Chapter 6:


A Snowed Abode

The world outside was as cold as it could be; not much different from Nix, being that it is covered in snow too, but the heat dissipated by living beings was nowhere to be found, of course... it was, though, sort of interesting to see the many trees, covered in what seemed like fragments of icy shards, and mountains full of reflective, intense light, almost as if it was some archipelago forgotten by the seasons themselves. It was, thus, ironic to say the least, that the town below was named after fire - presumably not because it is the predominant element around here (although one knows not if some of the scattered mountains around could become volcanoes, even though with all the snow one would think they would have reasonably cooled off) - but, people always assumed, because of the fiery temper of some of the monarchs, especially historical ones. Then, it is to be wondered, would they still call it that if there was no such institution at all? Why are names even retained if they do not describe what they are supposed to?Bookmark here

At any rate, Pax along with Clemens, the ever mild (or... not), were finally outside. They might be at greater risk than before - wilder things coming across them, say - but at least they were out and about to explore the wide externalities, or such. It was, as previously mentioned, a snowy northern edge of the world, the kind that would set hypothermia off if the two were slightly less organized and, say, dressed for the summer up here and now... but just outside of this bright landscape bounded the vast seas... and the tiny streams and rivers, but they were all connected, certainly. Beyond the mountains they could not quite go for now, as it would indeed prove difficult and perhaps even more naturally hazardous than going to some old castle, and so they did not even try going anywhere to the east, where they capped the horizon. They simply headed to the direction of Ignis, finally - its castle was visibly nearby, but seemingly hindered by some literal, ever-raging flames... for some reason. And so they resolved to just go to the town for now, as it was likely where they would find out how to get into the castle in the first place... except something, or someone... metallic... did indeed catch up with them...Bookmark here

"Who... art... thee...?" The strange, clanging suit of... something, seemed to say. This eerily seemed to coincide with what Clemens mentioned before, but Pax put it down to pure coincidence (unless he has been going out for some reason and he happened to encounter this being of weirdness manifest...)Bookmark here

"We are... no! Who are you is the better question! Who are you allied with?" Pax puzzlingly responded... now, responding to an anthropoid suit of metal was strange indeed, but so was the fact that this creature was just hanging out with a couple of other goblins, as if somehow they were the best of friends since time immemorial.Bookmark here

"I am the monarch's ambassador to... oh, whatever I'm just here to stop you from advancing!" The tinny outfit had a slightly croaky voice, but nothing too much really... and was the monarch just mentioned? If so, might they be connected? And in thinking this, could there be a connection between this suit and that strange person at the end of Nix?Bookmark here

"We'll see about that!" Pax declared, and after which the suit just lunged. It literally tried to attack Pax, even though we have not even yet established whether it is an empty suit or there is possibly a small person inside that is not quite as visible from the outside. This is quite strange, yes? But so did the so-called ambassador do, indeed it did, attack the two.Bookmark here

After a bit of dancing it so seemed that the suit was bereft of heft after all, and in fact the goblins might have been a slight bit more threatening than the shorter creatures they appeared to be, but then one should never judge a book by its cover. Why the suit made such a fuss over a mere trifle, one knows not, but soon peace and mercy were on their way. Oh, no, that was not quite what they were called usually, no, but after the suit attacked one almost expects a shirt and a tie to trade blows, for who knows what occurs in this strange world?Bookmark here

So, they went downwards and towards Ignis, the town that is not quite on fire but would make total etymological sense if it was (but neither does anyone wish it were, mind). This is a slight bit below the cold slopes, in an area that was actually more green than bright and garish (otherwise the castle's flames would be extinguished before they could ever make any grand entrance, they sure would). It hugged the ocean too, for why not if hugs are free?Bookmark here

At any rate... they went frolicking into Ignis, finally, and... it was not too impressive, but it was still adequate - quite different from the frigid Nix surely, a more temperate clime, with grass and trees that do not look like they have just seen a ghost... there were lamps, but I do not suppose there is much use for a lamp in the glare of sunlight... there was also some kind of wooden thing, whereupon was written... "the fiery character of numbness"... for some reason, yet again, although one assumes it might have to do with the place's name; why numb though, one wonders... perhaps institutions make one so?Bookmark here

There was one person visible from the entrance at around the middle of the village (it was not quite the largest inhabitation, why and whether it has always been like this, though, it is not certain; could have been recent events that pushed people away, but there could have always been some personal, obscure reasons too, and I suppose one might think it a surprise that even Nix was more popular than Ignis, but then it had more of a purpose, and more of a community, so perhaps that is the difference, but perhaps also we should not excessively speculate...)Bookmark here

