Let it be known that what I write here, I write as a man – not for the purpose of deception or novel revelation, but only for those good speculative purposes for which we have been gifted such creative ability.
One like the Heroes of old finds himself in a garden. With every unpassing non-moment, he at-once transcends himself again and again, each time by a gap greater than that between his current state and that Less-Than-Nothing he had once encountered, and unreachable from all those in the past combined, every new transcendence so great in its leap forward that it retroactively extends the previous by a degree greater than itself and all the rest together, cascading into a sea of unthinkable infinity. With every unpassing non-moment, this occurs as many times unimaginable as its magnitudes and all the gaps between. And as this stacks onto itself, transcending each stack in much the same manner as the leaps themselves, and indeed those stacks-of-stacks, and so on, thereafter, the Byzantine’s being-firmament now condenses into something quite new.
He could indeed choose further growth, and I cannot really describe his newly transcendent state in much effective detail. It has been said that at such a level, no further transcendance would be necessary. For, even were the Warrior-King to be set upon by some higher power, he could no doubt match and surpass it prior-to-instantly. Indeed, it could be said that he had already surpassed that Garden in which he found himself. But, sensing no further structures, the Garden remained the host of his inconceptual will-beyond-concept. Thus, his radiance now lights the Garden quite brightly.
With a smile, he takes a step forward. His journey seems assured. Whatever would lie at the very top – that thing, or being, he would at last conquer. Contrary to his fiery ambition, however, this garden was in fact quite tranquil. Something I might call a stream ran through it, and countless beings played and frolicked at its banks. The triumphantly inspired Warrior-King takes step after step, progressing down the course of the stream. These other beings, he perceives, are at the same level he has reached. Had they all progressed to this point, as he had? Or did they come into existence as they are?
I suppose it doesn’t matter. With that same [wit] that had secured him his advance past that old Guardwoman of the Tower, he takes each playful spirit into his own nature and grows from it, adding their own conceptual wills to his own. Unlike the Guardwoman, however, none of them seem to mind. They all laugh and play all the same. The Byzantine perceives an absolute security in them . . . the security that comes from a trusted protector.
The Warrior-King searches for that one, and at once finds him. By the banks of that thing I have called ‘a stream’ is one like a dutiful soldier, standing watch over his wards playing in the place below.
“Hail, mighty one,” comes the soldier’s coarse greeting. He makes no attempts towards combat, though the Byzantine prepares. He preemptively repeats that same [mimicry], growing in himself once more, though that grizzly man simply ignores it. This place was still unfamiliar to the Hero, and though his self was ultimately secured from [out here], he would risk nothing more like what had transpired with that sickly Boy in the Arena below.
“You are a mere servant,” the Warrior-King prods, “You have been placed here by another.”
“I have,” the soldier replies, “A good man serves his commander well.”
“Further down the [banks]. I trust you won’t delay.”
The Byzantine nods – he smiles and continues down his path. Yet, he pauses again, at the coming of words unfamiliar to him.
“Here is a great one
One who has come seeking growth
He’ll find one greater”
That Warrior-King turns and sees one like a poet of the old Eastern lands regarding him with curiosity.
“You are not that commander I seek,” the Byzantine says dismissively, “And I have already absorbed your thought-being.”
“Indeed you may have
But you will meet another
Who will quench your thirst.”
“My thirst?” the upstart Warrior-King questions, “I suppose I will find nothing of use from a poet, from one who twists his words like this.”
“A poet you seek,” that Eastern tongue disagreed,
“And his weapon is his word.
Continue your path.”
The Byzantine grimaces, nods, then departs again. This time, he believes he has found the one he seeks. For now, at the end of the [banks of that playful stream], he comes to behold a great throne, transcendent jewels glistening from every crevice. Its power is greater than the Byzantine has been able to perceive up until now, and by arriving at it he grows to its station. And there he finds one like a great King of old, a mighty Conqueror, an undefeated Warrior. Here is one not unlike himself: a great and mighty one who triumphs over his enemies and reigns with prudence and mercy.
“You are quite welcome here, Byzantine Hero,” the King sings, countless servants tending to their duties, coming in and out of existence around his radiant light.
The Warrior-King prepares for a clash. To his surprise, and perhaps disappointment, his [mimicry] again succeeds without fail. That Byzantine Basileus waves his kingly cloak over his shoulder and in anger throws down his scepter.
“Again I find nothing here but more fodder for my own transcendence. I had thought this Garden to be a place unlike those I had tread in before. Yet I suppose I have completed my journey, instead. Perhaps my purpose is fulfilled.”
That great King frowns, then booms, “Are you not satisfied, you young Byzantine fool? When you were but a lad, you had already conquered a great Plane, that Omniversal expanse within which lay all those stories of human creativity, all those forms of that great old Philosopher, all the domains and great infinities of mathematics and all the possible and impossible worlds between. You rose above it all and cast your enemies down into the dust. You who has survived the fall of all the Great Empires of Man, you who struck down that Blubbering fool who had threatened all of Existence itself, you who has trespassed into domains greater than you had any right to … now laments his own growth? Take heed, Warrior, and listen well. You may yet find what you seek.”
