All posts by the Gent

Koan for the Weak

I am being haunted by a terrible vision—although it feels familiar to these bones, I don’t trust myself the talent to convey it. I feel as if I am on the verge of a discovery that will ring in the long awaited Re-establishment, but the image and meaning are transitory: just as the words begin to form they’re swept away in a tempest of ash. It is my duty to forewarn the Communitas, but I am unable to mold the message.

I spent a great number of days crafting a plan to circumvent that terrible phantom. I resolved to consult the remains of the Archives of the Common History that I had liberated from that Degenerate Duke one frenzied spring evening. I cringed at the thought—I hadn’t ventured into the corridors of this monstrous ship since being warned off my explorations—going back into the lower decks was a distressing thought, but I must find a way to make the illusionary whole. I must snatch reality from fog. I must make the diaspora understand what is at stake.

I gathered my courage and sat off in search of the hold. At length I found my way to the trunks which I hadn’t set eye upon since that whirling escape from the heart of that Mad Empire. Pursued by the cackling howls of the Minions for nearly a fortnight, I fought my way through untamed forests and immense cities. Everyone I met along the way was as crazed and monstrous as the Duke himself; Mr. Freud built for himself a sick land. I tried to blend in, tried to hide in plain sight. I tried to disguise my discomfort, but at every turn I was unmasked as a heretic.

I made it aboard this renegade steamer with but my life and what remained of a once great archive. That was a lifetime ago. A life that I can barely take account of—save for brief flashes of bloody lips, either laughing or snarling, which I cannot tell. Save for a tumbling goblet of red wine. A bejeweled hand dangling from a decadent throne. Tattered velvet over broken glass. A winding road. And disgrace. Madness. Escape and Freedom. A freedom which would later be reveled to be anything but. Allow me this singular weakness, and forgive me it as the disheveled rambling of the downtrodden—I cannot help but wonder if the Duke was right.

From the darkness of the tramp steamer’s hold I was seized by another memory. My most favored recollection, the only one I trust. This is the only event of which I am sure: We met. After an extended period of misgivings and second-guesses, we met. We met in the Great Library—with its formidable walls that radiate darkness in the same mysterious manner that you radiate joy. You couldn’t have known this at the time—but in hindsight, I have come to realize you did suspect—I sought you out. I conjured you from the darkness. There, amongst the stacks, and nooks, and endless shelves, I created you. From nothing more than my own dreadful desire and need, I willed you into that translucent vault. I sought to make amends for my terrible actions—and in return received if not forgiveness, then remission. The terrible weight that had been with me all that time suddenly crumbled, and what remained was easily sloughed off. As things go, it was sometime later before I realized that in my uncertain agitation I had failed to complete my mission. I failed to let it be known that even if we should never meet again the world feels less lonely knowing you’re in it.

These memories are meaningless of course. And I’m unsure of the validity of the better part of them. But they fuel my commitment. If I could escape, or even only imagine escaping the Empire; if I could conjure an old friend from the deep; then surely I can find something to abide my understanding—some document that transcends my inability to catch a shadow. Just as I summoned you, I will summon a proclarative map. There must be one—In the long history of the ‘gentsia, someone must have documented this Tormentor. My plan is simply: I shall will into existence a map that will make firm my vision; which will allow me to share it with my gentle comrades.

Aye, but it has been a most terrible night filled with memories to horrific to recollect, and memories too joyful to accept. I must rest and regain my strength before I tackle those trunks.

I spent a great number of days crafting a plan to circumvent that terrible phantom. I resolved to consult the remains of the Archives of the Common History that I had liberated from that Degenerate Duke one frenzied spring evening. I cringed at the thought—I hadn’t ventured into the corridors of this monstrous ship since being warned off my explorations—going back into the lower decks was a distressing thought, but I must find a way to make the illusionary whole. I must snatch reality from fog. I must make the diaspora understand what is at stake.

I gathered my courage and sat off in search of the hold. At length I found my way to the trunks which I hadn’t set eye upon since that whirling escape from the heart of that Mad Empire. Pursued by the cackling howls of the Minions for nearly a fortnight, I fought my way through untamed forests and immense cities. Everyone I met along the way was as crazed and monstrous as the Duke himself; Mr. Freud built for himself a sick land. I tried to blend in, tried to hide in plain sight. I tried to disguise my discomfort, but at every turn I was unmasked as a heretic.