Before talking to that one person, though, the two travelling friends heard a rustling coming from some nearby plants, for some bizarre reason...Bookmark here

"The green vibrancy, a life...
The corrupt constancy, strife...
Thanatos, in between, does not..."Bookmark here

Why they seemed to whisper this they did not know; they barely knew what other people might be thinking, so why and how could they possibly ever know what bushes, of all things, were indeed saying, if saying that they were? I mean, perhaps they were just imagining it? Either way, it was being put out there in the world, so this makes sense in any case. Was Thanatos, though, which is a symbol of death, involved in with these bushes? That would certainly be a greater mystery than these two could ever figure out, certainly, but Thanatos does not... what? Thinking about this eternally would get Pax and his companion nowhere, nonetheless, and they might get to know the gist of it in time anyway, so they continued on to finally chat with the person in the middle of town, who seemed to be by all accounts a soldier, visually at least...Bookmark here

"Welcome to our speck of a homely corner... except we can not, as of now, live as well as can be - for autocracy has risen up more fierce than before... not that it did not exist before." He began, clearly forthright in what he wanted to say about the current situation.Bookmark here

"Oh? What happened before then? The difference is? Also, how did it suddenly rise up? I do not mean to ask so much, but I happen to be curious as our home is also apparently threatened..." Pax replied, wanting to get an overview like Pons suggested he does, and he was curious too, not that he was not, but Pons also asked about this...Bookmark here

"You do indeed ask quite a bit, but the curious are useful... well, you see, we co-existed before... never formally consented to the state of affairs, but the monarch never decided to be as brutally oppressive as now... indeed, beyond our town it seems it wants to take over the northern frontier too, which would include your home... which is why we need to stop it..." This seems to have been the summary offered by this citizen of Ignis, although of course Pax and his friend sort of knew this already; it was never quite clear on what history was like, but why it seemed to suddenly change... it was not sure.
Bookmark here

"We sure do, but what I don't quite get is how one can co-exist with what one did not consent to... is it some form of a complex symbiosis? Like a parasite?" Pax inquired, as indeed inquisitive he seems to be increasingly becoming, but then again this was a fact-finding mission, so one assumes it makes sense to ask questions; the fundamentals of certain concepts are kind of like extras, but they are still worth asking about.Bookmark here

"It makes sense to compare it to such a function of biology... except, of course, this is more sociological - at any rate, this goes beyond me - I think Prudens below might know more..." Whoever this person was is not certain, but Pax knew he had to talk to him almost positively before being able to continue on to the castle to which he was destined to end up in. There were flames as large as a hill blocking the way, so that was surely worth asking about.Bookmark here

"Speak with the monarch's former advisor if you want to know more... the wooden abode below." All the houses were wooden, but at least he pointed to the one below, of which there was only one, so that made sense...Bookmark here

There was, actually, also a wooden sign nearby, so Pax naturally became curious about it...Bookmark here

"Whereupon, Janus said
it is thus heinous
for if west we go
we shall be digressed."Bookmark here

Yes, yes... wait, what? Who is this Janus, and why would whatever be heinous? Pax expected some simple directions, but it appears even wooden signs in this world have the capability to confuse the everlasting wonderment out of him, he swears...Bookmark here

He suddenly also spotted some person hiding behind some bushes for some reason... bushes that did not quite speak, or whatever, yet, as it happens...Bookmark here

"I'm hiding here... from our oppressor..." He said, as if somehow that made total sense and the monarch (the presumable oppressor) would just leave him alone if he noticed him thereabouts... but anyway, Pax decided not to pursue this further, and instead continue on to investigate what might possibly, in the future, resolve the ailment this person had, after all...Bookmark here

He also happened to notice a statue in the middle of town, all blue, as if a mermaid dancing in the air, and it happened to have inscribed...Bookmark here

"This deceitful silence
This lying ambivalence
From what theoretical violence?
From what hypothetical deterrence?"Bookmark here

And he also observed that for some reason four lines were used now, as opposed to the more usual three, but figured this was some side note and of no import to the investigation, but still... what silence? Which ambivalence? So many questions did he have, but he also figured that this was not some sort of puzzle that needed to be resolved right now in order to advance, but more of a hint towards the general picture that one might observe as indeed one does happen to advance... possibly.Bookmark here

There also happened to be a pier, since as mentioned previously this town 'hugged' the ocean... there was a boat, but it did not seem to be usable, as of now anyway... with another sign...Bookmark here

