Archive for Stuart

Xyr 10

SEGMENT TEN

XYR’S JOURNAL.

Moving like a sleep walker, not certain if my eyes were open or shut, I crossed into an undulating portal that opened before me. Tissue thin universes blocked the way, but they tore at my slightest touch, and the ragged edges of their alternate reality began to bleed light. I crossed semi-transparent pastoral dimensions, somehow familiar in their soothing wave patterns. The sensation of peacefulness and belonging reminded me of iconic fields that bubble up through the universal subconscious, or through dream visitations of former lives.

Can Trail of paradise

A glowing trail appeared behind me, a token of my passing. The brightness broke down to the spectrum in my wake. My trail looked like a river of rainbows. Little by the little, the successive environments gathered substance as I encountered them.
Flawless landscapes hung across creation like gallery paintings: A field of geometric flowers, a forest of crystals, a canyon where the echoes of waterfalls played endless symphonies.

FRANCESCO NOOGIN AND CROW BOTH CONCUR THAT SEGMENT FOURTEEN FOLLOWS.

ACCORDING TO THE SENTIMENTAL VIEW OF FAITH AURELLO, SEGMENT NINETEEN FOLLOWS.

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT ELEVEN.

Xyr 11

SEGMENT ELEVEN
XYR’S JOURNAL.

Suddenly my kaleidoscopic journey came to a halt. I could go no further. A desperate swath of nothingness blocked the path across realities. It was absorbing or erasing or replacing reality as it spread. It pained the eye with its absence of sensory data; a colorless, shapeless, thing.
I found myself in the middle of a ravaged forest. A cluster of necrotic trees tossed their rotten limbs to the bleached sky. Pulsating streams of sap flowed from stumps where the branches had been rudely amputated. In parts of the forest, where the butchery was less recent, the streams of sap had hardened, forming arches like the streams of a frozen fountain.
A man crawled through heaps of crisp, blackened leaves on the ground. Slowly, the man lifted his head, revealing a prominent nose, a striped tiger pattern of scars on his cheek.
“Dr. Schiller,” said I, “We must leave this place at once.”
He whispered softly, “Valkynne.”
“Forget it. We can go no further. We must return.” The far vistas were going blank. The emptiness invaded the sky, sweeping off the tops of trees, littering the ground with quartered antelope and possum.

Can world ending

The emptiness sucked mountains, trees, rivers, and birds into its event horizon.
“This place is Valkynne,” said Schiller. The soot of crumbling leaves covered his face.
“This wasteland?”
“Yes, Valkynne. Not now, but soon.”
Overhead, a group of squirrels leapt from branch to branch above their heads, in a blind effort to flee. One moment they were there, the next they were gone.
“Magic exists,” Schiller muttered. “The secrets of eternity are printed on our cells– but we ignore them. We become distracted by the material world. Here, nothing will distract me!”
The emptiness was descending. Large areas of negative space enfolded the forest. Schiller raised his arms to embrace it. “When nothing but my soul remains in this borderline reality, I will be God.”
I pondered the theory for a moment, and no more. Could one attain absolute control through absolute sensory deprivation, the ultimate solipsism?
I pulled August Schiller to one side, as the ground beneath our feet crumbled away. The circumstances did not allow time for a lengthy epistemological debate. I held the great man steady, saying, “I don’t mean to be glib, Dr. Schiller, but your theory is nonsense.”
Schiller pulled away from me, balancing precariously on a slowly eroding isthmus of ground. “I won’t go back. I was a prisoner in the realm of the senses…”
“Your wife is waiting…”
He shifted into rage. “Another chain of responsibility. Everything I did in my life was for other people. My parents, my wife, humanity at large… Nothing for me! Nothing for me!”

Xyr journeying

Like an incoming tide, the emptiness lapped at the slender path leading out of the dimension.
“What is it I am risking, in any event? The worst that can happen is a sudden, painless death. Statistically, I have no more than fifteen years of mundane human existence awaiting me. Even if I have less than one thousandth of one percent chance of achieving Valkynne here, the risk/benefit analysis falls heavily on the side of staying. For it comes down to this: fifteen years of slow erosion verses an infinity of perfection. .001% x infinity is still infinity. Tell Annabelle I said Goodbye.”
I considered trying to abduct him, to take him back to the common reality by force, against his will. Was it fair to rob him of his chance of godhood, slim as it was? I could not really consider him insane. Nor could I dispute the mathematics of his gamble.
At this point, I had to take flight. I looked back at August Schiller. “Farewell. I fear you are wrong, and doomed, but then, who can say for certain.” I couldn’t resist adding, sarcastically, “More power to you, if you survive.”

