Chapter 8:


A Snowed Abode

After so many conversations and so much reading the two did, though, feel tired, and so straight after exiting the library they went not to some potentially dangerous castle as one assumes someone who would like to quickly come to the bottom of all this would do, no... they went to an inn, for why would they not relax a slight bit just before they were going to go out once again?Bookmark here

It was a modest sort of inn, of course, for Ignis was such a village too... nothing grand, a simple place by the coast; it had some flowers, but it also had a painting, on which was inscribed...Bookmark here

"The landscape, anew
...the minds, askew
...for what binds sanity?"Bookmark here

Good question, Pax thought, except he could not quite figure out how the landscape, or the painting more generally, had to do with sanity, unless of course one loses it trying to figure this very thing out... and whose minds were askew? Perhaps the ones using archetypes, he thought, now more knowledgeable than before... still, a painting could not possibly know of that, surely?Bookmark here

There were two pieces of papers near these painting... for some reason... and one of them said...
"Be patient today, for tomorrow might test you" while the other one...
"Rest in the present, for the future might be tiring"... and sure enough, Pax had no idea inscriptions will suddenly become some self-help one-liners? He hoped not, at any rate, for there might not be anything more insufferable, surely, he thought... well, some things. Then again, one must admit that these were not too inappropriate in an inn...Bookmark here

There was the innkeeper there in the corner of one room, an ancient looking fellow...
Bookmark here

"Hello, there. I am the innkeeper, but I presume that is obvious. What is not at first is the arbitrariness of what seemingly just sprouts up from behind actions... this sudden hostility by our formal ruler, for example..." This guy does not hold back, Pax thought... most innkeepers say, what, "would you like to stay?"Bookmark here

"Why, do you reckon, spontaneously someone just decided to do something? From a potential for repercussions, possibly... lack thereof would enable certain actions, but even if there were, sometimes actions are still committed..." And sure enough he keeps on keeping on... some intense night this will be, Clemens concurred, as if they just could not stop from being connected to this incident, as if this whole thing with the archetypes was the be all and end all of their entire existences (from now on at least); like really, can they not catch a break and sleep a little? Or so they wondered...Bookmark here

"Ah, why have I myself acted to ramble on needlessly... might you need a bed to rest?" Well, he finally grew some self-awareness, it appears... and so they rested, at any rate...Bookmark here

As they woke up they noticed a...
"A curious, red hat... I do not suppose it belongs to the old man, but then who wears pointed red hats?" Who indeed? Perhaps a certain type of magus?Bookmark here

There were also some plants at the back, which this time seemed to also animate the words...Bookmark here

"Sleep when you can in this world...
...for until you are unfurled, to keep the calm is...
...not quite in the palm of your hands..."Bookmark here

Pax assumed this was but apt for an inn, yet again, but what exactly is unfurled...? He did find it strange, to say the least at any rate, how plants would commentate on sleep, I mean do they even sleep themselves, or perhaps like dolphins do it only partially? Anyway...Bookmark here

There was also a...
"Mirror of shades, why must one not see the outline of thus" which completely baffled the two, one must say, until, that is, they realized in the other room that there was another mirror saying
"Thus, see the outline why must one not of the mirror of shades" - not that this clarified things any further, but Pax noticed that this seemed to... mirror, in fact, the words in the other room... well, not quite perfectly, but then absolute symmetry is not usually reality either, is it?Bookmark here

Also noticed was another hat...
"A blue hat? Is that the Merlin magic kind or maybe the blue type?" Or maybe one and the same? Why would an inn have so many fashion items, anyway?Bookmark here

The two decided to leave this inn finally, at any rate, but not before they noticed lights flickering in the day's hum... or wasted electricity when there is such brightness outside...Bookmark here

There was also a weapons shop in town, but they might not have had so much money to spend on anything right now, maybe after spending some time exploring the castle...Bookmark here

Thus, they went upwards, now free of the red pillars of doom...Bookmark here

Beyond the moat, beyond the only vestige of what separated the castle now threatening this nearby region of the world, lay this structure. Grand in scope, it was indeed as red as the very fiery inspiration of its etymology, with varying shades of the hue.Bookmark here

