Going. Against the course of existence. Going against the seams of the sky and the land. Going. Forever, until eternity becomes passing and mortality becomes an age of the universe. On a road of fire, running towards the source of the flames. On a crimson bridge, flying towards the azure lining of another sky. On a cloud of steel, wading through the silver of purity.
Going. Through thoughts and dreams, until existence became embodied and matter took shape. Not of man, but not of beast. Not lifeless, but lacking life. Not of the world, but not alien. The shape was of a tree of nine branches, with nine realities precariously perched on each limb. It stood as the core of a belief, as the rock upon which nine planes of being dwelled, upon which they carried on with their lives, upon which the time, for those nine, ticked on, mercilessly and so commonly. The tree bound their fates, nine worlds, and separate, to eventually collide. And then, to catch fire and to freeze, in an ocean of annihilation. And the tree to be eaten. From its roots, by fear, from its crown, by ambition. It existed so it could fade.
But what if it wouldn’t have existed? The worlds would have fallen into the void. Or they would have grown a tree on which to settle on, had they known it was not their fate to fall. If it had not existed then, then it would exist now. History is static. What has happened cannot unhappen. The tree was always there, it might still be there now. How else would the world have seen the man? Would then his tale never have been heard?
His tale, that upon one dusk, the lone wolf, the wanderer, reached the end of a world – it wasn’t his; he had no world to call his own or, at least, that is what he thought – and he saw what no one had seen before. He saw the stars staring back at him. A field stretching so endlessly that infinity could not grasp its entire form. He saw a great, black tear in the sky. An abyss of absolute nothingness, a reminder of a time forgotten even by him. Above it, a frozen wasteland, and below, only fire and ashes. He stared into that great hole, and he saw himself. He was a mere shadow of his former life. He was a wanderer, but not because in the world there was no place for him to call his own, but because the whole world was his – A gardener, walking through his gardens. He felt his mind had forgotten his tale. He remembered the mountains, being made of bone, and he remembered the plains, being made of leather, and he remembered the seas, crimsoned by the blood of their conception. He remembered a hand molding the world, his, but alien. So far had he fallen that he did not remember why he built this world, when he built it. He walked away from the dark, yawning gap between ice and fire, and he went to wander his world again, his mind straining for ages to remember why it exists. Obsession walked alongside him, and its incessant pestering grew weary on his thoughts. And then, one day, that he could no longer bear this weight, he took his staff, and sharpened it, leapt off of the/his world. As he drew closer and closer to the yawning gap, he raised the speared staff, and impaled himself upon the tree. He felt no pain, his body did not bleed, his anguish was silent.
Nights he stood there, and then bore the dawns of days. He was detached from his needs. No hunger cursed him and no thirst parched him. He stared into the horizon, trying to remember, as the bark of the tree sliced into his flesh, but he paid it no heed. He had to know why he made that lonely world, why the nine could not have been the eight. Void against creator, and they were equal. None knew the other’s purpose, none knew their own. He stared into the void and the void stared back and as time was but of his world, here he knew no measurement of passing. The sun rose and set, but the days did not go by. Not at first.
He started shouting with emptiness. The void heard him, but his world did not. For ages he stood there, bound to the very thing that kept reality from collapsing. His mind wandered, thinking the shackles of the body had been broken, but they hadn’t. His mind was forcing the boundaries of lucidity. At that moment, came regret. He regretted having jumped. Why would the fall be worth it? From the light, he stepped into the darkness to discover light anew, but light abandoned him. Was the leap of any value? He was wandering, aimlessly. From stagnation, purpose, from purpose, stagnation. Boredom; to whim; from whim, death.
He struggled to break free. But the tree demanded he stay. He struggled to destroy the limitations of his mind, but they held firm. He struggled to become one with the void, but the void would not take him. He was an outcast now, he abandoned his home in search for meaning, yet meaning escaped him and by that escape came purposelessness. He had no purpose before, but he could have searched for it. Now, there was nothing to search for, except release. But this did not come.
