As I said, it was a slim volume and would be incomprehensible to most, unless they knew the code to read it. This was part of the training we had all experienced at the Ostium Network.
Erm, yeah. I didn’t get that bloody training. And I’m pretty sure mum didn’t either. Would’ve been pretty handy. At least I have Zhang to help. Okay. That’s all.
I devoured it in an hour or so. I was planning on recounting the story here, in my chronicle, but instead have decided to keep the volume together with this work of mine, as they both relate strongly to each other. All I will say for now is that I am not the only one who has been screwed over by the Ostium Network and left in whatever time and place they were visiting to fend for themselves and most likely die. Also the most startling thing about the story in this volume, other than the actual book binding being from the future, is the fact that the story of the person traveling through an Ostium door is not taken to a time before my own time here and now, in the eleventh century, but much farther in the future. Specifically the year 1666. A most auspicious year when there was something known as the Great Fire of London taking place.
As you will learn in my Author’s Endnote to this saga, the slim volume talked about was found along with this accompanying chronicle and served as the true genesis for the OStium Sagas: two disparate tales from different times that were inextricably linked together, even if the COnclave does not full know or understand how. Suffice to say the saga after this one will be that slim volume that is talked about. It is reproduced in this volume in its entirety, word for word, even if little to nothing is understood about it. As with this chronicler’s enigmatic note, it is added to the OStium Sagas with the hope that one day we will have one or more members of the Conclave who will be able to not only understand it, but more importantly, translate it so that all in the Conclave at that time will finally understand it, and to use it as a tool for future generations of the Conclave.
Holy shit. That’s all I’m going to say for now: just holy shit.
Even though it had now been decades since I had been abandoned by the Ostium Network, as I’ve said, I created a life for myself. I became part of a family. But at the same time there was still a part of me that felt distant. Different. Like it did not belong. And that feeling has never left me, as much as I have wanted it to.
But now, reading this other story, of another person, in a very different time from mine who went through the same thing. I won’t say it gives me hope, because that would not be true. But knowing there are others, maybe someone at some time tried to stop them. To change things. This is why I write this chronicle now as I reach my elder years and feel death starting to rear its ugly head and take notice of me.
But my time is not quite over yet.
The next day I returned to the market looking for the monk and his rickety stall once again, and felt dread descend upon me when I could not find him. But then I did: he was simply in a different location to yesterday. I approached him and asked him about the book. He seemed amused that I should have an interest in words that were complete nonsense, unless I actually understood them? He asked. No, I said, as you say, it is complete gibberish, and yet it still holds a fascination for me, that someone wrote these words that seem to have no meaning. What was their intent? Why did they do it?
The monk had no idea and clearly wanted me gone. I asked where the volume had been found, and he said in a hidden space in the priory that one of the other monks had accidentally discovered it one day. He wasn’t even sure why the small book had been added with the rest of the items for sale. And that’s where he stopped, perhaps wondering if he had said too much; worrying that he may change my mind and I might want to return the book. To quickly put his mind at ease, I asked him if any other volumes of this kind had ever been found. He humored me with this last question and said no. And that was the end of it. I went on my way, never to see him again.
As the market ended and the sellers and barriers took down their stalls and went on towards the next town, I thought about what the monk had told me. About where the book had been found. This familiarity to my own situation was not lost on me. So much so that as soon as I had the time, I went back up to the ruined church to where a door was supposed to take me back to Ostium but did not. I studied the ground where I had buried the note all those years ago that had done nothing, to see if it had been tampered with. It looked just as I had left it many years before: undisturbed. But when I dug down in search of the parchment I had buried there, I was unable to find it. I dug and searched for hours, all to no avail. No one could have taken it. As I said, I made sure it looked just as before, with the specific arrangement of stones and rocks upon it. For all intents and purposes. It appeared the message I had left for those at the Ostium Network had simply disappeared.
Unavoidably, I felt a chill run down my back at that moment in time, just as I feel another run down my gnarled spine at this moment, as I write these words.
I went back to my town and my wife and my family and never returned to the ruins of the church again.