Pax and Clemens were greeted by the usual statues with swords, but then noticed that their progress was apparently impeded by an entrance that was not quite straightforward; a small cliff sort of structure, the rope they had they discovered could be useful in this situation, even if it was not exactly a mountain. But before that...Bookmark here

"...There seems to be an odd aura here, a sense of hostility. Crow-bats also appear to have ensconced themselves here. Why would a monarch have them?"Bookmark here

Why, indeed? Perhaps we were about to deal with Count Dracula in person? One supposes a count is sort of like a monarch, but not exactly, and blood was never previously mentioned by anyone in relation to anything... was it? (There was that one statue that made no sense...)Bookmark here

Or perhaps, more to the point, the aforementioned archetypes were vampires, after all? But how could they be if 'types' generally is a plurality? As in, not a single category of creature... kind of like referencing 'viruses' or 'bacteria', and not any single species...Bookmark here

"Never you mind", is probably what Pax thought, being headstrong and all... and promptly climbed the rope to go beyond the ledge that seemed like some poor attempt at keeping anyone but the most lazy out... even a quite tall person could go over it, likely.Bookmark here

The first thing that seemed to greet them as they climbed over was a flickering candelabra, one that almost had this beastly vibe to it, considering the castle they were in, but the two did not let that occupy their thoughts too much before it seemed to mutter in their ears...Bookmark here

"While the candles burn at both ends
...and psychology handles the incomprehensible impossible duality becomes indispensable."Bookmark here

Now, while they did not exactly know what that referred to they could reasonably speculate, but what specifically might the duality define? Perhaps the state one is in before they have anything to do with archetypes, and then after? By 'psychology' one can conjecture it mostly relates to perception, as mentioned previously in the books. It does seem like when something is incomprehensible the mind wrestles with it as best as it can... what, though, could the metaphorical candle be? Explicitly the monarch, or any person that interacts with archetypes? Were there even others that did this? The answer to that the two did not know, but might soon...Bookmark here

The carpets leading up the stairway were as red as blood, but the impression that there was something off could not exactly be shaken off due to differently hued squares that separated each section of the castle it seems. They were not quite bright, garish shades, but they still seemed to transmit a certain kind of comedy that made as much sense as any average inscription seems to have done, if one were to try to comprehend them rationally one supposes.Bookmark here

In the corridors that isolated one room from another, some minor sort of lights hung about, that seemed to also utter these strangely reassuring terms...Bookmark here

"This candle will let you know that if... handle it with care and precision...
...there will be no collision between elements..."Bookmark here

Pax and Clemens then wondered if this merely referred to simple, natural physics... but then, why would some light hanging off the wall of a castle with a moat of water previously separated by towering infernos want to commentate about the physical separation of elements? It is a bit hard to come to terms with all this strangeness, the two did indeed think, for how could such a world even exist, one where such irrationality was seeped in? Then again, the above seemed to be one of the more reasonable passages so far...Bookmark here

This ground floor seemed to be one large square (filled in with lots of smaller ones); two rooms occupied the upper front, one seemed to have some food left there for some reason, and a table too if one were to desire to partake. The other room was a more run of the mill weapons storage, which one supposes is not quite too foreign for a castle to have. Each corner of this giant square floor had this insignia... a dragon... for some reason one could not yet quite fathom... was the monarch, perhaps, a dragon in secret? An occult serpent from beneath the seas? A large wyvern merely disguised as a human and suddenly unfurling its wings? Pax liked to fantasize...Bookmark here

Suddenly, he seemed to also notice this little plant sitting at this castle's foyer.. he was not quite sure why he missed it so far, it might have had something to do with its size, but maybe the enchanting glow from all the candles led the two away like some drunken moths...Bookmark here

"For the green idyll it is a mere fantasy
...for it would need to wean off the association
...for the abomination reigns in whichever hue or time."Bookmark here

