Notes on a Husked Man

When puppets wear the clothes of men

Shadows rise and dance again

Grab your silver, hold it tight

Drop it once and fall to night

Run and fight until dawn breaks

Friend or Foe? Men or Fakes?

~Ancient Nursery Rhyme

Origin Unknown

 

They move like puppets.

We can finally be assured of this, as at long last, a live specimen has been captured. This marks the first live specimen in contemporary history, and possibly the first mainland study of record.

The Husk came in only late this night, and I have had no time to make further observations, but from what little voluntary motion it was allowed to take, I can attest the legends are true.

They move exactly in the manner of puppets.

There are many preparations which must be made.

More tomorrow.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Fourth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

It ain’t your mum

No siree!

It ain’t your da

No indeed!

Your brother’s gone

Gone away!

Your sister’s left

Left for good!

So grab a torch

Hold it high!

Grab flint and steel

Strike strike strike!

Burn them all

Ashes Ashes!

Until they are bones

Ashes Ashes!

~Child’s Rhyme

From the Game of Jump Rope

M’Doun

 

I must elucidate on my previous entry. The pace of events made me too brief, and I have made all my statements out of context. There are certain matters which must be entered into record before study can begin in earnest.

Firstly, as all reproductions of this journal must attest, I am a Doctor of Medicine at the Academy of Tall, specializing in injuries of the brain. I have written several papers speculating on the relationships between the Husked and those suffering from mental afflictions, which is why I am ideally suited to conduct this study. See “Speculations on the Relationships Between the Husked and Those Afflicted with Injuries of the Brain” for further information.

Moving onward, last night, the Fourth day of the Month of Gliding Fields, a man of unremarkable appearance was brought to the Acquisition Office of the Academy by a merchant caravan out of Shen Anrath.

The attending clerk at first believed that the merchants were attempting to sell a “live cadaver.” It is not uncommon for the country folk to believe that the Academy holds with such practices. Although it is rare that someone will try to actually sell a “live cadaver,” it is not without precedent. The attendant was about to tell them that we accept only the freshly dead, and on rare occasion enter into contracts with those who have terminal illnesses, when one of the merchants pressed a golden ring to the specimen’s head.

The Husk, by virtue of its nature, failed the Test of Metal. I am told the screams were quite remarkable.

Seeing the burns on the head of the specimen, the night clerk quickly roused the Lectur on duty, which so happened to be myself. Together, we placed the specimen in an Infestation Pen, dragged out from some long-forgotten basement.

Before continuing, I must speak to the construction of an Infestation Pen for those readers who have never seen the like. They are a curiosity from the second Tide War, and the newest Pen must be at least several hundred years old. See Jareff Karandell’s paper “Field Interrogations of the Infested” for a more detailed diagram. The diagram, thankfully, is one of the few things not censored by the Nashodians during the Purge.

An Infestation Pen is made of metal bars, bent and pinned together into a perfect cube. Attached to this cage is a metal wire running to another metal cage, containing an animal specimen. As is widely known, metal is only harmful to Husks* when it is also in contact with another living being.

The floor of the cage is covered with heavy matting to insulate the prisoner from the metal. As we were pressed for time, we used straw from the stables to this end. There are also a number of places for ropes and the like to be bound to the Husk, which have since rotted away, although we plan to reproduce them as soon as possible. Trapped in such a cage, any Husk is inextricably bound.

We had a bit of good fortune in that rabbits were readily available to arm the pen. There was some argument among my staff, who I sent for as soon as the nature of the situation became obvious, as to whether or not the Husk was as truly well bound as we believed, but I allayed their fears at once. It was surely more secure in the pen than it had been in the merchant caravan, and they had managed to hold all the way from Shen Anrath.

On my order, one of the merchants who had brought the specimen to the Academy cut the rope bonds holding the Husk, at which point it began to move. It seemed to express no relief at being freed, though from what I came to understand, it was bound for nearly a month. This would seem to confirm what legends hint. The Husked have no ability to sense pain.

