From: "d.k. tetreault" <denist@JULIAN.UWO.CA>
To: "GREYT ALK@mitvma.mit.edu"
Date: Mon, Aug 17, 1998 2:05 AM
Subject: [GREYTALK] DMD - The Scroll of Dust
The Scroll of Dust
By Denis Tetreault <email@example.com>
This is from a campaign I'm currently running where the PC's have embarked on a quest to discover as much about the Invoked Devastation/Rain of Colorless Fire as they can. They do not know yet where this path will lead them. I do of course! ;-) Feel free to use this as a campaign hook. I am currently writing up detailed DM's notes for this campaign, complete with visual aids, which I will post at some later date (or rather announce for people to send requests, since it is already too long for the list). Every line in these two "documents" really does have some meaning. In the campaign notes I'll release later, all will become clear ... well. .. most anyways;-) For those of you who read (and saved) my post a few weeks ago on "Xodast, lncabulos, and the Invoked Devastation", you will be able to decipher part of this underlying meaning. Once I post my view of the "Rain", much of the rest will be decipherable.
While searching the library of a sage, the PC's find a book with the following information. They later decided to try to track down the "earlier, more accurate translation" mentioned below. After several dangerous and exciting adventures they finally succeeded. It follows the first Scroll of Dust description. Campaign notes: IMC, Al'Akbar is the name of the god, worshipped by the Baklunish, who created the Cup and Talisman, not the high priest who received the artifacts. Those espousing the alternate view need only change a few words.
The Scroll of Dust
The Scroll of Dust, originally written in an ancient dialect of Baklunish, is also known as the Testament of the Darkening by followers of Al'Akbar and is held as very sacred and holy scripture. Followers believe it to be divine enlightenment and the word of Al'Akbar. It is apparently the oldest document in existence concerning the faith of Al'Akbar. There have been several translations by different people over it's long history (after all, the original is alleged to be one thousand years old!) each with slight differences in interpretation, however the translation by the High Priest Anar Al'Hakir is the only officially authorized version at present. Whether he based his translation on the original or on a re-analysis of an older translation is unknown. A few sages, who claim to have information on an earlier, more accurate translation, believe the Scroll is an account of the final moments of the Baklunish Empire. They accuse the official version (about 75 years old) to be clouded by religious fundamentalism, but what do they know? They are mere infidels and could not begin to understand its true meaning. Anyway, they haven't a leg to stand on because the original has either been lost or is held in "safe keeping" (i.e. permanently locked away) by the powers-that-be and hasn't been seen by an outsider in at least two hundred years.
Translation by His Holiness Anar Al'Hakir, High Marabout of Antalotol, Bey to the Sultan of Zeif.
And the. faithlessness reached across the lands and gripped the people in its fist of death. Dust. 
And the darkness did dull the mind and darken the soul.
And the mighty temples did rot and crumble. Dust.
And the Evil did walk the streets and consume the innocent and fell the strong.
And Death laughed and took the righteous and the infidel alike. Dust.
And enlightenment and truth did open the eyes of the wayward and they did weep. Dust.
And the Prophet lifted up his hands and He called out to All, for he was the wisest that lived. 
And He brought low the infidels and cleansed all trace of them in the storm of Jihad. Dust. 
And their towers did fall and the faithless did scatter. 
And they were blinded by the power of Holy Truth and they withered in it's Light. Dust.
And the faithful did pass through the gate of redemption to their salvation at the Holy One's side in heaven.
And the Cup and Talisman was gifted to the people for their faith was strong. 
 Was the Invoked Devastation a punishment by the gods of a decadent and amoral heathen civilization?
 Who was he? Some believe he may have been the high priest mentioned below, but his actions would not be consistent with the teachings of Al'Akbar.
 Could this be the reference to the Rain of Colorless Fire that the sages refer to?
 There has been some arguement as to whether this, and the following line, refers to the Baklunish victims of the Invoked Devastation or to the Suel Empire.
 A reference to the faith of Al'Akbar's two holiest relics, supposedly given to his most exalted high priest by Al'Akbar himself in the day following a great devastation.
While most students of the arcane have heard of the destruction of the Suel and Baklunish Empires in the respective events that ancient and anonymous historians have named the "Rain of Colorless Fire" and the "Invoked Devastation", very little else about what actually happened is known and certainly nothing in the way of details. Much of what little is known comes from painstakingly analyzing the oral histories (not the most accurate way to pass on information over a millenium) of the Paynim tribes (nomads descended from the Baklunish). Some information comes from the sparse surviving records from Suel descendents. The rest comes from magically divined knowledge (e.g. Commune, Legend Lore, etc), though this method has historically resulted in notoriously vague, incomplete, and untrustworthy information. It is unknown as to why or how this event resists such divinations. If this scroll represents what a minority of sages allege, it represents perhaps the only known surviving first person description by an actual witness to these world shaking events.
The party resolved itself to find this rumored earlier and more accurate translation, and, after considerable effort and many adventures, finally located a rare manuscript containing the following information.