I made it aboard this renegade steamer with but my life and what remained of a once great archive. That was a lifetime ago. A life that I can barely take account of—save for brief flashes of bloody lips, either laughing or snarling, which I cannot tell. Save for a tumbling goblet of red wine. A bejeweled hand dangling from a decadent throne. Tattered velvet over broken glass. A winding road. And disgrace. Madness. Escape and Freedom. A freedom which would later be reveled to be anything but. Allow me this singular weakness, and forgive me it as the disheveled rambling of the downtrodden—I cannot help but wonder if the Duke was right.

From the darkness of the tramp steamer’s hold I was seized by another memory. My most favored recollection, the only one I trust. This is the only event of which I am sure: We met. After an extended period of misgivings and second-guesses, we met. We met in the Great Library—with its formidable walls that radiate darkness in the same mysterious manner that you radiate joy. You couldn’t have known this at the time—but in hindsight, I have come to realize you did suspect—I sought you out. I conjured you from the darkness. There, amongst the stacks, and nooks, and endless shelves, I created you. From nothing more than my own dreadful desire and need, I willed you into that translucent vault. I sought to make amends for my terrible actions—and in return received if not forgiveness, then remission. The terrible weight that had been with me all that time suddenly crumbled, and what remained was easily sloughed off. As things go, it was sometime later before I realized that in my uncertain agitation I had failed to complete my mission. I failed to let it be known that even if we should never meet again the world feels less lonely knowing you’re in it.

These memories are meaningless of course. And I’m unsure of the validity of the better part of them. But they fuel my commitment. If I could escape, or even only imagine escaping the Empire; if I could conjure an old friend from the deep; then surely I can find something to abide my understanding—some document that transcends my inability to catch a shadow. Just as I summoned you, I will summon a proclarative map. There must be one—In the long history of the ‘gentsia, someone must have documented this Tormentor. My plan is simply: I shall will into existence a map that will make firm my vision; which will allow me to share it with my gentle comrades.

Aye, but it has been a most terrible night filled with memories to horrific to recollect, and memories too joyful to accept. I must rest and regain my strength before I tackle those trunks.

The Revelation of Eldridge Gent

In my time trapped in limbo aboard that unfavorable Antelope with the duly respected Captain, I grew increasingly disconsolate and listless. Rage built up like steam in an over-stoked boiler until I could no longer sustain my unfocused fury. Off balance and in a spiral of despair, I was consumed in the conflagration of the frenzied firebox. The boiler split open scalding skin and ripping flesh from bone.

There was a time of great hunger, and darkness, and isolation. I searched my inner recesses and scourged the walls of my prison seeking escape or absolution. In my time of most dire dread and—when God was supposed to have appeared with offerings of reassurance and solace—there was no succor to be had.

Pled out and despondent, surrounded by empty bottles—as I was drinking straight from the bottle like an unregenerate sot, I thumbed through the brittle pages of my memory in search of any painless recollection that I could use as an anchor for an excuse to resist the rash act.

In that lonely silence I heard a slight murmuring of familiarity. I caught my breath and the gasp scared away the apparition. There was something beguiling about that forgotten whisper, something needed, or perhaps just curious—whatever the reason, I was intrigued. I had to lure it back. I willed my body to ignore its need for breath. I counted the seconds. By the time I had lost count my face burned and my eyes strained with pressure and tears. I imagined I was possessed by Yanluo.

I scowled and shook and strained. I felt the world give way. And there was the whisper. A rustling of leaves and a crunching of snow. I had to track it without motion or breath, like a desperate hunter hiding in a blind fearful of scaring off the prey.

The muffled whisper grew louder and sharper. I could see it now as gathering smoke. The smoke emanated from every corner of the cell, from the ceiling and the floor. The diffuse darkness flowed together in chaotic knots, it’s filaments weaving around one another until some critical mass was reached and it took on weight and solidity. Enraptured and enraged I clutched at it but its solidness was but illusion and the smoke swirled about taunting me. I lashed out in a furor and was rewarded for my ire; I caught hold of something ineffable but definite. And there, as the sun faded over a darkened wood, stood a snarling nymph—brunette of hair and eyes as dark as the sea.

