The Tale of An

The following is an early unedited chapter from Book Two of the Phantammeron, the dream-like section called the Anakrasitra.

The Dreaming Seas now slept in peace beside the ancient trees as in days of old when the elder forest was but a younger wood. Yet within the depths of that sad sea many woeful cries could yet be heard. For within her wide watery bosom had lain a sleeping beauty all her own, the daughter-of-the-seas named An.

This child of the waves the sleeping seas held closest to her heart and long had covetted, hiding An within her dreary depths since ancient days when An was cruelly taken by Agapor. Hearing the suffering cries of their daughter in deep despair the seas fell back upon themselves in rage. Towering waves then rushed in with a mighty force to hide An away forever after from the world. And so nevermore would she be freed of her cold prison.

In the darkest holds of the oceans deep where beds of sea-grass slowly sweep, in her house of glass the lonely dreamer would forever sleep. Like a precious pearl hidden in a clam the lonely maiden within her giant shell had made her restless bed. Entrapped by deep repose, enwrapped by her mother’s relentless tides, she yet held within her dreaming mind the countless faces of those who through this world would someday pass. For bathed in the dreary depths of those dreamy waters she was everafter bound to eternal rest.

But this child of the waves was gifted with great prophetic sight. For she was cursed to bear the tides and the fates of many. She had been granted the gift of divine omnipotence, of far-seeing visions, viewing with her prescient eye the woeful fates of those that would come to live and die in the lands beyond the shores. Her visions of the world’s living forever flashed before her dreaming mind until upon their death she saw that they would return to the sea’s cold embrace, once more.

For beneath that ocean realm lay the spiritual Land of the Dead called Avredd. Here the many spirits would came to rest within misty caverns and catacombs filled with the long departed. To this ghostly place would the many lifeless throng, their spirits winding their way through forbidden lands, following spirit-paths yet unknown that lead to the dying and the dead, until they should come before the forlorn beaches where pale ships await to take their souls away.

In her dreaming mind watched these solemn forms travelling in great throngs and rows through Time’s mighty halls, until passing through great gates of the dead they boarded ghostly ships of white whose oars the dead would scull until they found themselves upon the lonesome shores of Avredd. There the Immortal Clay, Lord of the Dead, would lead their racked and weary spirits to their beds of eternal rest until such time of their choosing they should reawaken, take new raiment of the living, and walk again.

In her endless slumber it seemed a thousand ages had passed before and after, seeing but only the lives of the living that would come to pass through life and death’s many doors. The sounds of their joyful voices caressed the shadowed walls of her darker mind, echoing the concordant songs of their happy lives as they plodded on through Fate’s narrow corridoors. An then hearkened to their laughter and their sorrow as she saw their countless tiny feet marching on through past lives generously lived and lost.

For that ocean-child saw the lives of the living as they would come to pass. Yet strangely she could not recognize their names, nor faces, nor forms.

More pronounced their fates had seemed to her with each passing ghost, appearing then disappearing in her mind within the haunting host. Then strangely they were born again into a world more beautiful than before until their final and tragic fall when they were shown to her no more. Lit from afar as by a searchlight, their living lights then faded in the shadows and were no more, never to be remembered upon that stage of life again in any memory but hers.

Yet as Time moved past the end of that sad play that she had seen, none would know but her its final scene. And so she wept for what had been and yet would be. But in her shadowed dreams born of vast and tragic destinies, An reached out to each child with loving arms, desiring to comfort and protect them from all harm, embrace them in the midst of their final fates, the many sad events of her mind’s mirrored eye that would someday come to pass.

Yet devoured by dream’s phantom mists their ghosts lasted but a moment more as their dying lights travelled down dream’s misty corridoor towards some cruel obilivion she could no longer follow. For the desires of dreams that pass before the longing eye are there but to lead us mercilessly on some lonely path through the hollows of our lives, driving us onward like a fleeing will-o’-the-wisp we long to grasp but never will, whose tempting lights dance just beyond the farthest hill.

An would remain cursed to keep that tragic host in her sleeping mind bestilled, knowing she would never touch nor know their loving faces still, nor their children’s children’s in the end. But this pained desire would be left unfulfilled. She then felt great sorrow at what she had seen and what would come to pass, crying for them beneath the rolling waves in her seplechure of glass. She then wrapped her draipery about her, holding her dreams closest to her in the shadows, fearing that which touched her heart would but melt away with the waking light of some cruel and callous day.

But the spirit of the Great Mother, she whose celestial seas fill the worlds between all worlds, had heard An’s mourning from afar, in a place beyond her own cosmic star having bathed in the Tears of the World long before. For like the Dreaming Seas that sad mother had also borne the many mournful waves that rise and fall upon sleepy tides born of endless woe, having heard the suffering of the Children of the World many times before.

From that All-Mother had come many previous worlds’ births and deaths, the endless fashioning of worlds without remorse or regret, their countless cyclings having no beginning nor end, timeless worlds birthed again and again from her endless tears. For she alone had borne all their tragic tides, washing clean again their dying dreams, this mother of the weeping oceans that yet sweeps all sorrows away.

