TO: Urag gro-Shub, Grand Vizier of Arboreal Librarianship Arcanaeum, College of Winterhold, Winterhold, Skyrim, Tamriel, Mundus
FROM: Wylandriah, Witch of the Sordid Court Seventh Door of the Seventh Hall, East Wing, Mistveil Keep, Riften, Skyrim, Tamriel, Mundus
DATE: First Seed, 3E 203/4/5?
Well, and it's been some time since I've talked with you, you bushy faced duffer, and you know that's never a good thing; after all you're the only one who actually UNDERSTANDS when I start ranting about the importance of quasi-symbolic analysis of the traditional texts, even if you don't engage in it as much as you should. So here's a letter from your Wylandriah, wishing you lived closer to Mistveil. It's really quite nice, once you get down to it; I don't think there's one single spot in Skyrim where the household arachnids are so close to the woodland variety, and I actually did find a nest of those, too, down in the dungeons - have you ever been down there? Really fascinating, the variety of structural supports the Jarls have used through the years - they were living cheek-to-jowl with each other because there'd been a collapse, so I cleared the blockage away and set them free. They're docile creatures, really, if you know how to handle them - which I do, of course, I always have; just show me something with eight legs that I can't sweet-talk into submission - and you'll be interested to learn that their silk makes a potent preservative for textiles and texts both.
Oh, texts. Yes, indeed, that's what this letter is about and why I'm spending time writing to you instead of doing actual work - no offense intended, because you know I love you, but you must also know my priorities lie with experimentation - for I recently acquired a document I think you'll find interesting. The implications are, quite frankly, astounding; who would have thought that the bardic tradition of the Nords had its genesis in ancient Atmoran dragon-skalds? It sheds not a small bit of light on the obtuseness of Nordic poetry - I never could stand all the sideways skald talk; those blighters in the Bard's College never say anything straightways - as it's quite clear that draconic verse is barely verse at all but rather near pure image exemplification, which really is only to be expected from the primeval Tongues. The translator's note - no idea who he was, though I'd assume some Nord bard from the late first era; sorry about that, but you'll just have to look into that facet yourself - implies that this fragment was part of a much longer epic engraved at some central site - apparently dragons engrave, of all things, and reading their words could be even more devastating than hearing them, for mortals - in Atmora, though I'm really not sure I believe in Atmora. Where the dermographic dovah of antiquity – and there’s something else to tittle your tat; dragons get tattoos? I wonder, is that common, would the ones flying about now do it? Maybe – I ought to – find someone – or have the Jarl find someone – to kill a dragon for me and look at its skin – where the old supposed Atmoran dragon-skald got all these strange ideas about the Demon of Knowledge I’m sure I don’t know.
I guess you'll want to know where I got this and what it is. I bought it off a Dunmer, oddly enough, as a huge slab of petrified wood, if you can believe that, and with it an ancient fixed-charcoal rubbing and translator's journal, because of course since this is supposed to have been taken from Atmora originally it could only have been brought to Skyrim as part of the graven hull-history of the Five Hundred. The original symbols look like chicken scratch to me, but I guess that's all draconic runes really are. And note the interesting quasi-dialect the translator uses; the dragon language must have only been partially extirpated from the Nord tongue when he did his work; I've taken the liberty of translating it further into modern grammar and spelling, though there wasn't too much to do.
Anyway here's the text package itself, with love from: Wylandriah
[...] … of Aenshint Tyme told as Writ bye won tattu ring'd Dovah of Forgottenne sekt, partte of the faebl'd Kliff of Dahmaan. Onlii thiiz Wordde preserv'd of all the Runne ther, for biifr ond aftr tu Graet wos the Pour of Dovah script for Menne to riid; all whu try'd wer diistroy'd. [...]
Lothe, myn clawwe | to ryf thiiz runne
of hermetik fynd | in taproote tyme.
their ink to ronne | and dygramme diikhey;
to moldring kriip | with mysiilyel skhrii.
Ond othre minutye | unfaerseene be Dey
the bolbus bryn-braen, | the eyt-sokhr’d flox
whuz skin engolf’d | hise selcuth siblinggez.
ond nerse-nest hosk: | Wuld ye know yet morr?
in the Dan-dewii hommoks | of Old Mary’s shore-shelffe,
Kall’d Tsar of the Seae | for hise sol-skin's ryme
of kryptik koloration | to the daan-domb elffe.
of the wumb-webb’d elffe | to the lonlii skrybe,
Hise skriven’d hide flexes, | rosles hise restles haertte,
ond to the Sea he dives: | Wuld ye know yet morr?
