Chapter 9:


A Snowed Abode

One of the top corners was suddenly broken free of its pulsating cage, the same side where the room sat in the grand scheme of things at this fortress, one side of the square. No one knew how suddenly, just because some large insect got some glowing globe, the energy beam disappeared, but some might think it might have been connected to its very will to keep on standing guard for no apparent reason, with its only role to dish out random non-sequiturs to whoever, not too dissimilar to a sphynx, one supposes, except the poor insect never got to lie down all feline just because somehow it grew and evolved a way to stand up on its hind legs, as opposed to crawling on all four. To this day no one is sure, either, why there are sometimes such consequences for random branches of evolution, but someone and their archetypes might know... or perhaps they are more like epigenetics, where changes do not take centuries?Bookmark here

Indeed, though, before going through this new portal to chambers unknown, Pax and his companion thought it better to pore over the items at the back of the room which the insect previously blocked. There is one advantage to sudden disappearance, unless for some reason the atoms connecting all things lost their connectivity and anyone could go anywhere...Bookmark here

At any rate, the nearest pamphlet to the entrance, a slightly ageing piece of cloth that lay there, left by who knows exactly who, seem to have had written on it...Bookmark here

"The monarch hath, since time immemorial, co-existed with the people, but where would one be without them? Always consulting them, this is how the people came to respect, for that is never just demanded and given for no reason... but, then, what else could there be that could one want? What one could not get from fear, one gets from understanding, but what if that runs out? What if changing the opinion of the populace was impossible? What if..." The writing stopped abruptly, but so did Pax pause in order to ponder upon this in such an eerie chamber as this... do they really think about all that? What if, instead, they never care at all? Why, many have always seemed to think that if, through fear, the same, or even better result than through respect, then why go with the latter at all? But, Clemens suddenly chimed in, we do not know who the author of this is, and as such we can not exactly verify the perspective that was held and why. Just as Machiavelli began to write The Prince after being expelled, so it is with anything else that context is useful. Pax seemed to concur, but really just wanted to read more...Bookmark here

"Why, it is never impossible", replies the voice "for often it does not even need changing." It continued, in a haughty tone, "do archetypes even need to be summoned when the state of affairs barely changes?" This was clearly, then, when they begin thinking about these beings from the abyss, these strange concoctions... but when did they take over, if they did? What exactly, then, were they thinking... is it merely to change the opinion of the populace? But how ever would that be possible with these so-called archetypes? Are they not extensions of strength, or such? Or are we getting the wrong end of the stick here? Whose voice, also?Bookmark here

They then went to a book opposite to where they currently were, on the other table near the aforementioned lamp, and adjacent to the... bear plushie, not that that had anything to do with these writings the two assumed, being merely some odd inclination that the insect had and happened to forget to disappear with for some reason...Bookmark here

"Why is it that the aspect and concept of mutuality is in existence? That is to say, the way one relies on the other, and vice versa, although this seems to break down when relations come into being. The question then becomes, what use is there to relations? What use is there to reliance when parasitism seems to be functional? Why, the cuckoos have flourished, and they do not even declare themselves a point in any relational continuum." Why, Pax thought, there might be a naturalist in the castle after all... or an anthropologist covertly studying the strange machinations of someone who wants to cling on to superficial regard to such a degree they would use some bizarre physics which no one yet knew the workings of?Bookmark here

There was also a quill as it happens, presumably left over from all these writings, although who the author was, again, remained a mystery, quite, and it seemed to articulate...Bookmark here

"The tool which spills
...and fills the cruel absurdities..."Bookmark here

Pax assumed this was some sort of attempt at an ironic meta-analysis, although it would be quite a surprise if the monarch wrote it, and if it was it would have been some evidence of self-reflection; so then, the question remained, was better judgement ignored to undertake the possibility of going even further beyond? Or, even more likely, it was someone else... someone who, perhaps, knows how all this works and yet chooses to remain here to try to assuage the dire scenario of unbounded madness. It might have been the former advisor even, Clemens thought, although why it remained here after he left was not quite clear... unless the monarch just does not visit the ground floor, one supposes, and the others who do possibly agree with it?Bookmark here

