The Way of Awakening

Journal Entry 4: The Way of Awakening

I wake up as the bell sounds. In the first days, I could not hear its chime. I still bear the whip scars from Melmoth rousing me and doling out my punishment. Gradually though, I have learned its sound; more of a feeling than something you consciously think of. The bell stirs your blood for the day to come.

I wash in the stone bowl and dress in the robe of the acolyte. Over time, the plain white adorned with symbols that mark my progress, each confirming an achievement under the eye of the elders, each a step towards becoming one of them. But I will never truly be their equal. Always someone will know more; always something to learn.

I leave my chamber, turn left and head into the tunnels, descending into the warm depths of our domain. Humanity only sees the tower standing over them, confirming the rule of the wizards. They do not know of the vast caverns beneath the surface of Limbo that burrow into its core. Tunnels and pipes channel the heat upwards distributing it to the region around us. Without this, most of the people surviving amidst the ruins would surely die.

In times past they say that the sun warmed the lands, but between it and us lies the vortex; its’ seething, undulating clouds a blessing and a curse to all those born with the magic. Herein is the source of our power, but it is also the walls of our prison. Only the great door; a portal in the highest room offers a chance of escape and only those strong and learned enough in the magical arts can invoke it.

I walk further into the depths, the glowing blue rock light and memory my only guides. There are others here, as driven as I to their tasks. White robes bustle past, no-one looking or pausing. Each man and woman focused only on what they must do and where they must go.

Such is the path of the acolyte; to learn enough of magic that I might rise to the peak of this place, to face the door and escape the prison of this world.

But to reach the top, you must start from the bottom.

I can taste the heat in the air. No human could stand these temperatures. It is in this cauldron the gift of our blood is unlocked. Here, near to the centre, where the last strains of power exist, here at the heart of Limbo.

The tunnel opens out into a cavern, the ceiling so low that I must crouch to enter. The world throbs now, pulsing in my head, hands and feet as I move. My throat is dry and the sharp stone abrades my skin as I brush against it, but this is small discomfort compared to what is to come.

Further into the shadows, crawling on my belly into the depths. Ahead I see what I seek, liquid rock; a molten flowing river, scabbed with cooling stones. I thrust my hands inside and grit my teeth against the pain.

Every day I do this, since the first day I came here, welcoming agony as I have been taught, channelling it to rouse the power in my blood. I sense it stir; a retaliatory warmth from my chest answering the challenge of the lava on my fingers.

The elders tell us this has been the way of awakening from the beginning, when the gifted walked amongst the mundane in ignorance and only learned of their power through chance. In time, those first ones found the means for others to transcend their mortality. We are taught that life as a wizard is always this; a path of transcendent change through magic, from one form, to the next, to the next and so on.

I withdraw my hands and climb out. I walk back along the passageway, retracing my steps towards my room. Once inside I undress and bathe then don fresh robes.

A second bell sounds. I leave again and turn right. This time, heading up the stairs.


by Allen Stroud