Dig at Nemdal

Hello Timothy. I hope this letter finds you well and that your trip has been a pleasant one. I’ll assume that Alex has been more than forthright in welcoming you to the dig. Please indulge an intellectual’s quirk for a moment and dismiss him before reading further.

Right, getting down to business: I hope I didn’t worry you unduly when I wired you, but we are in a very unusual quandary here.

I believe I told you we were out here for a minor dig, correct? We were looking for traces of a Semitic peoples who occupied the area around 930 b.c.e. It was Joseph who found the first artifact.

Let me warn you right here and now: touch nothing in storage. I don’t know whether physical contact is needed or merely observing an object is enough, but for the love of Yahweh avoid the artifacts at all costs. If you have already been forced to observe one on your way in(and I strongly suspect you have) then you will begin to see what I mean.

It all began with one artifact. An earthenware ewer that would be completely unremarkable if not for the fact that it bore characteristics completely alien to any civilization of the area. Then we found a small box fashioned of bronze, in the shape of a beetle unknown to man. Then a series of clay tablets depicting scenes of daily court life. One after the other, we experienced an unprecedented flood of artifacts.

I think you can foresee where this went wrong. Around the time we found the royal regalia, we realized how out-of-place it all was. What we found suggested a great civilization, far greater than the area could have supported, completely absent from written history. There were semiprecious gems that weren’t found anywhere near this part of the world, along with various objects that served no logical purpose. All this, I think, was merely bait to get us to indulge our curiosity further.

I beg you to keep reading, Timothy. You are my friend, my very dear friend, and I must plead your mercies for just a while longer.

The Kingdom of Nemdal has never been listed in any history book, tome, scroll, or genealogical record. For good reason; it can’t be any older than three weeks. And yet the further we dug, the further back it went, until we found  sophisticated Iron Age-style tools in what should have been a Stone Age strata.

Then we found the written records. And conveniently, we found several pieces written in multiple languages that could serve as a cipher.

Imagine an epoch utterly separate from everything else in Antiquity. A time owing nothing to the logical progression of history. Imagine a parasite-reality not strong enough to support itself, so it must latch onto another, more self-sufficient system.

This is the ludicrity I must impress upon you now, Timothy. This civilization did not exist until we had discovered it, and it kept growing after we found it. Perhaps all this time it had been dormant in the desert, squatting like a toad at the bottom of a well. We found it and showered it with attention,and it has unfolded like an Anastatica in the rain.

Did you, perchance, notice the road signs on the way in? They weren’t bilingual when we arrived. The characters you saw don’t have a relative in Hebrew, Parsee, or Arabic. The locals now speak it as a quaint throwback, something their grandfathers taught but was once the lingua franca.

Timothy, you brought the itinerary with you, correct? Check it. It’s probably been outside the sphere of influence long enough that it’s still correct. Look at it.

Do you see any Alex at all, let alone Alyx Grytck? He said he grew up in the US, yet his parents emigrated in the 80’s. The implications of that are staggering, Timothy. If it’s extended into the postindustrial world, who knows what the damage could be? Helena tried out what appeared to be a small autoharp and got her fingers mangled for her trouble. We were never able to extract that pipe from Hayward’s body, even after he died.

Yes, died, Timothy. I would not have called if it weren’t urgent. Think me mad, think me insane with the desert heat, but can you remember a program of Nemdalic studies at the University?

It might be too late. I might be sending out the last light of a dying star, but you can’t let it get a foothold in our world. Please for the love of—


The preceding document was found sealed in a canteen at approximately __latitude and __longitude in the ______Desert. No record of an archaeological expedition dispatched from ______ University has ever been found, nor of Professor ______, the alleged author of the text. Timothy Barnes, Professor Emeritus of Languages, is currently missing, presumed dead.


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