To J—— M——
November 28th, <YEAR INDICIPHERABLE>
My Dear Friend,
I send my most sincere regrets for not replying to your letter for so long. Your amicable concern for my well-being would have surely been detected, your worries mitigated, had I been entrenched in this laboratory of mine, but it arrived at an inopportune time. Some weeks ago, I had discerned that a breakthrough was imminent, but I had pushed myself to the brink of utter exhaustion; my writings, the products of my own mind, began to liquefy into a cacophonous puddle of foreign, meaningless symbols, and it was as if the already unsound walls of this dim workshop were beginning to collapse onto me. One night, when the pressure was at its apex, I bent over the table for hours trying desperately to induce an epiphany. But instead of the usual frustration and eventual lethargy, my writings had urged me to depart; they spoke to me, my friend, not with language or with any hallucinatory animation, but through spiritual communication. I must stress, much to my embarrassment, that my consciousness and my body did not participate in this, so I have no tenable means by which to articulate this phenomenon to you. But as I glanced at the tattered chaos lying across darkened wood, my soul—or whatever one might call it—contracted and expanded with such explosive force that I inexplicably fell to the ground, gasping for air. I slowly brought myself back to my feet, and I felt an inexpressible urge to leave my laboratory and venture into nature. I hesitated monetarily, apprehensive of abandoning that faculty of reason that had been exercised with great success in my pursuits. But my writings, in all of their watery inscrutability, had wrought a spiritual commandment that I had to obey in spite of what I had come to deem insignificant or even impossible.
I was away from my dwelling for an unknowable period of time and was hence unable to retrieve your letter, my dear friend. But I do hope that what I encountered during my stay in the natural world will compensate for my impoliteness. Shortly after I left, my catatonic shock worn off from whatever it was I had experienced, I realized that I did not bring a single supply with me—no food, no temporary dwelling, no change of clothes, nothing! And, when I had looked around to determine where I had seemingly unconsciously trekked to, I could not discern one point of interest that would anchor my journey back. Partly out of a primal hopelessness, and partly because I knew that I had been brought out here for a reason, I marched forward, hoping to make some propitious discovery along the way. I came to an unrecognizable wooded area that had no distinct signs of habitation in sight, but I was strangely urged to move ahead. As I stumbled over branches and the occasional creek, I noticed a crumpled piece of paper lying on the ground. I picked it up and scanned it, determining that it was some peculiar, rather lyrical prose, but, before I could carefully digest the content, I noticed yet another paper lying some yards away. In short, my friend, it appeared as if there was a trail of these papers left inadvertently (or perhaps not) on the forest floor. I followed the trail, picking up each piece of paper with rapidity, until the density of the trees had diminished. I glanced up for the first time in a while, having had my head tethered to the ground in search of papers, and I noticed that I had reached a crag that overlooked a massive body of water, which I had never seen before but felt an instinctive connection with. The sun had already begun to set, and the water was reflecting vibrant, effusive streams of orange and red and purple. A gentle breeze rustled the surrounding trees, as if it was extracting from them the ancient language of nature itself.
The magnitude of the beauty of that scene was overwhelming, my friend, so much so that my senses had ceased to be under my control. I felt as if my body became a foreign entity that, no longer recognizing me, kindly departed back into the damp soil; I was now simply being, somehow witnessing vitally without a body or a mind or any knowledge whatsoever, letting that ecstatic scenery cascade into me until I overflowed with…I do not know. I cannot say that what follows happened “all of a sudden,” largely because one would need a sense of temporality to use that phrase, but, at a certain point, I beheld something incredible. Wildly enveloped in the sun’s colors as if they were bedsheets on a blustery day, an obscured figure slowly rose over the lake’s horizon and floated in place with an astonishingly serene grace. The front of their body was darkened by shadows, and the nimble colors revolving around it concealed and revealed the rest intermittently. I cannot put into any medium comprehensible by organic beings what I felt in that instance, my dear friend, but, without my awareness of it, I mysteriously found myself back in front of my laboratory—I stood there in the placid, electrifyingly still summer night, clutching the disheveled papers I had collected. After I snapped out of my quickly-retreating splendor, I rushed into my workshop and promptly flattened the papers I had found to the best of my ability so that I could begin to decode them. Happily, I could read again; the papers, along with my writings, were perfectly decipherable, and I immediately tried to determine if what I had found in the woods provided the foundation for the breakthrough that my writings were on the cusp of generating.