It moved as a puppet moves. It was perfectly still, until its limbs jerked speedily to the desired position. It was as if between every motion there was, somewhere in its being, a confusion as to what to do next before its body made the decision all at once. It walked thusly as well, as it tested the perimeter of its cell. It often seemed on the point of falling before jerking its leg into the next natural position. This effect was observed even in its fingers, toes, and eyes.

At length, I interviewed the merchants, and discovered the Cobb was once an associate of theirs. He had gone a while from the caravan, most likely to seek the company of a woman who was not his wife, for his wedding ring could be found nowhere. He had been found unconscious some distance in the forests late that night. Believing him to be drunk, they had put him to bed, unaware that he had been Husked.

Upon awaking, the Husk attacked the Cobb’s wife, and almost killed her before she accidentally brushed him with her wedding ring. As is of course natural, it immediately burned to her finger. I was told they had to fetch a blacksmith to cut it off.

Several of the stronger men in the caravan managed to bind the Husk shortly thereafter, and he remained thus, fed only at a distance for the duration of the trip to the Talli Academy.

As to the specimen itself: The Husk is as short as myself, standing perhaps at six and a half hands, and stout. He is some thirty years old, and was in relatively good health. Although it is certain that he has not shaved for almost a month, his face has no sign of stubble. I have also noticed that one of his fingernails is missing, perhaps lost during the fight where he was first bound. I shall make a note of any sudden growth.

The merchants were distressed to discover there was nothing to be done for their friend, and were dismissed. We gave them the standard payment for a cadaver and urged them to give it to the wife.

Before closing, I must also note that the specimen never once attempted to touch the bars of his cell. I believe this may be indicative of some basic reasoning skills.

Only more tests will tell.

*Husk is the common term for the Infested in Tall. It is believed to have come into popular use during the second Tide War when corn farmers were integrated into the Benloedi military. The term Cobb refers to the person from whom the body was stolen.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Fifth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

I found one sleepin’ the other day

In the shadow of a tree, as you may

I gave it a nudge, it wouldn’t wake

I said, “Billi boy, now don’t you fake!”

Nothing Nothing, we shook and shook

Nothing Nothing, we shook and shook

We drug him out into sun’s light

Fever, fever, pox and blight!

~Marching Chant

Army of Dawn under command of

Jareff Karandell

The Second War of Tides

 

Today was difficult for a number of reasons. We attempted verbal communication with the Husk, but that proved all but impossible. We even resorted to calling it by the name of its Cobb, although the name was not significant to it in the least.

It was senseless to threats or bribes offered in any tone of voice, to such an extent that we quickly abandoned any further attempt. We then conditioned the specimen as we would any animal, and met with limited success. One discovery in particular bears noting.

When pointing at any object in the room, the specimen proved unable to follow the imaginary line extending from the finger. Rather, it stared at the digit, and seemed unable to grasp any other significance. Such basic lack of understanding leads me to believe that whatever instinct holds it away from the bars has nothing to do with intellect.

We also provided it with a mirror, and tried to coax it into recognizing its own reflection. Even when we put a mark of red paint on the specimen’s forehead* to try to coax the realization, the specimen only grew more distraught. It attempted to reach into the mirror to grab its other self, and then grew frustrated. It eventually broke the mirror and threw the shards at us.

Later that evening, we provided it with cooked meat, as it was evident the Husk had not eaten in some time. It showed similar signs of aggression, and threw the meat at us. The same happened even with raw cuts provided directly from the kitchens. It was eventually satisfied when it was allowed to kill a rabbit with its own hands and eat the corpse.

This in itself is unusual, as even wolves will scavenge for food when their appetite is upon them, and have been known to steal the kills of other animals. The specimen seems to have an instinctive need to kill whatever it eats, and will not content itself with any other form of sustenance. I do not believe this is indicative of anything so highly developed as ritual, I instead find it more likely that it is some sort of fixed pattern as with the way geese roll their eggs along the ground.

Now that we have come to an arrangement on the subject of food, we shall have to make adjustments to the Pen, as we currently have no provision for gathering and discarding of the Husk’s wastes.