Thanne froth’d the wavve | and eddiee spiral’d in
opon the detritos den, | the Onderkliff's glomm,
where blaekh trunkke | stak gallerrie in brim
ond heart-hollow falle | to rite the lomm
Ond a sioptik ball | blink’d traeserrie doun
to the limp cuttle stranded | on the Onderkliff's iche
ond its wyrm-Hyrmit's froun: | Wuld ye know yet morr?
"O Hyrmit, laernne mii | your grow-glossii misterie,
for without Wyfe, Mothor, Dohtor | myn empty haertte aek
Where is Love’s nym | writ in thiis triie?”
Hise ragged clawe jabbed | to the eyt-bottress’d Trii,
the touering spyne | in bonn-spyral tross,
aflott opon the Sea:| Wuld ye know yet morr?
That tortyle-torchur, | that peritrykhos Trii;
the serpent-ribb’d spyre | where the moth nestte rest;
shelter of dosk-baethed doff | ond Dan-blazon’d Kanopii
wher the Hyrmit hords | engravingge of rost.
In the xylem sliiv | of the riilyz’d siid,
in the exizhon enakted, | in the labrinthiin daer,
riid your solas criid.” | Wuld ye know yet morr?
from the Onderkliff’d littre | of the siiping rhizosfiir.
Drovv hise ey-nib thru | the bottress-whorl’d graen
ond squirm-blink’d in | to the xylem smiir
Atmora’s crag’d and canyon’d grovvee. | Ond hise spellbuk sarrow
rivets the ash-brou’d Nordde; | bynds their haertte in lurchee,
ond siids their iirre to grow: | Wuld ye know yet morr?
Bot Ysgramor’s ey | sytes the skrybe-scrolle
of hise charcol menne | biigyl’d into prozz
Ond from hise drom-longge | a tempest-ripple squalls,
skours bak the forest fiind | to the Sea-gardyn’d grottozz.
in the world trii’s veyns; | not the warmth of the wumb.
nor the ogham-scribblee | of my word-witch’s clitte.
abyde in that dum.” | Wuld ye know yet morr?
split a hollow haert-scroll | ond unroll’d its ring’d runne
The Sonne dazzled doun | thru the lignin-letter lok,
its kriptic-skript glitter’d | and emboss’d the mossii dunne.
of Historii’s skroll; | amber-asid the ink
in ye, the ey-nib. | The nym ye thrum
is the love ye drink.” | Wuld ye know yet morr?
on yorn bryne-braen skin and | Her wonder-wuden flesh.”
Ond the Tsar of the Seas | squelched up the lentiselle.
of the wyrm-wing’d Kanopii, | in suckle-suckered treys.
erode the starrii bront | with hise blaekh-bryne whorl,
where epokhs intermingle | in the south-poynt dosk
of most-misterie’s rul: | Wuld ye know yet morr?
at the gilt-stilted gliim | of hise waeve-waevered worded
They konjugaet konshosness | in aurgone phlom’d draftte
and sip hise mannish miin | for straenge and skaeled warded
“Myn wordde do not wynd | the world to myn wish;
ond mortalitii mocks | the skript-silkke I fold,”
sorry-spaek the kottlefish: | Wuld ye know yet morr?
ond hise aperchur-eye flash’d | thru misterie-mottled skin.
Thanne spaek the dragon, | “Ay, lore-bound lint;
for love requyres lyfe | to polse from within.”
of hise lykhen-likhed chest, | unto its haertwud hollow,
ond the kuttlefish saeng | that knowledge, nu-born-frael,
“By sakrifishyl ultrifidy | alon dos Awe grow:
not dead-lettre’d desynne | bot impaerfekt translaeshon.
Myn time-rhymme bot siid; | all else is mutaeshon.
thrii pith-paegge pull'd: | the faet-triplet haertte.
to the starrii trii bestow’d; | Infinitii of each Aeg.
Thanne raeng the krox-tronk | with lurid living art;
with textuel oergy| tattu’d in ruted runne
and liif-splinter’d Sonne: | or both, siil’d in Love:
for Onderkliff rutte | twig-tangle and crun
with the Kanopii’s stemme | that prickle-pirse the doff.
socked doun the slit squid : | autosarkofagii incarnaet.
Hise spyneless bulk slinks | round hise wud rondelet wyfe;
ond the douny-trunk thrills | ond shivers with stryfe
as hise paper pulse pounds | hidden-Historii to lyfe.
