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Item #: SCP-3549

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-3549 is to be contained within a medium-security storage closet at Site 76. A hard copy of the decrypted text is to be kept alongside SCP-3549 for the convenience of research personnel, with digital copies being kept on secured Foundation servers.

Description: SCP-3549 is the collective designation for 36 related anomalous items, which when used in tandem with each other function as an anomalous method of communication and record keeping.

SCP-3549-A is a collection of 12 vellum codices, dated to the early 15th century1, with "Darke Trading Co." embossed on the cover in gold leaf. Although the vellum comprising the codices has been confirmed to be mammalian, genetic analysis has been unable to confirm a specific species. Several anomalous genes have been found to comprise the vellum's genome, however.

Each instance of SCP-3549-A contains an indeterminate number of pages, and all contain identical text. For the most part, this text consists of a transaction ledger spanning from the 15th to 18th centuries. The text is written in a cypher, which has been decoded by Foundation cryptologists (see document SCP-3549-01 for more details).

SCP-3549-B are a set of 12 identical silver inkwells, also inscribed with the name "Darke Trading Co." The ink held within these wells cannot be exhausted, nor can it be removed except by the insertion of an instance of SCP-3549-C. The ink itself is bluish black and has been confirmed to be squid ink. SCP-3549-C are 12 quills made from the flight feathers of black swans.

Notably, all instances of SCP-3549 are in pristine condition and appear to be anomalously resistant to damage and deterioration.

When an individual writes upon a page in an instance of SCP-3549-A, using an instance of SCP-3549-C with ink from SCP-3549-B, and using the correct cypher, the text will immediately appear within all other instances of SCP-3549. Any marking made upon the pages of SCP-3549 by any other means or not using the cypher will result in the marking vanishing within seconds. This applies to any attempt at editing the text as well. Entries may only be revised or deleted if done so simultaneously in a minimum of 7 instances of SCP-3549-A.

If a transaction is entered which contradicts previously entered data, the transaction will automatically appear as crossed out once the quill has left the paper, indicating that it is invalid. Removing one or more pages from SCP-3549-A will result in the page rapidly putrefying and reappearing the next time the book is opened.

Review of SCP-3549 has revealed that it was originally used to allow multiple members of the Darke Trading Co. to remain immediately up to date on the company's business dealings, allowing for a far greater degree of coordination than was otherwise possible at the time, giving them a significant advantage over their business rivals.

It also appears that, due to the unprecedented security provided by SCP-3549, that authors would assign wholly imaginary marks2 as payment for services rendered to various clients, employees and contractors, who could then redeem them from other ledger keepers for actual products, similar to modern debit cards and cryptocurrencies.

Addendum: SCP-3549 was originally discovered during a raid on an MC&D warehouse in Glasgow, Scotland. It is therefore considered likely that SCP-3549 is a legitimate source of information regarding the Person of Interest known only as Dark, believed to be a founding member and possibly still senior partner of the GoI Marshall, Carter, and Dark.

The following excerpts have been selected as either key or representative samples of this biographical information. The text has been decrypted and, where required, translated or modernized (see document SCP-3549-01 for the full decrypted text).

Date | September 13th, 1421

Transaction | None

Comments | ~ Mister Gildfrey, kindly respond if you can see these words.

~ I see them Darke. They rose from the page all at once, as if they had been there all along but hidden under something that has now been brushed away. I wish I could say I was impressed, but honestly, it's a little underwhelming considering these things are made with demon hide, Kraken ink, fairy silver and… where'd you get the feathers from again?

~ Quite ordinary black swans, I'm afraid. After breeding demons, hunting Krakens and bartering with fair folk, I was spent both financially and emotionally. I realize that's a trife disappointing, but quills are quills.

Harrowing as it was, it was well worth it. This invention will be most useful to our enterprise, Gildfrey. Keep me apprised of our dealings in Shylock's quarter, and I will keep you up to date on the happenings in London.

~ Why bother with London at all? Your front as an apothecary barely covers your overhead, and if the Church finds out you're selling bewitchments out the back they'll burn you for sure.

~ That's what I've always loved and hated about you Gildfrey: You've never understood the value of anything beyond its price in coin.

My covert clientele includes some of the most prestigious nobles, wealthiest merchants, and powerful sorcerers in all of Europe, all of whom are dependent on me for enchantments. That sort of influence is not to be tossed aside. Even the Royals of Westminster consult with me on matters of Alchemy. You think my position here puts me in danger from the Church? My position here protects me from the Church.

And besides, my trade in mundane wares is actually doing quite well. Can't put all our eggs in one magical basket, now can we?

Date | March 14th, 1501

Transaction | Gave 49 in Tally to an anonymous doctor (Tally password: Fellow Pestilence) for a bloodletting to an employee of the London Shop.