The plants... so said... but no, the two plainly had no idea what exactly it referred to... although one might surmise it had something to do with what might be perceived as idyllic not actually having such a history, with their current state reflecting that which is not quite the superficial calmness that it is on the outside...Bookmark here

The two upper areas had extremities that seemed to have been blocked by some sort of... purple... miasma, possibly? They were like as if a sword of energy just cut through, as if the castle had hands that just shot through its walls to decimate anything in its path. It was as though a stream ran through these entrances, but instead of life, which most streams seem to be filled with, this was jammed with death and all other sorts of negativity.Bookmark here

What could be done about them, the two wondered... well, they could, for a start, check out the rooms individually... which they could do as soon as the aforementioned crow-bats stopped annoying them... which they could do any second now...Bookmark here

The atmosphere was foreboding, with Pax not quite feeling like he could still be as jovial as he usually is while interacting with others or environments generally, but there did not seem to be anything worse than crow-bats... so how bad could it be?Bookmark here

Enter the giant beetle thing... resident in the room on the left section of the castle's lower floor, this was some kind of creature, a blue or possibly purple in hue... but it was no casual, typical beetle (the tiny kind), for this was taller, or about as tall as, Pax and Clemens (the latter was a slight bit shorter than the former, and this is why his self-esteem was a bit drained throughout the years he had known Pax, but never mind that now, the beetle...) - this was a bipedal organism too, although how quite it achieved this no one is sure. Perhaps, if ever we may have invented a time machine... we could possibly send Darwin to study it, but until then... oh, and did I mention it was in the middle of this red carpeted room with giant bear plushies nearby? I never claimed this was some rational scenario, of course, there might have been one reasonable recent inscription, but even the fact plants say anything is bizarre, surely, and with a blue bipedal beetle and a red room with big bears... let us just say we do not normally perceive this as we casually do a usual situation, with a more uncanny valley type of feeling enveloping our minds... and of course, one wondered if this was always the status quo at the castle.Bookmark here

"It is, so, written, that fortitude is naught but might held in a pocket... but is it? Or are logically sound axioms merely uselessly... misled?" The beetle thus said, now besides the fact it can even talk in the first place... but then again, it is a huge walking insect, so talking is not exactly the most innovative thing when its very size implies the world inside the castle might have gone back in time to such an extent that even insects are the size of dinosaurs... besides that... what in the world did it say? Pax thought the random sentences before sounded strange, but this was beyond opaque surely, he thought, with Clemens agreeing... but apart from that, fortitude held in a pocket is might? Is that perhaps like saying patience is a virtue? But why would some gigantic bug say that? Have we gone through the looking glass? (Well, the two did technically look into a couple of mirrors before coming here...)Bookmark here

One also assumes that if this creature is not just saying any random thing for the sake of it, that "useless misled" is what we might end up being here, because over-analysing axioms, especially as said by some large, anthropoid critter, might be a bit useless... so let us continue...Bookmark here

"I am... so... terribly... sorry... what? Also, somewhat more relevantly... how could a creature such as yourself be able to converse as such? Am I even holding this conversation?" Pax did indeed say, but then again why he did not simply run away in fear of being eaten is a mystery...Bookmark here

"Bring me a wholeness and one shall know... for it is merely oppression that brings courage afore... or is thee recklessness? Why one ascribes intelligence to form is unknown..." What this means is, again, a mystery; but, that said, it is also unknown as to how such an evolved insect can say anything, so one shall be content with the fact that it is even being said, surely... however still, why not be misled, if so? I mean, this sentient being does seem to be merely comparing recklessness with courage, that much is for sure... then the latter half might possibly be a reference to the theory of mind? From an insect, though? Quite interesting, if so, quite...Bookmark here

"Wholeness...? You want something...? Is it around these parts? I can't quite make heads or tails of this... which is funny, considering you got both...?" Pax replied to the non-sequitur, puns asunder... how he managed to figure out that 'wholeness' is a 'thing' one does not know, though, for even I assumed it was some abstract notion... authored by a beetle.Bookmark here

