The spellbook had been one of the best finds on the planet they had poetically called 17-5-12.
The original population had been something very close to humanoid, as far as the drawings, the records, and the shapes of the buildings showed. They had left behind stacks and stacks of ephemera, all of it on linen-esque paper-fabric, much of it rolled into scrolls, slide into cases, and sealed into vaults.
At least: much of what survived had been treated such. They’d found a lot of scraps here and there, pieces stuffed into nests of the local rodents and the local avians, pieces stapled to walls by what they assumed were the last survivors.
They had left behind a launch pad for a primitive space-ship, a long list (preserved in stone by, the team thought thought, the people who had stayed behind) of those who had been launched, and a very small population which had, then, it seemed, all died.
Catera was working on DNA samples, tracking down exactly what strain of humanoid this had been and what had killed them. The ship may have exploded – or it may have survived. DNA would tell them more than a vaguely-humanoid shape.
Verisca, on the other hand, was working on the spell-scroll. It was well known that the earlier tests of humanoid had been far better with magic, and this one looked to be one of the earliest. She had all the ingredients, had tested everything, and this, this was the date, according to every calendar she’d read.
It was supposed to, she thought, do something involving light. Bring upon the light, bring the light to you. It was a very useful spell and, considering that half the ingredients would be waste-product on a ship, could be exceedingly helpful in space.
But instead of bringing her light, it was bringing Verisca mostly colors. The area around her would get bluer or redder or greener or sometimes just shadowed, depending on the pronunciation of the language. What it was not doing was bringing her the light. The Eternal Light of the 7th day of the Fourth Month. “This thing! You’d think the natives didn’t know how to read their own calendar!” she muttered.
Catera happened to be walking by and glanced over at the notes. She took Verisca’s pencil from her and wrote a four over the seven, a seven over the four. “The good news is,” she pointed out, “if we have the calendar right, you’ve got less than three months before you can try again.”
Verisca studied the paper and swore some more. Not the 7th day of the 4th month, the fourth day of the seventh? “They wrote the damn thing in American? Nobody, nobody but us writes dates like that! Ever wedon’t write dates like that anymore!
“We always knew you weirdos had to come from somewhere,” Catera teased. “Now we know where.”