Comments | As noted above, earlier today a medicine man performed a bloodletting on one of my shop girls. I paid him in Tally, only for the poor girl to expire barely an hour after he had made his exit.

As this doctor was in full plague doctor attire I cannot give a description of him, but if anyone tries to claim Tally using the above password, please detain them for me.

Thank you

Date | April 4th, 1592

Transaction | Company was granted a Letter of Marque by the English Crown.

Comments | I was finally able to obtain a Letter of Marque from Her Majesty. For one hundred years the New World's been sitting there, and what an embarrassment it is that I have not been able to capitalize upon it until now.

Captain Graff and his crew are all privateers now, and the Fair Duchess a ship of war. Guided by my foresight, protected by my wards, armed with weapons from Shylock's Quarter, success is all but a certainty.

The Duchess shall seize Spanish galleons, already laden will silver and spices and other treasures from the New World, and press those ships into service. The Darke Trading Co. will soon have a proper merchant fleet, the only one in the World that can communicate with their homeland or each other without delay.

The world will be ours for the taking.

Date | August 23, 1612

Transaction | None, Memo to Darke from Quilton.

Comments | Shylock's starting to take an issue with our Tally system. In fact, he doesn't like that we write our records in a cypher to begin with. Says we're cooking our books, and we either have to pay him his weight in gold or let him audit us. Up to you Darke.

If you want my opinion, this Tally system is more trouble than it's worth. I get that it's easier than lugging gold and silver around everywhere, and it doesn't put a limit on our growth like a commodity currency would, but you never know what Tally is going to be worth in a week. Some folk won't take it because of that, others take it only when it's down in value so that they can redeem it when it goes up, at our expense mind you, and its anonymous nature is just begging for abuse. I've had people claim Tally with passwords and account numbers I know weren't theirs. It pains me to think of how they might have gotten that information.

Plus, it's just absurd that I have to burn real whale oil to see well enough to record transactions with imaginary money.

Date | July 15th, 1653

Transaction | Made arrangement with local plantation owners to purchase slaves practicing witchcraft for 1000 lbs of sugar per head.

Comments | Some of the slaves in the Caribbean have been practicing African witchcraft that's making it hard for the taskmasters to keep order. I consider this to be a unique opportunity since such sorcery should not present any challenge to us.

The plantation owners have agreed to sell these troublesome witch doctors to our plantation in Antigua for half of what the Dutch are selling them for. Should these new arrivals make any attempt at using their voodoo for insurrection, the Tarp is to respond in kind.

Make sure they know exactly who their new master is.

Date | May 13th, 1713

Transaction | Acquired control of the Gypsimnum (Full Contract available in the London Office).

Comments | I'm happy to announce that the Darke Trading Co. has a new subsidiary as of today: The Gypsimnum. They're a group of nomadic Wanderers, travelling the Ways between Worlds and trading goods between them.

Admittedly they haven't been very successful, as walking the Ways is dangerous and often not cheap, but I'm confident that our resources and leadership will make them an indispensable asset.

To tell the truth, I've grown a little dissatisfied with how mundane the Darke Trading Co. has become. What do we trade these days? Slaves and spices, saltpeter and silk, indigo and opium. How dull. Over these past few centuries, I've become more and more disenchanted with the disenchanted. I hardly need more money, it is wonders that I lack. Ever since we've been forced out of Shylock's, I've wished to return to our arcane roots.

I think the Gypsimnum is a good start.

Date | October 9th, 1793

Transaction | Liquidation of the Darke Trading Company.

Comments | It is with a heavy heart that I write this, my final entry. I have liquidated the Darke Trading Co., the company I have conducted my business with for over four hundred years. It pained me to do it, but it was the right choice. It was either that or see it fall to ruin before my eyes.

I'm too old. These are revolutionary times; the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the rise of steam-powered industry and this growing abolitionist movement are all too much for me to handle. The Darke Trading Co. was meant for a bygone age of this world.

Just like me.

At the very least, I made a sizable profit from the liquidation. I've divied it up among various banks and investments under various pseudonyms, plus a few well hidden piles of gold and stacks of cash, just in case. All of my true treasures, the magical ones, are safely sealed away.

I've purchased a building in Hy-Brasil, where I plan to study and hone my craft. The King was loathe to let an outsider take up residence in his beloved utopia, but relented when I reminded him how I helped his father and their people flee the Green Isle all those centuries ago. The prince though is most interested in hearing tales of the outside world, and the treasures it contains. When he becomes King, perhaps he will seek my counsel in a more official capacity.

For now though, I am merely glad that I shall be removed from the mundane and immersed in the magical. Hy-Brasil will be a nice reprieve, but I doubt my lust for coin will let me rest forever. Sooner or later, an opportunity will come along that will be too good to ignore.

And I will be the Deathless Merchant of London once more.

page revision: 3, last edited: 04 Jun 2018 01:14
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