There had been no difficulty with Catherine, or Amia’s, memories beyond that of making the connections but reading their language was an entirely different experience. She recognised the characters, and she understood the words they formed, but not the meaning. The meaning was not clear from the words or the visual references. She was missing something. She was, she surmised, missing a lot because this language was so sophisticated, so immensely mature, it would not be simple to comprehend. Staring at the ceramic glaze over the towering wall in one of the middle chambers she let her mind drift to the nature of that glaze – of how such a large surface could have been fired as if in an oven. A solar reflector must have been positioned here, in this chamber, and the sunlight had to have been brought in to hit the reflector, which would have to have been portable – both to capture the sunlight and to concentrate the energy where needed. To raise such a large mass to high temperature would have needed either a large reflector, or a finely controlled one working small areas at a time. There had been some evidence of this in the ceramic statues found in Cambodia which were life size, and life shaped, with beautiful colours preserved under the glaze. The archaeological community had yet to accepted that the glaze was solar fired but it just had to be. These walls dispelled any doubt. The Sun was the only possible source of the energy needed to glaze such large surface areas.
She slipped into a meditative trance where Fiona’s images began to fill mind but they were not clear. She could make the connections; the synapses were melding together but still there was no clarity. Then were no images. She couldn’t understand, or could she? Maybe there was something. Yes there was definitely something – something very big. There was something larger than the towering wall filling her vision. There was something enormous. She couldn’t see it because it was gigantic.
She let go, drifting further, until the scale of it was no longer apparent. It was no longer apparent because she had entered into it. She was looking at more than a language; she was inside a culture. She was part of pre-history and she, too, was huge. Everyone was huge. Everyone was more than eight feet high with clear skin and bright, piercing eyes – eyes like her grandmothers – eyes like hers. Movement was easy, powerful, up the stairs, along the corridors, down into the lower chambers where the air was cool, damp, and moist on her skin. People were passing, working she thought, but it wasn’t clear what they were doing. Speech was rare. People were quiet. She didn’t understand. She couldn’t get a grip. She needed to rest. She needed time for all those memories to form a whole but they wouldn’t let go. She couldn’t shut down; the exercise had a life of its own. More people came – big people moving purposely with clear, very white, eyes that held steady. These were her people. These were her people of eighty thousand years ago before – before what? What happened?
She wanted to back away – allow her mind to rest. It wouldn’t let go. She had a bear in a trap and it wouldn’t let her go. Then the music started. There was music in her head; it was in the language. That was it. It wasn’t just a language; it was music. It was melody and rhythm and song. It was communication of the highest order that rose to heights beyond her perspective. She was drowning in it because she had yet to learn to swim but she would; she didn’t know the strokes but would learn. She would learn in a way she had never before learned. She would learn with mind and body and more than that. More than that was soul, spirit, faith . . . she didn’t know. She couldn’t know but she would; she would – she would know.
It was cooler when she awoke – cooler than when she dropped into sleep but not cold. Cold was not a factor – clarity was. There was clarity where previously there was grey, undetermined, searching. That was gone. The search was over? No, no, the search for knowledge never stopped. It couldn’t be over – could it?
“You been gone a long time.” The voice of John Conway came from a need and a wish.
She turned to see him smaller than before in well made, expensive, trousers of fine green and grey wool with a polished brown belt that matched soft leather shoes over similar green socks that bore dust of the desert. He was tired from travel and impatient for knowledge. “You’ll live another thirty years Commander, and learn a lot, but you must not kill those Mesopotamian people. Killing shortens your life.”
“Too late for that. Can’t have dangerous loose ends like that about. Things get in your way you have to move ‘em. Makes sense that.”
Things – he saw them as things. Such a clever man with such a simple mind. How long mother? How long before we can come back?