There was some talk in the lab of sending for a Metal Weaver to provide assistance, but I quickly dismissed the motion.

They would only tell us to kill it.

We must use what little time we have been allotted for study with as little waste as possible.

*We purchased several instruments used for corralling cattle for this purpose. In particular, an instrument which has a rope loop attached to a long wooden pole, which may hold an animal at a distance. Several of these were attached to the Husk while he was fitted with the leather restraints we have reproduced from the original designs. He is now quite like the puppet he so resembles.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Sixth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

What ya hungry for?

The flesh of life!

What ya want most?

To end all love!

What ya need now?

To maim and murder!

Please please, not my wife!

Yes yes, teeth and strife!

~Child’s Rhyme

From the Game of Hand Slap

Alarunde

We have spent the last several days conditioning the specimen by withholding its food until it has performed some menial task. We gave it a puzzle box with a mouse inside, and it was only able to eat after successfully solving the puzzle. We then conditioned it to open an empty puzzle box for a reward. It seemed to grasp these principles readily.

It would appear that its understanding falls rapidly when there is a human directly involved in communication. Humans are, for some reason, endlessly distracting to the Husk. It may be because we are so incredibly well suited to its dietary desires that is unable to look at us as anything other than food.

After some discussion, we began to wonder what other forms of communication it might understand. We decided to test the long standing myth about Husks in regard to music.

One of my assistants is an accomplished player of the Key Box, and we had one brought to the examination room from elsewhere in the Academy. He played “Colors of Sounds” and we forced the creature to raise its hand with a system of pulleys we had managed to attach the night previous.

We rewarded it immediately with a mouse, and then repeated the procedure several more times to imprint the pattern. My assistant then played several chords of random noise while the specimen’s arm was forced down, to show that there were would be no reward for a wrong answer. We had done something similar with the puzzle box, and I have no doubt the specimen understood the basics of what we were attempting.

Yet although it was hungry, it could not understand music.

It was completely unable to understand the difference between noise and harmony. It could not be made to understand the difference between even the most trivial three note songs used to instruct children, and simple random pounding.

It almost grabbed the front bars of the cage to reach for us, but it stopped short.

I wonder what instinct warns it.

We will withhold its food supply for several days and see if we can’t reach any more success.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Ninth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

Kill it, fool!

Kill it now!

Kill it, fool!

Kill it how?

Metal

Fire

Water

Light

Take your pick!

Fight Fight Fight!

Kill it, fool!

Kill it now!

~Child’s Rhyme

From the Knife Dance

Angard

 

I do not know why I allowed myself to be talked into it, but one of my assistants, an aspiring Doctor of Maths, wanted to try to teach the Husk elementary addition. I am now ever so glad that we made the attempt. It has provided a whole new dimension into my thinking on the specimen.

At first, we devised a relatively simple test. We presented the specimen with two wooden boxes and made clear that it should only be allowed to choose one. It consistently chose the box with the highest number of rabbits. At the very least this means that it has a basal ability to compare quantities.

We repeated the experiment the following day with mice. We created two boxes with differing numbers of compartments, each containing a mouse. Although its decisions were slower than before, it again chose the highest quantity. Although I doubt it was able to multiply the quantities involved, I wonder if it does not retain the ability to count. There are several animals which could have passed the first test, but none which could have managed the second. As strange as they are, we must remember, the Husked were once men.

I have read a passage from Jareff Karendell’s “Field Interrogation of the Infested” that has made me hopeful we might be able to coax more useful information from it. I believe I have managed to suss out the original meaning that the Nashodians tried to censor.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Eleventh Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

SOME PAGES OF THE DIARY MAY BE MISSING

 

We managed to capture a [Heretical] today. We tried to interrogate it as we would have interrogated any other soldier. Of course that got us nowhere. We tortured to no effect. Then by accident it came in contact with [Heretical].

We were astounded at the changes.

In short:

Get it [Heretical] before you [Heretical] it a [Heretical].”

