March 14th – A Research Presentation on the Junetolshamarkwright Cave Obelisk

Two years ago a research expedition into the depths of the Unfathomed Archive found a new, flooded, cave system, later found to be an aquifer that supplies the Monastery of Her Holy Word’s well, when dye placed in the water under the archive caused an upset in that particular commune. The site has since been surveyed regularly by the Guild of Nadirnauts, leading to the discovery of the spectacularly uncanny Junetolshamarkwright Cave Obelisk (JCO), which has been the subject of extensive academic research. Today much of this research will be revealed to the public for the first time in a conference in Cartspen Aduili Hall at de Geers University.

The cave in which the JCO was found was named after the three nadirnauts who discovered it, Harvil June, Marisi Tolsham and Lotus Arkwright, and the JCO naturally derived its name from the cave as nobody is yet sure what to make of it. At first glance, the JCO is just a submerged pillar of rock, about ten foot tall and five foot across, tapering to a rounded point at the top. There is little to distinguish it from the surrounding rock, and visibility is poor in the dark, frigid water.

It was only upon reviewing the routine 3D imaging scans of the caves that its significance became clear. Due to the weight of the Obelisk, and the poor access (it can only be observed by a dedicated team of divers who have to squeeze through dangerously narrow gaps), the JCO cannot be moved to the surface for further observation, so these scans are the primary source of academic study. Upon reviewing these images a number of markings become clear on the Obelisk’s surface.

The markings are scattered across the surface of the Obelisk, in small strings. Even to the untrained eye they look almost like writing, although they are not any language that is recognisable by most modern Buentoillitants. Evidence of human activity so deep into the earth is a tantalising mystery, especially given that the caves were entirely sealed off until two years ago, when a large section of cave floor collapsed due to undermining by the water channel. Both ends of the underground river have been followed to their ends, where the watercourse becomes so narrow that it doesn’t allow a human body, no matter how small, to pass through.

Today a number of research findings and theories will be posited by geologists surrounding how former access to the caves could have been possible. Abstracts of a few have been circulated prior to the event, and the most popular explanation seems to be that the water channel was once larger, and has been constricted by calcite deposits and other such natural phenomena since. Others have stated that the water course is not old enough for this to have happened, or posit that the Obelisk was once separate from the cave floor (it is currently seamlessly fused, and made from the same rock), and it was carried to its resting point from elsewhere by the river. It is clear that more research is needed.

Another area of research for which abstracts have been sent out ahead of time is ancient languages and linguistics. In this instance it would seem that there is general consensus; the markings are indeed words, specifically an obscure form of ancient Low Strigaxian, written by slaves in that dark city around two thousand years ago. The runes seem to match the shape and form inscriptions on pottery fragments kept in the Office of External Correspondences of the Buentoilliçan Embassy in Strigaxia, unearthed last year by Professor Heidi Linstrom. In perhaps the strangest twist, according to the abstract sent out by the professor, the letters spell out twelve modern Buentoilliçan names.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a huge deal of interest in this latter revelation. There have been a number of accusations of hoaxery from various quarters, but all the findings that will be revealed in full today have been extensively peer reviewed. There has been particular interest in which names are written on the submerged stone, deep beneath the City, but Linstrom has been peculiarly tight-lipped on the subject. Her talk today will be well attended.

Yet despite the uncanny and seemingly impossible nature of the inscriptions, there is perhaps a more mundane explanation; according to a contingent of geologists and ‘sub-aquifer flow analysts’ the markings are entirely natural, and their apparent similarity to Low Strigaxian is entirely coincidental. The team, who point to the fact that the Obelisk almost entirely blocks the cave system and thereby narrows the water way, creating a faster flow, posit that sharp stones may have made the markings over the course of many years. They have found similar markings on the surrounding walls, though these are longer and do not appear man-made as the JCO’s markings do. ‘It is an astounding coincidence, but one that seems less unlikely given the human mind’s capacity for pattern finding,’ say the team, in a recent press release.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Eternal Serpent
  • Pea Soup Day
  • The Union of Sailors and Anglers’ Whelk Appreciation Day
  • Voter Preparation Day