Fragment 72

The gate soon shut once more against the crypt of the Paper God and its unresting dead. Then up, up along a relentlessly steep stair redolent with chalk and the sour sweetness of unknowable antiquity.

For the first long while of their ascent, the stair is a straight, sharp arrow rising from the deep. 

It then gradually begins to bend along its course, at last into the shape of an upward driving screw, pushing through layers and ages of inharmoniously mingled architecture, as they move at last into the underbelly of the Gate of Candles

Creaks, shuffles and echoes of voices soon seep into the constricted space. 

The scent of savoriness, spices and earthy, baked bread.

Laughter, weeping, cajoling, calling. 

As though the multitude of a village kept a mere handsbreadth beyond the confining black.

They wend upwards, Pyna’s naked footfalls easy and hushed as that of a wandering spirit. 

Umin on the other hand, is unceasingly wary of every scuffle and scratch, as they pass over stone, mortar, gypsum and well-worn woods in sundry states of dilapidation and worm-rot. 

An hour of tedious turns, and the enwombing spiral’s composition changes at last to the smooth and stygian-stained, iron-nailed and bolted woodcraft so common across the upper berths of the Gate as seen from afar and below.

Pyna soon pauses and turns. In a moment donning her peculiar wimple and accompanying veil, all of the same dappled onyx and silken cerulean.

Secret now

There are many

Houses here

Some who


Father more

Some much


Umin presses the frost-light into his pocket and the stairwell darkens as he slips deeper into cowl and concealing crease.

Though he frowns inwardly. 

Wondering how such a strange and distinct personage as his companion, might possibly move unremarked upon, and unaccosted, idly through any throng of folk, large or small.

And what manner of throng awaited them beyond, within the inner rounds of the great Gate was as yet a tantalizing and uncertain concern.

Grasping his hand, her fingers like cool alabaster made supple tissue. Pyna leads Umin unerringly through a blind passage, his footfalls soft. Reverberating timidly through the pitchy, sightless void.

Pyna halts.

For a moment there is nothing but the suspension of breath. Two bodiless apparitions hanging in the velvety underbelly of everlasting Old Night.

A seam of quick and warm brightness soon splits the saturnine space, then widens and parts as Pyna presses through a low postern-like panel.

The air of a sudden steeped in the beguiling spice and fetor of peopled feast-halls, turgid with the sumptuous murmur of distant voices in assemblage.

The sound exquisitely dulled by ancient wood, unseamed and onyx-black, of the hall into which they emerge. 

It is lit by a syrupy amber radiance that runs from cupped lanterns of worked cast-iron. 

Baroque and abundant with portrayals of beast and bird of the Above in masterful silver emboss.

Pyna shuts the panel. The secret closet now sealed behind woodcraft so perfect in its molding. Unseeable by any idle passersby.

She scans the immediately empty space, then moves towards the ocean of voices.

Which grow and swell with the tumultuous discord and accord of any commons one might enter into, at the heart of Inn or Waystation in either the Above or the Below. 

A sharp turn, and there is a wide and welcoming arch from which the tide of voices tumbles, carved in curious patterns above a parquetry of swirling pitch and ochre.

The way guarded by watchful sentries robed in the muted and loose cloth common to the Lower Houses. These in particular patterned with the white gold of Meshmin.

With a measuring breath, Pyna imbibes the bespiced and listless air.

Her savouring sigh is sensual. A gourmand of pungencies and perfumes.

Love, the

Court of

Meshmin all




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Jay Lonnquist
Jay Lonnquist

Poet / Designer / Developer / Coder

Storytelling, in Paragraph Proportions
Storytelling, in Paragraph Proportions

A dark, fantastical tale that is intended to unfold a paragraph, or thereabouts, at a time.

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