~Jareff Karendell’s

Field Interrogation of the Infested”

 

After several days, we have finally managed to procure Shadow Bloom. I will not say how, as it would betray several confidences that took nearly a week to build, but suffice it to say: we have procured a modest quantity sufficient for initial testing.

Upon obtaining it, we were at something of a loss. Obviously, it was beyond the Husk to smoke a Bloom, and no one in the laboratory had the slightest idea of how to roll one. We wondered if eating it would produce the same effects, and if so, would grinding it up in water* dilute such effects? We settled on a compromise.

Holding the Husk still with the restraints, we pushed a ceramic bowl toward it, filled with smoldering bloom. We then released the restraints to see what would happen. Apparently, whatever property of Bloom that makes it hallucinatory to humans has the exact opposite effect on the Husked. When freed the Husk grabbed the plate, and put its face directly over the plumes, breathing as deeply as it could for as long as it could. When there was no longer any smoke, it promptly ate the ashes, licking its fingers as well as the plate to make sure nothing was wasted.

The effects were more profound than we had expected. Its twitching, starting at its extremities and moving inwards, ceased in the matter of a few moments. While it still moved rapidly, there was now a transition to the movements that had previously been missing, and its eyes scanned in the same manner, whereas before, they danced from object to object without seeming to stop in between.

After several hours of testing, its intelligence seemed not to have increased at all. Although I did notice before we finished for the day that when I pointed at an inkwell for my assistant to hand me, the Husk stared not at my finger, but followed the path to the object at which I had pointed.

It may be my imagination, but when it looks at me now, I have the impression that it sees me as something other than food. And that it hates me.

It was twitching again as we left. Whatever endowments Shadow Bloom grants to the Husked, they are not permanent. We shall have to procure a greater volume before conducting further experiments.

*Prior to this experiment, the only non-living sustenance that the Husk would take was water. Although it seems reluctant to approach anything as big as a bucket.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Fifteenth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

It would seem as though the [Heretical] share some kind of group [Heretical]. We have had success in shutting them off from this [Heretical] by surrounding them on all sides with [Heretical]. I am told this is because the [Heretical] flux inside of a [Heretical] is essentially zero.

My advice is to isolate the [Heretical]. Then take the lid off. All they know is what’s in [Heretical] if they have [Heretical] to every side of them. Take the lid off and you can interrogate the [Heretical].”

~Jareff Karandell’s

Field Interrogation of the Infested”

 

It has taken several days to make preparations, but we have managed to switch out the metal roof of the pen with one made of wood. It would have been difficult to do this while the Husk was awake, so we gave it several sedatives in its water and completed the necessary modifications in a little less than an hour.

When it awoke, it still twitched and moved as it had before, but this time I had the very strong impression that it was no longer watching me, but that I was being watched through the Husk. As ridiculous as that seems, our later experiments seemed to confirm that this was true. At the moment it was no longer surrounded by metal, the Husk was in direct communion with some otherworldly mind.

As soon as we realized that the Husk was awake, we again performed what we have called “The Blooming Process.” It was able to ingest a greater quantity this time, and occupied itself with this process for almost an hour. When it was done, we provided it with more. It then displayed the first real act of intelligence we had seen thus far.

It did not consume the second plate of Bloom it was offered. Instead, it hit the smolderings with its hands until they ceased, and put the bowl next the place where it sleeps, as if to save it for later.

While its back was turned to us, I called out its name. Or rather the name it had before the unfortunate incident in Shen Anrath. It stood slowly, turned to face me….

And shook its head.

Terror has me too far in its grips for me to record the rest of this incident.

More will follow.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Nineteenth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

We should be grateful that the Graedd and Gabbo are as rare as they are, and that they have strong natural predators. Were they able to multiply in any significant quantity, we would surely have lost the second Tide War.”

~Lukas Mauran’s

Natural Predators of the Lesser Loke”

 

It curses mostly. Then it babbles so fast, you can barely tell the words apart. Then it just sort of stands still and smiles with its rotted teeth. You would not think it different from any street corner madman except that when it stops babbling to stare at you, you feel like you’re being watched through its eyes by something far more cunning and sinister than anything you’ve ever imagined.

