“Who are you?” Kunle asked, visibly irritated by the intrusion.
“Um, he is a family friend of the Davies, one of the missing families” Leo, an inspector in Kunle’s team, answered “He is actually their priest”
“The door was slightly open, so as I was passing to the restroom I heard-” The priest was saying.
“Sir you are not suppose to be here, this room is not open to members of the public, Leo please take the priest-”
“What were you playing on the tape…I mean the language, is it Palai?” The priest asked, looking very interested and curious. Eyes darted from one to the other in the room, no one said anything, then, Kunle asked, somewhat cautiously.
“What do you mean by Palai?”
A certain realization came into the eyes of the tall bald priest.
“So you have no idea what you were playing?”
No answer, but a dumb kind of look from the men in uniform.
The priest entered the room fully.
“Palai is a dead language; it flourished as both a literary and a spoken language from the second to the twelfth century”
A dumber look from his listeners, they were clearly more confused.
“How do I explain this?” The priest asked rhetorically.
“Dead language, what exactly do you mean by that? Kennedy, another inspector in the team, asked.
“A dead language is a language which is no longer learned as a native language, meaning, there are no longer used as spoken languages for everyday communication. In the case of Palai the last time it was effectively used as a spoken language was nine hundred years ago. Latin, Greek, Sanskirt are other similar examples”
The dumbness and confusion on the faces of his listeners went even higher. The priest smiled indulgently, forgiving their absolute ignorance.
“Palai is one of the many European native languages, in the thirteenth century it started to undergo changes, which is normal for every language, until it was finally replaced. The English that we speak has similarly undergone several changes before it became what it is now”
“How do you know so much about this…language?” Kunle asked, not sure he could permit his mind to believe what he was hearing, “You said it was used about nine hundred years ago so…” His voice trailed off.
“Ecclesiastical functions. You see, compared to extinct languages, dead languages can be studied for ecclesiastical or scientific purposes. Manuscript exist which were written in some of these languages and are of profound interest to the church”
“So can you translate what you heard?” Someone in the room asked.
A look of hesitation crossed the priest’s face.
“I don’t know, am not too sure. You see, Palia is a pretty complex language, it takes its sounds and letters from a wide range of other ancient and prehistoric languages, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, most priests and cardinals do avoid it due to its complexities, the little I know stems from my deep study of Linguistics at the Vatican.”
“Can you at least try? Take a listen to it and tell us if any word or phrase sounds familiar” Kunle said.
“Okay, I can try” The priest said.
Kunle rewind the tape back to the start of the enigmatic words, everyone held their breath and listened. They almost had their fingers literally crossed underneath the table, hoping the priest would be able to decipher the words.
“I do know some of the words but others I am afraid are lost on me” The priest revealed at the end of the tape, “He mentioned ‘dautus’, now the word ‘datus’ has its origin in Gothic…” Immediately, Kunle was at the white board scribbling as fast as his hand could go. His team had also brought out their pen and note, writing down like students in class during a very important test, “…it means Death. As I said earlier Palia gets its words, alphabets and sounds from a range of other languages, it possibly has the widest range and that accounts for its complexity. ‘Est’ is pretty simple, anyone can know that, it is Latin and it means ‘is’. I believe I also heard ‘ certus’, hm, that is pretty tricky, if I would guess I would say it is from thirteenth century old French and should mean ‘certain’ or ‘sure’”. The men scribbled away.
“What did I hear again? Okay! ‘Logos est hura’ am sorry I have no idea what that means, but ‘requiscant in pace’ is a pretty simple one, we say it all the time we just don’t know this, it is Latin for ‘rest in peace’ but er, if I heard correctly the voice on the tape said ‘na requiscant in pace’ not just ‘requiscant in pace’. Now, isolating ‘na’ and interpreting it separately I would say it was derived from Old English and it could mean ‘not’ or ‘no’ or in extreme case ‘never’. Is this making any sense to you? I am not sure-”
“Please do continue sir, you are helping out” Kunle said, still writing on the white board.
“Okay. What did I hear again?” The priest said, narrowing his eyes as he tried to remember the words.
“Should we play it again?” Leo asked.
“No, no, I still have a good memory. Okay I remember, I don’t know what it means but it sounded like ilesan-”
“You can continue, we know what that means” Kunle said hurriedly, he could not wait to get to the end of this nine-hundred-years word puzzle.
“Okay. The last phrase I heard which I believe is Palai is ‘anders habban qiman’ each has its own origin, ‘anders’ from Gothic means ‘end’, ‘habban’ from Old English means ‘has’ or ‘have’ depending on how you choose to use it, and ‘qiman’ also from Gothic means ‘come’. After that…you do know what he was saying. If I may ask what does this all mean? Who is the boy on the tape and how did he come to understand Palai? Does it have anything to do with my missing friends?
