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The Eighth Level of the Circle
Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:57 pm
The Eighth Level of the Circle Pt. I: Mournful Cries
It must have begun the night I had a dream about the spirit animals. In that dream, I stood in the darkness among the spruce trees under a brilliant half-moon. I could see and feel the dead branches on the shaggy boles surrounding me, some poking me, others barricading my movement.
As I remained still, a lone loon far out upon the adjacent lake called from a distance. This call was interrupted by the sudden bay of a wolf, closer to me. The dog’s howl sounded not once or twice, but became incessant. Then the frogs from the lakeshore began to croak, and this was followed by the roar of a grizzly bear, and then frantic screeches from an eagle in the night sky, and lastly the unexpected bellow of a buffalo. Something was out there, disturbing the Circle of Life, and whatever it was, it was not natural.
I opened my eyes.
Re: The Eighth Level of the Circle
Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:00 pm
The Eighth Level of the Circle Pt. II: Procession
The moon was waxing toward full as again I stood confined among the dead spruce boughs. The needle canopy above might have blocked the radiant shine, but the moon was too low: dawn of a new day would soon come. I observed that from where the lake should have been was a changing development. The waters rippled and then sagged, and disappeared below altogether, replaced by a black vortex whose circulation was visible due only to the slanted moonlight from above.
From out of the woods on the far shore, a loon flew toward me, and I was astonished to see it sucked into the vortex below it as it tried to fly my way. To my left, a wolf with shining eyes loped forward to the lake edge, its head lowered, as if it was drawn by a call to a fate it did not wish to meet. Upon reaching the edge of the vortex where the lake had been, the beast displayed no sign of hesitation and continued to advance. It disappeared, dropping out of sight into the blackness, its moon-lit, silvery fur winking out instantaneously.
Then a group of scattered, silent and compliant frogs followed the wolf, springing from splayed hind feet in one last final jump from shore into the vortex.
A snuffling grizzly bear picked its way from among the trees and simply meandered into the vortex and was gone. Following the grizzly came an eagle, screeching in a predatory fashion, swooping down at the black lake. Its cry was silenced as the eagle disappeared at the surface of the vortex.
Lastly came a single, chuffing buffalo from out of a clump of willows, bellowing in abnormal defiance even as it trundled toward the black lake. It seemed to know to where it was headed, and the plaintive bellow suggested protest about this destiny, but the buffalo ambled forward. As it, too, disappeared into the vortex, its last bellow was cut short, leaving no sign or sound of any kind in the stillness of the wilds.
There might have been other victims in this bizarre procession, but I did not linger among the trees to find out. I did not await dawn. Instead, I opened my eyes.
Re: The Eighth Level of the Circle
Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:04 pm
The Eighth Level of the Circle Pt. III: Enlightenment by Spirit
I dreamed. I floated. There was no moon. Time passed, and I did nothing. By and by it came to me that I was waiting for something. Soon enough, my growing anxiety was mollified. A swirling, ephemeral apparition vaguely like a tall, thin man, but with a triangular head, formed directly before me. The point down of its head was as a beard, and the other two points extended upward and backward to become a pair of veined wings. In one of its hands it held what appeared to be a small pair of suns circling each other, both of them casting a faint but ruddy glow. The figure itself was translucent and without colour. It gazed upon me with sad, intelligent eyes, and with unexpected certainty I suddenly knew its name: it was Kayas, the Spirit of Father Time. Perhaps it was this way with all entity spirits—confronted by one such, one simply knew whom it was. I felt no fear.
“Lynxbone,” Father Time addressed me in a gentle, yet focused way. Speaking my name was the sum of his preamble. I did not flinch, and curiosity kept me from opening my eyes in another world. I listened.
“The Circle of Life must have seven levels, and includes four cardinal directions. The sum of these two attributes is eleven, thus,” he spoke.
“It does,” I confirmed. “It is.”
“There is a place, Lynxbone, which has experienced—a change.” He seemed to pause, as if considering an alternate word. Then he continued. “The place is known in legend by your people as wasaskocenikanis, or Dim-light City. It is a place in which dreamers awaken, to walk and live separate lives from those in Broken Sky which most call Cloudsbreak.
“There is no word among the people of your nation for the change which is in progress there, and the change is not wholly beneficial to the dreamers. Yet this development can be attributed only to them, resultant of life patterns ingrained over a very long period of time.” He paused, giving me a measure of his constitution by which I could absorb his words and think.
“I do not understand. What kind of change, what kind of development?” I murmured in a voice which I imagined to be sewn with a mixture of respect for the entity spirit and fear about any answer he might provide.
“The sum is still eleven, and therefore the universal balance is intact. The change is subtle. It is insidious. But there are eight levels now, and one cardinal direction has been entirely lost, leaving only three instead of four.