For all that it makes no sense, I can see it thinking. Formulating.

It babbled part of the proof of the Gregorauni Theorem today,* then demanded as if it were being argued with that the world is round. It then began to speak in a strange sort of monotone that the “packets”** of its body were at “less than 10% congruence.”

I do not know where these words are coming from, but they are not coming from the Husk’s own brain. That, we may be assured, had no academic training. For all the ridiculous things that it says, it occasionally drops a fact so precise and exquisite, it is as if it were read from a book.

Before we speculate as to what this is, let me state what it is not, for I have examined the Husk at length:

It is not Shattermind. Shattermind affects humans in their early to late twenties, and induces feelings of paranoia, and while it is often accompanied by ramblings much like those of the Husk, it does not implant the sufferer with additional knowledge.

It is not a brain injury. I have had the privilege to come across the most remarkable case of a man who survived being shot through the head with an arrow. While he suffered no long term physical damage so far as his body was concerned, his very personality had changed. By all accounts, he had been a competent and upstanding member of his majesty’s army. After the injury, he was the most loathsome of creatures. But he was a man all the same, and he could think.

It is not a birth defect. The Husk was not born this way.

My previous papers have touched upon the similarities, but I had never before imagined the vastness of the differences. Somehow, whatever happened in those woods in Shen Anrath has created in the Husk a state which is like and unalike all of these.

As for the other effects we have seen…. As to the nature of the intelligence which seems to be transmitting itself through the Husk, I leave you with this sentence which the Husk exclaims quite frequently:

I am Lord Doraneck Eld Soutan, and the hour of my coming approaches!”

I find that I care to speculate no further on that particular subject.

It will eat regular food now. This has made the rabbit keepers quite happy. I suppose I should learn to be thankful for small favors.

I find myself thankful that our days with the Husk are numbered.

*This is, of course, the theorem which places the lengths of the sides of a right triangle into the relation that the sum of the second dimension of the lengths of the two sides must be equal to the second dimension of the length of the hypotenuse.

**I translated this word from the Fire Tongue. The word the Husk used, “Taratauni,” could also be translated as “pockets” or perhaps “cells.”

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Twenty-Third Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

SOME PAGES OF THE DIARY MAY BE MISSING

 

The Loavreng is, upon cursory inspection, a cousin of the mongoose. If you believe the old stories, the fact that its eyes are bright purple would mark it as Tant. Here the legends are steeped in truth, for the Loavreng is one of the most cunning land mammals known to mankind.

It lives in the swamps of Shen Anrath, builds complicated nests to house its family, and has a life cycle apparently solely built around predation on the Graedd and Gabbo.”

~Lukas Maraun’s

Natural Predators of the Lesser Loke.”

 

I am having nightmares about frogs.

On its face, I know that seems ridiculous, but I am having other dreams as well. I dream of fungus growing on the sides of trees, exploding into yellow spores the shade of infection. I dream of white powder, ground from the bones of a legless creature I have never before seen. I think, as I watch this creature slither, that it is one of those beasts driven out by Mok in the Second Tide War.

I feel like I should know the names of these things, I feel as if they have significance, but the names and the significance escapes me.

The frog terrifies me the most. I see shadows coming out of its back. Great terrifying wings made of night, thrown back wide over the horizon. There is no sun where this reptile lives. There is no hope. In the glistening sweat on its back, there is only the promise of eternal madness.

We are now “Blooming” the Husk daily. I no longer know if this is wise, or if there is anything else which we may safely study. My assistants feel the same, though they are drawn by the same curiosity. What will happen? What is it seeing? What voice speaks through the Husk?

It seems so important to find out what the Husk is thinking before we lose him.

Sometimes I think about going to the seedier parts of town, and asking about the frog. If I had the frog, I know the Husk could answer all of my questions. I think someone there would be able to find it for me.

I sent my family to visit relatives in the country.

I do not know why. It just seemed appropriate.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Thirtieth Day

of the Month of Gliding Fields

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

THESE PAGES WERE DESTROYED IN THE FIRE. TO VIEW ORIGINAL COPY, SEND REQUEST TO HEAD LIBRARIAN, ACADEMY OF TALL AND SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT.

