The Exploration of the Carolinas (Ad Signoria I.17-21)

Letters on the Exploration of the Carolinas to the Signoria of the Most Serene Republic of Alexandria (ad Signoria) is the name that comes down to us for a series of letters which gives us a rare look into the workings of embassies and ambassadors during the Great Pandemic. The fragments translated here from their original American come from an embassy dispatched by the Signoria to a native settlement, which we today believe coincides with Charles Roxton’s recent excavations at the site of Ashe-vyllai. With the addition of this narrative, albeit fragmentary, we can get a glimpse into life among the so called “Nortecarolinus Man” (Homo nortecarolinus). Further letters are known to exist from commentaries written during the late republic. We believe that Book I – to which the letters contained herein belong – would have consisted of letters dispatched from the northern regions of the Carolinas, and Book II was most likely then letters from the south, though the abrupt way in which our fragmentary narrative ends leaves open the question of the narrator’s fate.

The letters are arranged in the traditional order established by the late Sir Bernard Brainsample at Ducal Seminary College. The dates which are given are approximations provided for this translation, correcting mistakes made in the Brainsample edition in light of recent archaeological finds. Where necessary, I have provided a commentary in italics so as to distinguish my notes that of the main text. Asterisks (*) indicate additional footnotes, which are arranged by the line number and the relevant portion of text.

Ad Signoria I.17 (?26 Dec 2020 CE)

This first letter begins midsentence, and we are left to puzzle over the author’s original meaning.

17.3  and because of the way in which she was acting, I had no choice but to give her the only watermelon in my possession.
17.4  The journey up the mountain to the accommodations which Your Graces so generously appropriated on my behalf was a rugged one,
17.5  and more than once did I have to engage both the four-hoof-high and the four-hoof-low on my stallion, and even the A-TRAC,*
17.6  so little do I understand of these new-fangled equines.
17.7  My observations of the native people so far are that they are unusually suspiciously nice and welcoming to strangers.
17.8  More importantly, they appear to understand that the left lane is meant to be used for the act of passing,
17.9  which has made traversing among their kind --

The letter cuts off here, and there appears to be the description of a short combat missing.

17.12  that I should kick the dead velociraptor over the cliff, 
17.13 and so I did. As a result, I appear to have been accepted by their kind,
17.14 though tomorrow I shall travel to the city and see what I find.
17.15 They appear to have no notion that I am not one of their own,
17.16 and so I may be able to continue passing as one of them.

Ad Signoria I.18 (?27 Dec 2020 CE)

With the exception of the formulaic pages of preamble, this letter and the following appear to come down to us entirely intact.

18.1  I have been observed by the locals for my particular skill with the canid 
18.2  animals. They flock to see me, primitive in their own canid training ways, 
18.3  amused by the slightest bit of obedience, to say nothing of their shrieks and 
18.4  goat-like vocalization.
18.5  The spectacle has distracted them from my foreign ways, though I remain ever cautious to not linger anywhere 
18.6  for too long.  I recall all too well the fate which befell our colleagues in Eyeohwah* -- 
18.7  to this day, I cannot eat cantaloupe without telling my dog to sit...
18.8  I have observed that the female Nortecarolina* is, on the whole, more friendly 
18.9  and open than our native Virginia della'Norte 
18.10 and with seemingly far less stress on their shoulders. 
18.11 The men folk are on the whole fat and ugly, preferring the camouflage used in their hunting rituals 
18.12 than the common khaki or jean of their urban cousin. More than once I have caught myself irritating 
18.13 such natives for looking too long at their woman-folk.

Ad Signoria I.19 (?28 Dec 2020 CE)

19.1  The Nortecarolini* are a truly hardy people, and I have acclimated myself to their customs,
19.2  which I shall here relate to Your Graces.
19.3  They are a people seemingly accustomed to the excesses of both cold and humidity, 
19.4  happily attending their communal gatherings at their "brüewries"* no matter 
19.5  the weather. Ice may still line the seat of a chair and still 
19.6  they think nothing of sitting for hours at a time consuming their curious "sour saïsøn," a fermented beverage not unlike our own 
19.7  lager.
19.8  The common Carolinian may consume as much as ten "pitt-cherrs"* -- which are larger than our pints,
19.9  and show little or even no effect but for their easy laugh and 
19.10  their friendly greetings of "güd mœrnîng" and "güd daee."* I have begun to 
19.11 impersonate make fun of imitate their curious speech.

