A few years ago, a strange happening occurred in the kingdom. A minor Lady, visiting one of the rarely-used suites of the Palace in search of a lost sewing kit, came upon an old man, sitting with a huge pile of leather-bound folios in front of a strange, iron-bound mirror of large proportions, whose frame seemed to shiver somehow, as if it wasn't wholly real. He was, she said, laughing softly and said something to the effect of, "ah yes, it worked, it worked".
Upon noticing the good lady, the man turned his piercing stare at her (something she described as 'feeling as if I had encountered a god in the midst of some important matter') and said, quite distinctly, "Madame, I presume that this is... Calradia?".
The Lady, whose good breeding and phlegmatic character prevented a descent into hysterical behavior at this unusual event, replied, "Of course it is, good sir. Wherever else could we be?" to which the old man, pursing his lips slightly, replied, "It could be any place or time, Madame. The mathematics of the Mirror are such that even I am quite pleased to have arrived at this destination."
After a long pause, as the Lady attempted to frame a reply to such an unusual statement, the man drew forth a thin folio, bound in blue leather and locked with a clasp of brass and iron. He held it out and said, "Madame, I must continue my voyage; I have not yet found the Fountain. Therefore I must beg your immediate indulgence and give this into your care, with the hope that you will give it to someone with the appropriate understanding to make use of it. This is something that the fools of my own place and time refused to contemplate, as they could not understand its natural actions or its high purpose; like many of my ideas, if I had left it in my posterity, it would remain merely a curiosity for churls to talk about for ages; I fear that is the best I can hope for the things I had to leave behind in my haste to find the Fountain."
"But I shall give you proof that not only is this thing quite possible to construct, but that the principles behind it are sound; watch as I demonstrate my skills in a way that I could not have dared in the place of my birth, and then, when you are convinced, deliver this, I pray, to the right people!"
With this enigmatic statement, the old man turned to the mirror, adjusting some part of the iron frame, and another place was shown to the Lady; a strange place with dark skies and purple foliage. As if this image wasn't fey and frightening enough, the Lady reported that, "I could even hear and smell it; it was not our fair soil of Calrad, that much is certain!" With a wry glance at the Lady, as if to say goodbye, the man then stepped forward swiftly into the mirror's face, and both mirror and man "shrank somehow, becoming like a mote, and then a gleam, and then nothing at all".
Yet the folio, her only proof of this amazing encounter, remained.
The Lady, after having recovered from her experience, attempted to open the folio, but found that the lock was closed, and that it did not have a keyhole, but some strange device that used dials made of brass, with numbered sigils upon them. A small piece of parchment, loosely bound by the book, contained a short note, which had only ones and zeroes upon it, in a curious pattern:
00110001 00110011 00110011 00110111
Seeing that this mystery was quite beyond her understanding, she took the man's advice to heart, and after some difficulty, obtained an audience with Lord D'____, one of our most peerless savants of Physik and the Chimerical Arts. After listening to her story with great incredulity, he finally consented to inspect the folio; finding it to be precisely as she had described, he then sat down with two of his best students and they attempted to open the book.
Finding it locked, and frustrated by the dials, whose actions clearly indicated that they comprised a special lock of some kind, they attempted to open it through main force, but the folio's construction turned out to be so sturdy that none of the tools they dared use upon it made the slightest impression. Then the youngest student, staring at the scrap of paper, blurted out, "It's encoded, sir! That must be the sequence of numbers we should use, changed in some way! See, there are four in this sequence, and four dials...".
With this insight, the team, after consulting with Drs. L'_____ and M'______ and Lord K_____, whose interests ran to numerical games and plays upon the Geometry of the ancients, solved the problem within the month, and the folio was at last opened.
Within its pages, documented in a strange hand, were the design schematics for a new Device; in fact not one but many Devices that became a whole. The team now gathered several of the kingdom's most excellent smiths, including Messer M'____, a famed tinkerer, whose many mechanical delights were famed throughout the land.
After many months, they constructed the Device, which by now had a name: Aleph, so called for it was so denoted in one of the cleverly-encrypted portions of the manuscript, and with some difficulty learned to operate it.
The resulting images show the current results of their labors: a new type of Cannon that is made mobile by the action of "chemical Engines", directed by a single man. This revolutionary Device, sure to change the very nature of warfare, is now undergoing field trials, with the expectation being that it will enter service shortly. Unfortunately, due to the strange circumstances of the events, it proved impossible to keep the Device or its design a secret; it is quite likely that other kingdoms, fearing its power, will be building their own in the near future.