Fragment Fourteen: Obsuriotempus
Following the discovery of Fragment Thirteen, the Mountaineers lost contact with Augernon, the Mountaineer they had been emailing in the '90s. The form on the Fletcher Dawson website closed, and the combination of Guilds that had previously unlocked the Chronocompass image no longer worked. However, the page for Fragment Thirteen included latitude and longitude coordinates pointing to a location in New York City, known as the Portal Down to Old New York. The Mountaineers concluded that bringing Sullivan Green’s journal and Chronocompass to the location would show the next steps.
Although Deirdre and Cole had flown to Ireland for the funeral of Deirdre’s Aunt Monica, Cole returned early with the compass and journal to visit the site. When he arrived, the compass began to direct Cole to various locations in downtown Manhattan. The Mountaineers mapped his walk and discovered that the directions he traveled made up a new combination to unlock the Fletcher Dawson site once again. This time, the unlocked page displayed the rhyme "Like leaves swept into a stream, are sounds and stories in a dream,” and a place to attach an audio file.
Not knowing who or what they might find on the other end, the Mountaineers sent a recording. A reply came in the form of a dream journal entry from Knatz, another of the '94 Mountaineers. The audio files the Mounties uploaded seemed to influence Knatz’s dreams. When the Mountaineers recorded and sent a story about a lioness searching for something, the resulting dream prompted Knatz to remember a locked briefcase that another Mountaineer, Nib, had received during a previous fragment. Knatz traveled to South Carolina to meet Saberlane, another Mountaineer of the '90s, and locate the briefcase.
Unlocking the case using the combination of numbers ‘1998’ and ‘2017’ revealed a collection of wood and metal pieces. Knatz and Saberlane finally assembled the pieces into a box. It refused to open, but a strange poem appeared on its lid, and a series of riddles appeared on the back. The past Book of Briars then sent the following message:
There must be holes in this unrhyme
For else how could you find the time?
I wonder would it trouble you
Barring fours from thirty-two?
The mourners all dressed in the nines
For thirty-two’s the length of times
And then unriddle what’s been wrote
To find the heartbreak in the note
A heavy heart upon a feather
The characters all brought together
To ready up the mourning glade
A grieving air’s what must be made.
Mounties worked to decipher the coded riddles on the side of the box, record them in an audio file, and send them to Knatz. When all of the riddles were solved correctly, a new set of riddles would appear on another side of the box. When four sets of riddles had been solved, the clues disappeared and were replaced by another rhyme:
They will find the mourning song.
Six verses on the wind.
Sing that lullaby to me.
My contents I will lend.
Using the Book’s clues and the numbers leftover from solving the box riddles, the Mountaineers constructed a melody for a lament and created lyrics for six verses, one for each of the six elements. They sent a recording through the Chronocompass to Knatz, who sang the song to the box, to open it. The fragment word, ‘Obscuriotempus,’ was written inside.