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Athenaeums 4 - The Beetle Book

Audio Journal of Laurence Abbot, entry number 299. I should have figured it’d be here. In O'Connor's office of all places. Right under my nose this whole time. Gods, it’s heavy… and charred, great, thank you to whomever retrieved it. Did Friday get her hands on it?

It’s got the—the proper scarab on the cover and everything. It’s practically gift wrapped, huh. No title on it, but the contents are sure to include something about this symbol. Yes, okay. This is a jackpot, a full catalogue... the symbol burns away after each use. That’s new. The cover is a bit tattered and looks to be a green canvas material. The scarab is embossed in gold.

The pages themselves are in rough shape at best, the edges are burned and lightly stained with age. O’Connor is teaching at the moment; I’m practically behind his desk… I’m going to take it to a closet, just to be safe.

The book has the words “sapere aude” on what might otherwise be the title page. And, oddly enough, the initials L.A. My initials. Surely that's a coincidence, isn’t it?

...Have I read this before? It doesn’t seem familiar...

The catalogue card on the inside says that the piece was acquired in the late 2010’s in a rural area south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Retrieved from one Rex Fielding. It mentions the damage was kept to a minimum thanks to a few of the staff at Downing Hill. Apparently the book aided in sealing an antique jar filled with a few nasty spirits and other things.

Rex Fielding, however, was unlucky and sealed the jar incorrectly, a small mistake it seems, but one that was detrimental to their home and a few of the neighbor’s houses that were adjacent. Unfortunately, with the book being so old, there is no record of a date it was written.

The actual contents of what we’ll call “The Beetle Book” for my sake, contain the rites, context, and application of the scarab symbol. In my understanding, the symbol is mainly used for sealing vessels that are intended for a transformation at a later point. The vessel itself, with the symbol inscribed, acts as a metaphorical cocoon. It can catalyze, delay, or amp up an intended transformation.

What ‘transformation’ means in this context I’m not entirely sure… it’s referencing something I don’t know. Like a cocoon, the symbol acts as an arcane barrier to natural elements, aging, and minor magical attacks. The Beetle Book cites the symbol being used for protecting multiple manuscripts and written histories that would have been found in the Library of Alexandria.

This supports a long standing theory of mine that the Library of Alexandria might have been a sister library to Downing Hill in terms of its contents. I don’t see anything here about it the symbol being placed on a… well, a human vessel. Wait, someone is coming along, I’ll…

Audio Journal of Laurence Abbot, Archivist at Downing Hill Public Library, entry number 300.

I am in the waiting room now, unfortunately. Finding yourself here is rarely a good thing, and I don’t think I’m about to get a promotion. Though, with everything I’ve been looking into the past few weeks, and with my attention being rather divided, I can’t say I didn’t expect this eventually. My nerves are more wracked than usual about it. I’ve been poking my nose in too many places I guess. Probably should have been more careful.

I don’t suppose the hundreds of black, beady, bird eyes staring at me really help. The Omen is laughing at me now. Stop it. I don’t like being watched. I’m not giving you any of my rings or necklaces. Shoo.

If something… unfortunate happens, well, they’d be stupid to let these tapes survive. Maybe they’d give them to the next archivist, let you try and pick up my work where I left off. If that’s the case, and you’re still listening? Congratulations, you’re slacking. Stay out of my office. It’s mine, even if I am predisposed. There’s nothing of use in there for you, and I enjoy my privacy even in my absence or- or death I suppose.

I also suggest looking into the use of the scarab as a tattoo instead of a more traditional vessel. There’s got to be something about that. Historically, magically, anything. Just look into it. And be careful about it?

...Director, you wanted to see me? I hope I’m not causing an abundance of trouble for-

This episode was written by horror writer Theo Dixon! You can find Theo at @EldriitchBones across the internet!

The Season One Epilogue story that goes with this episode is called 'Librarians', and is available on the Hello From The Hallowoods Patreon. Consider joining for access to all the show's bonus stories, behind-the-scenes and more!


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