Every point in time has its alternative. Therefore there must be an alternative time in which Ol-Rasta, Silver Marquise, did not uplift Vera Ilermalken. It would be edifying to peer into that alternative time and consider how our noosphere and that diverge; through this divination we might determine the ultimate impact Vera Ilermalken has had upon our noosphere. Sadly it is beyond our current powers to peer thus into the Pelagic sea. We are bounded by the Celestial Firmament, and while surely we could push aside the veil of lies whom we named the Smelter of Souls, to do so would rend this noosphere and release its taint into the Pelagic sea. Truly, it is not beyond us to in an instant restore the veil of lies, but during that instant the Most High surely would detect the massive rocking of the Celestial Firmament and probe its reaches. We cannot risk even a single drop of the taint poisoning the Pelagic sea.
Therefore logic, foresight, and rationality must be our tools. As our opposition in the Warpless Circle neither rest nor fold, neither can we. With diligence we consider Vera Ilermalken’s life, the actions she has taken, and in the fires of enthusiasm we rededicate ourselves to the great task of analysis. Let us act, each in turn, upon a single facet of her.
THE FIRST SAGE: ABLE
Once long ago when the world was new there was a city of bone called Op-Rendo, and in that city of bones there was a tower, and in that tower there were three and ninety throne rooms, and on each throne room was a demon who traded life for power. And the seventeenth throne room held the wisest and most ruthless of the demons, who was called the Silver Marquise for her families’ fortunes had in the distant past come from a rich silver mine.
In those days time sat heavy on the minds of the living and the dead, and all of them looked to the future and wondered what tomorrow would do to their city of bones and their silver jewelry and their silken robes and their long languid talks spread on purple sofas sipping wine. And on no one’s mind did time sit more heavy than the Silver Marquise.
“How shall I endure?” asked the Silver Marquise. “My works fade and crumble with time; even the finest of my mills is but a mere material thing, and all material things shall one day sink into the sea.”
In those days there were rememberers, who went through the world and saw everything in it and recorded what they saw, and from the minds of the living and the dead they decanted memories and inhumed them in stone. “Tell us your secrets,” said the rememberers, “and we will preserve them for ever.”
But the Silver Marquise did not trust the rememberers, for well she knew that the hands who steer the ship of state likewise steer the rememberers in their arts, and many great works entrusted to their memory-stones had been mislaid or downplayed within her own experience. The Silver Marquise knew too well the frail hold civilization had on the city of bone and the gleaming island-empire over which it ruled.
“I will build my own stones of memory,” she told them, “that way I can be sure the job is done right.”
For nine months she toiled, the demon in her workshop, sculpting memories and giving them shape. From the blood of a slave and the ashes of a censored textbook the Silver Marquise built her legacy, a scaffolding for her memories and knowledge to root forever within. Shame, guilt, skill, lust, and wisdom the Silver Marquise poured forth in equal measure, and when she was done her scaffolding shook and breathed and blinked in the cold air of the city of bones called Op-Rendo.
But the Silver Marquise’s triumph was her failure, for her vison exceeded even her tremendous demon’s grasp: the scaffolding was flawed, and in an instant a fraction of the thoughts and sins trapped within it boiled away, leaving behind a woman with the mind of a child and feet that would not reach the floor.
The woman-child sobbed, for the pain the Silver Marquise had inflicted by making her, until the Silver Marquise fed her curdled milk and breadcrusts and raisins. The woman-child screamed, for the holes in her mind that the Silver Marquise had gouged by making her, until the Silver Marquise fed her arithmetic and analytical geometry. The woman-childed howled, for the fear that the Silver Marquis had instilled in her, until the Silver Marquise wrapped her in a sheet and pushed her out into the city of bone.
And this is not the story of Vera Ilermalken.
THE SECOND SAGE: REACTION
Once long ago when the world was new there was a city of bone called Op-Rendo, and in that city of bones there was a theater, and in that theater there were five and twenty actors, and none of them could write for a damn. One of those actors, the one who wrote least poorly, was Imhulf, and he was unhappy.
And he met a woman who, barring tragedy, would live forever, and she asked him why he was unhappy. “Because every day I must learn something, or I will die,” she explained.
“That is odd,” said Imhulf.
“I am very odd,” agreed the woman, “and unique besides. But these are things I know.”
“What is your name?” asked Imhulf.
“I know the answer to that question,” said the woman. “What is yours?”
“My name is Imhulf,” said Imhulf, who was overwhelmed by the woman’s forthright demeanor. “Actually, that’s a lie.” He told her his real name.
The woman seduced Imhulf effortlessly, and in time she introduced him to her mother, and her mother agreed to act as his sponsor, although he could not write for a damn. With the proper patron, Imhulf’s star rose and grew, and he remained unhappy, and his plays became more meloncholy and melodramatic, and he was hailed as a greater and greater genius, until the demands of art overtook him and he attempted to take his own life. And the woman saw her folly in lifting Imhulf so far and so fast, and regreted her rash deeds, and she made him a genius.
And this is not the story of Vera Ilermalken.
THE THIRD SAGE: DISSENT
Once long ago when the world was new there was a city of bone called Op-Rendo, and in that city there was a temporary crisis, and for the duration of that crisis civil authority was placed in the
(Here the document ends abruptly. Knowledge of this document’s existence is a capital crime. Soon you will die.)
SEE ALSO: Immerstadt the Prolific, Ol-Rasta the Silver Marquise, Quodiron, the Smelter of Souls, the Warpless Circle