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Saturday, June 13, 2015

David Farwell - Bob O'Goobo Part 4

The door opened and in walked a young explorer.  His boots clicked against the stone floor of the classroom, covered from the ankles up by a pair of plain black jeans. His hat, which shaded his face down to his half-rimmed glasses, oddly reminded me of a black version of the one I’d seen Douglas Sharper wearing in photographs, especially folded up as it was on the side. The resemblance ended there, however, with a goatee in place of Sharper’s horseshoe mustache. What really caught my eye, however, was the jacket he was wearing. It was of a blue fleece, with “The Cavern Today” printed on the front in plain white lettering. On the back was the podcast’s unmistakable logo.

“Greetings, citizens,” he began with an informal salute. “Dalken Starbyne, lead reporter for The Cavern Today. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

"Dalken..."  I collected my thoughts and looked back to Jessie Pollick.

"Didn't I tell you?"  He said.  "I had a fascinating meeting with Dalken here.  He's all but confirmed my theories.

"I'm assuming Jessie’s done the heavy lifting," Dalken said, stepping forward.

"We're not at the bottom of this rabbit hole yet," Jessie responded.

Dalken retrieved a notebook from a small satchel bag he had slung over his shoulder. “As I’m sure Jessie went over with you, an explorer with the KI tag ‘Pantaleon’ came to The Cavern Today a while back,” he detailed, opening the notebook. In it was a list of locations, many of them crossed out, some with ‘X’s next to them, and at the corner was a sketch of a strange symbol I didn’t recognize. It was different from the Hopi Spiral, which was located just below that. “I wasn’t around for that interview, but when I got back to the cavern and heard about it, I felt it warranted some further investigation. A lot of exploring and a rather interesting encounter later, I’d come to some pretty concerning conclusions. Particularly about this.” He pointed at the odd symbol.

I studied the image.  Three spirals nearly conjoined at a central point.  The design reminded me something of a whirlpool.  I looked to Terry, trying to judge his reaction.  He was stoic as ever.  That said, he must believe something of this, otherwise he would have walked out long ago.  “What is it?” I asked.

“That, I believe,” Dalken replied. “Is what Pantaleon referred to as the Triple Shell.”

“Not a very original name,” Terry said looking to Jessie, Dalken, and finally to me.

“For something that isn’t one of Yeesha’s, I’m almost glad they didn’t just call it the ‘three spiral thingy,’” came Dalken’s response. “The intent behind it, however, is a lot more worrying. At least, if Pantaleon’s claims are true. And, given what the Bahro showed me in Noloben, I can understand his panic.”

That was something I did not expect.  Terry’s reaction matched my own: slack jawed, and slightly dumbfounded.  “I’m sorry, the Bahro?” I must have misheard him.

Dalken just chuckled a little. “This is why I take KI pics of everything,” he said, drawing up the aforementioned device. Then, however, his expression suddenly became very dark, a seriousness crossing it that deeply contrasted that of the man who’d just walked into the classroom a few minutes ago. “These are not to leave this room, understand?”

There was more than a tacit agreement throughout the room.  Dalken synched his KI to the imager behind the desk and pulled up his first picture.

“During my investigation, something seemed off to me about the whole thing and its supposed connection to Yeesha’s Path of the Shell. Some of the things mentioned in Pantaleon’s notes and those of his friends didn’t quite fit with how I remembered the Path of the Shell. So I decided to go back and walk it again,” he explained, stepping up to the imager so that he could point out details by hand. “That was when I was paid an unexpected visit by our winged friends. They brought me here.”

“Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone else has all the fun?” I said sarcastically.

"So, what exactly are we looking at here?" Terry asked.  "I'm not what you would call an expert in bahroglyphs."

"I don't know that anyone is," Dalken replied.  "That said, I have spent the better part of the last eight months studying these based on what we do know."  I lost focus momentarily at the thought of another academic dam release.  "I won't bore you with the details.  Suffice to say that my discovery of these bahroglyps gives more than a little credit to Pantaleon's well as a little insight into how many bags of D’nitos one can go through before the flavor starts getting old.”

"Anyway, that brings us back here."  Dalken swapped to a new image on his KI.  It was a match to the previously unknown symbol he had showed us in his notebook, except for the fact that the symbol had been etched into a stone wall and glowed with a faint blue.  "While your involvement began with the Hopi Spiral, my own began last January in Descent, when I snapped this image.”

There was a nervousness that was shared between Terry and myself.  I could see it despite his best attempts to remain stonefaced.  The evidence was mounting, and it didn't look good.  Dalken's pause had been well timed to let it sink in.  "I can't be the only explorer who digs around every crevice down here, but I imagine our ranks are bolstered since the Hopi Spiral became public knowledge.  Hopi Spirals are not the threat.  This is," Dalken said sternly, gesturing to the image on the wall.

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