Standing slack and shocked I recalled that I had never wanted to bare witness to her cold cruelty again, but something kept calling me back. I couldn’t make sense of these phantom memories. Were they real, could I possibly have known this baleful beast? Meanwhile she appeared equally as shocked, as if the prey she pursued was unknown yet familiar. She ignored my commands and pleas for answers. She kept still in silence gazing at me with those haunted eyes. She wiped a tear from her eye and reached it towards me and fled the other way.

I gave chase. In an unfamiliar world I bounded down hills strewn with rocks; pulled my young body up muddy raises; tripped over roots while branches whipped my raw face.

Around a bend of a rocky trail on the side of a mountain with my feet slipping out from under me, and rocks slicing into my knees she let me catch her. And when I did, I pinned her down. I kneeled on her arms and gripped her throat. She was either smiling or sneering, laughing or taunting. I was unaffected by her disjointed and ambivalent emotions. I forced her to tell me her secrets.

“In the beginning,” she gasped, I loosened up my grip, “there was the Word…”

I was shooken and collapsed into a heap of boneless flesh as the words echoed in the void, pierced my ears and cut my flesh.

“and the Word…”

There was a great squall and the world roared away as she stood over my sorrowful body. Through bloody lips she could barely discern me sob “was with God.”

I reached out to her and she vanished. I was back in my torturous isolation, back aboard the menacing Antelope, surrounded by shattered bottles and hate. But, I was now in possession of something comforting. Oh, it was neither salvation nor redemption, but something bleaker. I held with me the echo of a power that can save us all.

A Gentle Tale

My Dear Bel, I wish I could report this is the end of times, but unfortunately it seems to be just the beginning.

I have long meditated on how I got here, and how you there. Alone without hope, without championship, without the specter of escape.

All I can figure is I am the brunt of some cosmic joke, a high conspiracy designed by some sick and tormented soul that draws its only pleasure through my suffering.

If I had the power I would make them pay, I would have them live one day here, in this hell, in my stead. For surely, one day would be all it takes to break the most resolute. One day would be my revenge.

Now, if you will excuse me, and possibly forgive me, I have plans to conjure.

I look forward to seeing you. It will be my one solace in this life. An hour with you, be it asking too much, is all that’s left to hope for.

Yours, 
 
Eldridge

The Engines of the World

My Dearest Beltran,

How deeply I miss you. I have been stranded on the seemingly unmovable Leroux for what I estimate to be nearly an eternity. Being forsaken on this bulk, more-or-less alone, has gotten the better of me. The only other living soul aboard is the Illustrious Captain whom I am having to avoid due to a subtle miscalculation and miscommunication on my behalf. Therefore, having little else to occupy my mind durning this ever extending stay I have taken to exploring the labyrinthine corridors and halls—which, for good or ill, have come to encompass the entirety of my existence.

My most recent adventure left me adrift in a sea of memories of you—your curious passion for the inexplicable, the chaotic, and the magical. All of which I had the great misfortune of discovering on my latest expedition when I stumbled upon the most disagreeable—I suspect you would find charming—spectacle within living memory.

How I longed to have you at my side, me Dear Bel, to help me make sense of the mysteries that, while well lit and autoptically revealed, made no rational sense. I recall watching the wonders of your city as you explained the sublime inner-workings of all manner of technological wonder. I am lost without you my Dear Friend.

At some point as I wandered along the abandoned and never-ending corridors I ventured down an unspecified section between the unending and never-was where I came upon a perfectly ordinary and unadorned doorway that gave no hints, whatsoever, as to what was to lie beyond its threshold. You well know how I feel about doors.

In keeping with that most basic and fundamental philosophical outlook—that nothing is as it seems—my curiosity was piqued and unfortunately got the better of me. I had to know what this seemingly unimportant doorway’s function was—why it was there, what it concealed, why there wasn’t so much as a sign or a warning. I promptly secured access and scurried inside where I beheld the startling sights in question—and, as I have mentioned, promptly longed for your counsel.