“It means that many sacred lives in Dim-light City have begun to lose their bearings in life, and the orientation of lives is changing, likely narrowing. If one direction is absent, then logically not all directions are available, and therefore it is no longer a full circle. In addition, some directions are being overtly empowered, drawing interest away from those of less elegance or practicality or opportunity. Diversity in choices of dream life among the dreamers lessens. Without the fourth direction, dreams will not continue to be as they once were.” He paused again while I absorbed this.
“Do not misconstrue my words, child. Not all of the applications in service are adverse. Some use what they have acquired from the dreamstate to try to enhance the lives of others in a beneficial way, as in an education.
“The point not recognised is that all of this takes from the state of the dream, and returns too little. The ways of life there restore not enough to the quality of the dream. The Circle is broken. The splendour of the blessed dreamstate is being eroded, depleted. If askipwawa are in demand for trade, then only askipwawa will be planted. Similarly, a forest whose trees have all of them been harvested would no longer be named a forest.”
“I see about the loss of the direction,” I said. “But how can there be eight levels now instead of seven? This violates the Circle.”
“One has been added. One which was not there previously. As you know, The Creator is the First Circle. But something new--something bold—contends for the centre position with the Creator, leveraging the Creator aside. It was brought by, cultivated by, and emboldened by the dreamers in Dim-light City, perhaps inadvertently by the many, perhaps intentionally by some few. It matters not, as Kisemanito would not have lives dictate the courses available to be chosen by others. But some will ultimately seek absolute power, wishing to take their seat alongside The Creator if they are able to do so. Power available in the dreamstate is being collected and accrued, and then applied in ways that may cause upset to the flow and maintenance of benevolent dreams. This is the take-take of which I speak. Judgement or not, this matter affects all who dream, since it is a shared state.
“It is as a rust. A stain. A breach of the First Circle. There is no vocabulary, but it is an eighth level, an accessory, and it does not belong at the centre in the Circle of Life aside The Creator.”
“Corruption,” I spoke a word. I do not know how I knew this new word, but it was neither a fabrication nor a guess on my part. The Spirit of Father Time regarded me with a stoic gaze, and I somehow knew that this word was what he had wished me to proclaim aloud.
“What does this have to do with me?” I became slightly defensive in protest, wanting this whole topic to disappear, just as the animals of the Circle of Life had all of them done into the vortex of my nightmares.
“You have one day, Lynxbone,” he formally announced. “After that, the next night you will awaken to a lucid dream in the Dim-light City. There, you will address this--this corruption--as you name it.”
Re: The Eighth Level of the Circle
Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:06 pm
The Eighth Level of the Circle Pt. IV: Appointment
“Select another, Father,” I asked.
“There are none, for only one person in this entire shard can enter the Dim-light City, and you are this one. You may, of course, decide not to address this, and time will pass, and we may never determine what will happen to the citizens who dream in Dim-light City without the blessing of four directions, amidst a kingdom of corruption in which the Creator no longer rules. But I would not wish that, for the taking will continue, and the Blot will eventually manifest itself, and lives will be less colourful, diverse and splendid than once they were.”
“You use guilt,” I accused defiantly. “This sounds like a doom day, and I do not wish to go there.” Father Time did not rise to my accusation. He had plenty of time with which to allow me to expend myself, for time was his jurisdiction in the realm of creation.
“All lives are sacred, Lynxbone. All who have an understanding of this have a responsibility to at least share knowledge regarding the choices available so that each individual may decide for themselves the course in their lives. A spirit does not like a course in life dictated to her or to him. This is not a doom day. As in many things in life, there is a choice for you, for them, and either way, the dreams in Dim-light City will not cease. They will simply change, though perhaps diminish in certain aspects.”
“What is this Blot of which you spoke?” I asked. Ironically floating there in front of the Spirit of Father Time himself, I was attempting to give myself time to think while digesting this unforeseen twist to my life. He was patient with me. Perhaps he had paused the turning of the actual night itself for this interlude.
“Currently, the eighth level of the Circle of Life, Corruption, has not manifested itself in any visible form, only in habit, as cultivated by those who embraced it unwittingly, or knowingly, as the individual case may be. It is not chaos, although an increase in chaos may be indicative of the strengthening of corruption as individuals with power explore new ways to use that power.
“Eventually, if unchecked, the eighth level will interpose itself upon the dreamstate and manifest in form as a roving, amorphous black Blot, or more than one, and peculiarities will appear in the fabric of the dream city. Blank portals, inoperative portals, entire sections of the city inaccessible for days, or sections temporarily displaced will become evident. Dreamers displaced randomly, failing arts, and things that do not function as they were designed will be further signs; a degradation in the standards by which dream lives are experienced. Undoubtedly, at first these would likely be considered anomalies and annoyances to those unfamiliar with the progression, but they will worsen. Still, the inhabitants will likely adapt if nothing is done, using their acquired powers to overcome most of the adverse effects. Dream life as they know it will continue despite inconveniences.”