 

The Sheffalam, a cousin of the heron, is a close natural friend of the four-legged Loavreng. They share many of the same nesting sites, existing side by side without conflict, and often hunt together. They have even been known to care for each others young, which is certainly uncommon in the animal kingdom.

The Sheffalam spots Graedd and Gabbo from the air, and the Loavreng then corrals them while the Sheffalam attacks from above. It is a matter of extreme curiosity that neither creature will eat the bodies of their prey. In fact, they do all they can to dispose of them.”

~Lukas Mauraun’s

Natural Predators of the Lesser Loke”

 

The following is a direct transcription of the Husk from a few passings before what we are referring to as “The Incident,” translated from the Fire Tongue to the Blood Tongue. I was not present the exact instant the Husk began to speak in the Fire Tongue, but it has been doing so for the past two days.

It began this refrain after its seventh straight day of “Blooming” and now refuses to say anything else. For all the violence in its voice, it has the expression of a school child reading a paper.

Rainbow Wall disruption continues unabated, expect natural stabilization in no less than eighty million planetary revolutions. Permeability stable at ten percent of total accessible surface area. Permeability at greater elevations unknown.

Desolater code crack proceeding with all available resources. Expect no success until Ani key signature can be obtained and verified.

Query: Where is the access key?

Query: Who has the access key?

No suggested targets. Report at once.

Matrix Lines have been moved against natural currents. Find source of alteration. Urgency: Paramount. Possible motive: Unknown. Likely interference from Far’Ree Agents. Observe and report. Do not engage without command.

Query: Location of Ani Wave Modulator.

Suggested target: Land mass seven.

Query: Location of Vegon.

Suggested target: Unknown. All scans negative.

Query: Location of Projection Module.

Suggested target: Last known location Azaell.

Query: Location of Alarell.

Suggested target: Ragnad.

Target failed. Ragnad has been….

Error. Error. Error.

Query: Location of Alarell.

Suggested target: Primary World Node.

Error. Target signature is not Haestan.

Query: Location of Alarell.

Suggested target: Land mass two.

First Error. Target only intermittently present.

Second Error. Target signature is not Haestan.

Conflict detected. Alarell cannot be in two places at the same time.

Query: What did he do?

Answer: Unknown.

Query: How did he do it?

Answer: Unknown.

Query: How did he escape?

Answer: Unknown.

Query: Where is he?

Suggested Answer: Waiting.

Query: I can still smell him.

Error. Invalid Query. Filing elsewhere.

Inhibitor network at one hundred percent efficiency. No gaps predicted in less than the lifespan of the universe.”

The Husk rushed the bars after this, grabbed them, and shook. He did this to the count of five before pulling his hands away, senseless to the burns. The rabbit was dead by that time, cooked in its own skin.

Although I cannot be certain, I believe that such prolonged contact would have killed the Husk when he was first brought to us. I have also noted that his facial hair and beard have begun to regrow.

This last part of the refrain, it sometimes speaks for hours. I am uncertain of the significance.

Packet Congruence now at thirty-five percent and stable. Maximum possible saturation of compound type two has been achieved. Locate compounds of type no less than three to exceed current congruence.”

We replaced the cooked rabbit with three of its fellows. Hopefully, that will help.

It has been repeating this refrain for the past sixteen hours without stop. It should also be remarked that the Husk has been sleeping only two hours a night since the “Blooming Process.”

I wonder if the time hasn’t come to send our specimen north, whether or not it is done in the proper fashion.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Third Day

of the Month of Crystal Fire

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

THIS SECTION WAS PARTIALLY DESTROYED IN THE FIRE.

LEGIBLE SECTIONS READ AS FOLLOWS.

“… no longer repeats refrain….. new commands….”

“… White Lady… Taelsh… Boxes stolen….”

“… Ani Signature Triangulation… computation time….”

I am having nightmares. I find I cannot fall asleep.”

Walkers help….”

“… no hope….”

