A Scholar's Purpose: A Story of Elska (ch. 1) by Acton Bell

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SUMMARY: Lyrel has traveled to Byshen to study the language. She doesn't expect to meet an alien soulmate. Can two people from two VERY different cultures find a common ground?

Lyrel Medigren looked with approval at the stern façade of the Founder's Research Library. Its red, rough hewn stones were solid and without embellishment. While the other public buildings of Port City Roaninsh might boast a wealth of pinnacles, stone winged creatures decorating every available space, latticed windows surrounded by sun, moon, stars, and comet motifs, and paired half columns, the Library was a bastion of calm among the others' busy-ness.
Entering the building, Lyrel was cocooned in silence. She released a breath she hadn't realized she was holding and felt herself relax in the familiar atmosphere of serious scholarship. Outside all might be the chaos of commerce, but inside was the peace of study.
She showed her visitor's pass to the bókavörður at the desk, then in the sign language used for all communication in the building, spelled out, "I have been granted leyfi to view the First records."
She waited as the librarian checked through the numerous clearances Lyrel had filed from off-planet. It had taken her months to gather the necessary authorizations. The Byshen's were extremely careful about who they granted access to their history.
Finally Lyrel was led to a sound-proofed room. She placed the waiting imager nodes at her temples and relaxed back into the chair. A few moments later the bókavörður returned with a small case and set it on the smooth table. He opened it to reveal a dozen dull colored disks.
"Do you require more assistance?" signed the bókavörður.
Lyrel shook her head.
The librarian signed, "Your leave, Scholar" and left the room.
Lyrel gently placed the disk labeled as the oldest in the machine and tapped in the "play" cold. The imager nodes allowed her to see and hear everything that had been recorded by the ship's log.
The data had degraded over the centuries, but it was still possible to make out the insignia on the captain's badge as she walked into recorder view: a comet ascendant. This was one of the fabled House De'enth's pilots and ships then. Lyrel knew they had once been the most powerful settler House. Their fortunes had declined somewhat after Byshen was colonized and the ships that had carried them to the harsh planet were slowly changed into a merchant fleet, though De'enth remained one of the Seven Houses that ruled Byshen's affairs.
It was not the history of that epic journey from some now forgotten planet to Byshen that interested Lyrel. The founders of her own society, Elysium, had suffered the same sorts of tribulations and more besides. Elysium's children were a breed apart.
What Lyrel carefully noted were the words the Founders used. For hours she listened and cataloged the words mnemonically, her ears attuned to each vowel and diphthong. Later she would compare each word with the similar sounding word in the Terran language called Icelandic. Were they exact equivalents in meaning? Were the sounds exactly the same or was there a shift in pronunciation?
It was one of the minor mysteries of the universe that two races from unconnected galaxies should have a language in common; though Icelandic was only one of Terra's many tongues, while A'nth was the sole original language of the Byshen settlers.

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