So he looked into the sky. He ceased struggling and tried to find serenity. It came, unwillingly. But it came. In shapes and forms he could not understand. He saw lines on the clouds, and he saw angles and patterns, jumbled, in a coherent, fluid design, arrayed and disposed in such a way, that to a mind knowing of their reason, they would be able to tell the very story of the world.
The world… maybe his world. The ninth of the nine. He wondered what it would mean to grasp reason. Would it provide his release, or would it deepen his anguish? Would it be understanding, or would it bring even more pronounced obscurity? But there were only two roads on which to take journey. One was a road towards the unknown; perilous, it may worsen his predicament, but if successful, it would bring the bounties of victory. The other was the road of no release; eternal, unending, but assured. Were it to take but the mind to decide, his journey would have taken wings at that very moment, but he feared the unknown. He felt stability – even the stability of damnation was – preferable to a future whose predictability was null.
He now struggled with this one decision. To leap on the wings of chance or to drone forth on the chains of certainty. What is in a decision? Certainly, he was no stranger to such things. It would have had to have been, after all, his decision to have built the world – Creation cannot be forced, however, it is influenceable. It was his decision to wander, though for lack of choice. His mind pushed him forth, but his body called him back. The struggle to hold on to life, for leaping may just result in failure and demise, against the will to be free and to live fully, once more. In these cases it is strength that bears the duty of arbitration. Be of the weak, and the body will triumph and you will stagnate. Be of power, and the will shall bound forth and break mundanity. He was neither. He was beyond the properties of the mortals. He was strength, weakness, he was failure and triumph, he was progress and regression, he was everything spurned into one. Duality was to be his nature, and it was his origins. Duality of earth to sky, of land to ocean, of existence to nonbeing.
And duality pushed him to see his only way out. Sacrifice. He would neither leave this place, neither would he remain. A part of him would always be bound to this tree, but his spirit would break his binds and walk the world anew. Compromise? No, solution. There are no compromises in order to find freedom, for freedom is already a compromise of the self. So the void sent out its agents to take from him, himself. On a flutter of black feathers came a thought, that he would know all there is to know. On a flurry of brown wings, came a memory, one that he would live once more. Whispers came to him, that he would see beyond the worldly, into the heart of his creation. He closed his eyes, and they remained closed, but his mind opened. He took within him the totality of actuality, and he was free. The spear still bound him to the tree, but nothing else kept him there. He looked towards the sky, and the symbols that had taunted him for so long had lost their esoterism to his intellection. They became the language of the tree. Nine worlds that spoke to the sky, receiving their answers in the glyphs of the yawning gap and the dark wings of cognition and the earthly plumes of recollection. Prayers to the rocks and the streams, replied to in the letters from beyond the edge of matter. The names of everything recorded in the alphabet of sacrifice.
He lost his eyes. His spear had turned to ashes. His identity as the wanderer, shattered. He leaped, and fell, but he did not meet end, instead he was loaned wing, to soar, in exchange for a piece of history. From end, rise anew, to wander again, towards a destiny unforeseen, but yearned. Change, from sacrifice. He once walked, but now he stood watch over his world. He knew why it was there. Where it came from, that from his progenitor, the world was held by his bone; he knew how he made it, and when – that time had not been born when he first laid its foundation. And he knew why he leapt. It had seemed foolish then, but now he saw its worth. He was from beggar, pleading to the pebbles and the dust to tell him his own tale, to the emperor, lording over his past together, from up high, with his wings of sentience sheltering the unknowing from his knowledge.
There were many that walked his world now, as he once did, curious to know why they were there, and how they came to be there. They say that they would give anything to know. That I would die to know why but they wouldn’t really. They fought to stay alive, they breathed to live, they trudged to exist and none would rise up above their existence to learn of its origins. And so he sheltered them. Learn, young ones, he would say, that to know is not the achievement; that to know is the journey and the will to sacrifice constancy. Knowledge would have brought them the same stagnation that they squandered in without the will to change. And so Thought made sure it was on their mind. And Memory guaranteed they would remember the meaninglessness of existence without venture. They walked the world as he once did, and they yearned for his freedom, and they had the tools to find it, but they feared their use. Curiosity would ever be their curse, because nobody had the will to break the bonds of the ruling flame and fire and yawning gap at the edge of the world.