04 Jul Echiridion Aetheri
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"Echiridion Aetheri"Written by
Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
This may seem a little strange for a story, however I assure you what I am about to describe to you happened to us. There were five people present when it happened, although they may have their own separate and independent accounts of the event. Apart from them, I seem to be the more analytical type. I took the liberty of cataloging the event in every detail; that I am able to recall anyway, and to the best of my ability.
Of the four friends present at the time the important parts took place, there was: Rachel, my finance, although we never intended on marrying traditionally. Cody, my best friend since middle-school. Teressa, Cody’s girlfriend, whom nobody in my close circle of friends particularly enjoyed the company off. Alex, a film student, although he did not personally own a camera at the time. Then finally, myself making five people in total.
In the weeks passing immediately after the time we came across it, the only notable event that would have “made a lasting effect” on anyone outside the five of us would have been the death of Alex’s great-uncle. This death was expected as he was in his late 70’s, and has suffered a stroke only weeks ago. We could not logically connect his death with our experiences, so we best assumed them unrelated.
Discussion about this event between us has since stopped. As this topic tends to bring about us a feeling of dread, trauma. Probably a form of post-traumatic stress. I don’t know. What I do know is information relating what we found, and that I am going to pass this information directly onto you. So that you may either seek it, or avoid it as you will.
Quite simply, what we found was a book. It was bound in what an inexperienced eye would call “leather”. However, it did not have the classic, leather smell that even the oldest books tend to keep over time. Much like the feel of a heavy rubber, but with the distinctive smell of freshly used gym-shoes. The book was in an archival condition, but was discolored with age. The spine had seven distinct raised ridges, an intended aesthetic feature of the binding process. The color of the book, was that of a fine chocolate. There were windowed divots pressed into the front cover that only reinforces such comparison.
On the top of the book was a double-linked chain,\ which appeared to be made of brass, and at the end of that chain a heavy weight, I would say to be “several ounces”. This ensured that the chain was always dangling from the book pointing toward the ground. The “pendulum” was small for its weight, pointed, much like a rifle round, with the flat end having a tapered neck, where a thick brass wire was coiled around the head of it and feed through a hole where the chain was attached. The weight itself was elaborately engraved with seemingly random ornamental spirals, lines, and circles. The kind you would see normally painted fine pottery.
Trust me, we tried to remove it. It was very sturdy in its construction. Cody wanted to wear it as a necklace, and as all young-adults, we could care less about what parts an old book was missing. It wouldn’t come off. It was a very strong little tassel. We decided that we would take then entire book instead. We didn’t find this book in an old trunk, in an abandoned house or anything like that. It was laying on a shelf, with no cataloging markings, in the small genealogy section of our hometown library in [Classified-12], Michigan.
The book was honestly not that difficult to steal, as it seemed the book has not been cataloged. If it were cataloged, that would not have changed anything. Books in our library have easily identifiable and removable security strips in them. Not that they would risk damaging a book of this age with the addition of these security strips. I myself simply walked out of the front doors of this library with the book in my messenger bag. The agreement, in risk of getting cause stealing this book, was that I was able to keep it. Fair for me to have such an old and beautiful addition to my already decent home library.
It was titled “Enchiridion in Lux Aetherial”, meaning “Handbook of the Light Ethereal”, at least that is what online translation told me. However, the words “in Lux” and the “al” at the end of “Aetherial” were discolored. Not from old age, but more interestingly as the title on the binding was brushed with silver leaf. Those few letters appeared to be painted in a glossy walnut colored paint. However, did not detract from the overall style of the text. This seemed deliberate to us after short discussion. We, from that point, referred to the book as “Echiridion Aetheri” or “Ether Handbook”. Depending on the amount of latin we wanted to work into our lives on a given day.
It might seem strange to you, but we did not actually open the book until we returned to my place. In the heat of finding the book, we opened it up only to the front page, where the title was reinstated to look for stamps or stickers marking it as library property. Other than that we did not actually search through the book’s contents. The title on this front page was clear and the letters “in Lux” as well as the “al” were again, whitewashed and ultimately illegible. To the point you would only know the book’s title by looking at its binding.
While the book seemed to be well-kept, the pages told a different story. Thumbing through them, one could see varying sized dark brown splotches every couple of pages. Obviously stains from a liquid. At the time we presumed this to be blood, although now in hindsight, I realize it was too light to be blood. We never did get around to test it.
