Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Hijra

The state of TIAH

September 24th, 2006

in 1375 AUC, an Arabian merchant who had been agitating for an overthrow of Roman government of the region was forced out of the city of Mecca by local authorities. He and a handful of followers regrouped at the friendlier city of Yathrib, where they gathered many who believed in a religion of surrender to a single, omnipotent God. The Roman governor of Arabia didn't like the idea of another monotheistic cult growing out of his province; he had studied history, and knew what trouble the messianic cults of pre-millennial Judea had been. He imposed harsh restrictions on these Muslims, as they called themselves, requiring them to register with the Roman government, and he watched the leader very closely. The cult eventually faded away, just as the messianic cults had, with the death of the leader.

in 1972, Professor Karl Ainsworth and Doctor Roman Pelliot enter the Lascaux Cave and head for the strange passage that recently held the remains of Doctor Phillipe de la Roscaux. Professor Ainsworth has brought a small generator and a lamp, so that they will be able to view the passage more clearly. Dr. Pelliot holds a flashlight on him while he sets this up in the strange passage, and he hears the scraping sound return. “Karl, please hurry,” he pleads with Ainsworth. The professor flicks on his lamp, and the passage is brightly illuminated. The scraping noise is replaced by the scurrying of hundreds of small creatures from the light, which startles both of the archaeologists. Professor Ainsworth laughs at his own jumpiness; “Just a bunch of bugs, Roman,” he says, before seeing the drawings on the cave walls. Dr. Pelliot, who had only seen glimpses of those drawings before, puts a hand to his mouth to stifle the scream he had been about to utter. He was gazing at the huge drawing that covered most of the western wall, and his mind was recoiling from what it represented. Professor Ainsworth stumbled over to it, drawn as a moth to the flame. “My god,” he whispered, and truly meant it; he felt the need for a benevolent deity at this moment. “Are you sure this isn't a forgery?” Dr. Pelliot whimpered, “It's been sealed since the 50's – I checked. Oh, mon Dieu, Karl, are those people in its mouth?” Ainsworth took a very close look and nodded. “Could it be just a religious drawing – not real?” Ainsworth looked around the chamber; at the moment, it seemed suffocatingly small. “The only other abstractions are the symbols that we found; like this one, here.” He pointed to one at the right hand of the entrance. “It looks like one of your trigger-happy officers damaged it.” There was a bullet-hole and a spattering of rock-dust obscuring it, but Ainsworth could make out most of the symbol. It looked like it had been built up out of the rock, rather than drawn on, and was 6-sided during most of its existence – one of the sides had been obliterated by the bullet. There were criss-crossing lines in an intricate pattern across its surface, a pattern which had also been broken by the errant shot. It was mesmerizing to look at, and Ainsworth had to shake himself after a moment. Dr. Pelliot joined him, largely because this symbol was close to the passage's entrance. “Is it just me, or does the painting material in here look different from the rest of the cave?” Dr. Pelliot nodded, shuddering. “I think it's blood. I wouldn't be very surprised if it was human blood.” Professor Ainsworth took out his small 8-millimeter movie camera, turned it on, and swept it around the room, capturing every picture he could. He then pointed the camera up, and the startling image he saw through the lens almost made him drop it. Dr. Pelliot looked up, let out a shocked cry, and fled the chamber. Unwilling to remain alone in the cave, Professor Ainsworth followed him at a run. Although it was barely ten in the morning, Pelliot pulled out a flask of whiskey and gulped down a large swallow. He offered it to Ainsworth, who also took a swig. They stood in the sun, unspeaking for several minutes before Dr. Pelliot said, “I didn't want to believe such things existed, Karl. I always wanted to consider your sideline as an eccentricity. I don't know what I believe in, now.” Ainsworth rubbed his colleague's shoulder reassuringly. “I'm not sure what I believe in, either, Roman. But I know that we will crack this mystery. Let's get back to the village.”

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2 comments:

Jarlsberg's Chosen said...

Lemme guess: Elder Gods!

Ryan Hackel said...

I am happy to see the return of alternate calendar dates.

TIAH Editor says we'd like to move you off the blog, if you're browsing the archives - and most people are - more than half of them are already on the new site. We need to be sure the new web site accomodates your archive browsing needs because we don't want to lose any readers. Please supply any feedback or comments by email to the Editor and please note the blogger site is shutting on December 1st.