Hise twisted-tongue twiches | in whisper-tender draul:
of hermetik fynd | in taproote tyme
[... ... ...]
Loathe, my claws | to rife these runes
of hermetic find | in taproot time.
their ink to run | and diagrams decay;
to moldering creep | with mycelial scree,
and other minutiae | unforeseen by Day.
the bulbous brine-brain | the eight-sucker’d flux
whose skin engulfed | his selcouth siblings,
and nurse-nest husk: | Would you know yet more?
in the Dawn-dewy hummocks | of Old Mary’s shore-shelves.
Called Tsar of the Seas | for his soul-skin's rhyme
of cryptic coloration | to the doom-dumb elves.
of the womb-webb’d elves | to the lonely scribe.
His scriven’d hide flexes |rustles his restless hearts,
and to the Sea he dives: | Would you know yet more?
upon the detritus den, | the Undercliff's gloam,
where black trunks | stack galleries in brim
and heart-hollow fall | to write the loam.
And a scioptic ball | blinked traceries down
to the limp cuttle stranded | on the Undercliff's itch
and its wyrm-Hermit's frown: | Would you know yet more?
"O Hermit, teach me | your grow-glossy mysteries,
for without Wife, Mother, Daughter | my empty hearts ache.
Where is Love’s name | writ in these trees?"
His ragged claw jabbed | to the eight-buttress’d Tree,
the towering spine | in bone-spiral truss,
afloat upon the Sea: | Would you know yet more?
the serpent-ribbed spire | where the moth nests rest;
shelter of dusk-bathed duff | and Dawn-blazon’d Canopy
where the Hermit hoards | engravings of rust.
In the xylem sleeve | of the realiz’d seed,
in the excision enacted, | in the labyrinthine dare,
read your solace creed." | Would you know yet more?
from the Undercliff’d litter | of the seeping rhizosphere.
Drove his eye-nib through | the buttress-whorl’d grain
and squirm-blink’d in | to the xylem smear.
Atmora’s crag’d and canyon’d groves. | And his spellbook sorrow
rivets the ash-browed Nords; | binds their hearts in lurches,
and seeds their ears to grow: | Would you know yet more?
of his charcoal men | beguil’d into prose.
And from his drum-lungs | a tempest-ripple squalls,
scours back the forest fiend | to the sea-garden’d grottoes.
in the world tree’s veins; | not the warmth of the womb
nor the ogham-scribbles | of my word-witch’s clit
abide in that doom ." | Would you know yet more?
split a hollow heart-scroll | and unroll’d its ring’d runes.
The Sun dazzled down | through the lignin-letter lock,
its cryptic-script glittered | and emboss’d the mossy dunes.
of History’s scroll; | amber-acid the ink
in you, the eye-nib. | The name you thrum
is the love you drink." | Would you know yet more?
on your brine-brain skin and | Her wonder-wooden flesh."
And the Tsar of the Seas | squelched up the lenticels
of the wyrm-wing’d Canopy, | in suckle-suckered trace.
erode the starry brunt | with his black-brine whorl,
where epochs intermingle | in the south-point dusk
of must-mystery’s rule: | Would you know yet more?
at the gilt-stilted gleam | of his wave-wavered words.
They conjugate consciousness | in aurgone phloem’d drafts
and sip his mannish mien | for strange and scaled wards.
"My words do not wind | the world to my wish;
and mortality mocks | the script-silks I fold,"
sorry-spake the cuttlefish: | Would you know yet more?
and his aperture-eye flashed | through mystery-mottled skin.
Then spake the dragon, | "Aye, lore-bound lint;
for love requires life | to pulse from within."
of his lichen-licked chest, | unto its heartwood hollow,
and the cuttlefish sang | that knowledge, newborn-frail.
"By sacrificial ultrifidy | alone does Awe grow;
not dead-letter’d design | but imperfect translation.
”My time-rhymes but seed; | all else is mutation."
three pith-pages pulled: | the fate-triplet heart
to the starry tree bestowed; | Infinity of each Age.
Then rang the crux-trunk | with lurid living art;
with textual orgy| tattoo’d in rooted rune
and leaf-splinter’d Sun: | or both, seal’d in Love:
for Undercliff roots | twig-tangle and croon
with the Canopy’s stems | that prickle-pierce the duff.
sucked down the slit squid : | autosarcophagy incarnate.
His spineless bulk slinks | round his wood rondelet wife;
and the downy-trunk thrills | and shivers with strife
as his paper pulse pounds | hidden-History to life.
His twisted-tongue twitches | in whisper-tender drawl:
of hermetic find | in taproot time.