A Landscape of Thorns

Dear Alexia Ashgerd,

I hate to write to you like this, but it is of utmost importance that you read this letter fully. I need you to understand what you are doing, but I fear that what I say may fall on deaf ears. The whole idea seems absurd to any logical thinker.

I read of your recent discoveries in the Adirondacks. The stories are saying you followed clues in old oral traditions and found a series of a tunnels, caves and odd structures. It all reminded me of something that happened a few years ago.

See, back then I was in regular correspondence with Dalia Weekes, an archaeologist based in London. One day she sent me a correspondence in order to help her decipher a few of the more esoteric markings in her most recent dig.

Dalia told me about her current work. While digging out a new deep tunnel for the Underground, the British Transport Commission found a natural cavern. When people went exploring the cavern, they found a man-made room about 40 feet wide by 40 feet deep. All across the floor of this room was a field of stone spikes sticking out at seemingly random angles. Now, I think you can understand, judging by your reports, that the spikes were not difficult to traverse through. Only a little attention was needed to avoid getting stuck.

At the end of this room was a large metal door which had strange symbols carved into it. Of course the construction workers had no idea what any of it meant, so the Commission called for an expert. Dalia answered. Although she was an expert on the ancient peoples who lived in the now UK, she was stumped. She had never seen words or characters that looked anything like this. It was not related to the language of the Celts, and definitely not the Anglo Saxons. She is no linguist, but she was fairly certain the markings on the door weren’t even Indo-European in nature. It was some ancient thing.

Now, there are rules when one finds a cultural site. In order to make sure that we don’t lose any important cultural context, construction has to stop until the place is excavated and we can be sure construction won’t cause lasting cultural harm. This takes time. And that was time that slowed down the Commission’s plans on expansion and building a northern line. So, according to my friend, she was pressured by her superiors to give a modified professional opinion. She wrote to the paper that construction could continue if the door was removed and any artifacts found within the rooms beyond were brought to be studied in the British Museum. 

As you can probably tell, this is against protocol. They had not even breached this door and Dalia said she was certain that the artifacts could be removed. Well, the Commission dutifully followed her suggestions and did just that. Inside, past the door, were several jars, with writing in the same language. With that out of the way, the Commission felt it was right to continue construction. The tunnel continued past this site, further north. In fact, parts of the cavern, the room with the spikes, and the storage spire behind the door, were converted into a vent for the new tube, which greatly sped up construction. 

Dalia continued to study the artifacts from this cavern. She was a diligent researcher, and she looked through publication after publication on linguistics and archeology to find anything that looked like her text. Eventually she found an article that I published about a year before about research I did in Cardiff before I moved back to the States. This article showed some of the writing that I was working on, and my theories that it was part of a dead language family never seen before. The style of writing, a few of the words, they seem similar to pictures in the article, so she decided to write to me and ask for my help. Along with her letter were a series of pictures of the door and the jars.

I was able to quickly confirm that it was the same language I was studying, which we’ve been calling Aklo. With a glance, I guessed one word could be translated as having the root of “honor”, and I’ve noticed the same word in pictures of your discovery. I sent her a letter back confirming all of this, and I wish I didn’t. I wish I took more time to write back, but you must understand that I was simply so excited to have more material to work with. My previous work was the closest we ever had to a Rosetta Stone for Aklo, and I so desperately wanted to expand it.

She sent me back a new article detailing her conclusions on the location. In her estimation, the place must have been some sort of monument, maybe religious in nature. I thought it was a bit premature to assume that just based on one word, but she felt differently. She concluded the jars were full of some sort of smooth ancient coinage, an offering. 

I was enraged at her lack of academic rigor so I did not write back. Instead I delved into the minutiae of the materials she sent me before, and I continued to decipher this script.

This was August, two years ago. You may remember this as the time London started reporting a strange new illness. People were losing their hair, becoming pale or ashy, and they were just simply tired. But still, there were no deaths that August.

I was unaware of these reports at the time. My nose was too deep into my notes to notice the room around me, let alone London across the sea. I kept looking at these new documents, and comparing the way language was shaped and conveyed in the Cardiff texts. Until one day, I finally had what I considered a nearly complete translation of the door. 

“This is not a place of honor. No great deed is commemorated here. What is here is not valuable. It is repulsive and dangerous.”

Please Alexia, you must close that door. You must place everything you found back behind it. You must seal off that cavern. Please Alexia. Don’t let New York fall too.

Your Peer

Miskatonic University

Dr. Casey West


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If this story was a bit confusing or you want to research the topic a little more, consider reading this article.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-time_nuclear_waste_warning_messages

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