With a small scratching sound, the tall quill ceased to quiver and then lifted off the densely covered parchment. The hand that held it was dry and hard. In the dim red light of the ruby lamp, it appeared grey and mottled, and it betrayed the writer as exceedingly old. And yet, no wrinkle was in that smooth grey skin. Indeed, the hand had a distinctly alien appearance with its seven long spindly digits. The face that now looked down on the small, spidery script was dominated by two saucer-sized green marble eyes and neither hair, nose nor ears stood out to disrupt the spherical smoothness of his grey head.
The elderly Vahnatai at last lifted his gaze off the book he had been writing in, and stared blankly at the opposite wall of his study. Like the rest, the wall was covered by ancient maps and charts. His gaze moved over the star-chart and then lingered over one that showed the coinciding phases of the two moons. Where no parchment hung over the wall, the rough grey rock was instead marked with hundreds of etched runes and painted symbols. In the otherworldly red light from the glowing jewel on the desk, they shimmered and looked alive.
The Vahnatai's huge eyes traveled from one wall to the next, all equally filled, as if searching desperately for the solution to some riddle standing there in the midst of the enchantments. But his gaze went through these, and as the enlightenment failed to appear to him, he was glaring into empty space, uncomprehending. At length, not without some distaste, he resigned himself to bend over the open book again, of which only the first few pages had been filled so far. Again he read what he had written, as if seeing it for the first time. His lipless mouth curled slightly in a grin.
...remain forever the pinnacle of Creation.
"Or that is what we tell ourselves," he muttered, sarcastically.
Zadal was a traveler, an explorer. He had wandered
not nearly as old as he looked in the dim red light, but today he felt at least as old.