The Soft Doctrines of Magnus Invisible, V. III

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III. The Roads

(Epistle to the Choosers)

The well-trod road is swings and fire. It is worn to dust by the feet of children and pilgrims and restored by the west wind blowing over their corpses. The simplest walk this road until they tire of tedious murder. With proper steps, violence transforms. Yet the vanquished, as well as the victor, once believed they could bring Nirn to perfection. This is the road of tradition, for the first champions had no choice but to follow this road, and the greatest of all heroes walk it by choice. Most who walk this road deny the others.

The shortest road is dishonest labor, paved with gold bricks, trodden by the feet of giants, and glued by the slime of forked tongues. The slothful savior is saved by the hidden window. The shortest road is not worth the journey. The destination is despair.

The road of beauty is untrodden by heroes. It winds weary as a river, always towards the stars, but never reaching the veil. Those happy fools, bright shining jewels, dreams more real than their vision, they never see the gray. Every birdsong a golden tone, every pocket a bouquet. They sing praises at dawn’s beauty and are paid with the coinage of ghosts, which has no provenance.

The longest road is walked by old ruin. It’s paving stones are yesterdays scales. It’s claws ever-grasping at the gray are Pestilence, Pigme, The Falling Wall, Taskmaster of the Mechanical Horde, The Unspeaking, The Golden Tonic, The Shadow of Hours, and The Scale of Scales. It’s tail-consuming head is Moment and Momentum. Hunger prowls the unshed skin. The road ends where claw, head, and hunger meet…until gossip reaches eternity via dis-ease.

The final road cannot be walked. The wretched gather up their ghosts and go.

And what of you, you turner of heads? Where shall you pound your adamantium feet? What overgrown paths will you trod without a care? What lies shall pass your feathered lips? Which words shall you choose and choose again and find they made no difference? Which hapless beauty will grasp your life-stealing amulet? Who shall you caress with your corpse-tainted hands? At the end of your road, are you not a prisoner?

Reflections who walk are ruled by their images until they turn their gaze to another.

The doors are stuck, the curtains drawn, the constellations firm, the planets unerring in their courses. Twelve and One have an illusion of movement. Twenty-Two and One have an illusion of choice. Only the Serpent slides.

Hue is governed by momentum. As much as manifold Meridia loves the Blind, even orphans cannot change their color.

Magnus is bound in metal flames.

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