from us, with a graveyard behind it. It was strange since I had never seen it before. I asked Tenzin about it. He answered that it was a graveyard for a local Anglo-Indian community. Though the ruins were safe, very few people ever wanted to go there due to rumours and myths surrounding them. I gave a sigh before boarding the bus. A graveyard in the graveyard of a civilization with its statue too decaying. How time flies.

I was seated next to Lee as he was still in an excited mood. I never understood how he was so positive.

"Mr. Rudolf, did you hear? Our expedition is extended for another year."

"Why?" I asked since this was supposed to be our last day.

"We found some interesting relics from the first messenger himself! We will have to investigate. " I gave a simple nod. Even though I didn't know what he had left here, I was curious to find out.

As the bus started moving, I looked back at the ruins for a last time, the temple, the houses, and that library. Everything was gone now; only ruins were left. And there she was, smiling and waving me farewell like she always does.

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