ACCORDING TO VERA DENADA, THE MANUSCRIPT ENDS HERE.

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT 12

Xyr 12

SEGMENT TWELVE

XYR’S JOURNAL
I stopped to rest in a crystallized dimension. At first it presented itself as a jungle of living jewels– appealing to the eye with its spectacle and symmetry, its endless possibilities for the study of optics. Here, organic carbons had been distilled to their densest forms. It was hard to tell whether I had encountered actual life, or a semblance of activity caused by light playing on cross reflecting surfaces. Then a flock of alexandrite bats took flight, changing from purple to green as they winged across the sky. Ruby baboons played scatological games with rainbows they excreted, high above in the diamond trees. I laughed at their antics.
I was safe here, or so I thought.
He was gone.
Sitting on an emerald boulder, leaning back against a sapphire cliff, chin resting in hand, I caught a pulse of regularity hidden within the chaos. The entire environment was a computing mechanism that utilized light as its processing medium. Frequency shifts in the wave peaks provided the binary code. There were answers to countless questions, playing off the mirrored surfaces around me. I had only to reflect on them.
It troubled me. This place was paradise, at least an hour’s worth, or more. I hadn’t even begun to tap the possibilities. Yet even here, I was pestered by inchoate worries. What brought on this sudden despondency?
Was I worried because it is part of human nature to resist happiness? Part of human weakness?
I thought I knew better.
But perhaps I had doubts I had hidden from myself.
There’s insecurity hidden behind all arrogance. I tried not to think about it, but sometimes I feared I was only a freak.
I jumped off the boulder, suddenly full of the energy that comes from resolve, though I was entirely undecided as to what action to take next.
As if externalizing my sudden, dark mood, a storm began to gather in the heavens. Lightning bolts stabbed downward.
Suddenly a huge face began to emerge from the wall of the cliff. A long nose glittered as it took shape. A striped pattern of carbuncles erupted on the cheeks and chin.

Can Cliff face
A volcano stretched out of the cliff wall. It erupted in a brief and sudden explosion that sounded more like the report of a gun. A sulfurous smell swept through the air, followed by a spurt of lava. I could read the trajectory on a line of smoke left hanging in the air, which ended on a hot and painful point on my left shoulder, just below the clavicle.
I regarded the burning wound with detachment, as if it were a painting of a wound, rather than something that might leave me crippled.
Had the process of shifting into Valkynne brought me to a new level of consciousness? Did my physical well-being no longer matter? If so, here was a paradise indeed. But instead of appreciating the achievement, I regarded my indifference with an equal indifference. On an intellectual level, indifference to indifference became more troubling than the wound.
What a fool I was! The wound was a symbol of some kind. A warning, just as my ambivalence was a warning. I was under attack, but by whom– other than myself?
The striped and carbuncled face grew huge, reflecting the night and stars into its mirrored folds, until the darkness was everywhere.

ACCORDING TO CROW, THE READER SHOULD TURN NEXT TO SEGMENT EIGHTEEN.

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT THIRTEEN

 

Xyr 13

SEGMENT THIRTEEN
XYR’S JOURNAL

I realized I didn’t know how to navigate this enigma. Regretting my life choices up to this point, I wished I had studied more science– or more sorcery. One or the other. This was the cost of diluting my efforts…
Madness.
I drifted, an infinitesimal speck in a cracked void.
A Rorschach face formed of star patterns seemed to watch with nebula eyes. Fireballs came roaring through space, toward me.
The assault of alien sensations on my senses blurred into a cacophony of synesthesia, images drumming on my retinas, the smell of my own sweat and fear blaring through my nostrils as the color orange. I began to panic, undergoing a shift in consciousness unlike anything I had ever experienced before, whether in dream, drug, or meditation.
Madness.
Perhaps the Universe I was in could be manipulated by my every whim, without limit, a tabula rasa. Perhaps my perceptions of being persecuted flowed from some abiding delusion on my own part.
Without external challenges to distract me, I could be torn apart by whatever destructive forces might bubble up from my subconscious.
Madness.
But what if the danger were not internal?
Madness. Or worse.
What if I were trapped in a universe controlled by August Schiller– his personal Valkynne?
A gigantic face traversed the heavens, etched in the stars. Comets streaked a blazing in a tiger striped pattern on the cheeks and chin of the apparition. The face of August Schiller glittered across the cosmos.