The Scroll of Dust
The Scroll of Dust, originally written in ancient Baklunish, is also known as the Testament of the Darkening by followers of Al'Akbar and is held as very sacred and holy scripture. Followers believe it to be divine enlightenment and the word of Al'Akbar, and interpret its message as such. Its details are closely guarded and not widely known. A radical splinter group of doomsayers believe it to be a prophecy describing the impending apocalypse. Some sages believe the fragmentary document to be a first-hand account of the final moments of the great Baklunish Empire. Most think it is the meaningless ramblings of an insane religious fanatic. Much of it makes no sense and appears to be lost in religious metaphor, the rest is impossible according to experts in the arcane arts. Most damning, however, is the fact that there is no other source of corroborating evidence. While the destruction of the Empire was so utterly complete and occurred fully one thousand years ago, the population was huge and if there had been any survivors, as the scroll suggests were, one would expect more accounts. The point of view of the teller as ascertained by the detail of this account also would not be possible because anyone near the center of the destruction could not possibly have survived to tell the story. Supposedly it took mere moments to utterly destroy nearly half a continent. Only gods could be capable of this kind of power, and even then there are limitations on what they can do on the Prime, chiefly by the other gods with interests in this world, further undermining this fairy tale. Certainly it is unthinkable that a mortal could be responsible.
The translation used here is transcribed from the Baklunium Antiquiam, a treatise dating from about 2968 B.H. How much earlier Ak'Omar the Seer lived and if he actually viewed the original scroll is unknown. It generally is agreed by the experts that his is the most accurate translation (lending credence to the theory that he worked from the original). The footnotes are presented as paired notations. The portion designated "a" is a literal interpretation, while that designated "b" represents an interpretation based on theological metaphor.
Translation of Ak'Omar the Seer
... (Beginning of text lost).... Dust. 
And the (lost fragment) was called and (lost fragment) opened.
And the Hand of Darkness reached across the heavens and gripped the world in its fist of death. Dust. 
And the Darkness of Doom did dull the sky and darken the day.
And the mighty temples did rot and crumble. Dust. 
And the Horde of Evil did cavort in the streets and slay the innocent and destroy the strong. 
And the Reaper of Souls, Rider of Nightmares did laugh and did cut down the righteous and the impure alike. Dust. 
And lo, the Great Krystal of Askaf was placed upon the Key and pushed into the Lock of the Ancients. 
And the earth did quake and the thunder did deafen the soul and the Eye That Watches was awakened and the world did weep. Dust.
And He lifted up His hands and He called out through All That Is, for he WAS the greatest wizard that lived. 
And He brought low the World of the Doom Bringers and washed all trace of What They Were in the Rain of Final Retribution. Dust. 
And the Towers did fall and the (ambiguous fragment) scatter. 
And He was blinded by the power of the Eye and He was consumed by that which he did never control. Dust. 
And the Faithful did pass through the Gate of Who Will Become to their Salvation at the side of the Holy One on the Needle of Time. 
And the Cup and the Staff of the Humble Servant was Gifted unto the people so that their faith would be strong. 
And the Gloom did creep through the Empire and snuff out All That Was. Dust. 
 No one knows how long the original document was.
[2a] A possible description of the Seul calling down the Invoked Devastation. But how could the Baklunish observer have any info on this? The two events were simultaneous, and almost 1000 miles apart. [2b] The spread of faithlessness, the people straying from the true path of God's will.
[3a] Physical destruction of the capital city. [3b] Metaphorical destruction of the temples of the unbelievers.
[4a] Possible literary origin of the word "Hordling" - powerful evil creatures from the Lower Planes. [4b] The servants of the Gods. The wrath of the Gods personified.
[5a] Avatar of an evil god walks the earth. [5b] Death in its nonjudgemental horror.
[6a] No other references to these objects has ever been found, and it is not known what they were or what their purpose was. Whatever happened, it doesn't sound good. [6b] The "crystal" of enlightenment and "key" of truth opening the "eyes" of the wayward believers to the ancient revealed word of God.
[7a] No info on who this person was, if he ever existed or what he was up to. [7b] Metaphor for God? Priests? Followers? A single individual? People have died over this arguement, folks.
[8a] The Rain of Colorless Fire? But only a god has this kind of power, and even then, there would be grave ramifactions. [8b] The destruction of your enemies by the hand of God, like most religious zealots pray for.
 Ambiguous fragment variously translated as the "walking dead" or the "bringers of death".
[10a] Destroyed by the power he released. [10b] The danger of what you don't understand, of straying from revealed truth.
[11a] The magically-aided escape from destruction by a small group of survivors? [11b] The truly faithful will be rewarded with salvation and ascendency to heaven after death.
 The creation of holy relics. [12a] Unfortunately there is no holy staff symbol in the religion. [12b] However this does not sway the true believers. It could be an error in translation. Everyone knows that it was a talisman.
[13a] The obsession with, then break in the " .. .Dust." meter structure on every 2nd line proves that the writer was insane, doesn't it? [13b] But then who wouldn't be insane after witnessing all this, or having it revealed through divine enlightenment. Either way the tale is pretty wierd and unbelievable.
Denis Tetreault <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dept of Earth Sciences
Univ of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
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