The first stroke fell on air, cutting an ocean from out of the sky.
The second stroke tore across water, carving a shoreline without beginning and end.
The third stroke sculpted the earth, arranging forms from an infinite variety.
The fourth stroke ignited into fire, imbuing spirits with movement and life.
The final stroke pierced through time, resetting the world for a new brush to try.
Climbing up the slopes of an unnamed mountain, I encounter in the many centuries of my travels the first glimpse of life. Well to call what I saw life would be an understatement for at the edge of my vision, on the highest peak amidst the endless barren mountain ranges, stood the ruins of a castle. Strange as to why a castle would be placed so high up and inaccessible from the world below. More strange that such a castle could never see beyond the thick smoke of the arctic chill that circulated below. Perhaps the Makers have placed it here to study the heavens for no living body would be closer. As I fathom these circumstances, I find myself unwittingly drawn towards the summit, attracted to the possibility of uncovering who the Makers are. After all, we only have fragments of our historic past and the predecessors of old.
As I near these ancient stomping grounds at dusk, the nocturnal chill sweeps over me yet I don’t feel as cold. Anticipation warms the soul I thought for it pointed me a direction in these long months of solitude. The towering gates lie ahead only to be eclipsed by the wash of star light that blankets the frozen walls. I pass through a crack in these once formidable walls and enter its great halls. Darkness enveloped me but didn’t raise any sense of unease. Lighting a torch, only the hardened ground beneath revealed its substance. How vast a hall that no man can see neither beginnings nor ends! I announce my presence with a universal greeting but no voice resounded as if it lost itself within. Such a space could hardly be considered a space at all for it lacks any points of reference beyond the star-lit crack. Refusing to accept such a contradiction, I begin the trek into the beyond.
. . .
It has been several weeks of walking and I’ve encountered nothing but my own presence; I see only the ground in front of me, hear the sound of my own breathing, taste the dry roof of my mouth, and smell the scent of my own perspiration. The moon-lit crack has long disappeared and I begin to fear that I’m walking in circles. My torch is about to give out and I contemplate my ensuing predicaments. Are there no signs of life beyond the reach of my gaze? Can I find a way back to the crack or will I discover a new entrance? Will I remain trapped in this castle and forever confined to my own frame of reference?
. . .
The torch breathes its last breath and fizzles into ash. In the following months of pacing, I keep myself occupied by recreating centuries of the past after the great extinction. I imagine what I could stumble upon in the present, hoping to trip over smallest of pebbles. I fabricate entire worlds that could exist elsewhere in a distant galaxy. The pitch darkness that conspired to put me in despair had the opposite effect for it sharpened my mind’s eye and enabled visions as clear as day. Most remarkable are the various characters that now littered what was once empty space. As their lives grew larger and their narratives complex, I find my own beginning to diminish. The once singular frame of reference has multiplied into a million fragments of interactions. At last, I finally understood who the Makers were as all those who learned how to forget.