Kunle was still writing on the board so he raised the index finger on his left hand to indicate he needed a minute before he could attend to the priest’s many questions. When he was done arranging the words he stepped away from the white board to allow the others see the translation which he had neatly written at the other side of the board. Although there were gaps for the words the priest could not translate, the intention was pretty clear, and frightening.
“Death is certain”
“…not rest in peace”
“(The) end has come”
Everyone took it in with shivers, including the priest who could not believe this was what he had just translated.
“Sir, you said you wanted to know what this is all about” Kunle said, without turning around to look at the priest, “I believe you have earned that much so I will tell you” And with that he explained everything to him, skipping the police work and sticking to the major facts of the case. By the time he was done the priest had gone white.
“So, guys, in light of our new evidence let’s have a new recap, what do we know?” Kunle asked.
“A fourteen year old boy watches a movie alongside his twelve year old cousin. Few days after he starts behaving strange, disappearing at evenings and returning back home at early hours disillusioned, and in some sort of fit. He is covered with blood and he keeps speaking a language, Palai, which was last spoken nine hundred years ago” Leo dragged through the last sentence; his brain was finding it hard to accept what his mouth was uttering.
“Thirteen reported cases of suspicious disappearance and massacre, thirty five victims, the whereabouts and true identity of our suspect remain unknown”
“Thanks Leo, so now let’s discuss” said Kunle, the moderator.
“Why would a twelve year old boy be speaking a dead language, a language no longer spoken for nine hundred years and is he really the one behind these horrendous crimes?” Ngozi, the only female in the team asked.
“That thing is no longer a boy” The priest said, jolting everyone with a voice that had changed from educative and lively to sullen and gloomy.
“Hasn’t it struck you as strange, the boy’s behavior and abilities?” The priest threw at them. They stayed silent.
“The question you should be asking is; what being has the power to live for so long and has the capacity to do so much harm? Only one answer comes to mind. That boy is no longer himself but has been taken over by a powerful, ruthless and angry spiritual being. And it won’t stop until it is satisfied, no one can imagine when that would be”
Kunle could sense fear in the room and could read it in the eyes of his team mates over the priest’s spine tingling revelation. He knew he had to find a way to expel such fear and bolster their morale without which they stood no chance in solving the case. He could understand how they felt; they had never dealt with such a case before, but right now they had been saddled with the responsibility and the city was counting on them not to fail. But Kunle still had a lot of questions on his mind.
“Victimology: why this boy? If this spiritual being has been in existence for so long why is it all of a sudden starting to cause havoc, what is the stressor? And why that language?”
“Honestly I can’t answer all of your questions; these are Spiritual beings that are older than humanity itself. Why that language? Over the many centuries that they have lived they have learned to adapt to the different cultures and civilizations of men, they sometimes take on human forms and live amongst us, they marry and even give birth to children. They learn the languages and ways of life of people of different ages, and perhaps, Palai has a special kind of meaning to this particular one, I really cannot say for sure” The priest answered.
“So how do we find the boy and stop this fiend from inflicting more harm?”
“I don’t know. You are dealing with something that is way beyond anything that you have ever known before; I really do not know how best to advice you”
The room fell silent, everyone was in deep thought.
“What about the other boy?” The priest suddenly asked, “I mean the boy on the tape”
Team members shared quick glances.
“He is fine, why do you ask?” Kunle asked.
The priest looked down, furrowed his brow as if considering something.
“Nothing” He finally said. Kunle suspected the priest knew more than he was giving but he chose not to push it.
Minutes went by, they still had more questions than answers and it didn’t look as if they were about to make any headway. At eight thirty they decided to close meeting. They were to sleep over it and see if a breakthrough comes with the new day. Casually someone asked,
“What does Pararinnar mean?” directing the question at the priest.
“Pararinnar is the literary description for John the Baptist in certain ancient cultures. It can be translated loosely to mean a person or thing that precedes another, a precursor, so to speak to something bigger”
“Like a forerunner?” Kunle asked.
“That’s exactly the term I was looking for, The Forerunner. Where did you learn the word?” The priest asked, curious.
No one replied. Curiosity instantly turned into confusion.
“What is the problem?” He inquired.
“The movie the boys watched was titled The Pararinnar Copy”
And it was only then that full reality dawned on the priest. He and the seven men that constituted the special task force had just gotten the awareness of how deep and complex the situation was and with it came a rude awakening.