One other book occupied this table, along with the quill and another pamphlet in the middle... it was, clearly, not exactly a library, as extensive as the one Pax and Clemens went through before, but this still had a few items that were seemingly left there by some theoreticians, people possibly employed by the castle to research some things, but also possibly others in their spare time indulging in their hobby... regardless, still, no one knew who or where the authors were, but it seemed somewhat irrelevant now, considering their writings were still here anyway, still somewhat useful in aiding understanding of the situation if indeed that is what was desired...Bookmark here

"Why, if I use this I will be granted capabilities from beyond this world! This archetype, this emblem of universality, contains nought but the vein of everlasting possibilities!"
"But our monarchy has lasted for so long, more than any others! Why would you desire such outlandish occult? Is it not an unnecessary risk?"
"No, my loyal retainer, for loyalty is indeed what is usually reflected back, and so if I give this my heart it will but reflect it back!"
"If you think so..."Bookmark here

This, then, seemed to be the proof that these archetypes were being messed with, however that happened... but the logic of that. Someone was clearly trying to dissuade the monarch from taking any risks, but they went ahead anyway, based on some spurious nonsense about loyalty (as if people do not themselves deviate from that continually) - risk then it was indeed, but then again what goes through the mind of someone who is the last of their type? This is not exactly an extinction scenario, but then again, from that living being's point of view, their perception (that is, if they were indeed aware of the concept of species extinction), death to them is the same, whether others of the same kind keep living or not. We are also not even talking about that in this specific situation, either... although, I suppose, being dethroned does carry the risk of physical reprisals if there was enmity, it still does not automatically equate to that.Bookmark here

At any rate, one supposes, it is still a risk that might not be entirely necessary, not unless the whole institution was crumbling at their very feet, in any case... one assumes it was not, and so it was a risk more of the reckless sort. One can also imagine that this might have been due to success in the past making one think it is guaranteed in the future - but this is all speculation.Bookmark here

Finally, the two checked the last remaining pamphlet, which contained... the concept of mutuality, which confused them ever so slightly, considering a concept is not usually an object per se, but then they have just seen a huge, bipedal beetle, so even if concepts were to grow wings and take off they would not be as surprised from now on. They did not yet entirely have an idea of what this castle could be about, but the monarch seemed to be an arbitrary fellow, with equally arbitrary objects and creatures, and so from this vantage point it is kind of consistent.Bookmark here

They did, then, go back up towards the now vanished energy beam thing, to a newly revealed entrance to the side of the castle, although before entering there seemed to be another torch...Bookmark here

"The potency of what animates...
...embellished into an agency to scathe...
...with only time that approximates..."Bookmark here

They did not, quite, think that this was as direct as the prior fiery sticks, but between themselves they figured out that the reference to a potency might be, as with most things in the castle, a reference to the institution, or perhaps the concept behind it, which in turn animates passions, they surmised, with the agency being the flow of will of that concept. Time, then, they assumed, is the countdown that everyone runs against, regardless of what superficial influence those bound to the mortal coil are given...Bookmark here

Speaking of which... something seemed off; purple beam might have gone, but there was still a certain atmosphere around this part of the place in particular, a certain unbearable weight, almost an insanity distilled. They went inside, but what they found there was not the nigh garish, bright hues that illuminated the rest of this dwelling - it was, essentially, the opposite... quite dark, and instead of the apparent mania of the sanguine tones of the previous rooms, this was verdant, for some reason, with flames that were not quite their normal selves; as if taken over by the former gleam, they were violet, as if the fuel that these animations required to digest in order to keep dancing along was about to expire, as if the raging infernos that connected through another dimension were about to lose contact - this was how these were apparent, the dying embers of a crushed existence, and they seemed to whisper ever so softly...Bookmark here

"Why does this flame of intensity, this regal extremity...
...stretch its limits like an eagle soaring beyond?
An attempt to break the chains of mortality?"Bookmark here