"An ocean this way and an ocean that way."Bookmark here

Pax thought, who is likely mayor of this place, Captain Obvious? I mean, there were oceans, but this sign might as well say "go to your left for your left" etc. Why people need to have such signs he did not know, but perhaps the monarch wanted them made when boredom set in? Arbitrariness has such effects at times... and besides, even if that was true, it was still a far cry from the plain oppression citizens are expressing, and the apparent threat the institution now poses to other places outside its castle, so clearly it still needs to be looked into (but it is certainly not being investigated due to some redundant signs...)Bookmark here

There was also some...
"Wood... can we use it to build a boat, perhaps? Oh, what am I saying, I am no carpenter... I can borrow a boat, but not much else..." Pax was apparently defeatist, but he did not need a boat as of now... not unless, say, he wanted to escape as far as possible to get away from this manifest menace, but he could not possibly be so cowardly and abandon his own hometown now, could he? I mean, procrastination is still sort of thereabouts within the vein, but not exactly... at any rate, no, he had no use getting across any oceans, this town is big enough as it is despite its small size (a few curious artefacts, though) - he obviously did not need to be anywhere else, and he was curious, in any case, about the curious happenings at this castle...Bookmark here

"A raft maybe? Wait, where are we even going? With no destination why are we even looking to go anywhere? Or maybe we could venture to a forest with bananas and a monkey in a tree and a parasol? Ah... never mind..." Even a pig would not be sure what that is a reference to, but it does sound indeed childishly interesting...Bookmark here

There also happened to be some wooden flanks on top of some sort of cup...
"Perhaps lighting it up would open a mystery cave of... wonders? Wait... there are no caves nearby... no, still, if we light it up... it could be more satisfying...?" Pax clearly wants to simply procrastinate further, exactly like he did in Nix, but could I ever convince him otherwise? One is not so certain... animated, contained flames are still interesting, though...Bookmark here

A person nearby moreover seems to exist too... only the third one so far in this town... a bit on the older side, when he was approached he said...
"Once this used to be a bustling little town... before the town's ruler decided that whatever one desired should take priority over the betterment of the collective, and so the economic flow stopped, for who cares about somewhere under the yolk of an oppressive frenzy? It's one of those situations where both that and the social factors would improve if only this problem was resolved..." That must be another sort of explanation one supposed, somewhat surmised before... one still wonders what happened now that made this somewhat urgent, though?Bookmark here

Suddenly, Clemens piped up for some reason... but that was always a better alternative than just Pax always being vocal, of course...
"Hm, I wonder why the supposed leader of a place would go so far to destroy its prospects? Could there be an external influence, perhaps? What one could not foresee?" So he was also wondering about this... sometimes there seems to be a confluence of thoughts... although why one with arbitrary decision-making does that, one is not sure anything external is needed...Bookmark here

"I would not know about it, for despite living here most of my life, I did not ever have the opportunity to see how the castle up above functions. Talk with Prudens for more on that." So, this older fellow seems to be slightly less informed than the prior soldier, although what he said still creates a fuller picture...Bookmark here

"If only all could simply live and let live, we could then conduct what is needed in peace, but as it is chaos seems to be our only future. How I envy the rest of the world..." Sure, then again chaos is simply the natural state of the universe, the physical concept of entropy, so why would he expect otherwise? Really, expectations these days...Bookmark here

Also, this being a pier with a tiny bit of sand (did I mention that?) - apparently meant that palm trees sprouted out of nowhere... who knew? And like most other living or animated beings, they seemed to trill a few words out into the sea's wilderness...Bookmark here

"Far and yonder beyond land... dream and ponder...
...but what life may stand?"Bookmark here

To Pax this seemed to be a bit more idealistic than most, although as usual it had a somewhat dark undertone for some reason. Why most of these were like that one was not sure, but as it did not seem to be any pressing issue he did not think about this too much, it merely sat at the back of the mind like someone sitting in some shade to somewhat appreciate, but not too much, the sun (but then he would not know much about this, coming from a place that did not exactly package that sort of atmosphere on a regular basis, and even Ignis, despite its name, had barely a glimpse, although more so).Bookmark here

This was Ignis, the nominal and supposed town symbolic for the fiery wrath of a historic institution, but it certainly did not appear to live up to its name - not unless one looked outside, at the castle's entrance, at any rate. If one follows this pattern it is almost to be expect that somewhere there is a desert with the name of 'Glacies', perhaps. Well, this was not quite a frozen town, either, but why names at times point to the opposite direction one knows not; there was, in any case, still an inn, a shop, and crucially, the library to explore, and the two intended to do just that...Bookmark here

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