 

TO VIEW ORIGINAL COPY, SEND REQUEST TO HEAD LIBRARIAN, ACADEMY OF TALL AND SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT.

 

The offender is to be placed in the stocks of the town square for a period of no less than three days. They may be fed and watered once at noon. Once freed from the stocks, they are to be whipped seven times for the view of the school children and all others who wish to come. They are then to be hung on a short rope so that they may die of slow strangulation. This last punishment is not mandatory for children to view, although they should be encouraged to attend.

Their bodies are to be disposed of without burial either by Earth or Fire.”

~Angardi Law for Keeping of a Gabbo

 

I am still having nightmares.

I do not know how long it has been since I slept. All I know is that my curiosity must be satisfied.

Who is the White Lady? What Boxes?

We are getting the frog tomorrow.

I understand it is called a Gabbo.

Doctor Jarin Fandome

Senior Lectur

Academy of Tall

The Tenth Day

of the Month of Crystal Fire

2987 Years After the Abandonment

 

THIS SECTION WAS PARTIALLY DESTROYED IN THE FIRE.

LEGIBLE SECTIONS READ AS FOLLOWS.

“… horror…”

as intelligent as….”

“… laughed at us….”

Can’t stop ourselves….”

“…. she’s close.”

 

TO VIEW ORIGINAL COPY, SEND REQUEST TO HEAD LIBRARIAN, ACADEMY OF TALL AND SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT.

 

THIS SECTION WAS PARTIALLY DESTROYED IN THE FIRE.

LEGIBLE SECTIONS READ AS FOLLOWS.

THIS SECTION WAS PARTIALLY DESTROYED IN THE FIRE.

LEGIBLE SECTIONS READ AS FOLLOWS.

“… saw her…. think…”

maybe my imagination….”

Could it be…”

I must take….”

“… sections will…”

“… records must be…”

“… I love my wife.”

 

TO VIEW ORIGINAL COPY, SEND REQUEST TO HEAD LIBRARIAN, ACADEMY OF TALL AND SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT.

 

THIS SECTION WAS PARTIALLY DESTROYED IN THE FIRE.

LEGIBLE SECTIONS READ AS FOLLOWS.

“… in my head.”

“… the voices…”

 

TO VIEW ORIGINAL COPY, SEND REQUEST TO HEAD LIBRARIAN, ACADEMY OF TALL AND SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT.

 

I pledge first to do no harm

I will heal only what I am able

I will not seek old knowledge

I will only preserve what is now known

I will administer the Tests when summoned

I will remember the Honesty of Metal, Fire, Water and Light

I will judge fairly and quickly

I will free all those falsely accused

I will execute those who serve the Tide and its Agents

For the sake of the World now gone

For the preservation of all mankind.”

~The Larini Oath

Taken by all Doctors

 

We are still trying to make sense of the rubble. The basement where Doctor Fandome conducted his experiments is in total ruin, although the greater portion of the diary itself managed to survive the fire. It seems as though the Doctor was in the habit of storing different sections of his journal in different places. From interviews with those who knew him, this is apparently a bad habit he had since he was a student at the Academy.

From the passages above, you can no doubt draw the obvious conclusion as to what transpired in the Academy basement, but for the record let us restate:

Let us begin at the beginning, for it is there that the diary skews most drastically from the facts. On the Fourth Day of the Month of Gliding Fields, in the year 2987, a man was brought to the Acquisition Office of the Academy. After failing the Test of Iron, he was declared to have been Husked. The night attendant, following protocol, alerted the Senior Lectur on watch: Doctor Jarin Fandome.

The Doctor ordered the Husk be sent to an Infestation Pen in one of the unused Academy basements. This all occurred as it should have occurred. It was after, when Doctor Fandome failed to report the presence of the Husk to the other Lecturs, that he broke the law. I will speculate as to his motives in later sections. First, allow me to explain the procedure in Tall when one of the Husked is discovered, before we guess as to why this was not followed.