Clemens remarked how the 'flame' here seemed to function in multiple ways... as a literal one, that anyone can bear witness to, about to be extinguished, which changes its very, vivid character... and, it seems, this last monarch, grasping ever so tightly along its last vestiges, gripping anything that might possibly resolve its likely extinction (the 'archetypes', it so seems). Although, of course, there were still differences between these two, and while an institution is not at all similar to a natural combustible, they might be contrasted as a metaphor in a person's mind for the above stated reason - and indeed it is that person, or the whole unit behind it, society, that imbued and constructed the institution to begin with... while fire is merely the amalgamation of chemical processes, a tired rotting behind all physical processes... entropy, Pax agreed (although he was not quite the most knowledgeable in this area, having mostly observed societies throughout his life, while Clemens having a slight bit more interest in more natural processes). Entropy seems to be the source of all causes, here...Bookmark here

It was, otherwise, more of a temple than the rest of this place was. A temple to what, though? That neither of them could say, and based on prior readings they were not sure they would be able to in the near future, as in all likelihood it would merely be more symbolism and metaphor, but then again they might possibly encounter some prose too which could conceivably enlighten them a slight bit more. One needs to acknowledge the existence of the random scholars (if one can call them that) that were present around here, as the alternative (the beetle) is not quite so incredibly coherent...Bookmark here

In the middle of the first room (which was more of a square connected to a corridor hosting another square... maybe that is the monarch's favourite geometrical shape?) - were pillars, although Pax noted the perception that they seem to be standing up while holding nothing, but presumably they were, and it was merely one's point of view that hindered the eyesight. A square within the square room was a circle (ah, so he might have liked other shapes, then... perhaps he was, like a toddler, just learning how much of a variety there is?) - within which seemed to be some sort of star, possibly related to magic, but one can never be quite sure... there are no hints that the monarch was some magician or, as they are usually known, a mage... but perhaps someone else who hangs about is? Why, though, would they construct the very foundation of a whole structure to accommodate some people who were not even integral to the castle? Or, maybe they were and the monarch found them useful? Thinking of which, where would the archetypes even have come from? Were they summoned perhaps from some otherworldly dimension? If so, it would have likely been some sort of mage...Bookmark here

This is all speculation of course, though, although this circle on the ground does happen to be there... and would presumably not change according to differing perceptions. There was also a statue of some sort in the very middle, not entirely sure of what, though, as they were not quite as stereotypical as the ones preceding it, but it did seem to have something in its hand, which was the only non-monochromatic source. It also had this inscription...Bookmark here

"This is but a path to that which is here and, yet, is merely a microcosm of the whole."Bookmark here

Pax began to think this might possibly have something to do with alchemy, then, for that is usually cryptic and yet is about how inversion can function (if indeed it does function, one can never be sure)... also, he thought, could that not be a description of most rooms, passageways etc... well, one supposed they are not exactly all microcosms, and how any engineered physical structures can fit in one another... is not certain. Then again, is anyone even sure the path it is talking about is this corridor in front of us here? What if they were merely words, or even the path a life can take (which not physical, per se)? When one is not dealing with raw practicalities then this is all possible, Clemens agreed, but like with most writings before (except perhaps for those detailing what might have happened with the 'archetypes') they do not seem to be entirely practical, but as with the 'whole' mentioned here, they might possibly make sense in the future... or everyone might be hit by an asteroid and all is over by tomorrow, which makes all this redundant... but even if it is all futile, even if life is a trickle of hopelessness, passion might still exist, mystery might still lurk in the background...Bookmark here

Besides the flame whose hue was thrown at the very end of the spectrum, there were also smaller blazes, which hung about as if they needed to illuminate that which needed to be and yet could not be, and these seemed to sigh...Bookmark here

"The perpetual blue within the heavens flickered...
...the meaning to construe, the hue a symbol...
...the downfall, existentially inevitable..."Bookmark here

To Pax this confirmed how these... mysterious things which seem to communicate such oddly rhythmical paragraphs... seemed to indicate that, indeed, just as they had suspected, the monarch, in a twist of irony, might actually be the least capable of exercising will here, the least powerful, essentially... for who is if they sense their very being under threat? Being the last of this 'species' too (but only in the mind could institutions be equated with such a concept as a species, for in reality they are nothing but sociological constructions, and unless violent revolutions happened, historically there were many monarchs who simply faded into the background, merely to live in not as much prominence, so how this one seems to think life itself is threatened is not entirely clear).Bookmark here

