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Letters from the Plateau


by anthropologist

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I.

Sister,

      I hope that you are well. Be keen, and expect that things will change here very quickly. I should caution you to prepare yourself for something incredible, to assemble the best minds you can find in anticipation of whatever is about to unfold on the Plateau, but such cautions would surely prove insufficient. None of us know what to expect of the obelisk. I arrived at the site some time ago - you may recall that this is my first excursion to Tyrannia, and though the view of the landscape is comfortingly similar to my memory of the Lost Desert, and of home, with its winding, rock-laid landscape, I find that the thick, humid air does not suit me.

      But this is trivial. And I have dealt with worse.

      I have taken my things, what little I chose to bring with me, and already I have bartered them for bread and water. This, too, is trivial, but it highlights a critical point: I am competing for contested space at the trunk of the obelisk. Nearing the megalith is hardly possible, and I am forced instead to huddle at the fringes of the quarry, keeping tabs on my competitors and struggling to understand the fragile dynamic of power, greed, resentment, and excitement which busies the landscape with too many hands, and not enough space. In the chaos, I can hardly even hear myself think; there is bartering, battling, and bragging at every turn.

      This morning I spoke with a Bruce, who, claiming no allegiance, offered what he called "prime seating" at the crest of the hill. It would seem that some have taken to this flurry of excitement as a form of entertainment. Indeed, I can see the throngs of spectators watching from the hill, waiting to see how the events at the trunk of obelisk unfold. I envy them, if only a little: they have much less to lose.

      I can see the head of the monolith glinting at nightfall; always here, tucked between the rocks, settling in for another night of waiting and fears of plans that might falter before they're even realized, I wait and watch the obelisk.

      It's fitting that the obelisk is everywhere I look. She towers over the landscape. There is nothing here which does not fall beneath her shadow as the day progresses and, quietly slinking on the peripheries of the camps, brow thick with sweat from the heat, I find myself wondering, again, how something so huge could have escaped our notice for such a long time.

      The sun is just now disappearing. Its waning light holds for a moment, glinting at the head of the obelisk - and then vanishes, like a spark thrown from the anvil, fading in the ether. I hope that you are well, sister.

      Be keen and ever vigilant,

      Zehave

II.

      Sister,

      I'm ashamed to think that my usefulness now occupies only the space between reason, courtesy, and greed; I'm a hired hand. The excavation on the Tyrannian plateau is no place for timid scientists, and this, I now understand, is precisely why I have been sent by you and called by friends of the Seekers to secure the intellectual investments of the site.

      The Thieves have already recognized me - I'm one of them. A hired hand. We go where the profit takes us, and so it should come as no great surprise to them that my loyalty is a fickle thing: the Seekers are the highest bidder. They do not know of my relation to you. They remember me as the deckhand on the ships of Krawk Island; as the guide leading tourists and treasure hunters across the dunes of the Lost Desert.

      I find myself drawn to the camps of the thieves. All of us battling for space near the obelisk, waiting for something to happen, and though the Thieves have been particularly kind to me - because we're cut of the same stone - I find myself wandering back into the rocks at the end of the day. Their loyalty is fickle, after all.

      I fear that I haven't a place here; I don't know why I fear it.

      I am treading unknown grounds, exploring a land I know so little about, seeking a treasure which hasn't yet been named. I am a hired hand. But something tugs at me, and, sister, I suspect it is your influence - reminding me that something great and priceless lurks beneath the rock and frenzied feet of spectators.

      Bid me well, dear sister.

      Warm regards,

      Zehave

III.

      Sister,

      I wish that I still had your company, but I am glad you did not come.

      There has been much talk of battle recently.

      Quite a bit of attention paid to archaeology, too, which, as you well know, is at least a new phenomenon. This may be a game-changer to the rest of Neopia, but it's none to us - we are the forerunners of Neopian archaeology, and we have been for years. You were the first to draw connections between Moltara and Mystery Island based upon their shared use of obsidian. You were the first, and now, it seems, but one among many.

      I have news which might startle and delight you - I have found an obsidian dagger among the ruins of the obelisk. Tensions have come to a head, here, and I have been forced to fight for my keep. While grappling with a particularly mean looking fellow, I came upon the dagger. He seemed not to notice its significance, and in dismissing it, gave the me the chance to steal away with it. They think it worthless. But we know better, don't we, sister? Obsidian! Found only in Moltara, used only in the weaponry of Mystery Island; how can we account for its appearance in the muck and the mires of Tyrannia? It may yet prove to be planted. The space here is contentious; there are faces here from across the globe, and it is indeed quite possible that the dagger has been dropped by a visitor who acquired it elsewhere.

      But this merely speaks to the tragedy unfolding here. Sister, these people do not understand what they have found. What has been found here. They trample the ground, which may yet yield fragile artifacts, and fight like barbarians simply to touch the trunk of the obelisk. They do not understand what precious finds they have been tainting. I suspect that our allegiance to the Seekers may have been the only noble route to take. And if we do not win this, dear sister, I fear that the merit, truth, and value of this ancient site will forever be tainted by the greed of those who sought only their own fulfillment. Perhaps it will be those spectators - unaligned, waiting at the crest of the hill to see how the night unfolds - who will be granted the most complete picture of this period in Neopian history. Not because they have a view of the obelisk, but because they have a view of those who quarrel over it. We are making and ruining history in the trenches: we are destroying the very thing we fight for.

      I miss you dearly, but I do not regret my choosing to leave you behind.

      The Plateau is burning, sister - in more ways than one.

      Zehave

The End

 
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