The Dark Crystal – The Shape of the Sacred – Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – The Theft of the Daggar

      The Daggar of Absolom had begun to hum the moment Jax had taken it from the pedestal. The glowing was something new though. That had only started after he’d left the Spriton clan territory and entered the Swamp of Sog.

While the rest of the clan was celebrating the addition of his older brother, Jek, to the Spriton brotherhood, the order of warriors, Jax had snuck away in search of Rel.

Jek had never seen war, but then again neither had most of the citizens in the Spriton capitol. Only his uncle Rel had ever known what war truly was. Yes, the Woodland and Spriton Gelflings despised one another, but only Rel had witnessed any violence.

Jax couldn’t understand why the Spriton’s would need an army if they never fought. And it angered him that when one of their own needed them they celebrated instead. Rel had not returned home for almost seven blinks of the Rose Sun. At his old age he must be in trouble, or lost, or worse. Everyone seemed to shrug it off as unimportant and immersed themselves in the decadent celebration that signaled yet another Spriton boy had become a man of the brotherhood.

No one was even guarding the daggar when he went to take it. At first he’d just wanted to address the council of the Dark Woods for guidance and reassurance that Rel was not in danger. He had been one of the strongest and bravest of the brotherhood, but that was long long ago. Instead, Jax arrived to find the chamber still and soundless. At least until he removed the daggar, that’s when the hum began.

Jax stared at the now daggar as the light it cast off drove shadows from the swamp around him. The bark of the weedtrees that lined the path pulsed with pale blue light as he passed, journeying deeper into Sog.

“Rel?” he called out into the blackness beyond the reach of the daggar’s light. “Rel, it’s Jax. Are you okay? Do you need help?”

Jax was four cycles of the Greater Sun away from becoming part of the brotherhood. Well, three and three-quarter cycles as of the last pass of the middle moon. Though seeing how disinterested they were in Rel’s wellbeing he didn’t think the brotherhood was one to which he’d ever wish to belong. It had been almost an entire triad of dark and light since he’d left with the humming, and now glowing, daggar. Two of which were spent still within Spriton territory. Part of him wished that the Order of Warriors would follow after him. That was why he’d gone slower than he would have, something he was now regretting. The time he’d wasted dragging his feet might have put Rel in more danger. He was aware of his slow pace through the Swamp but that was more fear than any voluntary action on his part.

The Swamp of Sog was the womb of terrifying monsters that he’d been warned of again and again.

The Daggar of Absolom began to hum louder with an added nauseating resonance that made his teeth tingle. The weapon’s pulsing blue light shone brighter and lit up more and more of the swamp with each buzzing swell. Around him, the night gurgled and spat stinking plumes of thick mist. The smell was unlike anything he’d encountered. It was so strong it was attacking his thoughts and overpowering his senses. His whole body felt heavy like something was filling him, adding to himself and maybe even taking him over. It was the smell of the swamp. He was sure of it. The light continued to pulse and Jax gripped the hilt of the humming blade tighter in his hand. He used his other hand to press the fabric of his sleeve tightly against his nose. The coughing fit leapt out of nothingness and struck him like a Land Strider hoof to his chest. He couldn’t breathe behind his sleeve, but the scent of the swamp was viscous and heavy and oppressive. It felt like every breath was not a breath but a swallowing of liquid Sog.

He tried to think of something, anything to get his mind off of the taste of the swamp. He tried breathing only through his nose but the liquid air engorged with the stench slithered into his nostrils, scraping along the hairs. It burrowed deeper inside him before dropping down into the chasm that fell away into the larger expanse just before his throat where it rested on the flesh of his tongue.

The fortified walls, his tightly pursed lips and gritted teeth, defending his tongue and taste buds were all for naught. The sneaky liquid scent had circumvented them all the same.

The Siege of Ebrie!

Even old Rel’s hot, sour breath would have been sweetly fragrant aside the swamp. Jax remembered that fled his mouth through the rotted bars of green teeth would have been sweetly fragrant when compared to this noxious swamp. Rel had cackled on through the incomplete cage of teeth about the adventures and terrors from a time now at the mercy of his degrading memory. The time of reverence and respect for the heroic Blue Knight had long ago given way to dismissive and disdainful tolerance. No one believed his stories anymore.

No one but Jax.