Xyr Schiller Cosmos
Had I been condemned to be the plaything of a mad god? Was August Schiller’s private paradise to be my private Hell?
I dodged small flaming comets that came hurtling through the void.

ACCORDING TO ARTHUR VERTINSKY, THE READER SHOULD TURN TO SEGMENT TWENTY.

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT FOURTEEN

 

Xyr 14

SEGMENT FOURTEEN
XYR’S JOURNAL.

It wasn’t real.
I was still sitting in a half lotus position, the portal to Valkynne dilating around me.
At last I understood Valkynne’s paradox. It was both myth and reality. A paradise of the mind. I was trapped inside my own skull with no idea of how to escape.

Can Cosmos

Suddenly I was back in the jungle of living gems. Rainbows exploded through the iridescent trees. I smiled for a moment. But this wasn’t real either.
My mind spoke to itself in the mind’s own language.
Wake up.
I can’t.
I can’t.
Wake up.
There was light. Real light.
And in the light of real light, I saw Just.
Fissures had formed on his cheek in the same tiger pattern that once marked his scars. “Just me make it through your damn wall,” he said. He gripped a heavy, iron bound book, its ponderous cover bolted on. “Just m Beat through it with this.”
He raised it high, preparing to strike.
“Teach Just me how to get to paradise, or Just me crack your skull.”
Just swung the heavy iron book. Weakly, I turned aside.
The book rang a chord as the two covers struck the ground.
I curled into a fetal position, slipping in and out of paradise. In spaces between synapse connections, while dodging Just’s blows, I slipped through a cascade of Valkynnes:
…in idyllic pastures, where winged horses graze;
…in libraries filled with the books I am destined to write;
…in a house, where I am married, cradling a new born infant in my arms;
…in a castle where my subjects cower before me;
…in a grave where there is quiet and an end to trials.
I conjured some ineffectual spells. Misty translucent forms projected toward Just. He swept them away with the iron book, as if they were cobwebs. Then Just tossed the book aside. Irritated by the spells, and running out of patience, he extracted a gun from his coat. “One of us is go to paradise, Xyr. Which one it be?”
I hurled a scroll at Just, the only available weapon. The scroll unraveled in mid-air, blocking Just’s view. He fired three shots.
I took the opportunity to get lost among the stacks. Within moments, I found refuge in the shadows of a cul-de-sac aisle, under a sign which read, “These books are sacred to twelve religions. Please show proper respect.”
Just paced up and down a parallel aisle.
This was not the kind of challenge I had yearned for, hiding from an armed, unreasoning foe. In the quiet of the library, his footsteps sounded like artillery fire.
As Just approached the Lycanthropy Section, I shifted up alphabet to Kabbalah. Pushing a row of books to one side, I cleared a passage between aisles, then crawled through.
“There are too many books. Too many aisles,” shrieked Just. “You hide here forever… could, Xyr! But Just me not let you!”
Just set his bulk against a towering bookcase and began to push. He strained, sweating and grunting until the bookshelf swayed from side to side, seeking stability. Loose books began to rain from the peaks. Gravity took hold in predictable Newtonian fashion, and the enormous book case fell. It collided with its neighbor, causing all the bookcases to topple in succession like a row of giant dominoes. One after another, they hit and fell. Books leaped into the air like flocks of frightened birds. The sacrilege was so great, the sound so deafening, it was like the roof of heaven collapsing.

When the crashing stopped, the dust of ancient volumes floated on the air like a dense fog. I lay dazed, half submerged in a sea of texts. Just stood above me, leveling the gun.
“Tell me.”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
Just opened fire. But I deflected the bullet with the iron bound book. It had come to hand like magic.
I ran across the fallen books, like a stone skipping over the surface of a lake, splashing loose pages.
Just was reloading his gun. By that time, I had reached the card catalogue. The bullets were sliding into place, as I stood before the terminal. I tapped out a data entry.
Suddenly, the long silver mechanical arms whipped from their casings. The pincers grabbed Just by the wrists. In surprise, he pulled the trigger, but his shot went wild.
Just was caught, his arms forcibly held upright. He struggled.
I said to him, “The enchanted card catalog thinks it is handling books. Shall I give the order to re-shelve?”
Just surrendered the gun, letting it slip from his hand. He stopped struggling.
I walked over to Just, looked him up and down. Just dangled, as if upon a gibbet, in the silver grip of the pincers. He seemed helpless, and I had every reason to feel smugly superior again. But I still felt uneasy. There was something I was overlooking.
What?

