Authors: Elizabeth Haydon
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It is with the greatest of thanks and the most sincere admiration
that I dedicate the translation of this recently discovered volume
His Majesty, King Varoon de Muk Muk
of the sovereign island kingdom of Digitalis,
the only head of state willing
to underwrite the expedition to unearth the first of this newly found set of Ven's journals
and with equally sincere thanks
Roberto Eugeneve Hadoni
my rickshaw driver (and amateur rocket scientist)
who transported me from Mobile, Alabama to the streets of Rome
(as well as several extraterrestrial destinations)
without a whisper of complaint and who will always have
my enduring admiration and love.
After such a long stretch between the discovery of Ven's first three journals, a number of my colleagues deserve recognition and thanks for sticking with the project:
Eloise Breadwater, my fellow documentarian and research archanologist, for her patient assistance piecing the fragments of Ven's journal together with wax,
Professor Lee Butterscotch Kalin, for his sweetness and good humor in last-minute reviews,
Zovenistra Deswatch, oceanographic researcher, for the loan of her human-to-whale/whale-to-human dictionary,
Dr. Susan Persimmon Chang, for once again fighting off brigands on the Ivory Coast who were either trying to steal the chest with Ven's water-soaked journals or the expedition's precious supply of chunky peanut butter (it's not exactly clear which),
The Royal Undersea Institute of Arcane Creatures in London for its kind help in identifying some truly revolting sea animals from Ven's time,
And Miss Zoe Goodtowne, record keeper.
All of your help is greatly appreciated.
Long ago, in the Second Age of history, a young Nain explorer by the name of Ven Polypheme traveled much of the known and unknown world, recording his adventures and the marvelous sights he witnessed. His writings eventually formed the basis for
The Book of All Human Knowledge
All the World's Magic
. These were two of the most important books of all time, because they captured the secrets of magic and the records of mythical beings and wondrous places that are now all but gone from the world.
The only copies of each of these books were lost at sea centuries ago, but a few fragments of Ven's original journals remain. Three of these journals were discovered a few years ago by archaeologists and were studied and tested at great length. Finally it was determined that they were, in fact, Ven's actual journals. Those three journals,
The Floating Island, The Thief Queen's Daughter,
The Dragon's Lair,
were then published. Included in them were the fragments of diary entries that had survived, reproduced in Ven's handwriting as they were originally written, along with the drawings that he had sketched and signed.
For some time it was believed that those three journals were the only surviving record of Ven Polypheme's research. But recently, a Mr. Dieter Bigglesworth of Ketchup-upon-Hamburg, South Germany, was on vacation with his wife, Euphemia, in the tropical paradise of Langerhan Island. Mr. Bigglesworth had buried Mrs. Bigglesworth (except for her head) in the sand of the pink beach of Langerhan, when suddenly her toes scraped against something rough and wooden. After receiving medical attention for splinter removal, the Bigglesworths returned to the pink beach and dug until they unearthed a small sea chest, bound in brass and very old.
The chest contained what appeared to be three more journals in the familiar handwriting of Ven Polypheme.
As before, the journals were given to internationally known archanologist Elizabeth Haydon, who was at the time attending a yak-milking seminar in the high peaks of Katmandont. After a very large coffee, she immediately began studying the newly found volumes and, at the end of a grueling authentication process, declared them to be genuine. This first of these journals,
The Tree of Water
, contains entries that are reproduced in Ven Polypheme's handwriting, as they were originally written. Some of them are little more than a few words, or a sentence or two. A number of sketches from his notebooks also survived and are reproduced here as well. Great care has been taken to reconstruct the parts of the journal that did not survive, so that a whole story can be told.
At the time of the original excavation of the first three journals, a separate notebook containing only sketches of dragons, plus drawings of what appear to be cards made out of dragon scales, is still being restored. It was found, buried with the journals, in a water-proof chest lined in gold.
It is perhaps the most deeply magical book of all Time.
The dragon scales appear to be cards in an ancient deck that allowed a special reader to see the Past, know the Present, and predict the Future. They apparently had older, deeper powers of magic, which we are just beginning to learn about. The archaeological dig is continuing in other places Ven was thought to have visited.
These few scraps of text and sketches provide a map back in Time to hidden places, where pockets of magic might still be found.
To Go, or Not to Go
The human boys had an expression back in the faraway city of Vaarn where I was born. It went like this:
Curiosity killed the cat
Satisfaction brought him back
I am a curious person. I was just as curious back in my early days in Vaarn as I am now, perhaps even more so, because my curiosity had not yet been given a chance to be satisfied.
The first time I heard this expression, I was very excited. I thought it meant that my curiosity could make me feel like I was dying, but it would let up if I discovered the answer to whatever was making me curious.
I told my mother about the rhyme. She was not impressed. In fact, she looked at me as if I had just set my own hair on fire on purpose. She patted my chin, which was woefully free of any sign of the beard that should have been growing there.
“That's very nice,” she said, returning to her chores. “But just in case nobody told you, you are not a cat, Ven. Unlike you, cats have whiskers.”