He remembered the story of the Siege of Ebrie. Rel would sit by the flames of his hearth and Jax would intently experience Rel’s stories from a meditation mat on the floor.

the Dark Crystal – Author’s Quest Excerpt

I’m working on a 7,000-10,000 word short story for the Dark Crystal – author’s quest contest. Here is the first chapter.

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The world was indeed darkening. It stretched further past the plain of Skarith at a far faster pace than she had hoped; than she had feared. Even the wise urRu Ritual Guardian, urZah, had not foreseen the extent to which the blight was raking its brittle, dusty fingers across their world. It had reached the Gnarled Stonetree.

            The Gelfling sighed. Maybe urTih had miscalculated. Though she couldn’t blame her teacher. It was her responsibility to gather and compile knowledge about the putrid darkness consuming Thra. When she’d left the Vapra clan’s ancestral city in search of the Valley of the Mystics she was called Kin. Her journey traced across the world to the east where she was to train with the urRu alchemist, urTih. Spending her adolescence under the guidance of her mentor, Kin grew into Kyn’ae, the Gelfling Alchemist of clan Vapra.

Newly reborn, Kyn’ae assumed something had gone wrong. She did not feel any differently than before the naming ritual and the supposed completion of her training with the urRu. She still felt like Kin. Worse actually. In fact, she felt less confident and less capable the more she thought about it.

Staring out at the withering black limbs and cancerous knots that dotted the skin of the Gnarled Stonetree, Kyn’ae wished that the Vapra Elders could’ve chosen another to train with the urRu. Of course, Kyn’ae knew that there was no other. The next Vapra Alchemist was always the daughter of the last.

Her failure ate at her insides. She resentfully cradled the knowledge that the Vapra Elders would receive her in silent disappointment upon learning her charged task remained incomplete.

            Mother left only to train, she thought through gritted teeth.

The hallow wind whistled as it spit grains of dust across the skin left exposed by her alchemists robes; robes she felt unworthy of.

Mother had gone away expected only to return as the next Gelfling Alchemist of the clan Vapra. Ky’nae, however, was laden with the added trial of revealing the name and meaning of the growing darkness that leeching out from its seat in the plain of Skarith.

Ky’nae felt the crippling responsibility that pressed down on her for the nameless blight yet remained so. She had begun to wonder if the force that stalked her world always remain so discouragingly inarticulate in its purpose, so frustratingly undefined in its substance. All this was regardless of her own impassioned efforts and those of the Mystics with whom she’d spent so many years.

Her thoughts were so loud that she almost didn’t notice there was an unfamiliar signpost thrust into the dry ground. It marked the path to the Swamp of Sog to the North, the Caves of Obscurity to the South, and Claw Mountain to the West, and the Valley of the Mystics pointed back the way she’d come. Someone must have erected the markers recently since when Kyn’ae had been Kin she had to rely on deciphering the clues embedded in the bark of the Gnarled Stonetree, which was the purpose of the ancient tree, to reveal her desired path. She stepped closer to the Stonetree and touched the twisting, arthritic black bark with her slender white fingers. Her fingertips burst with a bright empathic ache that shone a dull red. The throbbing glow, while to her was almost too much, only revealed the faintest expression of the true pain the blight was causing her world. Even so, that subtle and incomplete awareness was more than enough to jolt her hand back sharply. She cradled it near her racing heart.

Kyn’ae said some words of healing that urIm, the Healer, had taught her and the red glow shifted from a dull throbbing to a soft radiant blue that hummed with a restorative benevolence before fading completely, leaving her fingers warm and once again white. Her words had also begun to heal a patch of the Stonetree’s bark which glowed a prestine grey, the way it had been when she’d first encountered it all those years ago.

Kyn’ae was mesmerized by the division around the grey spot where it met the charcoal black of the blighted bark. Charged with the blue energy of urIm’s words of healing, the division looked to her like a defensive wall holding back the black blight. The blue barrier crackled and sparked and she saw it was trying to expand over the blight, to dispel it and restore the Gnarled Stonetree.

As the blue barrier expanded outward along the trunk she saw a solitary triangle and she remembered.

The symbol shot through her guilt and pessimism and exposed the faintest glow of hope. But, faint as it was, it was indeed hope. The blue barrier expanded further and revealed yet another triangle that encapsulated the first, only this one was oriented the inverse of the other.

“The shape of the sacred,” Kyn’ae whispered to the nothingness in the dry air.

            As the glowing blue barrier continued to stretch out along the skin of the Gnarled Stonetree, she counted seven triangles. Each one fit inside the other. Each one larger than the one before, and each rotating between upright and upside-down, each regressing until the last disappeared completely from view.

