Experiments in Ontological Relativism

and Other Brain Farts

The Tour, part 1

Posted by Jason on August 5, 2008

It is said among the scholars and those who know the secret ways of the world that in the third year of his regime, the Tyrant embarked on a grand tour of all the world, proclaiming that he might lay his eyes upon all the lands which now cowered and fell prostrate at his every whisper.  Some say he was borne on a litter a hundred feet long, adorned with gold and encrusted with the Jewels of the Terra, carried by a thousand northern slaves whose straining muscles rippled and tore beneath grey skin. Others hiss in urgent tones that he walked alone, robed only in the bleached-bone white and glistening silver of the ancient travelers, his face masked in mirror, lest any look on his pitiless countenance and wail for their souls.

No matter the mod of his transportation, all the tales agree that he went first to his own monument, the Shrine of the Tyrant Inviolate, which lies at the exact center of the Hallowed Crater of Olethric Tears as determined by the Sixty-Seven Sages of the Blind Illumination. Each Sage, the old men say, stretched across the fathoms of that vast gulf a filament of diamond, diaphanous and coruscant in the grey starlight, and, marking the place where the sixty-eight strands crossed, tore out the eyes of a mad prophet and buried them on that spot, staring ever upward into the night, so that the Sixty-Seven became Sixty-Eight. There the people of the Fields of Lost Innocence had erected an image of the Tyrant, sculpted in burnished alloys the arcane secrets of whose production no living man now knows, yet for which the people brought thousands of ancestral idols to the melting pot, that their efforts might appease the cruel wrath of the Tyrant.

The gleaming totem rose ninety-nine fathoms, from the pebbled soles of the Tyrant’s emerald-crusted sandals to the loftiest wisp of his gold hair, each strand of which was hand-spun by the matriarchs of Lost Innocence from heirlooms already old before men set foot in this world. The Tyrant came upon this wonder slowly, seeing it first as a fiery star on the horizon, then growing to a pillar of radiance, then taking the shape of a man with face upturned. One hand of the colossus pointed a single extended finger toward the barren rocks at its feet; the other was raised before the giant’s heart, palm outward, fingers rigid.

The Tyrant stared at his image in silence for uncounted hundreds of breaths, taking in the sublime craftsmanship, the cornucopia of detail, from the streams of quicksilver inlaid in the whorls of the fingertips to each shimmering fold of his garments to the ridges of asymmetric sinew on his feet.  He took in the deep lines of the upturned face, bathed half in the shining light of the Terra, and half shrouded in velvet darkness. He stared in rapt fascination at the smooth brow, the dramatic aquiline sweep of the nose, the lips just barely parted as if about to pronounce the fate of unnumbered multitudes, the harsh curve of the jaw, and the deep, inset eyes, where an eternal flame burned and flashed behind each diamond lens, casting an ominous, malicious gaze upon the heavens.

And the Tyrant turned away, unmoved.

That night, the people of the Plain of Lost Innocence slept soundly, wrapped in rough brown homespun fabrics, laying shoulder-to-shoulder on mats worn thin by generations of turbulent dreamers. They slumbered peacefully, without sound, without movement, as if an artist of supreme skill had sculpted a city of somnolence. Just as they lie still to this day.

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