148Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡx9MpHH9XTx
The fourth straight day running off of cheap coffee and powdered doughnuts from the corner convenience store saw Sergio curled up in an empty box with his formerly grey fur stained ghostly white with powdered sugar and small crumbs clinging to his whiskers, watching his missing human’s two friends-all but short circuiting from caffeine intake and approaching the point of beginning to hallucinate-sprinted as fast as they could in an effort to get the metaphorical hamsterwheel to move from its fixed position screwed into the wall.
“By God!” Alaric muttered crossly, attempting to rub the sleep out of his eyes as he sank further back into the cushions of his couch. “At this point, the letters are flying off of the pages and I feel like I’m falling into the computer screen!”
Lying on her back with her feet propped up in the arm chair she’d been sitting in at some point a good 12 hours before with her arms flung carelessly at her sides and a text book open over her face, Etain snorted softly and stirred. “Wha’zit? Dya fin somethin?” Removing the book, she peered up at him blearily; her next words were considerably less slurred when she asked “are we actually getting somewhere now?”
“No. We’re nowhere and getting even further away from where we want to be, actually!” Closing the laptop, he set it aside before putting his face in his hands. “Three days of nonstop work, aside from a few coffee breaks and the occasional shower, and we still don’t even know what language these things are written in let alone what they say!”
“We’re not really going to give up that easily are we?” Etain demanded sharply, suddenly much more awake as she sat up to stare him down. “Kennina left us with a job to do in case you’ve forgotten. What about sending copies of them, even by email-not that these ancient letters would hold up for a minute against a scanner-it would take at least four months for a translation and that’s if we’re lucky.” He told her. “And even if we were to do that instead of translating it ourselves, we’d still need to work out what language these are in first. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even begin to know who to send it to.”
“Well, what do we know about the damn things aside from the fact that they’re about as old as the damn Bible is! Don’t puss out just because it’s getting difficult! What’s wrong, is your brain hurting?”
“I’m not ‘pussing out’ Etain. I’m just taking a step back to better evaluate the progress that we’re made blindly banging our heads against the wall.” Alaric replied tartly. “And to answer your question, what we do know about the language is that it isn’t Latin. And that, because Latin is the only language the Guild has ever used for official communications-if that is, in fact, what these letters are-we know that they were written in a time predating the formation of the Slayer’s Guild, and we thereby can assume that they were written by the Order. It’s a safe bet that this is some sort of European language-if it were Asian it would likely be ideographic in nature rather than alphabetical-but that, too, is merely an assumption.”
“And how many languages aside from English do you know again?”
“Three: Latin German and both dialects of Chinese. But this,” picking up the nearest letter again, Alaric examined the writing for what felt like the millionth time, “isn’t any of those, or any language that they might have originated out of. There are times that it almost sounds like Latin, but the accents are all wrong and in places the places the sentence structure is inverted from what English speakers like us are used to. But in other places it’s the same. I’ve never seen this.” Tossing it back on top of the stack he stood up, wobbling slightly before steadying himself against the corner of the table. “For now, I think the best thing either of us can do is stop relying on 7/11 coffee and get some sleep; we’ve been up for just over 72 hours.”
“Sleep? Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?” Alaric’s only answer was an exasperated sigh. “I don’t think I’d make it home without passing out in the street at this point, so-.”
“Between a chair, the couch and the floor you have quite a few choices. While you deal with sorting through them, I’m going to bed.”
Once the lights had at last been flicked off and the pair had settled down for the night the kitten chose his time to act; it was a bit difficult to free himself from the empty doughnut box that he’d been curled up in for the passed few hours but once he’d managed it Sergio stretched his small body and shook himself out to dislodge as much of the white powder from his fur as possible before leaping down from the counter and, leaving a trail of little white paw prints behind on the floor, made his way from the kitchen into the sitting room.
The man who had been taking care of him since the departure of his human for somewhere called ‘London’ had disappeared into the bedroom, but her other friend-the brown haired woman with the loud voice-had curled up on the couch in the sitting room and promptly passed out.
Leaping up onto the coffee table, the kitten sauntered over to the pile of letters left lying beside one of the books the pair had been attempting to use to help decipher their message. His whiskers twitched, the aged paper crinkling beneath one paw; returning to the floor, he tottered over to the bookshelf standing in the corner instead. His green eyes rose up along the cliffs and ledges of the shelf to ultimately alight on his target.
It was a lucky thing that his human hadn’t been frivolous with feeding him, because otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to scale the narrow foot holds up to the correct shelf all the way up near the top of the towering piece of furniture.
It took a great deal of effort on the part of the now eight month old kitten to dislodge the book from its position tucked in amidst its fellows and its weight, when it finally did fall, took Sergio-and half of the rest of the shelf along with him-to the floor with a yowl and a loud clatter.
Surprisingly, neither of the humans in the apartment-normally so alert-even so much as stirred.
Freeing himself from beneath the pile of books with an embarrassed mew, Sergio nudged out the book he’d meant to pull down and then curled up on top of it to groom himself and wait.
When morning came and the two hunters woke up he wasn’t disappointed by their reactions.