Now, the weird part. The book was not written in Latin or English. In fact, there were no recognizable roman characters in this book whatsoever. The text in this book was written in vertical columns from left to right. There was “whitespace” in between every few characters which may have been indicating the end of a word. There was no indicator for the end of a line or of a thought it seemed, and just went on for page after page. It included exactly 97 unique commonly recurring characters. Similar enough for us to draw a table for them, however there were countless other characters which may have represented words or concepts, similar to the Japanese kanji. Although the style of the writing was most likely not of oriental origin. The text was written in 51 columns on each page, with a spacer between every 17 columns, and was written on both the front and back sides of the paper. There was some space between the last vertical of text, and the edge of the paper, about and inch. This area on every page, with the exception of 28 full page art pieces. Within the text at intervals were many well lined, black and white diagrams of what I gathered to be minerals and gemstones in one part of the book. Plants and animals in another, and somewhere near the middle, a very precisely drawn and inked astrological diagram depicting seasons, and others representing the precession of the equinox and [Classified-12].
Also, the book contained quite a few “full page” lined and painted art pieces. The style was different from that of the book’s many diagrams in the sense that it was best described as flamboyant and brightly colored. Even in its age, the quality of the watercolor paints used, it had to be watercolor, were testament to the creator’s intentions of having this book survive for a very very long time. The text in the book seemed to be separated into 17 distinct sections, each made up of 19 – 34 pages, the book was 428 pages long, including the title page. This does count both sides of the paper used, meaning it was a book bound from 214 individual sheets. The book with binding was roughly 2 and a half inches thick, 10 and a half in height, and 6 and a half inches in width.
After a while, a few of us realized that what we had found might be just a legitimate “priceless artifact”. We eventually came upon doing the right thing, and went immediately to the only person we knew that could deal with a situation such as this. We called a history professor of mine at 10pm that night on November 17th of 2013, a Sunday. He told told us that he was already in bed reading, and that he was preparing his next week’s lesson plan. After giving him the details, the same I have just given you, thieving of the book included. He suggested that the book may have been a hoax, dropped off at the library for someone like us to pick up and make a media frenzy about.
He agreed to, at 6am early the next day, pick us up and would go to the paleobiology department of the college to radiometrically date the book as a group. After we didn’t sleep that night, we gathered up enough energy to head out with him to the college. When we arrived we were surprised to come upon a couple of his colleagues, other professors whom he informed and joined him to date the book properly. Using a small file, some of the “brassy” material of the chain weight was put into a small vial with liquid, and separately as well as a 1cm square of the paper used to write the book. Using an atomic mass spectrometer available at the institution, we dated the book to be roughly between 600 and 800 years old by the paper used, and 800 to 1400 years old by the brass pendulum. However, this did tell us the book was not in its original binding. Also while the paper was authentic, the printed Latin text on the titlepage was added much later in the book’s lifetime. Presumed the same time the binding was added.
We wanted the college to hold the book for us, so that no harm came to it. The professor insisted that we take it back home with us, as he said “I cannot guarantee its safety while it is on campus.”. The professor then added that he did not want to cause an uproar so soon, and would need to do some research, as well as us on where the book may have come from, sometime between the 10th and 14th centuries. Trust me, the 4 of us; Cody, Alex, my fiance and myself searched many encyclopedias, the society archives, and even the [Classified-12] records held by the [Classified-12 – – – – – -] for more than a week.
This was fine all, but it was no longer fun. It became real work, some of us became bored. Rachel stopped searching after a few days. I was started to lose interest as well. Cody however, decided that attempting to read the book was the best method of finding the originator. This made much more sense to me that what we had been doing. We both knew enough to grasp the concepts depicted in the diagrams of the handbook. We knew this would be a good place to start, as the names of astrological bodies haven’t changed all that much over the last 2000 years. Eventually, the professor joined in with us in an attempt decipher the book’s contents. Not long after that is when it happened.
It was 2am, December 4th, the 4 of us had been working late, Alex had already drifted off to sleep. I was also getting to that point, I decided to use the restroom, take a shower, and then head off to bed. Cody, at the time was my roommate, and he headed on after me. The book was laying on our research table, along with clips from old papers, and any other clues we could find. However, when I came out of the shower, he was still working on the decoding. I walked up and told him “Hey, we can get to this tomorrow. I’ve only gotten an hour of sleep a day for the last week working on this. I’m sure Teressa’s starting to worry about you.”. He looked up at me, in an reaction, half sorrow, and half amazement. I can’t quite say. He just keep beading into my eyes and then calmly smirked and said. “Your girl going in there or is it free?” referring to the shower.
