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Home » Encyclopedia » Ancient Fascinations
Ancient Fascinations
The Preservation Guild finds its greatest discovery yet.
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Deep within Greatwyrm’s Breach, history was being made. Over the past month, the Dragonhome Preservation Guild, comprised of a select number of skilled archaeologists, had uncovered more artifacts and subterranean ruins than multiple generations combined had done before them. Each day's findings re-invigorated the guild who, until now, had operated rather despondently within the parched and packed strata.

Velya, the wizened master of the research excavation, barely had enough time in the day to keep up with each of her research team’s new discovery reports. Today, the biggest flurry of excitement seemed to center around a find in Excavation Chamber Eight. The nocturne made her way down the damp tunnel’s roped off path, passing through a cold chill that sent a shiver down her spine. It had been years since she’d found the dark, quiet confines of the underground caverns unsettling, but in the recent weeks of successful digs, she’d had a nagging sensation that something had changed in the deep below; but Velya was too world weary to trifle with irrational dread. She dealt only in reality.

“Velya, twenty-one straight days of discovery has to be some sort of world record! The deeper we go, the more unbelievable the findings!” exclaimed the hovering spiral accompanying her. “We’re already the envy of every archaeology guild in Sornieth! Oh this is marvelous, so exciting, wonderful!”

“Yes, Fetter,” Velya smiled. On the surface, he seemed like a terrible choice for the position of her understudy, but Fetter was as talented as he was excitable, with a natural affinity for the hard work that comes with the job. She shifted her shoulder, hearing the joint pop, and let out a sigh. I’m too old for this. Velya was confident Fetter would make a superb Master Archaeologian when the time came, which would hopefully be soon.

As she entered the torch lit cavern of Chamber Eight, several crew members rushed over to help her cross the uneven rocky terrain to the newest dig spot. She waved off any help and made her way to the pair standing over a pit with a familiar glow. Her two colleagues were talking excitedly between each other. “All right, boys. What is it?”

Her crewdragon, Mysher, turned to her, “It’s another gem cache, but not just gems or even artifacts this time!”

The other archeologist, Armik, was quick to finish his co-worker’s observation, “Velya, there are bones with this one!”

Velya leaned forward to view the dig. Mysher was right. Throughout the cache of glowing gemstones were indeed the skeletal remains of a dragon who lived and died centuries before. “A wonderful specimen! But hardly the first we’ve discovered down here…” she trailed off as her eyes took in the part of the dig that truly was out of the ordinary. Velya let out a gasp. “Cordon off this chamber immediately! Only the crew assigned to it is to enter, and all of you,” she spoke rapidly, waving a claw excitedly at the assembled group, “are to keep your mouths shut until I say otherwise.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Armik, Fetter, and the rest of the crew in the chamber gave acknowledging nods as she made for the exit. She’d have to move quick to prevent this team’s report from being dispersed to the public. Her secretary, Eora, would have the paperwork on hand. As she trotted through the tunnel back up to the central cavern, the torchlights behind her sputtered, then extinguished, one by one, leaving the path in chill darkness.

--



“Chief, they found another one of those ...things in Excavation Chamber Four today. The crew says it looks kind of like a Beastclan but not one they’ve ever seen,” Mysher whispered, standing close to her as she surveyed the progress in Chamber Eight two days later.

“Close it off. No dragon goes in or out until I can see it for myself. Not even its crew,” Velya ordered. Mysher nodded and left.

“Chiiieeef! CHIIIEEEF!” Fetter came tearing through the entrance to the chamber at breakneck speed, skidding to a halt in mid-air, almost crashing into Velya. “Ebonhide is here! You have to get out to the main chamber now!”

Velya swore and pulled her shawl tighter about her withered wings, cursing the chill drafts that plagued these tunnels. As word of their scientific and historical revelations spread to the world at large, an anonymous organization showing great interest in their work had reached out to her. Represented by Ebonhide, a rather self-important imperial, this new patron awarded substantial donations to keep the Dragonhome Preservation Guild’s continually expanding operation fully funded.

Unfortunately, it also made it difficult to turn Ebonhide away when he came for updates on the excavation. Keeping his prying eyes from Chamber Eight would be difficult enough, but Chamber Four, too? “Find Eora, she knows how to keep Ebonhide occupied,” Velya ordered. Her spiral apprentice nodded and flew off to find the snapper secretary. “All right. Let’s get this over with,” she muttered to herself.