HERE, FRANCESCO NOOGIN AND CROW DIVERGE IN THEIR THINKING. FRANCESCO NOOGIN HAD AN UNFULFILLED YEARNING FOR HARD REALITY, MAYBE BECAUSE HE INTUITED THE FACT THAT ILLUSIONS WOULD KILL HIM. HIS SOLUTION FOR XYR IS FOUND BY TURNING TO SEGMENT FIFTEEN.

CROW, PREOCCUPIED WITH DREAM STATES FELT A DEEPER MYSTERY REMAINED. HE BELIEVES THAT SEGMENT SEVENTEEN SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE NEXT IN SEQUENCE.

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT FIFTEEN

 

Xyr 15

SEGMENT FIFTEEN

XYR’S JOURNAL

After the dust began to clear, a long forsaken wing of the Library stood suddenly revealed.
I found books bound in jeweled covers, books with pages made of cobwebs, runes stuck to them like trapped insects– all bathed in light filtered through a stained glass window, depicting the story of Adam and Eve.
Why had I never seen this wing before? Why did my mentors not know of it? Perhaps their eyes weren’t ready for it. Perhaps my eyes weren’t ready until now…
A book with pages shimmering like mother of pearl told an Atlantean version of the Garden of Eden.
My mentors had discussed such works. Lost, they said. Lost long ago. If only they knew what I have found, how they would envy me.
Living letters, trained by Nostradamus, performed ballets of text, imparting the secrets of prophetic sight.
The books had been safe, here, hidden for centuries. And with them, the secrets of the ages.
Then I found The Valkynne Grimoire– set into its own niche, standing four stories tall.

Xyr other science wall 2
The book opened itself. I savored the rustle of pages, billowing like sails in a wind blown from paradise.
I stepped into the text, climbing an upraised design of heavy gold and silver brightwork on the gigantic frontispiece: a mosaic pattern of cobwebs meshed into polyhedrons of various sizes, linked with a network of spirals.

Xyr Science wall

Each page was a dimension unto itself– a page within a page within a page; a bottomless paradox, like all wisdom.

Can Doorway to Dimensions

The true answer to every question is another question. Or is it?

Can Valkynne
This was both the beginning of my quest for enlightenment, and…

THE END.

(AT LEAST ACCORDING TO OLIVER TROLT AND FRANCESCO NOOGIN)

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT SIXTEEN

 

 

Xyr 16

SEGMENT SIXTEEN

XYR’S JOURNAL.

I pulled shut the decorated frontispiece, putting behind its cob-webs, spirals and polyhedrons.
Where had my travels led? Banks of metal thinking machines rested in neat identical rows, like tenement houses. Mechanical men strolled the tranquil lanes between.

Can- Xyr in scienceland
I thought I knew this place. It was the legendary Domain of Pure Science. The empire of the empirical.
Then August Schiller crossed my path. I was not surprised that he should settle for this place as his personal Valkynne, though I was appalled at the state in which I found him.
His clothes were torn, his eyes wrapped in bloody bandages. He was stumbling aimlessly around the mechanical, ordered paradise.

Can Schiller in Rags

I asked, “Dr. Schiller, what has happened?”
“The machines blinded me.”
The great bank of thinking machines grunted and groaned like bodybuilders at work as they pressed the weights of their information.

Can-Xyr in the realm of science
I touched Schiller’s face, not only for comfort, but also to identify my point in space to him. Schiller pulled away.
“Don’t touch me.”
“I came to rescue you.”
“I don’t need to be rescued. I don’t care about being blind. Everything is all right.”
Slowly, Schiller unwound the bloody rags. From his pocket, he produced a round mechanism. Slowly, and carefully, he screwed the object into the bone of an empty eye socket. “The machines have made me the most wondrous eye.
“You see this,” he said, regarding me with a bugged out lens. “It contains a microscope and a telescope.” Schiller snapped his fingers.
A group of mechanical men rolled out a chair, something a man could lean back into comfortably, something like a barber’s chair. August Schiller took his place upon the chair. The mechanical men popped scythes and saws from their arms, then began to descend on August Schiller.
“Now the rest of me will be remade.”
I threw a kick at the mechanical men, sending them clattering backward.
Schiller stood up. There were stars and planets not visible in the sky reflected on the lens in Schiller’s face. Then the lens bugged out and swiveled over to scan me.
“Do I know you?”
“I was your student. A long time ago.”
“Oh yes. Now I remember. Xyr. For a moment, I was afraid that I was losing my total recall. It is just that I hardly recognized you. Your face was obscured by all the bacteria I can now see, crawling all over your skin.”
“This is madness,” said I.