He came back out, grabbed a bowl of cereal like he normally did before he went to bed. Lucky charms I do believe. I went to sleep, my room is nextdoor to his. We have always kept the doors to our rooms open. This was some sort of sick joke the two of us played where each couple would try to get the other hearing them fucking. Anyhow, this night, he closed his door. I kept mine open as usual, and Rachel came in wrapped in two towels like she did every time after she showered, one of them in her hair. We feel asleep rather quickly.
I woke up at about 4:30 am to the sound of a door closing. Our house was two story 3 bedroom, with half the living-room converted into another bedroom haphazardly barricaded by bedsheets strung up between the overhang. He left out the front door of the house, but he was attempting to be quiet about leaving. I had assumed that he was leaving with his girlfriend over to her place, like I had earlier vaguely suggested. 4 hours later I was woken up by Rachel waking up and getting dressed. Figuring that everyone else was gone, and that we had the house to ourselves, we ended up having sex, and didn’t really start our day until about 11am.
First thing after that, she went to use the restroom and then ended up making a pot of coffee for the both of us. She sat in the living room, and as I was coming downstairs she murmured the worse words I have ever heard a human being speak. “Where did you guys put the book last night?”. I naively responded by walking up to the table, pointing to it without looking at, saying “Right there.”. As I looked down coffee in hand, to my dismay, the book was not there. I didn’t panic immediately. I figured that Cody may have put it into its usual spot, an honest lectern with a lock. That was sitting within the same research table. I unlocked the desk to the table to open the lectern, which had a small hole in it to open the lid to the closed lectern drawer. It wasn’t in there either. I then pulled out my cellphone to call Cody, now with the assumption that he had taken the book with him to do research at Teressa’s house, in the afternoon. Not a big deal. That was until I had realized the ringing coming from the kitchen counter next to a half eaten bowl of lucky charms.
I went outside, his car was still parked across the street, and now the situation was starting to look a little urgent. Me an Rachel drove down to Teressa’s house to see if he was there. Teressa’s was not necessarily a far from where we were, about 10 or so blocks. Something Cody could have walked, but at 4 in the morning unlikely. We knocked on her door, and she told us that she had not hear from him in almost 4 days. I knew this already, but I thought he went there last night.
On the 21st of December, just a few days before Christmas, after looking for at least two weeks we found him. The state and local police, got involved after we filled a missing persons report. Shortly after, federal agents and [Classified-12] after he was found. The professor was the person we went to after Teressa. He helped us in filing the case. We don’t know if the book was ever found. For all we know it could be in a [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -].
When we found him, we were all in a state of shock. The police were confused, as were we. My fiance had to leave, and Teressa was crying. Alex ended up writing a report for the police and the federal agents who showed up not long after. He was found, still alive thankfully, in a storage unit not far outside of the city. Cody was a medical student, but he was an unsuccessful dropout. I can’t blame him for that. Cody had pumped blood into a bag, rather crudely, from supplies of questionable origin. He had made a duplicate of the book, the entire book, on heavy weight canvas, written in his own blood. He had lost so much blood that he was not able to respond when he was found. After a short while [an] [Classified-12] ambulance picked him up taking him to some kind of [Wellness] [Classified-12] Center not far from [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -]. The federal agents confiscated all of the photocopied pages of the book, as well as most of the manuscripts that he had written in relation to [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -].
The media did not cover this story, and the “Enchiridion in Lux Aetherial” is now lost to us. The only part of the book we have that remains, are the notes that were confiscated and then returned to us after [Classified-12 – – – -] searched our house. Cody, is now in a [Wellness] [Classified-12] Center for his condition. The last time we spoke to him, the only coherent things we could muster from his garbled speech was, “She stands at the edge of space, solidity congealing blood, a formless star, nothing begat her, motionless, still, she stands… she stands at the edge of space… she stands… she stands at the edge of space.”. With that, we [Classified-12 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -]. hope that you don’t come across these same horrors. I don’t know if there was already something wrong with him or what, but if it could trigger him like that, then… I just don’t know.
Credit To – Xyeunliatbhs
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