--



Velya cleared her throat as she approached the imperial and his companion. "Hello, Patriarch Ebonhide. We’re always excited to have you on site. As always, your generous donations continue to help us keep our equipment maintained and our workers well paid. What can we do for you today?”

Ebonhide regarded her with an ancient smile, twitching his whiskers. The great regal head bent low to address her. Velya reflexively mimicked the move, her snout attempting to twitch non-existent whiskers. Ebonhide paused, glancing at his steward. The frail pearlcatcher leaned over and whispered “...nocturne, sir,” just loud enough for Velya to hear it.

With another twitch of his whiskers, Ebonhide continued. "Trito and I just made a circuit of the chambers. We were disappointed to see we could not enter Chambers Four or Eight, but we couldn’t believe our eyes as we viewed the rest. Some of these pieces are truly astounding." The imperial sniffed. "In fact, we would like to request the opportunity to view the pieces first. Before the public. Perhaps even have the opportunity to acquire some for personal display-"

Velya stopped him, "I'm afraid that these pieces are far too valuable to our flight to be purchased outright. They belong in a gallery for all to see. As scholars of history, you can see how we would hate to deprive the viewing public of experiencing these new wonders."

There was a pause, and then Ebonhide looked toward Trito, who nodded quickly and wrote something down on the parchment he was carrying. The great imperial’s head swiveled back, eyes ever-so-slightly more narrow than before. "Of course. How rude and insensitive of me. It is every so important that the past be available to all." The giant head cocked to the side for a moment. "Surely the pre-public tours would not be too imposing, though?"

Velya regarded this change in tone with some suspicion. She balanced on a razor’s edge with Ebonhide. If she refused all his requests and he cut their money flow, she wasn’t sure how quickly or, worse, if she even could find alternate funding at the same level he provided. Velya wasn’t sure she trusted him or whatever organization he represented with the unexplained discoveries they’d just uncovered. She would have to find a way to do both. Giving the imperial a wary smile, she began, "As long as the guild continues to have the autonomy it needs–"

"Absolutely, Velya! We would never dream of changing the culture you have here. Simply allow us to move about and admire your work, and we'll make sure that you have the resources you need to keep up this magnificent expedition," Ebonhide proclaimed.

“Wonderful,” Velya said with a tight smile. “Why don’t we find Eora and she can show you around? Ah, there’s Fetter.” She waved her apprentice closer. “Where’s Eora?”

“She’s ah...a bit tied up right now, I don’t think she’ll be able to show Patriarch Ebonhide around today, so terribly sorry, sir. If you’ll please excuse us, one of the teams needs our Master Archaeologian!” Fetter appeared to be his normal self but Velya could hear the choked panic behind his speech.

When they were a safe distance from Ebonhide, she reached up and pulled the spiral down, looking him straight in the eyes. “What in the name of the Earthshaker was that about? You never call me--”

“Eora’s missing! No one’s seen her for two days!”


--



Dull pain throbbed in Velya’s temples. I am too old for this. The nocturne trudged her way towards Chamber Fifteen where yet another draconic skeleton had appeared. This time it was found alongside dozens of the smaller skeletons that shared characteristics similar to those of Beastclans. The implications were disturbing.

She looked over at Fetter as they passed through the tunnel leading to Chamber Fifteen. “Something isn’t right. These skeletons shouldn’t even be here, Eora’s still hasn’t been found, and we have another chamber to close off all while Ebonhide has practically set up his vacation home in my caverns!” She stood in the entrance of Chamber Fifteen, looking over the crew. “Fetter, I need the names of every crewdragon for Four, Eight, and now Fifteen.”

“Yes, chief!” Fetter pulled his logbook from his satchel with a flourish and began writing.

As she made her way down, she noticed Armik frantically moving from dragon to dragon standing around the latest find. She shivered as she passed through a chill twist in the passage and called out, “Armik! There’s still plenty of work to be done in Chamber Eight. What are you doing here?”

“Looking for Mysher…” Armik said, an anxious expression on his face.

“What do you mean, ‘looking for Mysher’?”

“Chief...I haven’t seen ‘em since last night. He’s just...gone,” Armik’s voice cracked on the last word.

“Fetter! Get down here! I need you!” When she didn’t hear anything, Velya turned to look back where she’d last left her apprentice. The tunnel behind her was dark, the torchlights had gone out. “Fetter?”

The earth rumbled beneath their feet, and a small quake rippled through the cavern floor but Velya barely registered it. The entrance to Chamber Fifteen was empty. Only a satchel and a logbook remained.

Fetter was gone.





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