Upon entering I took only the time to ease the door shut while making sure the lock was intact and secured. Upon turning around I was immediately struck by the absurdity of the sight that lie beyond the vestibule. I will attempt to describe what I beheld, but I fear that even my words will bring no justice to the outrageous scene I found. There was a series of skewed catwalks and twisted scaffolds which surrounded a tangled maze of delirious ductwork that appeared to be more of a crazed patch randomly planted by a deranged committee of mad gardeners than it did an orderly apparatus dutifully planned and manufactured by a rational team of engineers.

My Brilliant Bel, imagine a mass of impossible joints and connections bursting through one another at impossible angles. I was ready to believe that is was some form of outrageous New World vegetation until I discovered the occasional rent in the ductwork that revealed the series of planetary gears and multi-segmented rods contained within the stalks. These clearly mechanically impossible contraptions somehow managed to keep their shape and continued to churn away despite being twisted and folded into senseless positions.

I was compelled to force my eyes away to continue exploring the baffling tangle. I fought my way through that tormented maze and stumbled into the main compartment. It was a room of preposterous dimensions that I lack the confidence to describe in any meaningful way. The best I can come is to say it was easily as large as the central transept of the Crystal Palace—but of that I cannot be sure, by this point my senses were rebelling against my rational mind. I certainly could not tell which side was winning.

Along the walls and continuing into the main space itself were a series of trellises securing to themselves strangely distorted platonic-solids that appeared to function as gears. They were connected by a series of control rods, pumps, and various shafts and levers arranged in such a manner as to only make sense to the deranged and the damned. The gears seemed to collapse into themselves as they whirled merrily along in and across all possible dimensions.

Eventually this demented assemblage connected to impossibly large swash plates—which were driving which I could not tell. These many disks were centered in the impossibly high ceiling at unbecoming angles to one another. They were, as far as I could tell being at such a great distance, the size of small elephants.

Notions of perspective and scale were rendered meaningless. I was at once looking at and through the mad assemblage of misaligned and maladjusted parts. The machinery closest to me—breaking out through the rents in the stalks, or simply encased in transparent connectors—appeared to be a replica of the entirety. I felt as if I was being spun in various directions as were the gears themselves.

What was I witnessing my Mad Bel. What strange technological marvels or magics could you have revealed to me. I felt as if I had entered a purgatory that spanned the chasm between the mystical past and the rational present. A netherworld of tormented and broken spells that could only be contained through ingenious, or utterly deranged, engineering. Was this a prison for ill-fitted and criminal charms?

At any given moment I expected to be scourged by angelic-demons which would no doubt emanate screaming from the hallows of the menacing shadows which surrounded me. I made my way as quickly as I could out of that lunacy—which, I am sure, you would have found delightfully engaging. It wasn’t for me!

On uncertain feet I scraped over the catwalks—flimsy under me, and down the scaffolds—twisting within my grasp. I scuttled back along the same path on which I ventured into this arcane den. My retreat was barely more than a series of stumbles across uneven flooring and collisions into warped walls—an eternal ricochet of paranoia and fright.

I was overwhelmed with grief and panic as I fought to gain composure and relief by finding the familiar, the solid, and—above all, the rational. I needed only to return to the safe-haven of my cabin; a measured composition of wood and brass, and kind angles gently complementary to one another.

That is my story, my Kind Confidant, of my misadventure into the strange automatous mechanizations that plot against my sanity and my freedom. It is my forlorn hope that one day you will receive this letter and decipher the madness.

Until then I shall pour our favorite drink and fancifully recall the good times.

 

Salut!
 

Eldridge

Mr. Freud’s Minions

I remain stuck in this sorrowful sea. I may have been a bit hasty in burning my bridges with our Great and Wonderful Captain. Landfall seemed imminent—I could feel the firm and motionless ground beneath me, the gravity of stillness was already wrapping its tethers around my bones. That was but a passing fantasy. We remain tussled in this torment. My less than generous side longs to accuse Our Fair Captain of sabotaging my dream—be it out of anger or disgust—but I’m sure she wants rid of me as much as I want to be free from this eternal gloom.

That’s not why I write this passage though.

I take this unbargained for time to scribble down my thoughts, as scattered as they are, to prepare you of the inevitable—and if it has already came to pass then as a record of the events leading up to my dreadful understanding.