"..." This was the simple non-response it gave thereafter every time one tried to speak with this otherworldly life once more, though. How it vocalized an ellipsis one is not sure.Bookmark here

"Nope, cryptic beetle here does not seem to want to talk... but maybe if we find something they could? Just possibly..." Pax confirmed with positive nonchalance.Bookmark here

By the way, the bears had some one-liners too... with the right next to the bug saying...
"Thou must not heed the one to the left!"
All well and good, except the one to the right of it, but left according to the viewer, said...
"Thou must not heed the one to the right!"
A bit confusing it must have been, especially after talking to a giant incoherent beetle, but the bear to the other side of it appropriately added in...
"Which direction is relative to perception, though...?"
Let us, thus, conclude that this is but a waste of time, for if not we might end up thinking like the last one, at the very end of the room, too...
"Am I dead or alive...?" And truly one might think one is dead, talking to insects and toy bears, what possibly might be next, a cognizant curtain? With these salient tinctures, perhaps...Bookmark here

There was also a lamp, but one would think this castle is sufficiently alight...
Bookmark here

"For within light, darkness
...externally bright, but hollow
...for who would wallow in such misery?"Bookmark here

Makes sense, I suppose? A lot of lights have a lot to say around here, it seems, Pax thought... a book was additionally available at the end of one of the tables (the rest were not reachable since the beetle, along with his cadre of teddies, blocked the way in...)Bookmark here

"It is but the confluence of both forces, of that which gives and that which takes, that enable all this. Why, one must ask, has every society ever needed a chair to sit when all else stands? Why, when in reality it contributed nothing to the overall result? Why, people need symbols, and like magic they are but distracted. This is how such small numbers have held out against much bigger majorities, through illusion. Why, even though Ares is aggressive, the populace prefer him over Apollo, for independence is as scary as the reality of unbounded chaos. This is why the vein of history is littered with contradictions, for where would we be without fear? Where would monarchs be without the insect of doubt?"Bookmark here

That was... intriguing, one must say. Who it was written by, though, it is not clear... presumably not a monarch? Unless it is one of those 'show and tell', although instead of an object there is society, and telling merely involves the psychological implications of such possibilities. It is, though, all theoretical, clearly... but the fact it is inside this castle must mean we are not possibly dealing with a completely insane person... or perhaps this was before the archetypes...?Bookmark here

Also, it is not entirely clear why Apollo is the contrast here, as he was not quite the absolute opposite of Ares (representative of war), as it seems Eirene would fit that definition (which, incidentally, would be the counterpart to Pax in Roman mythology, whose namesake now tries to find peace to this northern, far-flung region...) - one supposes, though, that Apollo is also about culture, and so away from raw brute force.Bookmark here

At any rate, the two decide to go upwards again, where they might possibly have some hope of finding whatever it is the strange beetle said was wanted (which was somehow an item disguising itself as a concept...?)Bookmark here

Back at the room where weapons were stored... and as it happened Pax did wonder if the monarch would notice if one of those were taken... alongside a quite solid-looking helmet, and golden armour, which made him question if gilded makes it any more durable... and also some kind of blue clothing with yellow extremities, which almost looked like the suit of a certain red-eyed fellow...Bookmark here

There were also some empty bottles... nothing to fill them up with, though... some brown sacks like before too, and moreover a helmet which looked like it had wings... so Pax naturally wondered if it could fly...Bookmark here

In the corner, however, lay a purple globe sort of thing, which almost looked like it was emanating raw evil, if that was at all possible...
"The glow, glows..." It so succinctly murmured... it, apparently, was an object called the Space Within, which from any other angle seemed to be exactly an item disguised as some sort of concept... and so, Pax wondered...
"Could this be what that... strangeness... wants...?"Bookmark here

It was, of course, a legitimate inquiry, and so the two headed back down below... but "..." was still all the creature could manage, before... nowhere it was to be found... as if it disappeared from the face of the world... so Pax went back up to check if the energy 'sword' (or miasma, one supposes, based on perception) was still there... it was not.Bookmark here

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