The spectrum of hues suddenly seemed of interest... one notes that red is on one end, while purple on the other, with blue just next to it... so, it might be speculated that while an institution is alive and well, particularly worldwide (pre-1848) the symbolism of a flame at its peak, while waning blue, and just before extinction a purple... such systems are never as obvious as natural combustion, of course, but it still might remain a tangible comparison, and the monarch of Ignis knows, smells the last remaining sulphur of doom.Bookmark here

"Why ever is influence...
a confluence of will or mind...
or is it merely... blind?"Bookmark here

This was in turn also written on some statues in the corner of the room, the last remaining objects... which seems to be fairly transparent in meaning, Pax thought, although how statues inside a castle may seem to question that castle's very monarch one is not certain, for one would think that, if powerful, the least such a person might do is remove such inscriptions, but somehow they remain, as if an emblem not only of oppression, but incompetence... or perhaps it is a literal blindness that is the problem?Bookmark here

Beyond a few more purple and blue flames arranged in some symmetrical pattern, along with more pillars and some sort of stone arch that seemed oddly out of place (but not so much in the Parthenon), there lay another presumably magic-related circle, this time more of a blue one (the other one, with the statue in the middle, being of a pale shade), with azure torches in all four directions, although for some reason east and west were further apart, and... suddenly Pax and Clemens were transported elsewhere as soon as they went in the middle of this circle. They were quite confused at first, but then assumed the geometric designs might have had some function after all... and as long as they were still whole, why worry?Bookmark here

Now, it was a slight bit confusing, but the teleport seemed to be diagonal to the opposite end of this, the castle's gloomy part of its structure... and there happened to be a dragon's statue at the start, like at the library, with the same inscription too... and suddenly the reference to 'blood' made a slight bit more sense in this context (with the monarch, how people felt in relation, and the perceived near future extinction that enabled the reckless descent into archetypes)... but it was also, as if, in the air... this lament, an incipient insanity, a spontaneous (internal) image of a pink flamingo for some reason... blue, though, was more the mood of this place (despite the green architecture, the fires seemed to resonate more).Bookmark here

They continued on, further, and beyond the meandering corridor of atonal confusion... there was someone. Was it, though? It seemed almost a trick of the eye - what appeared to be green hair blended in with the flooring; it was quite bizarre, and then as if to further accentuate the issue directly below was what looked to be grass, but with the hair directly above it could have easily been perceived as a continuation of that, an eternity of verdant follicles that extended throughout the entire castle... underneath, seeping, like madness rooted in neurons decades before its siege upon the mind...Bookmark here

When approached it indeed seemed to be a person, apparently female, who very simply said, quite cryptically and randomly...Bookmark here

"Whence did one come, from two or more?
Since when did conflict conflate, and one abhor?
If it became one once more, what would carry ashore?"Bookmark here

To this the two had no clue, frankly... although, if they did happen to have time to figure it out and some green-haired stranger blending in almost seamlessly into the ground was not intently staring just after saying all that... they would possibly reason that, well, the number one might come from two or more, but only as a constituent... then again, considering the context, this could not have been so rational of a picture, with the second 'one' clearly not referring to any numbers, in any case. But conflict is conflated with what? Perhaps with the opposite of 'abhor', with the prior 'one' being a universal denominator? But they had no time for all this...Bookmark here

What seemed to be curious was that if they did not have 'mutuality', the strange, conceptual item contained within the earlier pamphlet, this verdant-haired maiden would have simply said "a chore" for some odd reason, but since they did she appeared to say "outpour" for another peculiar rationale, and... simply disappeared. Which might have come as a surprise if this was the first 'person' Pax and Clemens talked with, but since there was also a 'beetle', very similar in the incoherency department, who also disappeared after that globe was in possession... this was almost to be expected, and they were not even sure she was truly human... or, one supposes, if she was then perhaps a mage? But even mages are not usually so cryptic...Bookmark here

There was a crystal soon after, not quite the same hue as most everything else here, but it still mingled in, being turquoise... apparently these cryptids had access to hydrated phosphates of copper and aluminium by some fluke, but the two did not think that thinking about this too much would be at all practically useful... and Clemens soon exclaimed that there seemed to be a blinding reflection from the crystal, before suddenly being transported again, randomly once more, to the castle's entrance this time. They thought not much of that, and went dextral...Bookmark here

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