Ad Signoria I.20 (?30/?31 Dec 2020 CE)

There is a change in tone between this letter and the ones which come before it, implying that some time has passed and that the author’s circumstances have changed. Note how the author again reassures the recipient Signoria of having been accepted by the natives. The letter begins out of context, making it difficult to piece together what has transpired since the preceding communication.

20.12 but even after three showers, I kept finding mustard in my ears and 
20.13 and so I determined that it was not worth returning to the Jello factory unless I get my money back.
20.14 Perhaps in light of these encounters or in deference out of consideration because I am awesome
20.15 or in reflection of my natural grace and charm, I was today granted the especial honor of addressing
20.16 their Chief Witchdoctor, the one whom they call "Judge."*
20.17 I was led by officials called "Polies" 
20.18 -- no doubt a modern variation on the Germanic Guards employed by the Roman emperor in his day -- 
20.19 to a communal building where the Chief Witchdoctor holds court, the aptly named "court-house."*
20.20 Standing before this great chief, I was struck with the grand responsibility which now lay before me, 
20.21 and so I addressed the one they call Judge thus, speaking very loudly and very slowly so that I might make myself 
20.22 understood through my foreign dialect:
20.30 To which the one they call Judge replied in perfectly passable American, "Your Honor..."
20.31 But before he could bestow further accolades on the Most Humble, Most Noble,
20.32 Most Faithful, Better than Dinkleberg,* Servant of the Signoria, I interceded:
20.36 SAH-OOL." RAH-OOL."*
20.37 The one called Judge then made it abundantly clear through use of a loud and commanding tone that I was
20.38 among the most welcome of guests in this part of Nearer Carolina. So much so that I was to be escorted
20.39 by not one, not two, but EIGHT members of the elite Polies
20.39a -- though I now suspect they are not all actually Slavic --*
20.40 across the expanses of the city and their hinterlands, with great fanfare all along the way!
20.41 These Polies activated great noise-making devices and blue lights from atop their wheeled vehicles
20.42 as we wove our way among crowds of onlookers, who after a time began to cheer after us and some even
20.43 followed us right to the edge of town. Here I was enthusiastically 
20.44 encouraged to begin my journey back to my own kind, so that I might pass along word from their leaders
20.45 and thereby open relations between our two cultures.
20.46 I have been promised great honors upon my return, the one called Judge declaring I would be
20.47 afforded not just food and not just constant guard and surveillance, but lodging accommodations
20.48 in what I gathered was a palatial mansion which the locals call "County,"*
20.49 perhaps a variation of the famous "Biltmore"* estate on the other side of the city.
20.50 What a marvel these people are, and so I bid them a fond farewell 
20.51 until I return again one day.

Ad Signoria I.21 (unknown, ?Dec 2020 / ?Jan 2021 CE)

This is the final letter we have remaining. Due to its fragmentary state, it is difficult to glean what precisely is being discussed, but it does appear to date to after the author’s departure in the prior letter. There are large portions of the final lines of the letter missing, and although educated guesses have been made as to their content, none are entirely convincing and so here the text is preserved as it has come down to us, with each lacuna marked with ellipses (…) and fragmentary text which can be reconstructed in [brackets].

21.7  but it was actually four goats which were under the elevator eating their remains --
21.7a thence came the bloodcurdling screams --
21.8  and so with this in mind, I returned to charge my HEV suit before then proceeding to
21.9  the long-jump module. It was as I was attaching the restraints to my back that
21.10 it was impressed upon me by a colleague that my observations would be inadvertently cut short 
21.11 were I to attempt a return to the city without sufficient disguise. The Carolinian is
21.12 a shrewd being and not easily fooled. And so in order to avoid just such an observer effect
21.13 -- perhaps even a Hawthorne effect in this case --
21.14 I have decided to change my appearance in order to pass once more as one of the locals. For that reason
21.15 I have ... the elep[hant] ... the DNA evidence tampered with, and so 
21.14 ... [mu]stach[ios] et glas[sses] ... 101*
21.16 Cor[?] ... as Raúl Cardoza.

17.5 : the four-hoof-high … the A-TRAC – this appears to be a reference to a form of horse called “sports utility,” though the exact meaning remains enigmatic. On the precise meaning of these words in the original American, see Brainsample III, 47-79; cf. Levine, 39-48.

18.6 : Eyeohwah – the identity of this location remains enigmatic, though it has traditionally been identified with the settlement of Demoins (Brainsample V, 401-437).