Again, my dear friend, I cannot tell you how they interlock because you would not understand—I am not sure if even I understand it. But, in short, I will be taking all of these documents mentioned out on another trip, this time with a few clear intentions intact. I will thus not be able to communicate with you for quite some time, regrettably. However, in case something dubious occurs to me, I have transcribed the papers found out in the woods in their entirety and have attached them to my letter. My hope is that, if I do not discern the full, true nature of the relationship between them and my writings, they will at least be preserved for posterity. I again apologize for my reticence on this matter, but I do wish that soon I will be able to demonstrate to you why I, a being with mere reason and empirical sense, did not at once have the sufficient means to explain how all of this fits together.
I am, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,
Paper 1, what appears to be the author’s thoughts on their origins
It is finished.
The genesis is suppressed, or so it is whispered. Amnesiacs direct the angel’s orb to refract through me—abandoned, begotten for Uriel’s sharp eyes that water the world.
Attunement to the red scream. Weightless and careening, calculated, into the tears. Naked, an infant, like an infant, body turned to orange rust, writ in the lines of the faces of the daughters of the daughters of the daughters, I see it (you).
So did they all, Uriel’s misguided refraction. The immanent definition followed, the poverty of language. But who domes the world? I give him to you. I give you my son.
Paper 2, a consciousness thawing
Still reeling from whatever it was that happened. Can’t return to the Order any longer—that much is certain now. Remaining out in the woods, but no sign of the water anymore. Nothing lingers except “return”. But how? Perhaps you, or it, will find these. Until then, sustenance is a priority. Maybe a village nearby, but no means of navigation outside of the order. The globular eyeball anyway. Though I can’t return. But I have to.
Paper 3, in which the author makes a significant discovery
My skills at foraging are becoming increasingly adept. I am gaunt, but I am able to sustain myself. Something remarkable yesterday: I tripped and wounded my hand seriously, and I attempted divine magic for the first time to amend it. But I just willed it with my own thoughts. No tincture. Every practice, every minutia of the Order and their ilk is transgressed by this alone. How did this happen? Was this given to me by you? “Return”. I need to find habitation urgently—possible answers, and better chance for survival.
Paper 4, the author stumbles across a village and more is revealed
I finally found a village today, situated between two vast fields of wheat, and I am currently enjoying a rejuvenating stay at the local inn. As soon as I approached the rather meager gates, I noticed an old woman drop her farming supplies and gaze at me with the same spiritual intensity that I felt when I glimpsed you. She rushed toward me and quickly took me into the inn, ostensibly alarmed by my appearance. She helped clean me up and implored the owner to lend me a room. She followed me up, closed the door, and asked, with an air of amazement in her voice, “You’ve witnessed it, haven’t you?” Hunger had made me so delirious that I had not determined that she was referencing you, so I replied with a largely inarticulate “What?” She looked around carefully. “I cannot give you too many details, but the villagers out here, mostly in isolated places like these, have spoken of what you saw for centuries: a vision of the true character of magic that nature is endowed with. It is the spirituality of all things.” I was astonished by this, given the Order’s indoctrination, their discernment that I was to be one of their scholars. But, even at a subconscious level, I knew that she was right. The Orders are justifiably flawed. They do not acknowledge the totality of existence. They suppress it, contain it within their hegemonic mechanisms. I thanked the woman incessantly for taking me in, and she graciously smiled and floated out of the room. I will continue, in the short term, to build up my strength. But you are beginning to concretize. “Return”.
Paper 5, the author’s journey becomes more focused, and he continues to ruminate
I finished my residency in my fifth or sixth village last week. I continue to accumulate knowledge of the people away from the abbey and the castles and the keeps. Whenever I mention implicitly this spiritual phenomenon first told to me by that old woman, their eyes light up, and they begin to spill every fanciful rumor they have heard about it. To them, the farmers and the shopkeepers, “wild magic”—which is apparently what I am secretly capable of since my vision of you—is integral to life itself. They see it as a path toward liberation, something that somehow unveils the heinousness of the Orders and other institutions that subtly decry it. But they do not discuss its origins. They do not mention splendorous visions of you. There is no “return,” for they are already living among it, eternally. It is their history. Nature itself. The Elders of Uriel always taught us that nature was either aligned or reluctant. An aligned nature resembles us, molds itself in our image. It beckons us to entwine ourselves with it. A reluctant nature simply is—we till it, bend it, propagate it, and annihilate it. We imprint ourselves upon it.
What are you, to me, and to them?