“Alaric! Your damn cat made a massive mess last night!”
“What do you mean?” he asked, running into the sitting room through the doorway of the kitchen; catching sight of an invariable sea of books covering the floor his blue eyes widened. “Sergio, what did you do! Help me pick this up, would you? The sooner that we do it the sooner we can get back to work.”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” Etain grumbled, joining him on her hands and knees to gather the scattered books. “We should really start spacing out our all-nighters; if a cat taking half the damn wall down didn’t wake us up, then how the hell are we supposed to defend against the possibility of a break-in ambush?”
“Good point; locks probably won’t do much to keep them out if they’re really set on coming in.” Setting a pile of books back on one of the nearest mostly emptied shelves he sighed. “Just leave them here; I’ll worry about putting them back into their proper places later when I find the time.”
“It’ll be a while then, with all the shit that’s going on. Move it, fluff ball!” Shooing the kitten off of the book he’d been curled up on and picking it up, she flipped it over to read the title and snorted. “Really Alaric, hunting the things isn’t enough for you? You’ve got to read things like Bram Stoker’s Dracula too?”
“Dracula, I’ll have you know, is a classic piece of literature.” He defended, taking the hard-cover book out of her hands. “It’s well written and enjoyable to read, not to mention that it’s the baseline of all of the pop fiction regarding ‘modern’ Vampires; this was written in the pre-Twilight era before everything went glitzy.” Setting the book on the shelf as well, Alaric turned to head back into the kitchen. “Dracula was actually a real person, you know, and Stoker based a lot of his story off of fact; Vladimir ‘the Impaler’ was a Romanian-.” Cutting himself off he froze in place for a moment before glancing down at the kitten as Sergio attempted to intertwine himself around his ankles. “There’s no way.”
“There’s no way what?” Etain demanded sourly as he lunged across the room towards where he’d left the laptop sitting the night before. “Alaric!”
“The language! The one that these letters are all written in! The language that the Order must have spoken under the Ash Hand!” Pulling up the correct web page and grabbing one of the letters from the table, he compared them for a moment before nodding. “I think it’s Romanian.”
“Romanian? As in the language spoken in Romania, the European country right next to Bulgaria that’s the Ohio of the Eastern Hemisphere? Where Transylvania is?”
“Yes, exactly. That Romanian.”
“Well, isn’t that just perfect! It couldn’t be French, or Spanish, or German or any other language that’s normal to hear about on a semi-regular basis! That would have been too easy! No! Of course it’s some obscure as fuck language!”
“Though not exactly common, Romanian is far from ‘obscure’; it’s not like it’s spoken on the moon or anything.” He snorted, looking on in amusement as his friend’s tantrum ran its course. “If you’re finished, we have work to do. And I think that you actually have work today don’t you?”
“Shit, you’re right! I do. But this is more important.”
“Etain, if you don’t show up this time you’re going to be fired.” Alaric pointed out somewhat dryly. “Go, we can work on this more in a few days. I need some time to get a baseline on the language anyway.”
“We finally think we know what it is because of a strike of inspiration gained from, need I remind you, a cat knocking a bunch of books off of a shelf and instead of sending copies of the documents in question or photos of them or something to experts in the field your solution is to pull a bilingual dictionary out of your ass and translate the things yourself?”
Grabbing his coat from where he’d left it lying over the back of the couch, he nodded. “It’s better that we move in small slow motions for as long as possible. That way, the chance that we’ll be detected is considerably lower.”
“Going to the library and getting a book on the basics of language seems more like an incremental step than a ‘small’ one!” She protested, following him out. “Learning enough to be able to read those letters would take years Alaric! We don’t have that kind of time!”
“Actually, it won’t take as long as you think because I’m not suggesting that we wait around until I become as fluent as a native speaker; statistically speaking, they say that once you’ve learned about three languages the process for learning more becomes easier. Not to mention all I’m learning is the basics; a few good reads through a standard primer will be more than enough to make efficient use of an English to Romanian dictionary.” Allowing the door of the apartment to swing shut behind him, Alaric pulled out his house keys to lock it. “Romanian, like you so keenly pointed out, is a fairly uncommon language in comparison to something like German so it’s unlikely they’ll have what I need on sight. I’ll have to order it in from somewhere else.”
“And we have to take into account the time that it will take for you to read the stupid thing, what, four times? Five times?” Etain pointed out harshly, her footsteps ringing loudly as she tromped down the ice-coated stairs leading down the outside of the building. “How much would that be in total, do you think? And what should I be doing in the meantime?”
“I’d say that a month sounds like a good time frame. It won’t take me that long to get a workable hold on the basics, but we’ll need to allot time for the book to come in from another location.” Alaric said as they reached the bottom of the stairs, sliding his hands into the pockets of his coat to pull it tighter around his body to fend off the winter chill. “As for what you should be doing in the meantime, act as normal as possible but be careful. You never know when you could be being watched or by who, and I think it goes without saying that trusting anyone outside of the two of us is a bad idea at this point. When I’ve gotten somewhere, I’ll be in touch.”ns 126.96.36.199da2