18.8 : North Carolinian – this appears to be the first documented mention of Homo nortecarolinus in the historical record; see Levine, 23-38.

19.1 : North Carolinian – identified with Homo nortecarolinus.

19.4 : “brüewries” – Charles Roxton convincingly argues that these should be equated with the Domus Cervesa in Carolinian Ashe-vyllai (Roxton, 4-20).

19.8 : “pitt-cherrs” – this appears to be a unit of measure in use by Carolinian culture, though its exact quantity is unknown. The author’s comment, “which are larger than our pints,” is too vague to make a certain identification, though this has not stopped some from trying; e.g. “cervesa funnel” (Roxton, 221-229), “cervesa pong” (Roxton, 229-299).

19.10 : “güd mœrnîng” … “güd daee” – Carolinian has never been successful translated due in large part to the fragmentary nature of the available documentary evidence, none of which comes to us in Carolinian. At least one scholar believes that Carolinian culture was primarily verbal, with recordkeeping conducted on electronic devices. See Gregg, 17-29.

20.16 : Judge – opinions on the identity of this individual have varied over the generations. Brainsample assigns to Judge the identity of “Dalehart II” of the Naskar kingdom, for which we have independent documentary evidence. More recent scholarship in portrait identity has convincingly narrowed the pool of potential identities to one of three contemporaries: Kublai Khan, Ambrose Burnside, or John Smith (Zander, 48-52).

20.19 : court-house – this should almost certainly be identified with the Domus Cervesa (Roxton, 167-198).

20.32 : Dinkleberg – this may be a rival of the author who was at that time serving as a part of the Signoria.

20.35 : RAH-OOL – the author here identifies himself by the pseudonym Raúl, a common Alexandrian name, though this appears to be an edit made by the author after the letter was written. See Brainsample XXIII, 538-973.

20.39a : though … Slavic – this appears to be another addition made by the author after the original publication of the letter. See Brainsample XXX, 12-276.

20.48 : County – Charles Roxton has argued that this building should be identified with the Domus Cervesa (Roxton, 198-209).

20.49 : Biltmore – Charles Roxton has argued that this building should be identified with the Domus Cervesa (Roxton, 198-209).

21.14 : 101 – much ink has been spilled over the meaning of this piece of fragmentary text (e.g., Brainsample, Vols. LVI-LXIII), and so I will not attempt to add to that argument but to note that an alternative reading was recently presented by Prof. McBoutface at the University of Press. Whereas in the traditional interpretation – following Brainsample – has regarded the word as a fragment of a secret code or a reference to a time or date, Prof. McBoutface interprets the text not as normal, but as a remnant form of slang expressing political power over rivals the author’s rivals on the Signoria.

Works Cited

Brainsample, Bernard Bubbels. Letters on the Exploration of the Carolinas to the Signoria of the Most Serene Republic of Alexandria: A Modern Translation from the Original American in 2 Many Volumes. 63 vols. Ram’s Bottom, Lancashire UK: The Royal Academy of University College Press, UC0079.

Gregg, Carol. Reading Against the Grain: Understanding Carolinian Culture through Documentary Evidence. Lower Stirrup Lake: Flightless Waterfowl Publishing Co., UC0119.

Levine, Richard. At the Edge of Chaoticians: Complexity Theory in the Understanding of Genetically-Manufactured Organisms in the Habitat of the Greater Basin Region of the Volkanish Islands, Winter and July – Proceedings of the Academy of Important Academic Proceedings, April UC0095 : Essays in Memory of Ian Middlename Malcolm, Professor Emeritus Santa Fe Institute of Santa Fe – “The T-Rex in the Signoria,” extinct animals in the past. Puntarenas: Crichton & Fam Publishers, UC0096.

McBoutface, Bouti. “Leading Overlord Laughs,” “Laughing Most As Overlord,” and “Brethren Read Books”: Slang as Expressions of Power Politics during the Pandemic. Lmao, BRB: Lol Media, forthcoming.

Roxton, John Charles. Notes on a Recent Excavation at Carolinian Ashe-vyllai: The Domus of Cervesa in the Foro Inebriato. Santa Mamba: University of Cauliflower Press, UC0121.

Zander, Paul. The Power of Imaginary Imaginations in the Age of Avocados. Jimmy Lectures: Sixteenth Series. Translated by Allen Marker Sharpie. Press: University of Press Press, UC0083.

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