Corbin swept his papers to the side of the lab table.
“What did you find?” Sophia asked as she tidied up the papers, shoving them into their respective files. For the life of him, he couldn’t quite figure out why Sophia’s desk could be a complete disaster zone, but she insisted on filing his papers.
“Mera called him the lily of Persia. I’m looking for a lightning bird. The hell is this?” he muttered, pulling up tab after tab on his computer. Directories, scholarly research articles, databases, histories, they spread before him like a map with no compass.
She popped around to look at his screens. “Impundulu? That’s a legend. It’s a creature, not a man.”
“She said her great-grandfather knew these men.” He pulled up more. Then he started adding in the other keywords, Persia, water-lily, flowers. That brought up a lot of meaningless junk…until…
A photocopy of an old document dominated his middle screen. It was an old deed registered to the National Library of Iran. It was dated back to the early 11th century. That didn’t seem right. Why would Tau talk about a Scottish clan who served the MacCrinain family during that time? He scrolled through the photocopy, reading it through twice. It was hard to decipher. The terminology was as archaic as were the speech patterns. “Isle of Skye…Fyskar…” he muttered. A photo of a gold and silver horde followed. Most of the pieces looked much newer than the 11th century, save the signet ring.
That had old wear. Two bracers, two bangles, and a torc rendered out of gold, a long silver stick ending in a large silver fan of a bird launching itself into the air, a massive white and red net of shells, bracelets of ivory and cowry. Those looked more recent, relatively.
“I need to take a trip.” He looked up at Sophia. She leaned over and studied at the bangles. A small tag at the bottom showed providence. Niloofar, physician of the fourth and nineteenth sons of the Mirza of South Zagros.
“I’m not following, Corbin.”.
He pulled up the name. Water-lily.
“It’s a girl’s name. We’re looking for men.” She raised an eyebrow.
“I have some questions…” He stood, pulled on his suit jacket, and tightened his tie. Straightening the buttons of his shirt, he grabbed his umbrella. He issued a command into his terminal and flipped the lever at the back of the portal.
“Need me to come along?” Sophia asked as she glanced at his screen. 1974.
“If you want to. Think you’ll be fine without the lab coat.” He tapped his toe as he waited for the warm-up phase, then pressed a button. A loud thunk echoed in the room, and the blue portal blossomed.
They walked through the portal. It dumped them out in a janitor’s closet that was unlocked. They exited and found themselves in the Contemporary Arts Museum in Isfahan.
Wandering to the front, they found a rather helpful receptionist who could spot wealth when he saw it. He was more than happy to accommodate a British and American tourist, though his English was lacking. He called a woman to take over to answer Corbin and Sophia’s questions.
An hour, a main tour, and a long-winded discussion with the main curator of the building later, they finally stood in front of the case, looking down at what remained of a man. He had been buried. In excavating the city in the 1960s, archaeologists came across the disintegrating body in a tomb that had to go for development. The tomb had been carefully preserved, its intricate beauty telling of the love of a servant by his master. The frescoes and tilework on the wall rose from a brown tile floor to a white ceiling. The twenty-foot by twenty-foot square room now sat in the museum basement.
The walls were decorated with water-lilies the height of the wall. Fish swam through the images. A massive white bird stood in the water’s surface, its beak looking down on the slab of the tomb. The skeleton had disintegrated, leaving behind materials the archaeologists were having a time preserving. Wool had worn itself almost bare. Smudges of colour indicated a pattern of white, blue, and a brownish, almost purple shade. Leather wrap shoes of white had collapsed and were rough to unfold. A white robe of wool, carefully embroidered around the hems, was in better condition than the inner skirting. Indication of the robe spoke of the body having been painted completely in indigo ink.
A massive table the length of the room at the back had been constructed of stone and wood. Implements of the physician trade were laid out carefully, each item marked on a long sheet attached to the outside of the tomb. A pair of falconry stands, hoods, and jesses occupied a corner next to the table.
What had protected the body most, from what the curator told them, was a massive red leather cloak and a plague mask. Corbin looked at Sophia as the translator walked them through the scene on the other side of a plexiglass door. They were not allowed into the tomb, even with Corbin’s influence. This was considered a potential national treasure and wasn’t something to be messed with.
“Plague mask…torc…those aren’t Persian. Who was he? Where was he from?” Corbin asked, awed at the care that had been taken for the man. The woman presenting the tomb looked at the tomb lovingly.
“Our records indicate that he was a simple man known as Niloofar by the courts, but his official name was Righ Eoin Impundulu Niloofar Fyskar. He was not from here, as you have guessed. There was a document found that indicated that he was in possession of land through his clan at the northern end of the Isle of Skye. We are currently working with the UK to navigate the proper routes for that deed.” She led them past a case that contained the elaborate jewellery.
“Do we have an exact date as to when he was here?” he asked.
Sophia snuck ahead to the gold horde under glass. She snapped picture after picture, hiding her phone from prying eyes.
“The end of the 17th, beginning of the 18th century. He had twin sons who married into the king’s family and had twenty-three children between the two families. As we traced through the trees, we have discovered over four hundred and eight living relatives to this man.” The curator took them out of the vault.
“What of his family, his clan? I’ve never heard of it.” Corbin pulled a notepad and fountain pen from his pocket. With some luck, upon getting back to the house, he’d be able to find some paper or another on the gold horde and get dimensions for a 3d printer for models.
“We have not pinpointed an exact time. However, archaeologists, after our discovery, are currently tasked with looking over the town that the deed says is the Fyskar clan’s territory. They are waiting on funding, currently.” She ended her walk at the front desk of the museum.
“Do you have a number for that archaeology team’s lead?” he asked. She flipped through an old-school Rolodex behind the counter and produced a business card. He took the card and wrote down the phone number, dog-earing the note page. “You’ve been an immense help, thank you. I think we’ll wander around once more and take it all in before heading back to the hotel.” He bowed his head.
She smiled once more, “more than happy to help.”
He nodded and directed Sophia back down the hallway to the end of the building where the janitor’s closet was located. They slipped unnoticed into their blue portal and back into the lab.
He set the pad of paper on the counter and started back into his day of research. The phone number he had would no longer be any good, and he’d have to check to see if the old archaeologist in charge of the dig had ever made the dig happen. He could find a spot in time to slip into and visit with the man. He would need to find a pay phone to use for the phone call.
Corbin grabbed his coat and umbrella backup and reset the terminal date and location. He went and rummaged his draws, finding a set of old Bank of Scotland notes and a handful of coins. They were dated to 1980, but he figured it’d go unnoticed with a six-year difference. He’d get himself out to Portree and make the call there.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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