Chapter 14

I was a scholar once. Of vast renown among those beyond influence of the Great Machine. Here, I told my House. See the truth and speak it with me. They refused, and so I left, unable to consume the bile of their belief.

The wind was bitter, no hollowhot to warm me. The terrain full of danger, no scattercape to shield me.

I was alone, wasting beneath a blanket of snow.

But then, in deepened slumber, they came to me. Larger than life, a shadow of stars that rose up around me and whispered my name in a crescendo that threatened to boil my brain. A roar of imperious inquiry surged in my veins, and when it finally subsided, only one question remained:

What did I want?

Knowledge. Percipience. Enlightenment.

How simple.
Quaint and predictable.

The words rang in my ears like a gong.

Then we will REMAKE you,
to guide your path toward all knowledge,
and you will be bound to a
T H O U S A N D D E A T H S.

On that last breath, you will submit,
claimed forever,
made and unmade among the specter of the stars,
until the end of time.

I did not have to think. Did not have to see or speak. All I needed… was to know.

—An excerpt from "The Tragical Scribe"