Out of the watery womb of the world much had been birthed before from her, as life must come from death, the dust of countless millennia swept away by her immortal breath until breathed through of dreams again. For new life would be born from her ever-hopeful visions, dreams only she might fulfill and then unfashion as she wills.

For unconcious to all things, the timeless mother in her sleep had always known of those mournful destinies, of future lives now lost, knowing all-time all at once, bearing witness to the sad fates of the many in but a single solemn glance. For though a spirit eternal she was not blinded by the bliss of being, weary of the infinite cycle of life and death. Nor was she free from the endless sorrow and suffering of the living, joyless at the birth of new beginnings, nor heartbroken by the destinies of the children she could never help nor hold.

And so at the calling of An’s deep sorrow had the Great Mother’s gentle heart now awakened, its waters flowing forth from the Sea of Eternity upon which her spirit rides, filled with compassionate currents and swept by loving tides to guide this daughter-of-the-seas now trapped in endless woe, soothing the sleeping sea-maiden in her time of great heartache and deep sorrow.

The Great Mother then bestowed upon An a gift beyond prophetic sight. Like a dream within a dream, from the first mother to the second, thus was granted the will to fashion a timeless Tapestry of Fate upon which she would forever weave the countless lives she had seen. Wrapping its tragic cloth about the waning world its Children born of dreams would at last awaken. And so was granted to her power over the fates of the spirits yet unborn through the turning of her tragic and timeless wheels. 

“It shall be if you but will it”, she whispered to the sleeping child beneath the sea. An from dreams then awakened and knew by her wise words what she had conceived in dying dreams and fading ghosts was that which her heart desired most. And so she cried with the joy that only comes from The Primal Creation, seeing the dying night of her dark dreams give way at last to the light of her heart’s joy now awakened.

To An through visions had thus been granted stewardship over the world’s countless spirits, setting their lives as she so desired upon her loom. Through the weaving of the fated yarns which she now guided and the spinning of her ever-turning and churning Wheels of Time, she now held in her tiny hands the power of life she now fully granted. For the Spirit Divine was but the golden thread that she now sewed. And her children’s lives now forged by the Creative Flame was yet fashioned in flesh’s fleeting fires, forming the colorful pattern upon which it would now be sown.

She then took her loving gift and wove from her mind’s vast imaginings the fates of Phantaia’s unnumbered children upon an empty loom, weaving the futures of many that would live and die within the wider world that now before her loomed. She then made real their precious lives as she had seen in vivid dreams unchanged, until all those threads merged as one to fashion her majestic cloth now complete.

But An desired that these blessed children she had seen should not die in vain but enter this world pure in purpose and with courageous heart, meeting fate as they should will it. And so she sought to give each life the power to hope and dream as she. And so with threads yet unsown she so willed they should weave a part of their own lives upon her loom as they should will it, and by freest will to turn but a piece of their futures upon the wheel of time, facing what destiny might give them, one that only they might dare to fully fashion.

The dreaming mother born of timeless tides thus knew all the threads of lives upon her wondrous loom and the final world’s collective will that would be made. Yet within it lay many mysteries yet untold whose trailing yarns were yet unsown until the end of days when they should at last be known. For she by choice could not know all things nor all destinies, nor see what lay beyond this world’s misty gulf and the many world’s beyond.

For those no longer born unto this world of dreams must in the end like the world itself pass through some new dream of death and beyond to yet other seas and even stranger destinies. For we all must travel on to some undiscovered country no one with prophetic sight might see or dare to tell, but which the Creator alone should know. And yet the only truth that stands before the Almighty in this world and all others is that all things that begin must also someday end.

With courage and hope An’s silver fingers beneath the sea sublime began to guide the first silver threads that spun as she turned her great wheel within the ocean brine. A tiny fabric was then formed beneath the sea, the beginning of her wondrous tapestry, a living destiny born of both time and tide. Upon its colorful cloth was then revealed to her the many tangled yarns that the living alone must choose, yet that which would later entomb them all within some grander design that would haunt them still.

This daughter-of-the-seas then sublimely fashioned the last heroic spirits of the world, those whose great destiny would but dare to turn the tide of love and war. For she so desired that they be known by both the living and the dead for their great deeds so that in the end-of-days their noble spirits long after the world’s demise would gather as one upon some solemn shore and through their shared suffering finally see the full sacrifice of their lives and the true bliss of the world they alone had forged. Yet would the gift of the courage to change it remain theirs alone.

An then saw with bittersweet joy what peace and war, love and hate, beauty and horror her hands had sown. For though splendid was the miraculous quilt that An had woven, tragic and tangled was its many fated patterns as it lay like a pall upon the corpse of the world. And so was finally set the hidden glory of this world, the long story of its many struggles, and the desperate longing to be free for the many yet unborn.

An’s tears of joy then shined out upon the ocean floor as shining pearls for the nighttime skies to behold. For its majesty was more than she could bear to hold. The Great Mother whose spirit dwells far beyond this world then looked down through the groaning depths and viewed those ocean-pearls as upon a sky filled with many twinkling stars, reading in them many blessed signs, knowing by those tears An’s love for the world was at last made whole.

– the Author

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