A Herald of Azure
Shouts of brief reports sounded in the distance, rendered incoherent by the crashing waves and buckling ice floes. What had started as an oddity–an unusual amount of driftwood washed ashore–had turned into an entire event when the first body was found. Buried in the sand and snow, the corpse was laid face-down, head towards the sea, the top part of the body picked clean by carrion birds down to the frozen-solid parts buried in the earth.
The first body is what caused the alarm to spread through the specially-made patrol force of the Fifth Cavalier, Xuthus Saghl. They were meant to conduct a survey of the Olghara Peninsula, northwest of Ighodia, and they certainly weren’t expecting to find the sun-bleached wreckage of a foreign ship.
As the rest of his patrol moved past to secure corpses and materials from the decimated flotsam which had washed ashore, though, Moghri continued to gaze at the pink-red mass of raw flesh which lay bare in the cold sun.
The body was–or is?– male, with short black hair that has been stripped away from his skull by the beaks of the carrion gulls circling overhead. His blue and green robes have fared better in the sun than Moghri would’ve expected, and they certainly look tailored for the apocalyptic cold of the Coghanese isle.
Moghri watches as another body is pulled ashore, some distance to his west, before something catches his eye.
Daring to pull the body free from the earth to get a closer look, Moghri creates enough space to pull free a band of golden jewelry, set with small gemstones. Small. Valuable, certainly.
“I’ll be taking that,” Moghri’s commander, Cavalier Perce, demanded. How long Perce had been watching, Moghri knew not, but as the golden band was extricated from the sand under the body, the crouched man could swear he heard the crumpling of crisp, dry paper.
Perce snatches the golden adornment and begins to wander away, likely to stow the jewelry as evidence. Moghri ensures she makes some distance before he pulls free the inexplicably intact scroll, emblazoned on its outside with a black ink mark, already in a script Moghri couldn’t possibly identify, but as well further illegible due to the ink smudging in the cold saltwater.
Pulling the scroll free, Moghri’s eyes scan the text in an unorganized way, more admiring the shapes and hand than attempting to read it. His eyes furrowed. With a startling flash of blue-white light, Moghri felt his mind pervaded by knowledge– script, hand, diphthongs, pronunciations and sentence structures. Noun-adjunct agreements, pluralities, idioms, synthesis–decades of tutelage forced its way into his mind and memory.
Moghri could not recall when the majority of his reconnaissance team found their way back to his side, but when he stopped clutching his head and gave a brief, dismissive nod despite the ache of his skull, he discovered the scroll in his hands was entirely, plainly legible.
“Are you okay, Moghri?” Perce asked for the fourth or fifth time.
“Commander,” he managed, “you’re going to want to read this.”