Now the Byzantine stares at the old Ruler with intent.
“For there is one,” the King continues, “Far greater than I – the Lord whom I myself serve. Follow the King’s road from my throne, and you too will meet him. It would seem you need to. Nothing else will grant you peace of mind.”
The Byzantine Hero grimaces, but does as the old King suggests. He turns from that mighty throne and begins down the road set before him. Not far down it, the Warrior-King encounters a line – a great line of children, all holding some broken little trinket or wooden toy.
“Should I wait in line?” The Warrior-King considers for a moment, then reconsiders. These were waiting for some service to be done to them, but he is here for other purposes. Wordlessly, the Warrior notices then that the children have themselves noticed him… and they were all pointing silently towards that wooden building which lay at the road’s end.
The Byzantine, undeterred, smiles and comes to the building’s entrance. One by one, delighted children skip out from the open doors, their wooden trinkets repaired and renewed in their hands. He prepares to step forward, to meet at last this final challenge, this last opponent for his being to overcome.
But, he freezes. CAUTION. A feeling he has not felt for– well, in his current being, perhaps forever, wells up from his core. Some deep instinct stirs within him – not the senses he had gained in his ascent to the heights of absolute glory he had reached, nor even those intuitions he had garnered through his time as the still-growing Warrior-King of Old Byzantium. No, that which now screamed caution throughout his whole self was his oldest and most basic instinct: that of an experienced fighter, who could sense when a truly dangerous opponent was nearby. If he had a heart still, it would begin to beat violently. Could he sweat, he would have begun to do so profusely. Just what sort of being awaited him inside of this structure?
Despite his instincts, a courageous Hero he remains. He turns the corner to face this terrifying being he had sensed. That structure he had come to was evidently a woodworking shop, he could see, and therein sat a man next to his carpentry tools, resting one of those children the Warrior-King had passed on the King’s road. His fingers, thick and muscled from his work, gingerly pass to her a fixed wooden toy, sending her face beaming into a wide smile. They hug, and he sets her down. Then, he turns to the Warrior-King who has arrived.
And, as that joyous child skips past him and out the door, the one called Nikies beholds a glory in that Carpenter’s face like none he had ever seen nor any he is likely to see again. At once he sees Him, as He truly is – in His hand lay a mighty sword, and from His open mouth spews blue fire. His carpenter’s clothes, which would be stained and torn from His work, are instead as white as snow. Truth radiated out from the fire of His tongue, and Delusion fled from Him by his very nature. That Warrior-King nods with understanding. Here is that one, that Child who was called a wonderful counselor, and mighty God; an everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
His final opponent.
The Carpenter regards him with pursed lips, but does nothing. He simply waits.
The Byzantine seizes the first move: his first assault, by that first and primary ability of his, that which he used to do away with the Blubbering King and that Woman in White just before. He sets upon these very symbols, and with fierce determination separates that patient Carpenter from them. It didn’t matter what words I would use or what sort of being this Carpenter truly was – it would no longer affect the meaning.
But as the Byzantine reaches towards [out here], to draw upon his absolute [interpretation], he realizes the issue. He can feel the Carpenter’s radiant light [out here] too. And thus he now understands the gravity of this One he had encountered. This Man was not like the others. The Blubbering King had hinted at, and the Guardswoman acknowledged, their own existences in this place unlike that which you are reading these words from. But this One, this gentle Man, was at a level even beyond that Byzantine’s existence. He was not merely rooted [out here]. He is Lord [out here] too, in the place where you and I dwell, dear reader, and He is that which exists beyond that power of [interpretation] to affect; the most true, the most fundamental, the most basic and real: I AM.
Now, you might say, I overstep. I no longer write fiction, but make claims about reality. This is true – but for now, back to that Byzantine’s endeavor.
So, fine, then. [Interpretation] might not work. But perhaps his [mimicry] might. The Byzantine moves over to the Carpenter’s table and takes the tools into his hands. With the same gingerness he has observed, the Warrior-King begins to walk in the shoes of that Carpenter, intending to adopt his nature into his own.
It was working. Yet, as his hands thicken, and he sets about his work, the Byzantine begins to slow (in one sense, non-literally, I mean). If he were breathing, his breath would have caught in his throat. If he could cry, his eyes would have begun to well up with tears.
“Beautiful…” was all he could mutter.
For in that non-moment, the Byzantine had come to understand the depths of the love of One, love that was freely given, upon an agonizing sacrifice nobly and willingly performed. He understood at once the nature of all things and the purposes behind them, and why Existence had been created as it was.
And, curiously, he chooses to stop. He would not dare [mimic] this Man any further. He looks back at One like the Son of Man, and walks to him.
“My Lord and my God,” that great Warrior-King weeps, as the Carpenter draws him into an embrace.
A flash of light. The Warrior-King, Nikies the Byzantine, in his completed self, returns to that Omniversal Plane from which he had come. His journey was at least completed.