With a satisfied nod, Blackwood gently collected the three volumes and locked them back up. Clearly he was as protective of them as he was uncomfortable with anyone touching them. If the books really did give him nightmares, no wonder he looked so grim. He opened the case Scott had indicated and removed small box and a booklet, setting both on the table.
“We recently acquired these. They were stolen years ago from the Sanbourne Institute of Pacific Antiquities in California.” Scott reverently opened the case but paused and looked up at her. “The Institute closed in the thirties but reopened recently under new auspices. They’ve been attempting through litigation to restore some of their lost pieces which were sent to us. The Zanthu Tablets went missing much earlier than the closing however. We acquired these legitimately less than a year ago, but if they knew we had them… I just want to make it clear that this must be kept as secret as our laboratory. It‘s not even the same Institute as it was in the 30s, so they have no claim on it.”
Glory nodded. “I understand.”
“You’ve heard of Atlantis?” he asked. “Lemuria? Mu?”
Glory gave him a skeptical look. “I’ve heard of all three. Last I read, Atlantis was either the empire of the Minoans before a volcanic holocaust took out half the island of Santorini or swampland in Spain. The former is more probable if it ever really existed. Most of the known facts on Atlantis aside from Plato‘s use as allegory came from Edgar Cayce and Madame Blavatsky’s group, especially concerning Lemuria and Mu.”
“And their version of events and the way they acquired their information is hardly scientific. I understand,” the professor said with a satisfied nod. “At least half of their version of events can be thrown out as complete and utter nonsense, imaginative though it is. I would not go so far as to connect the three as Blavatsky does and her timeline… Lemuria and Mu were contiguous with Atlantis; they were not broken pieces of the continent. About the only thing she got right was that Mu was the last to sink beneath the waves. The Zanthu Tablets tell the story.”
“Zanthu was a wizard-priest much the same as the Magi of the city-states of the ancient Middle East. These tablets were recovered from central Asia by Harold Hadley Copeland in 1913, and this pamphlet,” he picked up the small booklet, “ was his translation before he was confined to an asylum. It chronicles the part Zanthu played in the sinking of Mu.” He set the pamphlet aside and examined the stones. Selecting one, he held it up, turning it to examine one of its many sides. “Zanthu was the last high priest of Ythogtha, a son of Cthulhu. He tried to use an artifact called the Black Seal of Iraan to raise his god from the Abyss of Yhe but only succeeded in sinking Mu. There is very little description of the stone aside from its depiction of the Seven Lost Signs of Terror, but black jade was chosen for Zanthu’s tablets because of its similarity to the Black Seal.”
“Well, the stone I saw was definitely black, though I couldn’t say if it was jade,” Glory confirmed.
“Take a look at this and tell me if any of these were the sign you saw on the stone.” He let his finger rest against the part he wanted her to examine.
She took the shaft of black stone. Calling it a tablet seemed inappropriate for the item she had in her hand. It looked more like a black counterpart to the shafts of crystals depicted in the Superman movies but more uniform and less like a shard. The piece she held reached from her elbow to just past her index finger and had several lines of raised text set on each of the numerous planes that ran the length of the cylinder. “Is this meant to be read like a Babylonian cylinder seal?” she asked, turning it in her hand to catch the light on the symbols. The symbols were so small and perfect, Glory wondered how it had been crafted.
Professor Scott looked impressed. “You amaze me Ms Lewin. It’s a shame you never made it to a college or university. You’d be a credit to any vocation you chose.”
She flushed with pleasure at the compliment. Glory had spotted the symbol in question right away. There was no doubt in her mind that it was the symbol from the Museum. She examined the symbols immediately before and after, fixing them in her memory. Phoenix confirmed Scott‘s story, allowing her to read Zanthu‘s description of the stone in the original language. “This one here,” she said, keeping her finger on the symbol in question. “It’s very small, but I’m almost certain that’s the one I saw at the museum.”
He took the jade shaft back and nodded at the marking she’d indicated. “This is very bad,” he said quietly. “The Seal was thought lost forever. I’d never read an account that it had been broken, but I suppose we should be grateful for small favors. Hopefully the thief hasn’t found all seven pieces yet.”
“We should call a meeting as soon as possible,” Dr Blackwood announced, gently taking the box from Scott and putting it back in its case.
“Yes…” Scott looked at Glory with consternation. “I’m sorry Ms Lewin. We are extremely grateful for this information, but I’m afraid we’ll have to cut our meeting short. I’d include you in our investigation, but I’m afraid I would need to have the agreement of all the senior members of our little society to do so. They were quite impressed with your handling of the draug, and they will be equally impressed that you stumbled onto this conspiracy.”
Scott ushered her from the room, and Blackwood locked up behind them. “I hope you understand,” he went on. “I’ll be in contact with you as soon as we decide how to proceed. Hopefully we’ll be able to include you in the investigation. I’m sure the insight you’d be able to give would be invaluable.”
“Of course,” she replied faintly as he briskly shook her hand and hurried after Blackwood who stood waiting by the stairs.
to Book 6, page 23