“Will the dreamers not chop down or erase—I mean, fill-in--these blots if they appear? Eh, I do not know what I mean.” I cast about for tangibles.
“Child, you make no sense. Corruption, as you name it, is from your kind, and there is no power that can chop it or erase it, since its immaterial presence is a result of the habits of those who dwell there. As was said, it is not chaos. Chaos is often collateral damage from the corruption. Corruption itself is moving toward the centre position of the Circle of Life in Dim-light City.”
“How am I to address this, then?” I queried.
"What is pure--what is unstained, what is not rusty--has the innate ability to negate the corruption by countering it in a natural way,” he replied.
“Corruption can be fought with what is not corrupt. If not eliminate it, then ameliorate its presence.
“Since you have not been awakened, you have no corruption to contribute to the dreamstate in which is Dim-light City. After you awaken, you must try to find others there, as you alone are not enough to restore the Circle to its seven. Do not be discouraged if most balk at this perceived fantasy. Most will absolutely refuse to return anything they believe that they dutifully and rightfully earned while dreaming in order to restore and preserve the quality of dreams and its choices for future generations. Do not anticipate finding enough allies among dreamers to wholly negate the eighth. Therefore look for solutions in those who are willing to make such sacrifices, or in those who have little to nothing to their dreams. As costly as the trade may be, we must not forget that Kisemanito, the universal spirit of creation and void, watches over the ultimate welfare of all. He will not forget their sacrifices.” The Spirit of Father Time’s countenance seemed to marginally brighten.
“Purity is scarce, and its presence is weak there. Yet there is within the city a third party--a secret hope which has gone completely unnoticed by those dreamers who are foreigners to the concept of the Circle of Life. Let us begin your training, thus.”
Re: The Eighth Level of the Circle
Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:09 pm
The Eighth Level of the Circle Pt. V: The Sunrise and the Turning of the Seasons
“From now on, you will no longer be named Lynxbone for this appointment. I name you Little Time, and indeed it will remind you of your circumstances, for the longer you linger in Dim-light City, the more corruption you will acquire, even should you wish to try to avoid it all. You are not exempt from its influence.
“Finish before One, or all your efforts will be in vain.”
“One?” I knew I frowned in incomprehension. What did that mean? Despite my confusion, acceptance within me of this assignment was no longer an issue, and I supposed that the Spirit of Father Time knew this all along in his scrutiny of candidates, if such a thing had transpired. Yet I wanted clarity. He did not answer directly, but provided me a multitude of cryptic, prophetic-sounding advisories.
“When you first awaken in Dim-light City, you will have difficulties with speech and comprehension interacting with its citizens because they do not speak Long Tongue. Worry not, for the dreamers are largely consumed with contemporary matters of import to them and they and their words will find you—in time. When your tongue easily repeats the words that dreamers hear, then sunrise will come for you in that city, meaning that your appointment will commence.
“Corruption will find you, too, as soon as dreamers do, though few may hear, believe or act on your appointment. Guard well, for your time is not unlimited. You may have as many as four seasons, perhaps more or perhaps less, before the Blot begins to manifest itself; this is a quantity of time which is unpredictable and solely contingent upon the dreamers themselves. At that time, it may be that the occurrence of the Blot or the perceived anomalies will fortuitously swell the ranks of those who have begun to hear your words and respond.”
“This does not tell me how to erase the corruption, Father Time. You spoke of a hidden hope,” I prompted.
“Dim-light City still has defenses according to the Circle of Life, Little Time. Look to the Circle of Life, child, particularly the Third Circle. The defenses are shy, blurred and neglected, but they will respond to one who has the appropriate training. You will find them if you look carefully. They are there, and they are absolutely pure in their design. Find them. Find them all.
“After all, solutions to problems in a dream are found within dreams, and you have had some of those of late. Discover the instrument that only the pure can use to aid in coaxing the natural defenses to respond to you and yours. It is something that is of no consequence to Power, for Power does not recognise its value.
“Train in the seven steps according to the Seven Circles those who are willing to make the sacrifice for the Dim-light City so that they know how to use the instrument that only the pure and apparently-weak can use. ” Abruptly the spirit began to evanesce.
“Will their sacrifices end them?” I hastily prompted.
“There are many alternate ends to dreams. Time moves forward now, Little Time. Corruption moves forward. The Blot grows. Do not linger, suspended here. Make the choice that is before you. Peace in your decision.”
I wished to ask for more, but the spirit was gone, an indication that I was out of time.
I opened my eyes, and it was already morning, the suns haven risen moments before in their shining glories. The matter of the changes to a city of dreams loomed large within me now, as I had already decided, but I still had the one day, and I strode into it, certain that I wished to live it fully.