Originally, these markings were left to guide wanderers to safety. For Kyn’ae (then Kin) it was meant to lead her to her education in the Valley of the Mystics. But fate had imbued the markings with an added purpose for Kyn’ae, and her alone. The markings had sparked her consuming fascination that remained unnamed until urSu viewed what she had simply been calling curiosity. She was in fact searching for the knowledge of shape and form. A quest that had only ever been undertaken once before and which the Mystics had assumed had ended long long ago. Incomplete then and impossible if ever attempted again.

When she’d first seen the retreating triangles as Kin, something flashed inside her mind in such a profound and visceral way that could never be articulated in such a feeble and coarse manner as speech. Not even when she recounted her experience with Master urSu through dream fasting could she even attempt to pay the revelation the importance it commanded.

            How does one even express in words such a moment?

The experience had seemed to encompass years of Kin’s young life, staring with unfocused yet tautly alert eyes at the markings yet only seconds had passed in truth.

UrSu had connected with her frequently during the course of her training in hopes of gleaning more insight into her experience with the interconnectedness of shape and form. She’d wondered then as Kin, and now again as Kyn’ae, the Gelfling Alchemist of clan Vapra, whether the increasingly smaller triangles really vanished at all or if they continued off in an invisible state  of unendingly smaller and smaller shapes.

She remembered urTih’s expression when she’d first inquired about that possibility. She’d smiled at his straining to remain somber and calculating, but his eyes betrayed him.

“You speak of the twins and their quest for the shape of the sacred,” urTih had said after a prolonged and controlled silence.

“The twins?”

There was a loud, angry pop that jolted Kyn’ae back further from the Gnarled Stontree. Its black bark sizzled and smoldered sending acrid plumes of opaque smoke rising up around the edges of the blue barrier. It floated up through the rigid black fingers of the Stonetree’s branches, escaping into the hoarse screech of the winds above its enormous bulk.

The blight was pressing back.

The blue glow sparked violently in opposition to the blights counter-offensive as it reasserted its dark possession over the old tree. Very quickly the bright markings that had filled her with the faint, but encouraging hope she so desperately needed, the triangles were once again swallowed by the sinister black bark.

She felt the dull red pain again but when she examined her fingers they were still the white, slender fingers of a Gelfling woman of the Vapra clan.

The twins. Kyn’ae stared long at the aged and wind beaten signpost jutting out from the ground.

It may have been a tired, resentful, and discouraged mind grasping out for the delicate, immaterial strands of hope floating just beyond her fingers, but regardless of hope’s legitimacy, it was still hope and it glowed a bright benevolent blue that charged her with optimism and purpose.

She smiled and turned to follow the marker that pointed north, toward the hope she’d already convinced herself was a tangible and knowable thing. A thing that waited silently to be recovered from its womb in the Cave of the Ancients beyond the Silver Sea.

A Philosophy of Mokey – S4E05 – A Tune For Two

*visit the Mokeyism blog.

The story opens with Sprocket playing some game on an archaic computer and Doc comes shivering in through the door.  He comments on how cold it is: “and though the seasonal metamorphosis moves me in mysterious ways I still mourn the loss of nature’s abundance.”

Sprocket shoots him a confused look.

“The Garden,” Doc explains.  All of the plants in the garden have died because of the frost of Autumn. “At least we still have Lucinda,” but unfortunately, Sprocket hasn’t been keeping up with his duties to take care of Lucinda, the plant.  Sprocket feels badly about Lucinda, but Doc reassures him that “Lucinda is a hearty specimen,” and isn’t dead yet.  They need to continue to water her and also talk to her.  Doc says he read it in a book called: “You’re Okay, and Your Plant is Okay Too.”  So he begins telling Lucinda his whole life story while Sprocket giggles on the floor.

In Fraggle Rock, a social event is taking place.  Fraggles pair off and sing to each other in something called a Duet-a-thon.  It’s a “very meaningful event” in which each Fraggle picks “the perfect partner with which to blend their voice in song.”  Mokey has picked Red.  Mokey views the duet-a-thon as “a meeting of minds,” and “a harmony of souls,” they’ve written a song that illustrates their friendship.

But Red sees the event as having a different significance.

“[It’s] a really neat contest that we’re going to win!” She proclaims proudly.

Even though Red and Mokey are roommates and best friends, and had apparently written the song ahead of time, they have different ideas about the content of the song.

