I arrived in the great Sanctuary City, the city of legends, Villjamur, and it is most claustrophobic. People drifted about with their heads down low among shit-sodden streets. They navigated islands of ice. There was little joy to be found in the old, winding lanes, and once one saw past the veneer there beat a heart of darkness.
After speaking to Fulcrom, I took lodgings in an innocuous hotel at the base of the city. There were no other guests to my knowledge, and my small, sparsely furnished quarters seem perfectly located – the back of the building, with no other windows looking on mine. From here, one could see the street below and for some considerable distance any lines of approach to the building.
Finally I once again commenced the evening rituals after so long a gap.
I locked the door of my room. A rapid pulse revealing my nerves, sweat trickling down my neck, I set several candles around the fire, with certain powders arranged in neat, spaced and intricate piles, as the Book denotes. I unwrapped it, laid before me on the floor my copy of The Book of Transformations, and lined up the pages of woodcuts and made the appropriate offerings.
I bathed in warm, yellow light, I read aloud the script that only I can discern.
I am his prot'eg'e and apostle. I am the only one who has solved His questions thus far. He said He had found me, altered the elements of the world so that I would find the first book, buried at the heart of Regin Abbey. A man who could read the scripts of old was required to be worthy enough for blessings from the real God, the real Creator and I am that man. I am His chosen one. He came to me, almost two years to the day, in that distant corner of Regin Abbey, in that hidden room, where I was the first to walk in thousands of years . . . Oh how his presence warmed my bones and rekindled my spirit.
He came to me first as a dream, then a ghost, then something more. After I was translating one particular ancient text, something seemed to happen to me: whether or not something existed within the lines of that book to cause a momentary trance, I will never know, but it felt as if I had lost a day in my mind. I thought I was going mad. Then I felt an urge to explore further books within the library. My dreams guided me, and then He made himself known to me. His words, which were present directly within my head rather than through my ears, were like nectar. I felt instincts and urges to head to barren regions in the library in Regin Abbey, through storerooms and secret rooms until I stumbled into a room I later discovered was for banned texts. There The Book of Transformations was to be located. I studied it for days. I was not born for such a destiny, He told me, I earned it through my assiduous nature.
At the time I was not aware of the power of the Book. It was mysterious and frustrating, though I could fathom few of its secrets. I discovered more and eventually found that with this book I could communicate with Frater Mercury. He then guided me to discover the secret history of the Boreal Archipelago, the many thousands of years of lies.
If I was to be His tool for greater things then so be it. I would find His other book and remake Him here, as He wished.
With The Book of Transformations in my hands earlier today, I spoke to Frater Mercury.
It had been weeks since I was able to open the channels of communication and He seemed most annoyed at first, because I used methods that were not fully approved, but I managed to calm Him, and reassure Him. I asked Him – or His hazy, smoky form – of His requirements, if He could offer any further guidance, and what the situation was now like in His own world.
He said terrible things would happen, were happening, and would be made worse if I didn’t help Him. The situation was clear. The other race, Pithicus (our corruption of the word Akhaio'i) are stationed outside His city, and sent someone back into our world. The enemy had done things to this figure, transformed him beyond recognition, and sent him on a path here – to Villjamur. The Pithicus had become a devastating force: they had caused more deaths than he could count; more than He can regenerate. His civilization of the Dawnir – those we once thought to be our gods – had to resettle in the Boreal Archipelago, the land in which many of their ancestors were born, as soon as was possible.
There seemed very little left for them in their world.
Frater Mercury asked for me to continue with the plan of recovery. He wants to return to the land from which he was exiled, so he may open the way for the Dawnir. He wants to renew his science, to begin again and to bring His creations with Him.
I still needed to know where the other book is to be found, but His knowledge of the city is vastly outdated, and I must rely upon Fulcrom’s advice. What was here in His time was a different city, one now demolished and scattered to the winds, built again, then again, until Vilhallan and then Villjamur swelled up from the remains.
His maps are meaningless now. It is up to me to find the book, in a city of which I have no knowledge, where a church figure may or may not be hunting me, preventing me from returning him—
A disturbance. I knew they were coming, and it was more than just my paranoia.
Below my window was one of their abominations, a nephilim. It was a smaller one designed so as to cause no stir in the city, and for all I know it could well have been one from the very tombs under Regin Abbey. The creature loitered there, in the sleet, hunched in its wax coat, while all around it people carried lanterns that forced harsh shadows across the street. The demon must have been able to sense me, having hunted me across the Archipelago, so I used a text from the Book to create an aura of invisibility around my window, and I saw it looking up at me, with skin so old the thing appeared as if it was almost made of bone. The dark holes of its eye sockets then regarded something else along the street, and then it lumbered away. Though I know I could avoid its clutches, the very sight of this abomination sent a deep fear into my heart.
The church will stop at nothing until I am dead. I have to hurry and locate the mirror copy of The Book of Transformations, and only then can I bring Frater Mercury into this world, for it is clear He is the real Creator. He has to return. He has to put right the histories that were overwritten with a false mishmash of tribal gibberish.
Oh, my faith has been shaken to the core. Much of the Jorsalir teachings were not based on histories but on real practice, and those exercises – meditations and the likes – were still valuable to me. But right then, I didn’t believe I could ever be at peace. I found it insurmountable to describe to anyone what it was like to have one’s beliefs gradually evaporate before one’s eyes. All those years of learning, of routine, of praying . . . and it was misguided – not wrong, but channelled in the wrong way. Given all that I’d learnt, how could I preach when no one will believe me?
Only Frater Mercury can put the world right again. I need Him to provide real truth. The world deserves to know the truth.
My search for the book continues.