Can Machine Schiller

“No. Not madness. My journey took me through countless mystic dimensions and I’ve seen madness. Magic is madness. It is madness to shut out the senses or to be distracted by things that don’t exist. Mental muscles turn to flab. The tiniest bits of trivia seem pregnant with profound meaning. I am finished with magic.”
He stretched forth an arm, as if preparing to undertake some complex form of conjuration. In choreographed response, one of the near-by mechanical men activated its buzz saw hand.

Xyr saws

The blade began to spin, then it danced along the length of Schiller’s arm, delicately flaying bunches of muscle from the bone.
Hot blood splattered across my face.
“To be finished with magic,” said I, “is to be finished with humanity. In your case, it is also to be finished with life.”
“What is the difference between organic and inorganic?” Schiller responded without a trace of pain in his voice, making me wonder what perfect anesthetic had been discovered in the realm of pure science. “My dear former student– you are suffering from carbon egocentricity.”
“I came to save you.”
With a single stroke, the mechanical surgeons demasked the skin from Schiller’s face, leaving the quivering, exposed muscles and tendons grimacing at me.
“Free from random associations and illusions of connectedness that come from a primitively wired brain, I’ll be able to dispense with the uncertainties that shackle our inquiries. I oppose the use of mere probability as a crutch in science. My goal is nothing less than the ideal limit of human knowledge, the unified science, flawless in its predictions, the ultimate formula that explains all phenomena. This is my idea of paradise. A clean, immortal, logical existence that doesn’t pull my soul in two directions.”
Schiller snapped the fingers of his one good hand. The mechanical men fell upon him, and this time I did not stop them.
Busily, efficiently, as passionless as clock works, the mechanical men stripped away the gore of Schiller’s humanity. Strings of meat, coils of intestine piled up on the ground. The spinning buzz saws sprayed chips of sawed bone. They dumped Schiller’s heart unceremoniously on top of his brain.
Cartilage and viscera were replaced with steel and plastic, pumps and springs.
I watched, I must confess, not without a certain amount of envy.
When August Schiller awoke again, a tiger pattern of braces held his new chrome cheeks in place.
Schiller said, “Now I can gather data, store it on unforgetting silicon, and spend the remainder of forever digesting it, with indifference.”
“So this is your Valkynne? You have achieved it.”
“I have.”
“Do you care?”
“Not at all.”
Paradise was simple. The key to having everything you want is not wanting anything.

THE END, ACCORDING TO LESLIE BLAKE

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT SEVENTEEN

 

Xyr 17

SEGMENT SEVENTEEN
XYR’S JOURNAL

Did I want this? I did, of course.
Then I realized, it was simply another Valkynne. I feared that there were many.
I was still in the old wing of the Library of Souls, sitting in a half lotus position.
And Just stood over me, leveling his gun, making threats.
I was not awake. I never had been awake.
A moment before Just could pull the trigger, my hand snapped forward, fingers flat and rigid. Just fell backward, stricken.
I stood up, my hand still stiff and painful from the blow. I walked over to Just’s unconscious form, then carefully, critically examined the situation. Was this an actual victory? Or a wished for victory? How could I distinguish success from failure without making a mistake? How would I know when I have truly escaped from Valkynne?
Then I was back in the jungle of jewelry.

Can Trail of paradise
The canyon of waterfalls.
I became a nun, content in the service of God.
I became a painter, surrounded by masterpieces of my own creation.
I became a sailor on shore leave with an extra ten dollars in my pocket.
I became a child.
Part of my soul still plummeted through progressive levels of joy.

Xyr Journey

But there was something… I couldn’t remember what… nagging at the periphery of my joy…
The gun. Still in Just’s hand. The gun pointed at me, about to shoot…
But I soared over crystal forests and waterfalls, and heard the music of logic.