It is perhaps idealistic of me to believe that at some point these words will prove meaningful to someone. But vain hope is all I have to cling to, for in my current situation meaning is difficult to secure.

Bide these words as a warning, a malediction, or a prayer.

Through forces out of control, out of balance, and stronger than imagination itself our lives, our world, existence itself, are in danger. How I have come upon this knowledge will remain a mystery, even to me. My memory is fleeting and my mind is tattered and worn. My life is a series of potentialities—a series of futures spawning and fanning-out across an infinite ocean crashing upon an immovable shore.

My world, as best as I can determine, spun out of control one year ago when I had the despicable honor of meeting The Venerable Mr. Freud. He took an automatic shine to me—why I do not know, and I dare not recall. With wine and promises of enrichment and understanding he lured me into his Grasp. Due to my weakness, or greed, or restlessness, I did not question. Mr. Freud and his Minions had wrapped me so completely in their spell that I could not glimpse behind the veil that hid the true majesty of the shadowy world they inhabit.

When it first dawned on me the world had changed without my noticing, it was already far too late. Perhaps it’s not to late for others to learn from my multitude of mistakes.

So here I am. Confined to a rickety wrack of a ship sailing for the New World. From this vantage point I cannot be sure if I’m escaping, being exiled or excommunicated. And likewise I don’t know if I’m seeking solace, redemption, or revenge.

It is my calling and my unique displeasure to do whatever is within my limited power to make sure that these crazed cacklings of madmen do not manifest their evil upon this earth.

But this journey has already taken from me more than I wish I could give and has left in return nothing but bitterness and disregard for myself and my fellow man. If there is truth to be found all I know is it is not in this confinement that I have found myself withering in. It is my sincere and only hope that sitting my boots upon solid ground will steady my mind and calm my soul.

Contrary Winds

Epigraph

In which the Gent is relieved that the voyage is almost over—and looks forward, with great satisfaction, to the journey which is about to begin.

Main Content

I bring you good news, my patient and understanding friends.

We spotted what appears to be our destination today. As of yet it is the barest glint on the horizon, but even that is enough to lift my spirits and cast light upon the shadows of doubt and torment that have been spreading over these decks for so long now.

My dear Captain please forgive me my apprehension of your ability to navigate this inscrutable ocean—this infinite expanse of the damned. Please forgive me my angst and anxiety, as you have proven to be intolerably optimistic about your skills and insufferably dedicated to your journey.

Before long the Leroux shall wash its wretched hull ashore and I, as swift-footedly as my prematurely degenerated body can carry me, shall wade into that New World.

My sweet Captain, I do not mean to insinuate that my time aboard your captivating vessel has been a wasted torture—indeed your company alone has provided a delightful relief from the damnable void that relentlessly seeps through these portholes. I could spend yet another eternity exploring this oblivion. I have grown rather fond of the endless supply of salted beef and the tins of graciously unrecognizable foodstuffs. Any, aye, the motion sickness does indeed, as you once suggested, make one feel alive and appreciative of the calm stillness of the doldrums.

I am beholden to you for granting me an opportunity to explore the mystical side of my nature. This voyage has given me enough time and torment to comprehend the very nature of God. I have grown to understand either He has a sensational sense of wicked whimsey, or He carries upon His indomitable shoulders an anger and vengeful rage every bit as nasty and brutish as is rumored.

I also have you to thank, my brave and stalwart Captain, for exposing me the hitherto inconceivable—the limits of my unfathomable patience. A gentle and noble man, such as myself—living by his own merits and left to his own devices, may have lead his life without once finding himself in such a fanciful situation. The havoc wrecked upon my innocent and kind soul notwithstanding, being confined to these empty depths while simultaneously being forced to cope with the boorish company has been a most worthy enlightenment indeed.

I believe it is the Yanks that have quite the picturesque turn-of-phrase for the likes of you my dear—it is only my respectful and gentle nature that prevents me from reciting it in such delightful company.

I can hardly bring myself to feel bitter about this excursion—for I shall soon skip ashore with the lightest of hearts and rejoice. As you shall be forever fixed in your loathsome journey of that hateful abyss.

I shall look back fondly of you for that fact alone.