Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Drabbled History in Knowledge

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 

From Tennyson's Ulysses

In knowledge we live and die.
 People retreated into distant corners and set up literal walls as the Romans had done many millenia prior. Caravans trekked the lands carrying loads of goods and people as they hurried to safety. Wary of each other of other things. Technology had brought much which was fantastic and forbidden to the forefront.

Shadows of nameless fear. Hidden societies. Secret cults. Inventions gone sour.

Among the chaos came the Druids. From the sky they came, riding upon bulbous clouds. They offered humanity their aid. Led by twin brothers these people from the sky beyond taught humans how to protect themselves from the shadows. They called it alchemy and it followed one sacred rule.

Equivalent exchange. So long as people put in something of equal value to what they wished to create or fix, anything was possible. With possibility in hand, humanity felt safe and in their safety they began to look further. Where did the Druids come from? What other worlds were beyond Earth? What other powers were possible?

The Druids would not tell and so suspicions grew. Just why did the Druids come when they did? Some said. Others stated they knew all along that the Druids were bad business. Technically the lot of insanity was down to a greedy human and a beautiful woman who too many people obssessed over, but that is another story for another day. Either way, what history came to call the Great War erupted and after, the Druids disappeared. Alchemy became outlawed as a new power sought to bring control to the lands. Remember, alchemy and love do not mix.

Under the Emperor Alexander the world prospered once more. Simply, albeit slowly and like life, this comfort was not truly comfort, was not truly felt, strongly and fully, until it was gone. Quickly. A short time it was. Only a hundred years and once again, shadows unknown whispered from the darkness. Alchemy trickled to the surface.

Humanities hunger for knowledge would not long sit starving and soon there was revitalisation of texts and tales. Those who were most hungry for knowledge; the ultimate quest for the truth of existence formed an organisation. The Rosicrucians.

Garbed in red they were. Trapped in gold chains about their wrists and foreheads, in symbol to their devotion to their quest and their duty; the seeking and protecting of all knowledge. As the Great War showed, lesser beings could not be trusted with such power. (Like kings. Or knights. Academics, whether they are alchemists or not, do spend their lives with their heads in towering castles so do try to understand their narrow stair perspective).

Which brings us to a covered wagon that rumbled along a Roman road. Still rutted, winding and narrow after countless millenia. It traveled to the village of Chesterfield, a haven caught between hills, river and forest and segregated from the world's wonders due to a great wall, put up to protect from nameless shadows, that was never felled.

But when the shadows come in human form, what is there to stop them? The human in question was a young man with a neat brown beard and twinkling eyes shaded by a cloth cap. A falcon was perched beside him and a barrel-chested horse pulled his home. Well, home it was to him. To you and me it was a sea of books, loose parchment, ancient scrolls, quill pens, broken clocks and an old gramophone. Caught between the past and the present this young man was admitted, albeit with the narrowed eyes of the gatesman watching him, to one of the last places on Earth to have not yet felt the fear of hungry knowledge.

Oh Chesterfield was full of intelligent people. They didn't lack knowledge. They just didn't have the tower-abiding sort. Or the sort which scrabbled and scrambled, pointing guns and and dropping traps on people for the bits generally belonging in museums. They were the sort who knew the land, knew the seasons and thanked the Earth for its generosity while whipping up in curious chatter when an itinerant tradesman huffed his way in, pushing a broken down lorry full of woven rugs from distant lands or the lady from over the hill came in her donkey cart piled with sweets.

When the alchemist came to Chesterfield this all changed. With him he brought knowledge which the village folk called magic. It simplified things. After all, what else can see a cold cured with a quick mix of a drink, rather than a fortnight of Nan's tangy teas or the your dropped pocketwatch could be fixed with a quick sketch of some symbols and a pile of spare gears to replace the bent ones.

He also brought peeping eyes to his shaded windows, and when he bothered to venture out for a client a wake of gratitude tinged with fear and anger followed his way.

He wasn't particularly polite.

Then again, when one is an alchemist who delights in the puzzle of broken things and can fix them with a quick brow quirk and other necessary bits, who needs to.

He did appreciate Matty's cakes though.

And that is where things went wrong. Well, started too. When she died things when very wrong, but really, haven't humans learned that alchemy and love never mix?

Not my place to interfere. I'm just a spectator. What are you? What will you do? What do you know?

(A/N: Thanks for reading! Just a heads up I am delving more seriously than I yet have in a long time in terms of properly completely a full novel so my blog posts will be relegated to photostory-esque drabbles like what I have been doing on and off. I'll work on fitting in more article-based things but at the moment I am wanting all my focus to go toward writing for the novel directly or expanding the universe it sits within. Hopefully in some months time this will be less of a priority and I will certainly go back to detailing travel-related experiences and tips as usual).

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