Notes from the Floor of Dr. Arden Thatch

I want to take a moment to talk about how I came to be in possession of the journal to begin with. I can scarcely believe my good fortune. I had been browsing the dusty shelves of one of Refuge’s many shops that sell baubles and “antiques” to see if I could find anything of note on one of my days off. I often find entertainment in this, as many of the “antiques” one would find in these establishments are either grossly mislabeled or incredibly poor-quality fakes. Occasionally I’ll rescue some of the genuine articles, either for my personal collection or on behalf of the Brigham Society, should it be something of significance, but I have been known, on occasion, to purchase some of the truly awful fakes. Some of them are truly hysterical, such as the “ancient Thassilonian pocket dream receptacle” a particularly enthusiastic salesman attempted to sell to me for an exorbitant price, claiming it had once belonged to a runelord, but he couldn’t tell me which. Once I identified myself as an archaeologist of the Brigham Society and the so-called “dream receptacle” as a rather poorly painted ceramic mug and tea strainer set, the man sold it to me for a few coppers and not so subtly told me to leave his shop.

On the rare occasion, though, these shopkeepers have no idea just what they have. Or, in my case, they know, but care so little about exactly how significant the item is that they consider it unwanted clutter. As I mentioned before, I had been rummaging through dusty shelves and back rooms to see what treasures I might come across when I found a wooden box that seemed completely unimportant. Overtaken by curiosity about what the box might hold, I opened it to find a small-ish parcel wrapped in a nice, heavy protective fabric. Attached to the leather strings holding the fabric closed had been a tarnished silver-hued key. It was clear that the items were of great importance to someone once, as they were in remarkably good condition considering their age. Inside the fabric I happened to find something I had coveted my entire academic career- a complete, fully in-tact copy of The Sacred Keystones. Beneath that, I found an unassuming leather-bound journal, its cover worn and well loved. I admit that I was so overjoyed over my discovery of the Keystones that I dismissed the journal entirely at the time. I made sure to carefully return the book and journal to their wrappings and box, then prepared to negotiate with the shopkeeper over this incredible find.

The shopkeeper, a halfling woman I had purchased from on numerous occasions, seemed wholly disinterested in “some book about a dead god”. She charged me an entire gold piece for it, but only because she said it was a nice box that it was in and she was sad to let such a good box go. While I did somewhat question her priorities to myself, I wasn’t about to talk her into a higher price. I rushed home, poured myself some tea into my ancient Thassilonian dream receptacle, which I admit has become my favorite mug, and settled in to read. If another complete copy of The Sacred Keystones does exist, I am unaware of it and it certainly isn’t within the voluminous archives of the Society. The best I’ve had to work with for a number of years have been delicate fragments that seem to start to disintegrate if I so much as think about them the wrong way.

I must say, I have never been more excited to have my own papers invalidated. Previously I had published a series of papers regarding the mythology and worship of Alseta, The Welcomer, and had established myself as something of an authority on the matter. This interest in Alseta is what would later lead me to spend so much time on unraveling the mysteries of the Seven, as I stood in a rather unique position to offer insight on Theathana Sirarin, the last known Chosen of Alseta. I had already known that The Sacred Keystones was less of an instruction manual on worship and more of a philosophical collection of ideas posed through architectural allegories, but the wealth of knowledge found within was nothing short of incredible. Previously I had believed that to pray to The Welcomer involved a shrine of some sort, but I have since discovered that I was woefully incorrect. What I had originally believed to be a shrine was actually a doorway or something that could stand in the place of a doorway. Prayer would occur on either side of the door, in a manner more akin to meditation rather than what one might consider true prayer.

What continued to baffle me, though, was the key that had been tied to the front of the parcel. It was clear that the key had been used often, but nothing in the journal or The Sacred Keystones gave me an inkling of what its importance may be. As I have previously discussed, the journal itself was written by Theathana Sirarin herself, unless I’ve discovered a forgery. I do believe that it is possible that the journal is a forgery, considering the many fantastical elements and exaggerations its pages contain, but it is also possible that Sirarin did, in fact, pen it herself and chose to exaggerate her own importance so that history would remember her in a more significant way. I can only posit that the key was an aid to prayer, perhaps to be held as one completed their doorway-based meditation. Considering the only mention of a key came from Sirarin’s journal, during her time at the temple, I can only surmise that it is a holy symbol given to either acolytes upon entering the temple or to paladins once they have sworn their oath.

[The rest of the page is crumpled and dirty, as if it has been stepped on. A boot print can be clearly seen on the reverse of the page.]

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