A Letter from the Past
Emmaline hummed softly as she lifted the bundle of pages from the shelf, instinctively weaving magic to ensure the fragile sheets remained intact as she transferred them to the desk. Dust puthered in the air. She turned her face into her cowl, avoiding breathing in the muck with practiced ease. The archive had been neglected for far too long. Many of the documents within were threatening disintegration, whilst others had faded beyond legibility. It was a situation that put her talents to good use.
Even before she’d lost Raen, she’d been fascinated by the historical records that mouldered within the dimly-lit rooms. After her husband’s disappearance she’d allowed her work to consume her days – leaving only when her eyes grew too weary to read and her mind too weary for thought.
With deft movements, and a few more woven spells, she opened the bundle and spread the pages before her. Only to stop, confused, by the array of life-like images revealed. She frowned. That couldn’t be right. From the condition of the items, and the appearances of the captured people within them, she’d have said they were hundreds of years old. But as far as she knew, the magical weaving used to create such images had only recently been developed. Her husband’s friend, Hendin, had spent over a decade developing the pattern for such captures. She’d never heard of anything similar existing in the past.
One page, covered in writing, stood out from the others. She lifted it free, curious to discover whether an explanation was contained within the faded text. It was possible, she supposed, that another person might have developed such a weaving, only for it to be lost to history. And if they had, then any pictures they’d captured would be invaluable sources of historical information.
The last thing she expected to see was a letter addressed to herself, written in a familiar, elegant script. Her hands began to shake. She dropped the page back to the desk, staring in breathless shock. She’d long since given up hope of ever seeing that handwriting again.
“Raen,” she breathed. Tears filled her eyes as she ran trembling fingers over the sheet. How could this be…? She bit her lip, blinking away tears, and began to read.
My dearest Emmaline,
I can only pray that this letter is someday reaching you, and that I have not been absent from your life for too long. My circumstances at present are unusual to say the least. My intention is to place this missive, and an accompanying set of captured images, within the city archive, as I know that your recent studies have led you to shelves there that have been untouched for centuries. If fortune smiles upon me, no other hands will touch these papers between them leaving mine and reaching yours.
Fortune, however, has not been smiling upon me of late.
As you know, my own studies have been in the development of weavings through which we might observe the history of our land. My intention was to simply observe reflections of events upon the mirror glass. If only that was all I achieved. Somehow I have managed to transfer myself into the very history that I wished to observe. Unfortunately I am not entirely certain as to the exact time I am in. Nor do I know how to make my way home. I have already tried to recreate in reverse the weaving that led to my current circumstance. I have not yet been successful, though I will endeavour to continue my efforts.
My darling, I can only wonder how long it has taken you to find these pages. For myself, I have been here for a span of mere hours, but I know only too well that days, weeks, months, maybe even years, might have passed since I vanished from your life. If you have ever cared for me as deeply as I care for you, I pray that you take the images I’ve captured to Professor Kalaen, as well as to anyone else you know of who might be able to help. Kalaen’s research has always followed along similar lines to mine. I’m certain he will not have hesitated to make use of my notes in my absence. If anyone can work out how I moved through time, it will be him. I am hopeful that if you can pinpoint the exact date I am in, a way could be found to bring me home.
The images I have captured are views of the people I have seen around me today. Hendin will be pleased to know that his technique works, though I’m not certain as to how the pictures will survive the passage of years. I know that I am at least five, possibly six or seven, centuries prior to our own time. The University has not yet been built. I would guess that the language being spoken is Old Ilraian. There is little influence of the Jakrian tongue, which also places me before the Imperial Conquest. This is not a time period I have studied in any depth. I am currently hoping that you know of at least one person within the University with the knowledge to discover the exact date from the images.
I place my fate within your hands, my love,
Raen Ki Masrah
Emmaline dropped the page back to the table, her hand lifting to cover her mouth as shock and hope warred in her. For over nearly seven years she had wondered. Was he dead? Had he left her for another? No trace of him had ever been found. No explanation for his disappearance. Now…
Now the possibility that she could maybe see him again was more than she could stand.
Excitement thrummed through her, setting her pulse racing as she gathered the pages and hurried out if the archive. Raen had suggested she find Professor Kalaen. She didn’t plan to waste another minute before doing so.
This story was originally intended to be just a short piece of flash, simply an accompaniment to the pictures from the Lincoln Joust that I attended during the summer. Somehow it managed to take on a life of its own!
I’ll try not to take too long before posting the next segment. Unfortunately, I’m not the quickest writer in the world, and I tend to edit multiple times (and that’s an understatement) before I’m happy for anything to be read by anyone else. Part two may be up sometime in the next week, but I’m not promising anything!
I hope you enjoyed the read.
Exploring our connection to the wider world
Wrangling literary arts for writers: words for people!
watching the world of brain research
Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s. Billy Wilder