After receiving a summons, the King’s Army arrives with a wagon constructed much in the same manner as the Infestation Pen described in Doctor Fandome’s notes. Upon failing the Tests of Iron, Fire, Water, and Light, a Traveling Judge will sign off on the Declaration of Husking. The Husk is then driven north, in the wagon, guarded by a hundred men, and executed in the woods of Rivengaud.

Now, for what unfortunately occurred:

Doctor Fandome never let word of the Husk leave his lab, although as you can imagine, the Keeper of the Rabbit Warrens was growing suspicious. I understand Doctor Fandome requisitioned almost forty rabbits in less than two months. The night attendant is a different story altogether.

The night attendant was sent north to the Capitol Palace, probably to report the Husk. I don’t imagine Doctor Fandome was ever under the impression that he could keep the Husk forever. He probably began his experiments with the idea that he would simply study until the Traveling Judge arrived, without the interference of the other Lecturs.

The journey to the capitol palace is near a month, and somewhere along the way the night attendant apparently dropped from the face of the World. His wagon was recently found deserted some distance in the woods from a town a few weeks north of here. Although no body was found, it is easy to imagine what happened.

I will give here a coincidence which I find to be no coincidence: It would seem as though the night attendant disappeared some time very shortly after Doctor Fandome ordered the lid of the Infestation Pen removed. I will speculate no further.

As to Doctor Fandome’s motives, we may at least make a guess. Doctor Fandome wrote a paper shortly after passing his examinations entitled “Speculations on the Relationships between the Husked and Those Afflicted with Injuries of the Brain.” It was largely derided in Academic circles and had been an embarrassment to Doctor Fandome ever since. He was of the opinion that Husking itself was nothing more than a bizarre form of brain injury, taken down to the level of superstition.

It should now be obvious he was mistaken.

And now for the most unfortunate part of this record: The Husk itself.

We believe that the Husk was Infested with a Sarantoi, and we have yet to recover its body from the fire. It is our solemn wish to find it dead in the blaze, but we do not dare hope for so much as that.

In their primordial state, the Husked are of little danger. Contact with metal for longer than few seconds kills them easily enough. They cannot stand proximity to fire, and standing in direct sunlight for even a minute is fatal. Bloomed, however, they begin not only to gain intelligence, but a tolerance.

Metal, fire, and light are still fatal if the proximity can be maintained, but whereas before these things would be almost immediately fatal, it now takes precious minutes for them to take effect. Bloomed Husks also become cunning, able to tap into some sort of dark intelligence. Stories from the second Tide War claim that what any one of the Husked saw, all of the Husked saw.

None of this is anywhere near as dangerous as when one of the Husked is given access to either Hot Sand or Gabbo toxin. Given either of these two substances, a Husk becomes as intelligent as a man. They can be neither killed nor even remotely harmed by proximity to Metal, Fire, Water, or Light. And sometimes, they can do other things.

Sarantoi can push on men’s minds. Make men do things they would never have dreamed of in a million years. It is not a perfect control, but it is a method of control nonetheless. I wonder, if while Bloomed, the Husked man was able to use these powers to an extent great enough to make Doctor Fandome and his staff give him a Gabbo. I can think of no other reason they would do such a thing.

It is strange to think for all the while the Husk was in that cage in that basement, it was Doctor Fandome and his staff who were truly being held prisoner.

We discovered Doctor Fandome’s body, burned beyond recognition. It was only his uncommon stoutness that let us know it was his body. Upon examination, it was found his clothes had been removed. We were also unable to find a ring purse on any of the other bodies.

We are still looking for the Husk.

I find it remarkable that in all of his writings, Doctor Fandome never once thought to include a picture of it or give the name of its Cobb.

Hyrum Masalone

Head Libarian

Academy of Tall

The Seventh Day

of the Month of Woven Moonlight

2987 Years After the Abandonment

2 thoughts on “Notes on a Husked Man

  1. This style of story fascinates me. Have you posted this before? It’s familiar.

  2. Yep, it’s an oldie. Only new ones so far as the ones with the Mars pictures on the story icons. I lifted some of the better stories from the archives to put on here. I have a bunch more hoarded but they’re from further down the timeline.

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