Red wants it to be about a great warrior slaying dragons who turns them into something called Doozer dust. Mokey doesn’t want to sing about something so violent.

“Violence? What has dragon slaying got to do with violence?” Red asks.

Rather than argue, Mokey turns to Wembley and asks him what he and Gobo will be singing about. Wembley is horrified to realize that he doesn’t know! He and Gobo hadn’t actually talked about what song they are doing.

“I’ve been so excited about the duet-a-thon that I completely forgot!” He cries.

Wembley’s words immediately resonated with me as I’ve often thought that we think too much about something (positively or negatively) and we forget to actually experience it. Continue reading

A Philosophy of Mokey – S4E19 – Mokey Then and Now

The episode blows your mind immediately as you begin watching it.  Doc is talking to his dog, Sprocket, about time travel. “Wouldn’t it be fun to travel in time? Of course you wouldn’t go anywhere because the past and the future are happening here and now in the present. It’s all a question of perception. I thought dogs knew stuff like that.”

They made a model of a time machine and Doc suggests trying it out.  So he stuffs Sprocket in and locks him inside.  Then he begins to shake the machine and says: “and now to press the button to the not so distant future.” But then he leaves. He grabs his hat and leaves with Sprocket still locked in the time machine only to return a few moments later dressed as an old man! He unlocks Sprocket from time machine and says: “Sprocket, where have you been all these years?” Wow, way to mess with Sprocket’s mind!

The story revolves around Mokey who’s putting on a play she wrote called ‘the legend of Bloomdig’; she plays Bloomdig. It’s about a great leader, Bloomdig, who was some sort of deity who “appeared out of nowhere”. Bloomdig lived in a time where everyone was bald and “anyone with hair was instantly banished.”

“Better bald than banished,” quips Wembley

Mokey, Boober, and Wembley are rehearsing in the cave in which Bloomdig supposedly appeared out of nothing.   She makes them wear hats, because the ancient bald Fraggles needed to wear hats. (Makes sense. They needed something to cover their heads, and it sure as hell couldn’t be hair!)

We learn an important fact about Mokey in this episode: she’s a method actor.  She has to go to the Sacred Cave to rehearse, and when Boober expresses his anxiousness about being in the Sacred Cave, Mokey responds: “Mokey? Who’s Mokey? I am Bloomdig, great and wondrous leader of the Fraggles who were Bald.”  Another thing we learn is that Fraggles call their ancestors Fraggles who were Bald.

Boober finds a “mysterious and somehow familiar” painting of a Fraggle, which appears on one of the cave walls.  Weirdly enough, the Fraggle was depicted with hair.  Mokey immediately dismisses it. “Wembley, this is no time for ferburps.” *I assume that’s Fragglian for: nonsense.

Obviously the word is archaic and Wembley has no idea what she’s saying.

“Bloomdig lives in a time where Fraggles were bald, she talked funny,” which I found amusing remembering my first encounters with Shakespeare and Chaucer, and I’m sure if I knew Latin or Greek the same would be true for Homer and Socrates. For Henson to include such concepts is why he’s my favourite storyteller!  It makes you believe that they have their own Fraggle society that’s been going on for a very long period of time.

Continue reading

The Philosophy of Mokey Fraggle

 

UPDATE: Check out the new Mokeyism blog @
http://mokeyism.wordpress.com

Fraggle Rock is my first memory of television.  I remember watching it on the CBC one morning in our apartment at 501 Furby. From that moment Fraggle Rock has played an integral role in my life.  It figures into my memories of living in Rankin Inlet, Northwest Territories (Nunavut) and my early grades in Morden.  Even when most would consider me too old for Fraggle Rock I’d still watch my VHS copies.

But really, that’s ridiculous.  How can anyone be too old for Fraggle Rock??

I think that there’s an underlying Philosophy of Fraggle Rock, and particularly Mokey, and I’m going to investigate it more.

When I was young I was Red, in my pre-adolescence I was Gobo, in my University years I was Wembley, and briefly Uncle Travelin’ Matt, and for a long stretch of the naughty’s I was Boober, and now I’m attempting to be Mokey.

It’s 1:30am right now and must be heading to sleep, so I’ll say this: an ongoing part of this blog will the Philosophy of Mokey Fraggle where I take an episode of Fraggle Rock and analyze the concepts that Mokey brings forward.

Until then, check out one of my favourite Fraggle Rock songs “The Minstrels.”