||[Nov. 2nd, 2005|08:47 am]
The corridor from the Hopscotch Cathedral to the bean plants was the standard sort of corridor—large enough for two to walk abreast, with occasional gears and graffiti. We bore right out of the Cathedral, this time, and rapidly around a righthand turn. A small grill set in the floor drained some of the damp, and had a small white triangle and three wavy lines chalked above it. The corridor ran thirty feet, bent right again, and opened into a medium sized room with a freestanding wall, about ten feet high, in the middle.|
On the back wall, six steps ran up to a broad, shallow dais. Two slender columns flanked the steps, concrete poured into rounded curves, and rotted hangings, like broken sails, formed a canopy over the dais, hanging in gathered, moth-eaten folds. The dais itself was empty, although holes and lighter patches on the stone showed where some large metal object had been unbolted and removed. (At least I thought it did. That a room in the gearworld might come into existence pre-looted was not only possible, but for all I know, standard.)
In front of the freestanding wall, blocked from the view of the dais, was the strangest element on the room—a wooden panel set on the floor, about a foot high, with five round depressions scooped out of it. Inset in the two smallest depressions were two glass marbles. Swooping lines carved in the panel connected these to the other holes. The next two had broken glass halves in them, as if there are had been large marbles in them at one time, broken in half.
The most impressive thing, however, and the one which immediately dominated the scene, was a great egg-shaped stone the color of curdled cream, larger than my torso, sitting in a carefully shaped depression in the wood. The size of the stone would indicate that if it was, in fact, symmetrical, the depression would have to be carved well into the floor as well.
Etched on the panel, circling the eggstone, was a phrase in Anuvian, which unfortunately, I don’t speak. I could recognize the characters, but the language itself requires a great many glottal clicks which anatomy forbids in my case, so I have never gotten around to learning it. I copied the characters down for later analysis.*
Being more than a little sensitive on the subject of eggs at the moment, I subjected the egg to great scrutiny, and I’m pretty sure it was actually a carved rock--there was a crosshatching of chisel marks--although whether that made it less likely to hatch, in this place, I have no idea.
*Eland apparently never got around to this later analysis, either, but the phrase he copied reads “This is the egg which brings the hope of a guest.” Had he had it translated, however, his inability to speak it would still have caused him to miss some of the meaning--Anuvian is a language riddled with wordplay, and the phrase “hope of a guest” is a pun on the name of one of the gods, a lion made of rain, believed to have storm clouds for entrails, which eviscerates itself during the monsoon season, and then sleeps for the rest of the year to regrow its internal organs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the rain-lion’s egg, however—Anuvians are very fond of shaggy-dog stories of interminable length and questionable humor, and may simply have seen the opportunity for a pun. -- Vo