Can Cosmos

I was on a boat, under a moonlit sky, receiving the first kiss from the one I loved. I was a doctor who had saved a life. I was dead, content with the magic of nothingness. It was all I wanted… everything all, at once…
But it was also the worst nightmare of any mystic– a total detachment from the real; a descent into madness, an exercise in futility.
The gun was still there.
I didn’t care.
Crystals and waterfalls.

Xyr Crystals and waterfalls

ACCORDING TO CROW, SEGMENT TWELVE FOLLOWS

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT EIGHTEEN

Xyr 18

SEGMENT EIGHTEEN
XYR’S JOURNAL.

Just pushed his face in front of mine. There was a gun in Just’s hand, still smoking. The smell of sulfur stung my nostrils. Blood pumped from a bullet hole in my left shoulder, just below the clavicle, and the images of paradise were fading, washed away in gouts of blood.
“Quiet!” A voice rang like a tuba blast, otherworldly, amplified well beyond the capacity of human lungs.
The distraction gave me a moment’s grace, enough time to strike a blow at Just. This time it was a genuine blow. For once I was grateful for the raw physicality of the sensation, nerves registering contact. The reality of causing pain established a link to another soul.
A sort of creature, emerged from behind a row of shelves. Its mouth looked as if it were made of wet spaghetti. Four roving antennae fanned the air above its head. I would have thought the appearance loathsome, but for the fact this creature had just saved my life. It walked over to where Just lay unconscious. “Hmmm….” it said. It picked up Just’s gun and examined it, holding it at a distance, as if it were an unclean thing. Then it gestured mystically over the bullet wound on my left shoulder.
“You are very kind,” said I, impressed with the way the alien spell stanched the bleeding.
The alien turned toward rows and rows of bookshelves, all standing upright. “I don’t care about you or your petty squabbles. My concern is for this library. You were bleeding on the books.”
The collection stood perfectly intact. The collapse of the bookcases had been a hallucination, part of my imagined victory over Just, another unreal Valkynne. Then the creature picked up the ancient scroll, and poked his fingers through 3 bullet holes. The holes were real enough. It shook its head sadly. “For centuries to come, scholars will ponder the ambiguities created by holes in the holy text.”
“Mystic lore is best advanced by contemplation of what is not there,” I snapped back, not really meaning to be snide. I suppose I was trying to assuage my guilt in the matter.
“I am pained by this damage– far more than you with your shoulder. You can’t even begin to imagine how much effort it took me to put this library together. It was centuries. Centuries.”
“You? You assembled the library?”
Its affect suddenly brightened. “Like it?”
Incredulously, I stammered, “My most venerable teacher told me they built the library of souls!” I gestured over to the comatose forms, clustered in circles by the northern wall.
The creature regarded the forms for a moment, stroking the noodles of its mouth in contemplation. “They did nothing. They can do nothing. They are the seekers of Valkynne.”


One of the shriveled, vacant eyed faces caught my attention. The gender was no longer discernible. The prominent nose had withered, but there was no mistaking the striped pattern of wounds on his cheeks. I peered closer. August Schiller had found his paradise. I touched Schiller’s forehead, trying to read his thoughts, to see what the great man saw…

CROW CLAIMS SEGMENT NINETEEN FOLLOWS

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT NINETEEN

Xyr 19

SEGMENT NINETEEN

XYR’S JOURNAL

The clean, sharp air of Valkynne cut through the stink and smog of a lesser reality.
Annabelle Schiller blushed as she stepped through the widening undulating portal. A flowing river of rainbows led the way.
She was borne into heaven.
In Valkynne, the wind swept through a meadow of softest mink, silver in its undulations, waist high. Trees bowed before her, weighted down by glistening, fleshy pears. Upon the shoulders of a turquoise ravine, a diamond glacier rested. The core of mirrors inside the diamond reflected and enlarged the image of August Schiller’s face; projecting it into the sky and across the hills and valleys. A thousand pictures of August Schiller, each slightly distorted, omnipresent, edged in rainbows, each displaying a patient understanding.
Her husband stood before her, with outstretched arms.
Annabelle Schiller fell into his embrace. He looked deep into her eyes.

can wedding

“You were right about Valkynne,” she said. “Right about everything else, too. I am sorry for doubting you. Will you ever forgive me?”
He said, “We will live forever as deities, and worship each other.”

THE END, ACCORDING TO FAITH AURELLO AND CROW.

TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT TWENTY